'tis the spirit to be...

...helpful*, it seems.

As a cyclist, 4x4s - especially those driven in-city by blondes and tanned lads** - are the bane of my travel-life. As are trucks. And vans. And buses. Sportscars. Food-delivery scooters. Pedestrians. The bloody local council that won't add enough grit to the edge of the frikkin' hello-there's-been-frikkin'-ice-here-for-three-days-now road. Sportsbikes. Pigeons***.

But 4x4s in particular. I'd scrape my handlebars across the side of each and every one of them if it weren't for the fact that I was so bloody noticeable in my reflective gear and I trust them whole-heartedly to hunt me down and shunt me onto the pavement.

And just because they're occasionally useful **** doesn't mean I think any better of them. PR job, I say.

* For a moment there, you thought I was going to relent and go 'jolly' didn't you? As if.
** And yes, it's always blondes and tanned men. I'd know - I make sure I have a clear view before I start throwing rocks at them*****.
*** Fat, stupid birds. It's a wonder people haven't dropped turkey in favour of roast pigeon for Christmas dinner.
**** It's been snowing here a bit. Four inches and this country shuts down. It's like Bombay's Harbour line trains during October showers.
***** Not really (see above about being hunted), but fantasies are meant for being fantasised about.


Manual of Life - Alternative Definitions

n., Trying and utterly failing to soothe an old, blind, almost-deaf dog who spends the last few hours of his life yipping away because of you-dont-know-what (before he finally decides to chuck it all - softly, unnoticed - and head for that roomful of unguarded slippers* he dreams about).

See also:

Ruined weekend


Manual of Life - Things You Didn't Realise Till You Did #67

You don't get to see billiards* on TV much anymore. If at all.

When some kid looks blankly at you while you're talking about how fast-paced life has become, point that out. And if they start talking about pool and snooker, smack them with the cue-stick.

* Three-ball or English billiards.


Friday Fun: Fact/Fiction

There are days when I feel low about the state I find my life in. Whenever that happens, I tend to go read just one paragraph* to make me appreciate what I have.

"A lot of good things had happened that day. He hadn't been thrown in the hole. The gang hadn't been dragged off to Sotsgorodok. He'd swiped the extra gruel at dinnertime. The foreman had got a good rate for the job. He'd enjoyed working on the wall. He hadn't been caught with the blade at the search point. He'd earned a favour from Tsezar that evening. And he'd bought his tobacco.

The end of an unclouded day. Almost a happy one. Just one of the 3,653 days of his sentence, from bell to bell".

- One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich

* sure, there are hundreds, if not thousands, of excerpts from other books that could be said to be more potent, more evocative, and more graphic about human suffering. But the sheer simplicity and clarity of this one, and the way in which it brought down everything to a few simple, basic requirements hit my 15-year old cocky self like no Gogol or Dickens or anybody else ever had. And that initial impact has been hard to shake off.


A "really-should-stick-to-promises" post

So, backstory.

Firstly, Joyce. And that book.

This is an update of no update. And just to make it clear how much of a non-update it is, this post is a redraft of a draft that was first made six weeks ago.

I did not read an additional page since the last post on it. I blame the man, and I blame Suketu.

See, after two years of owning this book, and forgetting to pack it every time I went home (or choosing to, rather - because really, why would I be carrying more books back here?), I finally got round to getting hold of a copy from the local library. And I couldn't help but drop everything else to finish it off first. Not that it's perfect (nowhere close), but the book reinforced a lot of things I've grown to accept and be scared of. More on that later.

And when I returned to Joyce, after revisiting so much...reality, his book felt so....silly. Pretentious. All look-at-me-I'm-so-much-smarter-and-have-you-got-all-the-references smugly superior. And yes, I'm impressed by the dedication and imagination it took. And I'm sure I'd appreciate it more if it was taken apart bit by bit in a critical review class.

But that's the point. Books are meant to educate, enlighten, entertain, comfort, and challenge. By themselves. Not by having to be taught.

I'm quite willing to tackle difficult books, drive-you-crazy books (oh, Something Happened!, how you still haunt my dreams), books that take ages to get through because you have to re-read every page to absorb its meaning.

And while this was a challenge, with every page it felt more as if he did not really want you to win.

It was as if he was thinking - Well, first now that I've got this awesome underlying concept (which nobody would realise unless it was pointed out to them), let me throw in all these random religious and linguistic references just to make sure they sit with four other books to understand it. And then - oh boy - then let me write it so crazily that they'll call me a genius for fear of appearing stupid.

Which is all fine. But you know what? I don't have to put up with it. I'm not going to be implicitly sneered at just because they didn't teach Latin when I was at school and my arse wasn't walloped by fervent Catholic priests who hated the weather of the place they lived in.

So, if you were still interested, Chapter 3 was where it ended. I just got bored.

That said - 'likelily'. Such a lovely word. He's absolved for that.


I use too many .... (just had a 30-second blankout trying to remember the word)...brackets. Apropos of nothing.


Friday Fun: Fact/Fiction

(Things you may choose to believe about me. Or not.)

I lose about two kilos in weight if I miss breakfast for three or four days in a stretch.

Obviously, I don't put on any if I eat regularly, more damned luck mine.


Tsk. Hate mail is bad for you. Avoid.

Manual of Life - Things You Didn't Realise Were Weird Till You Did #43

That the reason you've developed a very slight head tilt to the right, caused by all the endless hours browsing (English-language) books in a store, is simply because the spines are printed left-to-right (when placed horizontally) so that you can read it normally when it's placed front-cover upwards.

Obvious, yes?


If you are already seeing the front cover, with the title and the photo and all the other little details - why would you be reading the spine?

So. Why don't more publishers just print the spine in a vertical top-to-bottom, so that when they're stacked as per normal, my neck doesn't need to get such a horrible crick every single time?

For those of you interested in such esoteric information - and that's pretty much all of you - here's some book-spine naming and printing conventions.


This is the way we ride our bike, ride our bike...

Keys. Helmet. Lights. Vest. Gloves.

Hmm, those treetops are getting it good from Mr. Breeze today.

No, my mistake. It's Mister Wind. Mister I'm-going-to-slam-into-you-from-the-left Wind, to be precise. The Doors would have been appropriate right now.

Oh well, thank goodness for tree cove...

Uh oh.


Why are you honking you moron - you think I like swerving randomly into the middle of the road?


STOP honking, you little shit - it's a cycle not a bloody tank, you try and keep it stable!

Ok let's just make it to the turning - once we go right, the wind should be behind us, and hopefully that will...


Is it a bird? Is it plane?


Hey doofass, race you in your schmancy beemer.

...what is he grinning he abou...

Uh oh.

Two rights doth maketh a wrong.


Whoooaaa shit. Sorry, sorry, didn't mean to bang into you like....Hey, it's not my fault you're not looking while you're walking - and what are you doing out for a stroll on a morning like this anway? Oh yeh, well at least somebody wants to screw me. Jerk.

Just another few hundred metres and we'll be fii...

Whooooaaa shit. Sorrysorry, didn't mean to bang into....yes, simply dreadful weather, isn't it? Hmm? Oh well, it's not so bad usually, and it's good exercise too. And the same to you. Goodbye.

50 metres....

Whooooaaa shit.

Screw this.

This is the way we walk our bike, walk our bike...


"Mmmmm....cheese toast".



"Humans were not meant to eat cheese".


"No seriously. Cheese is an alien organism which should be not ingested by us".

"Stop right there. If you're going to start on some vegan crap rant about how it's made from milk which is the fluid of another animal and would I then also drink blood - I swear I'll sock you one".

"No no. Not that - although when you think about it like that...."

"What did I just say? You love my knuckles so much?"

"Ah. Sorry. No, what I meant was - it really is an alien organism".


"Really. See, you called that a cheese toast, but it's actually a toasted cheese sandwich, right?"

"I guess so".

"Yeh. The truth is hidden from you that way. No, if you really want to realise the truth about cheese, watch it melt under a grill*".

"And what will that show me?"

"Go see for yourself....go!"

"Okay, okay.

"I told you so".

* No really, watch it. The Blob returns!


The worst fights are the ones you didn't know you were having.


Friday Fun: Fact/Fiction

(Warning: This may or may not be true)

Some days, when I'm feeling malicious, I go to the Google page to search for and then click on the Yahoomail link. I then go to the Yahoo homepage and search for (and click on) the Hotmail link. And just to complete the circle, I visit the MSN page and search for (and click on) the Gmail link.

I like to think it hurts their ego a bit, for someone to come to their turf and then declare an affinity for their rival. I also keep hoping it screws up all their 'Most popular searches' lists.

If I'm feeling particularly malicious, I visit the Rediff page and search for (and click on) all the other three. Because after all, it's Rediff.


Signed up for Life. Didn't read the fine print.


Sometimes I wonder how many people have wondered why they keep on going, since nothing matters in the end anyway.

I wonder if they then go on to wonder about this till the very end, even after believing it does not matter anyway.

I wonder if they wonder about the end, and about whether they will still be able to wonder then.

I wonder if at the end, they will be wondering about why they wondered if it does not matter.

I wonder why I wonder about this, when it does not matter in the end either.


Bloggysses, Bloggysez

or, How not to read Joyce

1. Without notes.

Cuz you ain't seen nothing like it, yo.

The man brings all his Latin-filled, literary-enthused, religion-obsessed chaos and thumps it right across your face. And you'll feel pretty much as if you're facing ol' Curtly at Antigua while carrying a table tennis racket. In a swimsuit.

Get an annotated version.

2. At night, in bed.

After a long day spent working, reading up on all the shittiness that is the world, and trying to keep track of all the blogs you follow (and leave some sensible comments on them), and finally getting your bleary, addled brain to a soft (so soft) pillow - that is really not when you want to be reading this book.

Especially if you happen to be reading chapter three*.

3. On a lovely, sunny day with a slight breeze floating through it.

Otherwise you will just hate yourself, anybody who ever suggested you read Joyce, all the books and articles that keep going on about it's such an important piece of literature, and the man himself.

There is also the risk that polite police officers might land up at your door wondering why you thought it necessary to give so many people a minor heart attack with all the banging and clawing against the window.

4. Simultaneously with other books.

Especially if they're of a genre or by an author that you really like. Or if they're the type of light fluff that floats out of navels. Or if they have pretty covers. Or .... basically, don't have anything else in your house that you haven't read, because otherwise you will waste endless hours wondering just why you're reading this book instead of all those others.

* Three words - no fucking clue.


Manual of Life - Things You Didn't Realise Were Weird Till You Did #78

How dogs and (house)cats are pretty much the only land-based animals whose genders display almost no discernible differences in habits.

Fish and reptiles are just too different to understand, so I'm excluding them, but all land animals have quite obvious differences between the two genders. Lionesses hunt, while the lion just ambles up and hogs everything. Male birds have to perform dances and build nests and indulge in warbling competitions (and look prettier), while the females act whimsy. Bull elephants act all crazy, while the matriarchs protect the herd and bring up the calves. Male mantises and spiders offer their souls and bodies to the female. Male bees and wasps are mindless drones, while the females keep the hive together.

Another sin to the list of humankind's tab - how we've managed to train two animal (sub)species to forget that their male and female ancestors ever had disparate behavioural patterns.

So, at last count, it was three men and two women who'd prefer to be dogs, and six women and one man choosing to be cats. Two abstained, preferring to be fish and a horse, one anonymous wouldn't reveal their gender, and Feanor linked to a book instead of answering the question directly (typical math-lover behaviour).

Which confirms my hunch - that there's not much difference in the genders for those who would choose to be dogs, but cats would be overwhelmingly chosen just by females.

And while quite a bit of that would be due to the very nature of the creatures, it does raise the question whether it's also perhaps related to the subsconscious gender that we automatically associate with animals, which has been generated by language-associations.

I would be willing to bet that when most people think 'dogs', they think 'male'. Even though that's just the species, we still think of dogs and female dogs (we won't even go into why nobody but vets and dog-owners use the technically correct 'bitch'). Yes, we know that both genders exist (heck, you may even had several as pets), but most people will still instantly - for that brief moment before conscious thought kicks in - assume you're talking about a male dog when you do talk about one.

And the reverse applies to cats. You instinctively think cats and tom cats. If just the generic term is used, people will immediately associate with female overtones. Cats are so Egyptian goddesses. And Selina Kyle in all her sleek, snugly-leathered glory arching her....ahem. Right. But see?

And it's not just them - it's the animal kingdom in general. There is so much immediate association, and distinction, all because the names and the language was written up by men. All deer are female, except when they're does and stags. All sheep are female, unless they're ewes and rams. All tigers are male, all bears too - although lions and lionesses are unique, for some reason.

So, maybe it comes down to this (and yes, this is slightly far out) - that subsconsciously, equal numbers of men and women would choose to be born as males in another avatar, but men can't (won't) contemplate being born as women.

I could throw a lot of theories behind that too, but I suspect it's simply this - Men realise that they have it easier than women in this world, on so many counts (one word - periods), so they wouldn't want to change. The odd male who would consider it, would do so because they like a challenge. And most women hate men and their domineering entitled smug parochialism too much already to even contemplate being one of them. Ever.


On a minor note, I would also suggest that men are more antipathetic towards cats than women are to dogs because cats are more obviously female than dogs are male. By which I mean that it's easy to visually distinguish between male and female dogs, but not so easy to distinguish between male and female cats. Which enhances the male-female association.

Maybe I should've added a coda - If you're a woman and you choose to be a dog, which gender would you rather be?


People often talk about the reasons why they are dog-lovers or cat-lovers (if they are either, that is). Lots of theories there. This isn't one such, but it's related.

The theory is that dogs have the kind of personality and life humans secretly wish they could have, while cats have ones which more realistically resemble ours.

Most people would love to have a life where all they did was run around, and scratch away, and be petted constantly, and be loved by (nearly) everyone, and be fed everytime they looked at somebody else with pity-inducing eyes, and be allowed to get themselves all dirty in the mud, and (of course) be able to hump who they pleased - in public too, natch.

However, what humans really do is create this big mystery about who they really are, and let others in only after they've met some arbitrary and secret standard of acceptance, and pretend to be entirely self-reliant only to come running the minute somebody offers them a warm blanket and some nice food, and still reserve the right to turn around and scratch somebody's nose off - just because they felt like it. And of course, they keep their humping to themselves.


It certainly would be interesting to see the results of a poll in which people were asked to choose which of the two they would rather be, assuming ideal living conditions. Apart from the overall results, it would be fascinating to see the way the gender vote goes. I have my hunches about that, but let's put it to the test, small test sample though it may be.

Go on, pick one.


Assume nothing, believe everything.

Assume everything, believe nothing.


Friday Fun: Fact/Fiction

(Warning: May or may not be true)

Sometimes, when I'm feeling really, really blue, I take a few packets of jelly and bung them into a big pot.

After the mixture is ready, rather than chill it, I simply let it cool down till it's that right balance of not very firm but not very runny.

I then pour it into two small tubs and squish away with my fingers and toes simultaneously.

45 seconds later, Blue --> Buttercup yellow.

PS. When I get really, really, really, why-o-why-me-why blue, I find a bathtub and pour the jelly in it, and then just splash about.


Mad bloggers and Irishmen

And, just in case you haven't been avidly perusing the commentspace, the Great Group Blogger Ulysses Reading Attempt* begins today. Current team members - The Bride and moi.

Feel free to join in if you're foolhardy enough, or just plain irritated at having had a copy of it on your bookshelf for what seems forever without you having gone through it. All you need is a copy of your own.

We plan to post regular updates on how we're progressing, what we've made of it so far, and whether we hate it or not. The aim is to finish it this month. Hopefully.

* Anybody who uses the terms 'Blogyssey' or 'Blogysses' is immediately banned from this blog. We shall hunt you down and heap much mockery and scorn on you. You have been warned.

News for you

* For TR, JAP, Veena, Szer, Black Mamba, Dilip, and all you long-journeymakers out there:
If you haven't read this series yet, do so now. Quite, quite fascinating. Not to mention utterly poignant and depressing.

* For what I'm sure is likely to be a sizeable proportion of the readers here:
A simple, yet wondrously effective physical activity that helps with tennis elbow.

* And for KM:
Because others hate FB too.


Friday Fun: Food Fiesta

Bonus recipe!

To make up for all the times I haven't posted one. And because this is a wonderful dish to follow the one below.

Sticky Cinnamon Pears

Time Required:
30 minutes.

Keep Ready (to serve 4):
4 medium (just-ripe) pears
Lemon juice
Cinnamon powder, 2tsp
Sugar, 50-60gm

Core the pears, then peel and cut into halves. Prick them with a fork and rub some of the cinnamon powder onto them lightly. Also rub a little lemon juice onto them so that they don't discolour while you're getting the sauce ready. Keep aside.

In a saucepan, on a low-medium heat, melt the sugar and remaining cinnamon powder till it's completely liquid.

Place the pears in a baking tray, pour the syrup onto them and coat them evently, and bake for 25 minutes at 200C (or until they're golden). Occasionally check on them and spoon some of the syrup over the pears so they don't dry out too much. You'll know they're ready when you can slice through easily with a fork.

Serve with a large dollop of plain vanilla ice-cream.

Why you should try this:
It's bloody marvellous, that's why.

You serve this on a gloomy grey day, and one bite into the sour and sweet and cinnamonny warmth of this, all offset by the icy coldness of the ice-cream, and you might just be ready to forget the shitty day you've just had.

If you can't eat ice-cream, or don't have any, some thick cream will do. You could even try it with custard, but that's just too sweet.

Friday Fun: Food Fiesta

See, I do fulfill requests. Eventually. It's a time thing - I have too much of it, so I fritter it away. Cynic, if you like, you can take the whole recipe (and any others) for the food blog - I'm too lazy to actually submit any.

Now this one takes a little more time than the others I've put up, but it's fairly simple to make. Perfect for a rainy monsoon day or chilly winter evening (or, if you live on this island, pretty much 95% of the year).

Colourful Moroccan Tajine

Time Required:
About 45 minutes.

Keep Ready (in order) (to serve 4):
A large tajine
Oil (preferably olive)
Two cloves garlic, crushed
One red onion, roughly sliced
Turmeric, 1tsp
Cumin powder, 1tsp
Harissa paste*, 2 tsp
Cinnamon, small stick
Star anise, two pieces
Mustard paste, 1tsp
Tomato paste, 1tbsp
3-4 medium P
otatoes, diced
2 carrots, diced
Chickpeas**, 250g
500ml stock
Mixed coloured peppers, sliced
Creme fraiche***, or curd, 5tbsp
Chopped fresh coriander

Heat the oil in the tajine over a medium-high heat, and add the garlic and onions. Cook till they just start to go golden, with the occasional stirring, then lower the heat to medium-low and add the harissa, cumin and mustard. Fry for about six to eight minutes (stirring continuously so that the spices don't stick to the tajine), till they are really aromatic.

Then add the tomato paste, potatoes and carrots and fry for a couple of minutes till they're well-coated with the spices. Add the chickpeas and the stock, bring to a boil, then cover the tajine and simmer for about 30 minutes till you've got a thickish gravy. Add the peppers, stir in the creme fraiche and fresh coriander and let cook for another 5 minutes.

Garnish with more coriander, and serve with hot pitta bread, hummus and olives. Or just serve on a bed of plain cous cous.

Why you should try this:
Cooking with/in a tajine is fun. It's like a mini-tandoor and very reminiscent of cooking biryani - it's slow, it needs attention so that the dish doesn't burn or become too dry, and the way the aroma slowly builds up and permeates the entire house is just divine.

This dish is not properly authentic (they wouldn't use mustard or anise in Morocco), but it is utterly filling and colourful, and makes for a great variation from only making channa masala with chickpeas. The creme fraiche or curd helps to soften the kick of the harissa, and when you dip in some hummus-lathered pitta and have a big mouthful of this - it's just wild.

1) Traditionally, you would add some form of red meat or chicken to this. If you do, then add it before the veggies, and brown properly. If you don't want to use either, but would like the taste, you could use chicken stock instead.

2) You could also add the peppers in with the chickpeas. I tend to add them later so that they retain a little crunchiness.

3) You could also garnish with spring onions, instead of just coriander.

4) You could add additional veggies if you really want to make it can't-possibly-move-an-inch heavy - cauliflower, courgettes, leeks.

* This is the key ingredient in the dish. If you can't find any readymade harissa paste, bloody well make some.
** Tinned chickpeas are the easiest. If you can only get hold of dried ones, please soak them for a couple of hours beforehand at least.
*** Creme fraiche is always preferable to curd, simply because it's not as sour as curd can be, and it also lends to a more thick consistency.


50 Reasons Why You Should Blog - #48

You might just get somebody in charge to listen* - and get a free book out of it.

* Check the comments. And just for that, I'm going to go buy a copy of her book. Nice people should be encouraged.


Friday Fun: Fpoor Fpuns

Q: Why are partying bachelors referred to as 'stags'?
A: Because they're very horny*.

This has to be the reason right? I haven't found any better explanation through much hunting onWeb.

* If you're pedantic enough to be going "But noooo - that's antlers", I've got two words for you....shuddup now.


A pome

People who go aww
are those who would go caw
at a hopping crow
found in the snow,
to see if it would
stay on for good

(to be turned into a pet
after first being taken to a vet
to clip its fat fat wings
to make it need that hanging ring
and be taught

to do tricks

with tiny tiny bricks
and to flutter
at the sight of creamy butter
and to blare a song
when they bring out the thongs
and to claw the remote
and use the phone to textvote
and to bring a beer
when the fridge is not near)

or if it would
fly back into the wood.


People who go aww
should make you wary
and chary
and use words like nary,
for they are
the truly scary.


Manual of Life - Alternative Defintions

Sticking it to 'emv., Indians holding 90-second-long flash mobs on 15th August outside Buckingham Palace, the Houses of Parliament, and the council office of every major city across England. Complete with waving of the tricolour, shouts of Jai Hind (and heck, maybe even Inquilab Zindabad), banners that go 'Who's occupying whom now, eh?', and ending with an a-capella rendition of JGM.

See also:

Insult upon injury
Reverse colonialism


Manual of Life - Alternative Definitions

n., Calculating the mean (day) of the birthdays of all your friends and family, and then announcing to them that you will wish them collectively each year on that day only, instead of wishing each one on their actual anniversary*.

See also:


* Hallmark, get your grubby hands off my idea. Birthday Day*** is patent-pending.
** It's arguable that such a person is unlikely to contemplate gifts and cards and the like, either.
*** What, it's less ridiculous than 'Birth
day'? Because we also go 'Happy weddingday'? Tchaila!


Talking of preconceptions

...you'd think by now I would stop being surprised by them, right? Nuh-uh.

Take this film, for example.

It got rented out a while back, because it looked interesting, and it had an interesting mixture of stars. Then, on reading the synopsis a little more, I assumed it was going to be too serious and melancholia-inducing, and decided I was only going to watch it when I was ready for it.

Which meant not when I was already depressed, not when I was very happy either, not in the night so I'd go to bed miserable, not on a Sunday evening because I really don't want to make those worse than they already are - just a very neutral day when things had been just medium-tedium.

Yes, picky. And don't you judge me for not wanting to watch hard-hitting films - sometimes you can have too many of them, and all you want is popcorn brain-numbers. Or a re-run of O Brother (Pop quiz: Is it possible to have watched that too many times? A: Irrelevant query).

Anyways, in the end I got fed up of having it around (plus those nice people from the rental firm were sending out polite reminder emails), so on it went.

And it was....lovely.

Quirky, and funny, and not too cloying or too preachy, and Rickman being typically snarky Rickman, and....just lovely.

So (Shyam, since you were asking), yes, I'm thinking of not seeing the description of an unknown film either and just watching it.


Of course, since we're on preconceptions and films, I have to bring this up.

Am I the only one who had no clue whatsoever that this film had been made?

And after watching the trailer, and taking into account the discussions of the past two posts, should I not be too quick to be yelling "Travesty!" at the top of my lungs and refusing to go watch the film or even stick around when it's being discussed? Despite the nice little boxing hat-tip, and despite RDJr (Jude Law....meh)?

Should I not give it the benefit of the doubt? And, even if I'm right, and the reviews find that it totally tarnishes the entire vision that Doyle created, should I still not put that aside and just go watch it as just an extremely drug-induced interpretation of his work?

Will you?


Book randomness

Increasingly, I find myself reading books without first reading the back cover or the sleeve, which carries the intro/summary. Of course, it's not completely random - I pick them from a certain genre selection, so I am somewhat aware of what it's going to be like.

I've been thinking about it, but I'm still not really sure why. I first noticed it when I started reading the latest volume in a couple of series, and realised I was 80 pages into it and I hadn't bothered to see what exactly to expect in this one. I shrugged it off.

Then I found myself doing the same with any book which had written by an author I knew and liked, but which I hadn't read. I sort of rationalised it away, figuring maybe it was because I already had some idea about the quality and tone of the book, having read the author's previous works.

But the last few times I've gone to my local library, I've found myself randomly picking up books - even though there are dozens of books that I want to read by authors I really like. And now I'm quite confused.

I'm certainly not bored of reading, or bored of the stuff that's out there. And no, I'm not four, so it's not about pretty bookcovers, ok.

Whatever the reason, there is this - I find myself reading the books more closely. You know how it is when you pick up a book that looks interesting and you sort of know how things are going to go until a certain point, so you sort of just skim through? Not happening.

Because I no longer know what the book is about, or what's going to happen, I'm reading every page like it's going to be the one where things really start to happen. And when they do, it's like that bit in a horror flick where the monster jumps out and shocks you. It's like being told a story when you're a kid, and you're just hearing it unfold, with no preconceptions. It's so much more fun.

Sure, you're likely to pick up some bad books in the process, but the experience of reading the good ones this way is worth it. Try it.

Talking of books and preconceptions, here's the reverse.

The Bride and I plan to try and read Joyce's Ulysses, as part of a we've-stopped-being-litty-readers-and-have-lost-our-culture (more details on her blog). In addition, I also plan to eat a lot of curd.

I've started the book at least five times, and have never gone beyond page 18 (hush, Falsie, no sneering now). For several reasons.

At first, I was put off because I felt I had to read the book, because it's such a wondrous masterpiece, dontchaknow, and how can you call yourself a bibliophile if you haven't read it, which immediately put me against it (I've posted about this attitude before - any sociologists/psychologists out there who know if there's an actual term for this?). So I picked it up, but resented every word, and eventually put it away.

Then, when I had cooled off enough (give or take two years), I picked it up again and got tired because I thought he was just trying to be clever and difficult for the sake of being so (which he was). And I was like, sod it if I'm going to be patronised. And the last time, well....it just didn't grip me (ok, enough with the gasps of horror already).

Still. There must be something in the book, right? So, once more into the breach, and all that. And in the interest of doing something interesting with blogs, we'll post our progress publicly, discuss how we interpreted/liked the latest bit, and so on.

Anybody want to join in? We could make this a group effort.


Fatten thee up

I don't even want to think of how much I'd have to eat if I decided to sign up for the team.

I'm suddenly reminded of Russi Mody's 16-egg omelettes. That guy was one dude.



"Look, forget all the other differences that are going to cause problems. At the end of the day, it comes down to this - you like coffee, he likes tea. Trust us, it's just not going to work".

**************************** *********

They settled for hot chocolate.

38 years later, they would get their giggles by sending snarky remember-how-you-said emails from a joint account.


Friday Fun: Fact/Fiction

(True? Not? You decide)

Every time I hear someone say that "Bombay* ends at Bandra/Dadar/Worli/", I instantly launch a subtle and emergency-related plan to lure their snotty asses all the way to Bhandup, and get them lost in the mangroves there. Just to prove to them that the city never ends.

So far it's worked on eight people.

* It'll always be Bombay.


Death Post

This post has been in my drafts folder for a year now. I'd decided it would be the last post I'd ever put up on this blog. Then I decided it would be the post I'd give to somebody to put up as the last post on this blog, in case something happened to me that would prevent me from blogging again. My Post From The Beyond, as it were.

Now I've decided to just post it. I guess I'm just tired of seeing it in my drafts folder.

And no, I'm not dying. And no, this isn't the last post on this blog.


This is going to be disjointed, rambling, yet (in my mind) connected. And long. It's because I'm sleepy (and you know the theory about talking/writing while sleepy, right? Alrighty then).

I'm probably going to hate dislike it in the morning, but that's why I'm writing this. Because I've been putting aside the things I think of to write, realising I won't be happy about having published them.

Which is not how it should be. Writing. Blogging. Whatever.

It should be easy. Fun. Cathartic. Enlightening. And it is...occasionally. When I'm blogging spontaneously, or thinking about the little things and making sure they're not about the (seemingly) big issues. Like Life.

Because there's no point to that. Talking about Life, that is, or giving your own views on it.

That's hubris.

Because the moment you say things like "the moment you" is the moment you've decided you understand how things work.

But we don't....we don't.

We're all just living this little dream, hoping to whatever powers we may choose to hope in, that we'll get through all the traps without hurting ourselves too much. We're all just hoping that we won't be the ones that will be hit by natural disasters, we won't be the ones to suffer random accidents, we won't be the ones to be diagnosed with some rare terminal disease. We're hoping to make sense of it all, when all we're really doing is trying to find some justification for this perpetual guilt we feel that we have because we have homes, and food when we want it, and money to spend on things we desire, and the knowledge and freedom and the opportunity to be able to reach out and improve ourselves.

And saying all that too, is hubris.

It's me thinking I know more than you. It's me believing that the little minor insights I have gained, which make it easier for me to deal with others and see their problems, makes me better than you. It's me hoping that if I think hard and long enough, something somewhere will make somehow make sense. And that I will be able to explain it to you, and everything will be happyhappyjoyjoy.

It's me keeping this blog alive because I thought I had something to say once. It's me hoping that by thinking and writing, I will some day do.

Do the things I could do, and perhaps should do, given that I can do them well (and better than many others if I choose to), and given that if I did do them, it might make a difference to somebody somewhere.

This is me hoping this isn't my epitaph.

And it's all hubris.

But tomorrow, I'll probably laugh cynically. And turn again to thoughts of how little this all matters anyway. These hopes and thoughts and dreams and actions. These intense investigations of ourselves and our desires and our lives. This handwringing about the true nature of things, and the underlying facets, and oh yes, let's not forget that big grandpappy of them all...the Meaning Of It All.

I believed in it once. I believed that everything could be explained if you could just realise that one moment of complete understanding. That everything would make sense. And that even if it didn't make things, it would make them bearable at the very least.

And I've lived by that credo. Lived by laughing at life, yet living it. Lived by saying that nothing really matters, but willing to accept that perhaps it does. Lived by being alive, but keeping a part of me dead, ready for the possibility that all this is some incomprehensibly complex and insignificantly irrelevant joke. Hedging my bets that this life is all there is, but with the possibility that there's something more.

This is all so ridiculous. And petty. Look at the comfyliving pseudogourmet booklover whining about his existential angst. Oh yes, so much woe is me.

What fuck.

I'm doing exactly what I for so long have tried not to - try and explain myself. Describe myself. Telling someone who you are or what you feel, uninvited, is one of the most pretentious and ego-seeking things I can think of. It's like people who go 'Oh I have such a sensitive nature'. Prats. Show, don't say.

And yet here I am, going - oh look at me, look at the 'deep' thoughts I think. Aren't they so insightful? Isn't your life now so much better than it was ten minutes ago? Aren't you just blessed to have found this blog, or even that I deigned to write all this out for you? Worship me, fool!

Again...what fuck.

Like you don't think of them too. Like they haven't been thought of by countless others before, and will be thought of by countless others again. Like they aren't just another piece of surreality that makes this whole life feel like an endless repetition of a terrible waste of laboratory resources. Like any of it matters.

So what's the point of it all; why am I typing all this?

I don't know.

I really don't.

And I'm just too tired, too confused, too thought-out to care.

Maybe I do need to just witter away about something so specific that only eight other people in the world are interested in it. Maybe I need to just witter away about anything and everything in general, that may or may not catch my fancy. Maybe I need a project. Maybe I need to stop being all meta about blogs and blogging and friendships and (you guessed it) Life, and just go with the first thought that occurs to me.


I just can't help feeling that even doing any of that will still be hubris, though.


Friday Fun: Fact/Fiction

(Warning: This may or may not be true)

I collect mugs. Individual, oddball pieces. From tiny espresso shot ones to one pint (half-litre) steins.

No sets, though. I totally fail at the 'Ideal Party-Hosting Etiquette' test.


A face-off between Destiny and Romance.

A man going hungrily for a triple prize, one that would bring all the acclaim in the world, against a man just trying to prove he was more than everybody thought he could ever be.

In the end, Destiny won out. Just.

But the Romance just got a whole lot stronger.


Such a strange turn of events. Two successive second Sundays, two successive epic five-setters. Except this time I was wishing against the guy I was willing on last year. Even though he played just as prettily, and just as gutsily.

And I know that if it was anybody but who he was playing against, I would have marvelled at the way he held it together, and maintained those awesome percentages all the way till the end, ruthlessly crushing the least sign of hope. As it was, I was just crushed for a good man who deserved more.


If the Swiss talks once more about how it's a remarkable achievement, and how it's such a great thing, and how he's staked his cleam to greatness .....

Seriously. Stop preening.


You hear that?

That's the sound a stupid law makes when it's finally overturned.

Bloggyworld seems to be surprising quiet about something as momentous as this. Nothing on the major community news blogs, or the more active bloggers. Or maybe I'm just not reading the right ones.

Either ways, it's yayness time.

Poor cops though, one less easy money-making scheme taken away from them.

P.S. For erudite and well-researched analyses of what this means for India, you have to check out that fount of wisdom and knowledge - the Rediff commentboard.

I mean, before this I hadn't realised male-gay sex = bestiality. And, of course, I hadn't also realised that 'gay sex' only referred to that performed by men, and that I was wrong in assuming that lesbian sex happens too.

Seriously, much education.

(KM, mind that coffee/keyboard/ lap/nose).



You ever realise you can't use movement on hills to explain a situation in the positive?

You can't tell someone things are going to get better by suggesting it's all downhill, because that's...bad (?) - even though going downhill is such a joyous, carefree, low-exertion process. But, you also can't tell someone it's all uphill, because they'll just think you're scaring them by pointing out the obstacles they have to climb.

It's a conspiracy by the British I tell you. Why else would the most commonly used phrase to explain good times be smooth sailing? What else would you expect from a bunch of islanders whose love for seafaring helped them conquer half the world?


Intense Paranoia - Identification Method #55

Believing that coffeeshops use hidden odour-dispensing machines to pump out specially enhanced coffee perfumes.

It is the only possible explanation for why they smell so heavenly, but their products taste like clay that's been churned all morning.


Traditionally built.

What an odd little phrase. You know what it implies, or is supposed to - the person is on the heftier side of the average body-size spectrum. But it really doesn't make sense.

What does it even mean? Traditional for that family, that community, that country, that region? Does that mean that traditionally, hence historically, the de facto tendency for humans is to be plump? That our hunter-ancestors managed to bring down entire mammoths but could do so without being lean?

And further, does that mean that traditionally, there have never been naturally thin people? That thinness is an unnatural state brought on by too much exercise, a bout of anorexia, or a little hihellokaiseho with liver-related diseases? That the relative underweight nature of almost everybody running on one side of my family is not traditional, but we've instead been cursed/blessed for deed performed in the long-distant past by one of my ancestors?

Tosh. If you want to be PC, use well-rounded. Traditionally built indeed.


Talking of things that don't make sense - the insane (there's literally no other way to describe it) rush by people in this country to buy tickets for the scheduled MJ concerts.

At last count, all 50 shows were sold out. That's 750,000 people who thought it would be worth paying between £50 and £75 each to go listen to a man who could barely speak at the press conference held to announce all those shows, whose last hyped 'live performance' ended with him whispering faintly while surrounded (ironically) by a children's choir, who last had a semi-decent hit in 1993 (and I still say it was only because of that video with Naomi), and compared to whom I look like Fatty Fatzilla, the Fatman of Fattington.

20 quid says he 'collapses' days before the first concert, and calls off the whole thing because they discover some inoperable illness. Leaving him free to not renege on his contract, but keep all the money and pay off his debts.

How can people be so stupid, again? No wait. I got the answer to that when they re-elected Dubya.

I want to smack Federer for the outfits he turns up in at Wimbledon each year. He comes across as such a....have to say it....complete and utter prat.

Just play. Don't model for goodness' sake. I'm still getting over Agassi's neon shorts-over-tights outfit.


Talking of tennis - yay for the BBC. Live coverage of the matches, across multiple channels.

Also, yay for home-working and being able to watch them all.

Don't hate me, I'm a nice person. Really.

Trying to keep the plants surviving in the current heat wave we're having here (I don't want to jinx it by calling it summer) brought to mind an old thought.

For all the efforts being made to reduce pollution by cutting down emissions and preserving trees and burying carbon blocks underground, I wonder if anybody's thought of genetically modifying plant species so that they use more carbon dioxide for photosynthesis.

More CO2 absorbed = less atmospheric CO2 = lesser global warming = life sustainability for a few more years = yayness.

Yes, I know the composition of the atmosphere is a delicate balance and we can't have too much oxygen otherwise we'd all combust and whatnot, but this could be controlled by growing such plants only in designated farms (in pots maybe) and culling them when things get better.

Anybody know any bio-engineers?



Number of you = 1

How many people you know/you matter to = 1,500*

Number of others on planet = 6.8bn (approx)

The impact your absence would make to the world = 1,500/6.8bn = 0.00000022%

Number of discovered planets = 361

The impact your absence would make if all the planets discovered so far were inhabited = (1500/6.8bn)/361 = 0.0000000006%.

And so on and so on.

* Assuming for person of average life. Differences for CEOs, artists, inventors, and politicians.
* Eight solar + 353 extrasolar

Manual of Life - Little Known Facts #64

The more you eat regularly, the hungrier you get.

Your body can get used to getting by with just a cuppa in the morning, even though it so obviously needs more. And your stomach won't complain after a day or two, but will instead settle down into devising ways in which to stretch those few measly calories till lunch. It will also shrivel up in misery, causing you to think you don't need to eat, and that even if you wanted to, you would only be able to have a little bite.

But - if you do begin to eat regularly, your stomach will be more than happy to point out that it always did require so much. And just to prove its point - and just to get back at you - it will quickly expand back to its original size, and then keep expanding. This will cause you to keep filling it, but will still leave you with some space (it's larger no?), thus causing you to feel peckish, thus causing you to eat more.

You will then become fat*.

* Assuming you're an average person, and does not exercise enough (or often enough), and eats all sorts of unhealthy processed junk, and are not born with lucky genes.


A reversal

1-6, 3-6, 0-6.


A wish fulfilled

"I don't have yearly wish-lists, but if I did, I'd want Federer to win the French and Roddick to win at least one more Major (preferably this year)."

One of my friend often accuses me of being just a Federer fan. Untrue. I appreciate other players. I admire Roddick's attempts to reinvent himself, I admire Nadal's almost-insurmountable will not to accept that he could be facing defeat, and Safin - well, every sport needs a character.

And I love a good contest, which is why I was a little sad that Federer lost Wimbledon, but not heart-broken. Because Nadal deserved that victory, and somebody needed to bring Federer down a peg (I mean, blazers with crests? Seriously?), and the game needed a rivalry.

But there's a special joy in seeing Federer win. Not because of him as a person, but because of what he's returned to the game. Delicacy, artistry, and a one-handed backhand - all in an era which seemed to be destined to be ruled by big-serving power-baseliners.

And besides that, for reminding future players that you don't have to be slamming serves down to hit a high percentage of aces - just accuracy. And that you don't need to scream and grunt while hitting winners - just timing and placement. And that whatever people may insinuate and the media may speculate, if you believe enough and hope enough, you can still succeed. And that you can win and still be a nice guy, to the extent that even your rivals want you to win the one tournament you haven't.

Some Facts

I don't get bothered too much about the whole 'greatest' debate. There are so many differences in the eras of every sport, and tennis is no different. The whole pro vs amateur problem of the early days, the differences in surfaces and racquets and balls. Pointless. One of the greatest is enough.

But just two stats -
1. This was the 20th straight Major that Federer's made the semi-finals of. The next best is 10 straight. And.....he's not done yet.

2. For all the talk about how he's lost his touch and he's on the decline, his record in the Majors since the start of 2008 (arguably his worst period in six years) reads like this - SF, RU, RU, W, RU, W. In comparison, Nadal (who has been the most dominant player in that time) has this record - SF, W, W, SF, W, R16. Nobody else even comes close.

People should get some perspective.

Bonus Stat:
Majors won, as a percentage of Majors taken part in -
Federer - 35% (14/40)
Nadal - 30% (6/20)
Sampras - 24.6% (14/57)

Not-so-perfect Destiny

Still, I bet he's wishing it had been Nadal on the other end, netting that last ball into the net.

Ah well, maybe it will still happen on Centre Court.


Fun times

He hated leaving parties.

Not because he liked them so much. Although he did. But even if he was having a miserable time at some unplanned gig at some random person's house which had a table offering only soggy crisps and just three beverages of unexciting potency, he still hated leaving parties.

Because he always wondered if they were only waiting for him to leave so that they could start talking about him. No...gossiping. No no...bitching. Backbiting. Mocking. Sneering.

It didn't matter where the party was, or how many people he happened to know there. The moment it became more than close friends having dinner, and turned into a bunch of people hanging out and bringing other unknown folk, he couldn't help but feel that the minute he waved his last casual-cool goodbye and stepped outside, the laughter and the ohmygawwds and the headshaking would begin.

And so he began staying later and later. It became a battle of patience and nerves - him against those who he felt would be the first to initiate the giggles. He learnt to eat a little before the party, so that he wouldn't be forced to get out just because the last straggly carrot stick had been devoured. He began to read up on things - on art and sport and current affairs and architecture and music and books - because when it was just you and three others, it was hard to hide behind a pretty smile and endless discussions about who would win in a fight between Batman and Bruce Lee. He learnt to ignore the pointed yawns of his hosts, or the repeated comments about what a long day they had had (what did they mean by that anyway - it wasn't as if they lived in Narnia where time ran differently) - as long as there was one other guest, he refused to leave.

Inevitably, people realised this and began leaving early - or rather, earlier than they would have if he hadn't been at the party. It was either that or end up being stuck in a conversation about whether Dali's vision was weirder than Escher's and Gaudi's combined.

He realised this, but he didn't care. He wouldn't give them the chance to make fun of him behind his back. He would not be broken.

And then, one night, he wondered if they had begun to leave early only to meet elsewhere and make fun of him.


There is still Hope

I've come to the conclusion that bloggers are pack animals.

It is a truth (which should be) universally acknowledged that bloggers need other bloggers. Not just so that there is somebody to read their own witterings and tell them how utterly and stupendously brilliant they are (which is always appreciated, of course), because you don't have to bloggers to do that, just readers.

No, bloggers need other bloggers to blog. As sounding boards. As empathy boards. As triggers for subconscious posts. As guides for things they didn't know existed. As benchmarks for the levels of literary/comic/sarcastic brilliance possible. As markers for what already exists out there, and what else they could write about.

I've realised I used to blog more (and better) when there the other bloggers I read also blogged frequently. Heck, that's why I began blogging - because I liked what others were posting, and wanted to add to the fun and craziness. I see my posts from 18 months back, and they're prolific and diverse and (compared to recent posts) experimental. And that's because there was such a strong peer group then. Anki, BM/OTP, Baby and Puppy, CS, Falsie, Flaffy, KM, Ph, Pri, Punkster, Reno, Roswitha, Scout, Space, Szer, The Bride, TR, Wiseling....everyone was blogging a lot, and blogging about diverse things*. Now - well, now KM and The Bride are still going strong, but Space has episodes, Falsie's still in Etudes mode, Szer's going pictorial-only, Pri's going on and on about some cheesy soap-opera where people pretend to be able to sing, and everybody else...well (TR's excused because of the sprog). And yes, there are other blogs one reads and interacts with it now, but these were the first ones I did, and they left their mark.


Behind the clouds is the sun still shining and all.

And so returns a place of...well, not hope, but of - Withering sarcasm. Nautanki. And heart-achingly personal outbursts. The kinds that make you squirm at being exposed to so much, so intimately, but which you can't stop reading, because it reminds you of who you were/are/could have been, and because you cannot cease to be amazed at the fortitude it must take to be able to declare it all publicly.

But most of all, a blog that's brilliant.

And so, without further ado, the event you have all been waiting for, the spectacle to end all spectacles, the one thing that was missing from your lives even though you did not know it, featuring the return of the Queen of Melodrama, the Empress of Confessions, the girl who put the 'ingapo' in Singapore, the Blogger Most Extraordinare....


Cue total dhinchaak band-baaja music. No, seriously, we love cheesy.

Go give her your love.

PS. AndIswearifyoutrollherI'llcomethumpyousomerealgood.


This is the silence of countless words
lounging in their corners;
One more chance away from still
saying nothing.

This is the emptiness of a million dreams
haunting empty imaginations;
Tricksters who fail to delude
even themselves.

This is the loneliness of a dozen friendships
huddling against the comfort;
Browsers, flippiing through a book with
too many faces.


Manual of Life - Little Observations #65

Certain sounds (specifically voices) made in the open are more distinct when heard from inside a quiet room, than if heard from on the road.

Reason? Walls and windows filter out sounds of certain frequencies, leaving those sounds that do filter through to become more noticeable and hence, more attuned to. However, when the same sounds are heard whilst standing outside the room, they get mingled with all the other sounds going on (which are now not filtered), causing the ears to not so intently tune into them.

Intense Paranoia - Identification Method #91

For best results, squeeze from the bottom and flatten as you go upwards....

ya right. just so you can make more money eh? what what? of course! i know physics okay, and i know you know i will have more control if i started near the top because then i would end up squeezing out less paste than if i tried to manipulate that whole flolloping tube from the bottom, and you dont want me to do that because then i would be using one tube for longer and you wouldnt like that would you, ohyes-mr.investor-look-our-sales-grew-sixgazillionpercent-this-quarter. you want me to use more, even though we both know it doesnt help and i would still have to go to that damn toothdriller every six months only to be poked into and twisted around and sighed over. what happened to your cleanerwhiterstronger formula there huh? why do these black holes keep springing up and sucking up my nice gnashers eh? why does it not matter how much i use - and yes i tried squeezing from the bottom you sanctimonious cow you...............oh. ohhhhh. you bastard. you wanted me to use more because the more i use the more foamy it gets and while i'm going oooh-so-tingly all thats happening is that it's actually attacking all the things that keeps my jaw strong. you know this, and those quacks i go to know this, and that is why they tell me to brush more, because you cooked up this scheme together, and all you capitalist pigs care about is your big bonuses and yeh-baby-first-class-travel on company holidays.

.....you utter utter bastards.


Friday Fun: Fpoor Fpuns

Q: What did the (very) young Pakistani entrepreneur name the "special" style of tea that he sold in Bombay*?
Q: What would you call a range of hair-growth inducing herbal teas?

A: Baal**-tea.

And I'm not the only one with steeped leaves on my mind today.

* If you've never been to the UK, is a pun on this.
** Youth, or child, in Marathi.


Friday Fun: Food Fiesta

It's been a year and a quarter since I put up one of these. Quite the surprise death, and this despite my promise to share the tofu cheesecake recipe. Maybe that was it. Or maybe it was because some people made fun of one of my favourite combinations.


For newcomers - this is not a chef's course. This is about (relatively) quick and uncomplicated dishes that look gorgeous and taste delightful. Also, calories don't exist (in the sense that they don't matter because we ignore them).


The Sandwich

Time Required:
As long as it takes.

Keep Ready:
Slices of good, soft, white bread*.
Mint-and-coriander chutney
Spicy mustard
Tomatoes, sliced
Cucumbers, peeled and sliced
Lettuce (any except Iceberg)
Hot & sweet Tomato chilli sauce
Green tabasco/Spicy Jalapeno sauce
Black pepper

Butter one side of every slice. Generously. Screw the recession and your waistline, this is a Sandwich!

Apply the three spreads to the slices (one to each slice), so that you have an even number of each. Team them up in any of the following combinations - hummus and chutney, mayo and chutney, mustard and mayo, mustard and chutney.

Try triple-decking them. The order could be - mayo (bottom-most), mustard (underside of slice two), chutney (topside of slice two), and hummus (underside of slice three).

Then add in the veggies, with large slivers of cheese. Ensure the tomatoes go with hummus, cucumbers never go with the mayo, and the cheese does not mix with mustard.

Add your sauces, avoiding ketchup with hummus, and the spicy jalapeno with mustard. Crush some fresh black pepper.

Insert any other ready filling of your choice - boiled eggs, omelettes, meat slices, corn fritters, potato patties, smoked salmon....anything except a full-blown burger.

Cover. Slice - diagonally, length-wise, breadth-wise, into quarters.


Why you should try this:
A good sandwich is not just made, it is created. It is a work of love, and art, and nuances. It is about delicate introductions made with the aim of forging lasting bonds. It demands thought, and devotion, and attention.

Not for us the random slapdash affair of stuffing the most convenient edible item between two slices, to be swallowed down with a cup of tepid tea or coffee whilst surfing the latest ramblings of somebody you still harbour suspicions about not being who their blogger profile claims they are.

No. This is about a well-crafted piece of nuanced flavours that delight in complementing each other, and more so, in satisfying you with every just-enough bite that you chew your thoughtful way through, even as you marvel at the wondrous spectacle that you hold.

This is not just about the sandwich. This is about you.

You could add red onions, or boiled beetroot, or even grated carrots.

But you'd be a philistine if you did.

* Wholemeal is fine and healthy. Malted and soda breads are intriguing for the palate. A proper ciabatta is divine. Crusty bread is yum for dipping into tea. But a truly great sandwich needs soft, white, who-cares-how-unhealthy-it-is, oh-this-is-so-amazing-I-even-ate-the-crusts bread. This is just how it is. Do not fight the force.
Always with the butter. Please stop making me repeat this. And not margarine. Butter.
*** Ideally a medium Cheddar, Red Leicester, or Gruyere. Something flavourful but not overpowering. No blue cheeses, mozzarella, or goats cheese.


More random gender-giri

....continued from here.

You almost never hear the epithet 'bastard' being hurled abusively at a woman, do you? It's always a man who's one. It's almost as if it's de facto rule, which is rather strange, given that in the purest sense, both genders can be born to the title.

Is it something about the word, perhaps? Maybe the hard ending syllable that makes it feel more masculine? (hmmm...could words themselves have genders? Find linguist. Discuss.)

Or is it a subsconscious way of balancing the scale, given that there's one definitive abusive term for females ('bitch'), but there isn't for males? Like the way we've almost-universally allocated the word gay to mean only male homosexuals, even though it defines both.

I mean, Gay and Lesbian Parade/Ball/Rights? Redundant usage, surely (although I can see why it might have been done - it probably made it less of a shocker to the fence-sitters than if it were announced as a Homosexual Parade). Come to think about it, even the word homosexual is now more or less coopted by males of such a persuasion. People mostly seem to declare themselves to be hetero-, homo- or lesbian.

...Ok that's it. Go do your own thinking now.

Edit: Some of the comments reminded me that I might have posted something related to this a while back. And I was right. Apparently, I'm now down to recycling old content.


Friday Fun: Fpoor Fpuns (For Veena)

...actually, this one really is fpoor, because it's not ready.

I know there's got to be a Q&A joke about your one and only* and this chain, but I haven't been able to figure it out in three weeks, and it's driving me crazy.

So, a hazy pun for you.

Also, yes. (Major) Groan.

* For those who don't get it, please to be reading her blog. Ok fine, be lazy. Husband 'Bill' comes from Tagore-land.
go read her blog.


"You're starting to see some recognition just in the last few days that the obsession with India as the mortal threat to Pakistan has been misguided, and that their biggest threat right now comes internally".

- Barack Obama (Speech on his first 100 days in office)


Strong, and belated, words.

The sad part is that even if you switch the order of the two names in that sentence, it's almost as valid.

Yes, I know they train terrorists and shelter wanted gangsters and export nuclear weapons training to other countries, but we obsess about them and allow our politicians to use them as a bogeyman to deflect attention from the miserable state of our country's infrastructure, planning, healthcare, education, and civil rights.

We've allowed ourselves to get warped into a mentality where we agree that most Pakistanis are "probably all right", but still froth with rabid jingoism the minute we see that green-and-white flag, just like they love our Bollywood stars but fall for the manipulative games their leaders play.

We've allowed ourselves to be defined by our hate, just like them.



It's a given that in dire economic straits, crime (especially petty crime) increases. And so it has been proved.

But there are other more obvious-in-hindsight trends that are emerging, such as the increased levels of pets being abandoned.

And then there's this story, which predicts that we can expect more lag over the Net in the next few years. Ok, it's not directly linked, and it's primarily it's a case of increased demand and middling-antiquated infrastructure. However, it's worth considering if the demand hasn't spiked right about now because people are spending more time at home, either because it's too expensive to eat/party out, or because they've got more free time from their jobs, or because it's cheaper to shop online than going to a store.

It's also interesting to contemplate just how this problem will be tackled. It's probably safe to assume that people will turn more to the Net as the technology gets more advanced. But somewhere down the line, the increased demand for all this - memory-hungry online-streaming videos and music, shopping portals that rely on flash-heavy advertisements to survive, social networking sites that encourage people to add more photos and videos, blogs that encourage more people to churn out more matter that uses up more data - will begin to hurt. Noticeably.

And how will we react? The only remote hope of a voice of reason being heard will be if there are independent volunteer bodies that work towards getting people to reduce their Net usage (nobody's going to listen to the government). But even then, how many will be willing to give up what will have become an essential part of their lives, just on the say-so of somebody else - even if that person makes sense? How many will have the inclination and the willpower to sacrifice putting up blogposts, or downloading more than a certain number of songs, or even stop just surfing all the time? How many of us will even remember what it means to actually phone someone and email someone, instead of putting up quick post-it notes on their Facebook page?

How much will you be willing to give up?


If you live in, or have visited, London and know about this already, please move on down to the previous posts and comment on them. Or not.

But for those of you do live in the city, and like me are clueless enough not to have heard of this place, or are going to be visiting the city and stand a chance of feeling home-sick for some really good, as-authentic-as-you-can-get-outside-India food, I have two words for you:

Chennai Dosa

I can only vouch for the Wembley branch, but holy purple pearls, can I vouch for it. It was easily the best non-homemade South Indian food I've eaten in this country, and heck, one of the better ones I've even eaten anywhere upwards of the Vindhyas. And it's cheap, ridiculously so. And most importantly, it introduced me to a whole new sub-genre of food (again, if this is old news, some of us are slow, ok? Ok) : South-Indian-Chinese.

That's right. Chilly Fried Idlis, baby. Lots of ajinomoto and too much colour, but oh so brilliantly good.

Go (if you haven't). And then come thank me. One shall accept all gratitude with due graciousness.


In one of the chapters of Himalaya, Michael Palin writes about this Bhutanese concert he's attended. And there's a throwaway line where he mentions that the final piece is "anti-climactic", because it's this slow flute solo that follows a tempesteous group number.

And it struck me, that that's the perfect example of how we look at or expect our entertainment to be (or not, in this case).

All concerts must end with a bang. All jokes must have that punchy one-liner. All stories must have that all-conclusive tying up of threads. All films must reach soaring new heights. We litter our lives with such words - Showstopper. Crescendo.

And when anything goes against the grain, we instinctively react with a sense of discomfort and alienation. It's such an ingrained process this - that everything must build/converge to a singularity of maximum impact - that the concept of serene goings-on after the big explosion feels....wrong.

And what struck me particularly, was that's it's just like sex.

Build up, build up, buiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiild up....bang. See?

Oh sure, a song may have a quiet note or two after the screech, and a book may have a small epilogue. And that's just like sex too, the gradual climbdown after the big event (that is, if you have one).

But a slow piece following a rock anthem? A film where the crux happens in the first half, and the rest is spent meandering? A crime thriller where the motive/identity is revealed with six chapters to spare, and the rest going on about food? Happens, but very rarely. And when it does, the large proportion of those who partake of it, don't like it. For instance, remember how many people cribbed about the ending of LoTR 3 - despite the fact that it was based on the book, and they even cut out the Battle of the Shire - just because it followed the blowing up of Sauron?

And I wonder whether all these other modes of entertainment happen to imitate sex (because that was the original template), or whether it's just coincidental that they do? Did we subconsciously mould our....expressions to resemble that which first gave them joy, or is it just that this behaviour indicates that this is how humans prefer to enjoy anything? I'll even throw in a feminist angle, about how it could be argued that this 'standard' template of songs/books/stories/films resembles sex because for large parts of human history, they were created and propagated by men.

Fanciful theory, but interesting, na?


This blogger just loves Grief, dontchaknow?

Long, looooong post. To make up for the long, loooooooooooong gaps in posting.


So it's that time of the half-decade again, where one's moral and social integrity will be repeatedly appealed to and put up for questioning. Where whether or not you did it matters more than if you didn't do it, regardless of their being better reasons for choosing the latter. Where either you're part of the progress, or you're just a whining ingrate.

Oh yeh, baby, it's Election Time.

And by this time, you will have spent at least six months being bombarded by slick ads, flyers in your mail, group invites on social networking sites, and dinner-party arguments. Most of which will say that you have to vote, because it's your duty, and because the alternative isn't really a viable option, and because if you don't vote, you're as bad as a woodpecker on caffeine, and why are you still living here, again?

All valid arguments, surely?

Let's get this straight. People should vote, it's just that it's not like they must. I'm still to hear an argument that offers more reasons to vote than reasons not to if the candidates do not deserve to be elected .

Let's examine those pro-reasons a bit -
1) Elections are expensive. Re-elections would cost more money to a country that can't afford it anyway.

2) Elections are time-consuming. The amount of time spent in organising and holding one is a drain on society, which could be used for better productivity.

3) If you don't like the candidates, vote for the least worst of the lot.

4) It's your duty as a citizen to vote. If nobody voted, how would anybody get elected, and if nobody got elected, how would any government form, and if no government was formed, how would any decisions be made, and if no decisions got made, how would the country run?

5) Oh, and if you don't vote, you don't get to complain.

To which I say, poppycock.

I don't know why I say it, except that the word is rather pleasing, even if it is rather suggestive. It's also a delightfully dismissive word. Say it. Poppycock. Popppppycock. Even better, say Tosh and poppycock. It flows, does it not? Also, it sounds more dismissive, if possible.

However, I suspect that would not suffice, and I would be required to present some more coherent rebuttals. So 'erewegothen.

Firstly - and (to me) most importantly - it's not my duty to vote.

It's my right to.

Just like it's my right to be given a choice of candidates who may differ in ideals and strategems and plans, but who do aim to do some good.

Just like it's my right to expect those who want to be responsible for the futures of numerous others, to be responsible enough to be chosen.

Just like it's my right to decide not to exercise that right, if I judge that those who yearn for it are not equal to the task.

I can vote, but that does not mean I have to. I would like to, but I do not accept that I must, whether I like it or not.

And why?

Because a choice between a thug and a thief is no choice at all.
Because a choice between someone with a personal agenda and someone who plunges into the fray with no ideas but with "good intent" is even worse.
Because, in good conscience, I cannot help select someone I know is unworthy.
Because I refuse to bring someone to power just for the sake of it.

And because the lesser of two evils is always - always - still an evil.

I've never got that theory - Choose him, he'll only build 14 totally pointless flyovers....No, no, choose her, she'll only let her brothers build 20 new skyscrapers....No, no, choose one of them, they have no criminal records.
Not done.
If you will not hire somebody in your house, or in your business, who you know is incompetent; if you will ask them for references to show that they're not going to kill you while you sleep; if you're going to report them to the police if they steal your belongings - then how can you hire somebody like that to rule over the fate of hundreds of thousands of people?

It's a sad state of affairs when you're voting for someone solely because of their lack of criminal activity, regardless of whether anything in their lives has prepared them for the kind of multi-tasking, people-oriented, negotiating-heavy skills that politics requires.


Yes, elections may be expensive - but they're less expensive than the money that gets wasted by and on incompetent idiots elected from them. Think salaries, housing, travel, security and all the other perks that get given to someone who doesn't do their job properly. And all the money that gets thrown at unnecessary projects by these people, or worse, on not doing anything.

I'd rather not vote to power someone who I know is going to waste all the money that is collected from me after I work hard to earn it - even if it means wasting all the money that goes into organising an election.


I'm not asking for saints. I'm not asking for Mr. Perfect or Ms. Awesome. I'm just asking for people who have some understanding of the world around them. Who have some basic understanding of socio-economics, health, and infrastructure. Who have some reason that drove them to do this job besides the greed of all that loot they could wallow in. Who have some sense of shame and accountability.

And since all of that's not going to happen anytime soon, don't expect me to vote either.

As for the last point, if you dare tell me that I can't complain because I didn't vote, then - as the lovable Irish so politely put it - feck off, ya gobby piece of shite.

I didn't give a driving license to the idiots who zoom past me while I'm cycling round a blind corner, but I sure as heck can complain about them. I didn't ask the damn banks to mess around with the world's economy, but I sure as heck can complain about them. And while I may not have voted the idiot who's ruining my city/state/country, I sure as heck can complain about the idiots who did.

Don't tell me I can't complain, because hey, did you see the alternatives? I can refuse to be part of what is at best a compromise, and at worse, a total surrender of beliefs and ideals - and still retain the right to complain about those who do (at least...I think I can).

And yes, yes, stop jumping about, I haven't forgotten point 4.

So, what option does this leave us? No elected candidates, hung parliaments and President's Rule? Like that would help. But, it's not like the option we've gone for all these years has been that brilliant in comparison, has it? I've never been a fan of the government system, and in countries like India, a lot of the progress that has taken place has come about because of the aims and work of interested citizen groups. Despite the government, not because of it.

Of course, that's a simplistic argument. We've unfortunately painted ourselves into a corner where it is pretty nigh impossible to break out of the country-state model that has emerged, and governments are a necessary evil. I'd like to think there's a better way of making the system better than by not voting, but the simple answer is - I don't know.

I'd like to think that if we keep rejecting candidates, the people who put them up for our approval will get the hint and propose somebody else. And that method of elimination, however arbitrary and faulty (and it is both, to an extreme degree), will be better than the system we currently have. But I'm not getting my hopes up too much there, either.

So, vote if you want to, and please vote if you find somebody who's decent and looks like they could improve (or at least change) things. But for the love of all things purple, don't do it because you're told you have to, don't do it and feel you've "done your bit" for the country, and please please don't do it because you're accused of "being asleep" by a holier-than-thou advertisement.

Right. That's me done. Now, bring on the grief.

In case you were going to vote, and thinking of using that much-hyped '49-0' clause, the actual rule, as detailed in The Conduct of Elections Rules 1961, is as follows:
"If an elector, after his electoral roll number has been duly entered in the register of voters in Form-17A and has put his signature or thumb impression thereon as required under sub-rule (1) of rule 49L, decided not to record his vote, a remark to this effect shall be made against the said entry in Form 17A by the presiding officer and the signature or thumb impression of the elector shall be obtained against such remark".
Which, in itself, raises a whole host of issues.

Such as,
Oi you parochial jerk, whatever happened to 'his/her'?
Oi, isn't this a secret ballot?
So.....this doesn't come under 'pressuring the voter'?

However, let's leave those for the moment. Do note that there's nothing in the rules which specifies that if the number of 'non-votes' is greater than the number of votes for any candidate, that particular election will be declared null and void. Which obviously puts paid to the theory being suggested that the same candidates can therefore not stand in that election again.

As of now, all that happens is that you go to the polling station, prove that you are who your card claims you to be, get ready to vote and then spring this option on the polling officials. Who will then sigh and bang their foreheads on the nearest wall and wonder why they had to be assigned to this station and suffer such fools, after which melodrama they will note your non-vote against your name in the voting register (since the Electronic Voting Machines do not allow for a non-vote), and everybody around you will stare at you as if you just pulled a purple skateboard from your left nostril.

And, if you're really unlucky, one of those avid starers will be the snitch for one of the candidates' local henchmen, who will then come around to thump you some after his boss loses by one vote.

What's worse, although the details of how many votes were cast for each candidate are proudly proclaimed, the number of non-votes currently aren't. They will just go in the 'Abstain' tally, and won't go towards the overall number of votes cast, thus skewing each candidate's actual percentage of votes won/total number of votes cast. Now, Wikiboo says there's a petition and all to alter this, but nothing's official yet.