If you've read this blog long enough, you'll know that I frequently return to a few key themes - one of which being that there's nothing original left to say or write about anymore.

It's something I try not to think about, something I try really hard to avoid acknowledging, but it just keeps returning ever so often to mock me and taunt me.

And it keeps asking - why, really, do we still write?

Are we trying to explain and describe Love? Lust? Sex? Greed? Betrayal? Despair? War? Marriage? Childhood repression? Struggles against despots? Surviving ethnic cleansing? Living in an alien land? Success despite the odds? Crime? Zombies? Elves and dwarves? Distant planets? Angst-ridden teenagers? The meaning of our existence? The lack of meaning in our existence? How our universe may just be a drop in a gigantic ocean of multi-verses? How there is no god? Or how there is a god and it created the universe as an experiment?

Done, done, and done again.

And done well.

And in different languages.

There is nothing you can pick up to read that somebody else cannot point to have been written before. And yet.....we keep writing. And we keep reading. And the trees, oh the tree, they keep getting murdered.

(A caveat here - I guess I'm really talking about fiction here. New books that are observational and informational non-fiction, those I can understand.)

So what is it? Why do we keep doing this? Why do those of us who do write, write? Why do we work so hard on these stories that we just have to tell? Is it anything more than just clever little nuances of word-arrangements and style-quirks and clever little lines?

And why do those of us who read, read? Why do we hunt down and devour all the "bright new voices" that spurt out onto the scene? Do we really think we're going to find something new that we haven't found before? Do we really believe that there's some new thought out there that nobody's thought of, and which will change the way we see our world? Or has it simply become about how well the person writes, rather than what they write about?

So, at what point does it stop being about the matter and becomes more about the style? If it's just about the latter, then that's fine. Reading Murakami and Keret and Vonnegut for the way they spin their stories is fine. But reading them and believing that they, and others like them, are saying something new and profound and, goodness forbid, wise - well, really now.

Yet, we write and we read. I write and I read.

And perhaps, the answer is because we want...need...the stories.

Because we want to keep understanding all the possible facets of any defined feeling/situation/era. Because we believe there is no absolute answer, and every story we read brings us closer to our version of the truth. Because we need to know we're not alone, and somebody somewhere looks at the world in the way we do. Or doesn't. Because this is the only way we know to live all those lives we haven't, or can't. And because, in the end, we still dream of being four years old and lying curled up somewhere while somebody's describing these wondrous lands and the amazing beings that inhabit them.

So, I write. You read. And when you're done, you can buy me a crate of mangoes.


Mixed bag

Hello poppets. Sorry about the funk I - and this blog - have been in, in the recent past. Too much thinking, too many distractions, too much lethargy, and not enough good health. But never fear, a little outing has done wonders, and I'm back, on track, without crack...and whatever else rhymes with that.


First up, there's this brilliant cycling trip for charity that I only just read about, and am really, seriously, properly considering training for. Sure, it's a lot of money to raise, and it's a fair amount of cycling, plus there'll be jhanjhat about leave and visas and whoknowswhatelse. But hello, if nothing else, just imagine the scenery.

So who's with me? TR? Szer?


I meant to blog about this a week ago, but better late yada yada.

You remember this stupid fuckawful concept of a 'game'? Well, somebody decided to give it a serious run for their money. Apparently, simulating rape is now something that some people consider a viable subject for PC games. No, seriously.

Now, the risk of giving publicity to things like this is that it might just bring it to the attention of some deluded creep who actually decides they like it. So why blog about it? Because -
a) It's you guys. You're good and all. Model citizens. No worries there.
b) It's on Amazon. So now open/free-market = 'pander to criminal tastes'? If you're the crusading type, you might want to complain to Amazon and see what they have to say. Or whip up a campaign to force the company to improve their filtering options.


I'm forecasting a ton of posts/articles about how SM shouldn't have won the way it did, and how it will only reinforce the stereotypes about India, and how it's a travesty that it won the main film awards despite being partially in Hindi only because it was made by foreigners.


It's not like the Oscars really go to those who always deserve it. Dances with Wolves, anyone? Please! The awards have always been about politics and statements and rewards. SM had to win, because it was a fairytale ending for a fairytale of a film. It's all unreal, all happily ever after.

And you know what? Right now, Bombay could do with this. We didn't get it for Salaam Bombay? Fine. We'll take it now, thankyouthankyou, and the more fool you for taking 20 years to realise this. And you may think it's charity, but hey, who cares, we have the award anyway. So who's the chump now?


And lastly, two words - Bon Iver.

Ideal for workday background listening. All gratitude (and there is much of it here) to be directed towards Scout. The girl may not be blogging anymore, but her taste in music remains impeccable.


For whoever's lived on both sides of the pond

"I think the biggest difference between England and America is that England has history, and America has geography. In England, you can find whatever you need as long as you're willing to go back far enough, or go and find out when it happened. In America, you can find whatever you need just as long as you're prepared to drive far enough".

- Neil Gaiman (interview at the back of American Gods)


Manual of Life - Motto # 6

(Always) Be prepared to be surprised.


Sometimes, your worst nightmares are when your dreams come true.


Intense Paranoia - Identification Method #43

Excerpts from the minutes of the meeting of the Committee for the Proection of Proection Proection and Proection, held on 19 Fe bber, 1978.


Minister Edwds: And your lot are certain about this?

Professor Edwd: Quite certain.

Minister Edwds: And there's no possibility of any errors in calculations?

Professor Edwd: None whatsoever.

Minister Edwds: No ambiguity about the conclusions?

Professor Edwd: Not in the least.

Minister Edwds: And everybody's unanimous about this? Nobody has an alternative theory?

Professor Edwd: Sir, every single scientist working on this is agreed that this is inevitable.

Minister Edwds: But dammit, man, it's like something out of a science-fiction story!

Professor Edwd: Nevertheless, sir, this is going to happen.

Minister Edwds: I still don't see how.

Professor Edwd: Let me explain again. Given the explosion of population levels in Asian countries, by 2015, eight of the 15 .........................most populous countries in the world will be from Eastern and Southern Asia. Further, the entire vertical belt from .........................Iran to Japan will account for about 65% of the world's population. On the other hand, the Americas will only account .........................for about 10-15%.

Minister Edwds: With you so far.

Professor Edwd: Ok. Well, given that the Americas are almost directly at the other side of the globe from the Asian region, this will .........................create an imbalance. And because of this imbalance, the distribution of weight on the Earth's surface will ever so .........................slightly be in favour of one side of the globe.

Minister Edwds: But surely the extra landmass of the Americas, not to mention the Pacific Ocean, should balance the scales, so to .........................speak.

Professor Edwd: They do, and they have for all these millennia. But, and this is the crucial bit, this level of population imbalance has .........................never occurred before. In fact, the imbalance will be almost completely imperceptible, and its effect will be almost .........................negligible.

Minister Edwds: Well, then, what's the problem?

Professor Edwd: Almost negligible, sir. Over time, given no changes in the population growth levels, this slight imbalance will continue .........................to grow and eventually cause a very tiny shift in the Earth's rotation and revolution. Again, a very tiny shift, but it will .........................be there nevertheless.

Minister Edwds: And this will cause trouble?

Professor Edwd: Without a doubt. Weather patterns will alter, the effect of the Sun on some parts of the world will be radically .........................different, the magnetic poles may be affected, not to mention the tectonic plates. In short, life will be drastically .........................different.

Minister Edwds: And so you've come up with this solution.

Professor Edwd: Yes, sir. Unless, of course, you wish to pursue a policy of generating wide-spread conflict, natural disasters, and .........................economic meltdowns in the region, which would lead to the deaths of millions of people, and help adjust the balance.

Minister Edwds: Of course not! Don't be stupid, man, nobody wants that on their conscience.

Professor Edwd: Your predecessor didn't seem to mind.

Minister Edwds: My predecessory was a ....

Professor Edwd: An idiot.

Minister Edwds: Hrrumph...yes, quite.

Professor Edwd: Well, then, this is the only real alternative.

Minister Edwds: Can't we just share this data with the world, and try and convince these countries to stop popping out so many .........................children?

Professor Edwd: And risk being accused of trying to control their sovereignity by manipulating data? Risk being accused of attempting .........................to prevent them from 'realising their potential' by acting like a 'typically colonial overlord'? Worse, risk our findings .........................being accepted and then being told that they would be sending boatloads of people over to our side of the world to .........................help balance things out?

Minister Edwds: Yes.....I guess you're right. Alright then, explain what you have in mind.

Professor Edwd: It's simple, sir. Since we can't prevent the Asian countries from growing in population, and since the Americas won't .........................keep up in numbers, we have to simply increase the weight of the population on this side so that overall, the weights .........................match.

Minister Edwds: Fatten them up, you mean, so that one of us are equal to three of them

Professor Edwd: Exactly, sir.

Minister Edwds: And you plan to do this by opening these....what did you call them?

Professor Edwd: Fast food chains, sir.

Minister Edwds: Hahahaha...Won't people lose weight if they have to run to get such food?

Professor Edwd: Ha ha. Very droll, sir. No, it's called so because the food will be served quickly, and because people will be expected to .........................eat it quickly and leave the premises. No more sitting and eating meals at leisure, with lots of chatting. No, you go in, .........................you gulp your food down, and you run off. This will serve three purposes. First, by eating quickly, you're less likely to .........................chew your food properly and thus less likely to digest it properly. A larger percentage of food turns to fat as a result. .........................Two, by serving more people in less time, we get more people to eat. Three, if you're eating so quickly, you're less .........................likely to reflect on how unhealthy the food you're eating really is.

Minister Edwds: And just how unhealthy will the food be?

Professor Edwd: Very. Full of fat, dripping oil, packed with lard-inducing chemicals, a distinct lack of fibre, - the works.

Minister Edwds: And you're convinced people will want to eat such slop?

Professor Edwd: We are quite certain. Our studies show that they will be immensely successful if we merely paint these places in bright .........................colours, advertise them with peppy jingles and a funny slogan or two, give them some quirky names, and throw in a .........................side-order or two of fizzy drinks.

Minister Edwds: And this will all be legitimate?

Professor Edwd: Every step of the way. Publicly listed companies with minority shareholders, giving out dividends, hiring and firing - .........................but all secretly owned by our agents.

Minister Edwds: And there will be no trace back to us?

Professor Edwd: None whatsoever. And even if someone does, whose going to believe such an outrageous story. They'll just be labelled .........................as conspiracy nutters, and that will be that.

Minister Edwds: Well, I guess there's no harm in trying.

Professor Edwd: So we should take that as a 'yes'?

Minister Edwds: Oh why not. Approval granted.

Professor Edwd: Thank you. Now, for the next item on our agenda..



For Veena*

Bamse's Guide on how to cope with a little snow.

You know, this country is about as bad as India. Remember the floods in 2006? And now this. Travel is still pretty dire in the capital, the economy is expecting a £2bn hit, and inevitably, some people find reason to moan about giving kids a holiday.

At least this fellow's happy about it all.

* Ok, also for Shefaly, Feanor, Dewdrop, Neha, and Shyam. But mostly Veena.


Right, you lot. Let's get this sorted then.

Through feedreaders, Aishwarya occasionally shares random interesting, funny, and just plain wacky posts by others. A few days back, she pointed to this article. And it seemed like the perfect excuse to talk about something that some readers of this blog probably hate me for.

(Aside - I disliked that article. No wait....I thoroughly disliked the article. It is the ideal example of why I don't read sites/blogs that are about 'movements' or 'viewpoints'. Because they're the kind of places that post long, rambling writeups filled with pseudo-jargon created not just to exclude any new reader (that's a given), but also to cover up the distinct lack of a new thought/idea/angle. I mean, seriously, "thin privilege"? What utter shite).

Anyways, this isn't about the ideas discussed in the article per se. It's about why that woman could write the article in the first place - by being perpetually thin.


Most people assume that if you're not fat, you're fit. That just because it's not too healthy to be overweight, and since you're so obviously not, you're healthy. That just because you can go through a lunch-for-two at breakfast, but not put on any weight, that you're blessed and "soooo lucky - uggh, I haaaate you". That just because you can fit into a size 'S' means you won't have all the problems that people at the other end of the physical spectrum face.

Wrong, wrong, wrong.

Being lean is better. Being trim is healthy. Being the type of person who can lose or gain five kilos in three weeks of training, and can bench press twice their body weight while still fitting in a 'S/M', that's healthy. Being naturally thin, despite every attempt you make to not be so, isn't.

(And by naturally thin, I'm not referring to anorexic models, or people who eat half an apple and complain about how much they've eaten today. I mean people like this. People who represent the other extreme of the weight-gene, who need to do three lunges after three helpings of biryani and phirni to burn off all the calories they just ingested. People who are skinny as kids, gangly as teenagers, and thin as adults. And by the way, it's got nothing to do with metabolic rates. Is a myth, that. It does have to do with genes, though.)

Because naturally thin people can have high levels of cholesterol too. Because they are more at risk when they fall ill - losing five kilos to that bout of malaria could mean tipping over from 'underweight' to 'famine-zone thin'. Because they have to spend more money than most people to buy more layers of clothing than other people do, when living in cool climes, what with not having the layers of natural fat that others use to ward off cold winds.

Because they end up spending even more money on gyms and trainers only to discover that if they don't go for just one week, they'll be back to their old skinnyass self. Because they're more likely to get hernias from injudiciously trying to lift something (or someone) heavy, just to prove that while they might be thin, they're not weak. Because they're more likely to be shaken about like a rag when the wind is howling down the streets.

Because they spend more money than average on food, because they need to eat more than the normal amount just to keep on remaining that thin. Because despite stuffing their face at every single meal, when they meet someone after a period of more than a fortnight, they are inevitably told that they're "wasting away".

Because they too suffer from name-calling trauma, what with epithets such as beanpole, cricket stump, clothes hanger and sookhi bombil* being merrily applied to them throughout their lives. Because they end up being less touchy-feely after years of having other people complain about how their bones are short-range weapons of Pain.

And by 'they', obviously I mean 'us'.

So yes, being overweight isn't fun. But neither is the opposite. Being naturally, genetically thin is NOT a blessing. It is NOT to be envied. And it is certainly NOT something such people deserve to be hated for.

Let that be the end of that. We good? Good.

Now excuse me while I go eat my mid-morning triple-decker cheese toast, with a side order of hot chocolate.....whaaaat? It's snowing outside. I need all those layers.

* Dried Bombay Duck. You'll understand if you've seen one.