Month: November 2009

On Things, Where You’re Left With Nothing

There are so many kinds of things in this world; Things which make you flash your pearlies. Things which bring about that spring in your step. Things which make you jump, trampoline-style. Things which piss you off. Things about which you rant. Things about which you rave.

At times though, there are certain things which leave you buzzing inside. Like some deranged cicada. Your mind’s a whorl, a friggin maelstrom. You have so much to say, but you never get started. Not even with the first syllable. You don’t start, for you don’t bloody know whether you have it in you, to be able to stop. And being the wuss you are, you take the easy way out. You blank ’em out. For these are things, where you’re left with nothing.

Back in my NUJS-days, I had once seen a documentary called The Final Solution. Today, I caught another documentary, Terror in Mumbai. (Cross-linked from here) And that thing happened all over again.

On Biographies

Have long considered biographies to be something in the nature of fence-sitters, genre-shifters, you know. Never knowing, whether to stand satisfied amongst the ranks of historical texts, or meander their way to passable fiction.

The problem with most biographies (and by extension, biographers) is that they often get so caught up in the cult of their subject matter, they degenerate into little better than hagiographies at best (and utter rot at worst). Its as if the slightest irreverence would irrevocably sully their subject’s greatness. What is forgotten is, literary license is not simply an option. Its a right. Its a bloody prerogative. If I want to know more about some hallowed notable from the ages past, I’ll read Wikipedia 🙂 Not read some blasted tome with pretensions to historical perspicacity and literary greatness.

In short, biographies equals tripe.

At times though, you tend to surprise yourself. At times, you tend to watch movies like Public Enemies and read books like Wolf Hall.

(Debatable Non Sequitur/ Memo to Self: Rider Haggard penned ‘She’. If there ever was a novel worthy of the title of ‘He’, Wolf Hall’s it)

(Non-Debatable Non Sequitur: There’s a CCD some 200 mtrs from where I stay. Discovered it yesterday. Weird)

When you go WOW

Every once in a while, something comes along which makes one go WOW. If you’re listening to a song, it might be a sudden chord progression or perhaps, some nifty lyrical arrangement. Or, as is often the case with me, a simple matter of Uilleann pipes. If yer reading a book, some kind of word play, perhaps some literary technique; perhaps a dénouement, perhaps Chekhov’s celebrated rifles.

Such a moment might be something as banal as discovering some random trivia. Or it might have the brooding majesty of mountains wreathed in early morning mist. The point is, there are always things in life to amaze you, to bowl you over. Totally instinctive types. And leave you chuckling silently like some kind of a deranged Cheshire Cat afterwards. Which is much, much good 🙂

Saw me a movie today. By the name of Mongol. There was this one particular scene; the final battle sequence between Temüjin and Jamukha. No, not even the final battle sequence, the prelude to it actually. The apéritif, as they say. A detachment of horsemen, decked completely in black, masked, cloaked, scimitars in both hands, dagger grip, and looking something like this:

See, that's how you oughta use 'em swords

Now, multiply that image by forty, and have them arranged in parallel formation. Pretty good naa, but not yet cult. So, why am I raving about it? Is it because I am a prat? Is it because I am over-caffeinated? No, no, I won’t spoil it for ya. You’ve got to see the three minute odd long sequence for that. You’ve got to see the way it bloody ends. And then you can decide, whether or not to go WOW.

Snapshots From Shangri-La

Random. Utterly random.

The dogs of Bhutan are weird. Ultra-weird. You know, if you go up into the mountains, they are practically indistinguishable from foxes. A few more thousand feet, then they are practically indistinguishable from wolves. Which is just a wee bit disconcerting.

The city dogs though are just plain weird. Take your typical Indian street-dogs for instance. Haring it across the moment they see the slightest sign of traffic. As if their bloody lives depended on that one mad dash across the street. Which, to be fair, it probably does.

The Bhutanese branch of Canis Lupis Familiaris though, seem to possess none of this unseemly haste. These chaps will just park themselves in the middle of the road, and stare at all incoming vehicles with a peculiar mealy-mouthed sadness. Propah Hamlet types. Willing ’em blasted cars to go on and do their worst. And they won’t move. Not an inch.

And I Stop and Stare

At times, I see stuff which really cracks me up. This signboard’s right up there:

The Incredibly Funny Placard

Not teasing animals, in forsooth, is an admirable sentiment. But not when the animal in question is this:

A Takin. Wondering whether or not to be pissed.

A takin, as per popular legend, owes its origin to an act of veritable legerdemain. The redoubtable Lama Drukpa Kunley (aka The Divine Madman) upon being urged to perform a miracle, fused a goat’s head on a cow’s torso. And lo and behold, the animal trundled across to the meadows to forage for herbiage. True Takin-style.

Be that as it may, a takin is also possibly the placidest, the most unflappable, and the most singularly unconcerned-looking creature I have ever come across. To wit, many might there be beasts to be bothered by a goodly banter, but surely doth not a takin stand arrayed amongst them 🙂

The Bard once said, What’s in a name? That which we call a rose by any other name would smell just as sweet. Methinks that’s utter faff. Imagine if Romeo’s name had been Rentomendarkwapipachu instead. Juliet would’ve happily spent the rest of her life as Mrs. Paris. As opposed to causing general misery and heartburn all round.

Well the point is, there are at times, certain names which get your goat. Take this hotel for instance:

And this one's for you, Mr. Freud.

Unearthed it while randomly roaming around in Paro. Inconspicuous though it might be, it is by no means hidden. Hell, its just off the main road! Bloody hell, its off the only road Paro has!! And more importantly, one would think that the entire point of having a hotel, is that it should be anything but hidden.

Or perhaps, I am missing the entire point. If there is one place in the world, where an establishment can call itself “Hidden Hotel”, and get away with it, its gotta be in The Last Shangri-La.

In Bhutan, Do As the Bhutanese Do

A typical Bhutanese platter looks like this:

Thimphu_Hotel_Lunch

And, that, milord, eez scrumptious.

Just to give you an idea:

  1. The Bhutanese go in for cheese with a vengeance.
  2. The Bhutanese go in for chillies with a vengeance.
  3. And the portions served are humongous.
  4. In short, IT IS AWESOME.

One would think that with the amount of grub on offer (and their capacity to hog), the Bhutanese would be topping the world obesity charts. But then, one would think wrong. I swear, I didn’t get to see a single pot-belly in the 8-10 odd days I spent hiking and being all touristy in Bhutan. Not even ONE.

Ain’t their fault actually. Punakha apart, I don’t think I ever encountered a single other place, which could be termed flat, flat-ish, or even anything vaguely approaching flat. It was all either uphill or downhill. (Interesting non-sequitur by the way, this might explain Bhutan’s current position in the FIFA world rankings. Imagine, one misdirected kick, and the bloody ball lands somewhere at the bottom of some mountain.)

And automated contraptions in Bhutan, by common perception, are meant for chickens, for friggin nancies, and suchlike. (Another interesting non-sequitur by the way, Bhutan’s probably the only country in the world which does not have traffic-lights. They tried installing a few in Thimphu, but residents complained that they were a little too impersonal.)

Which, basically means, that you walk. All day long, all year round. WHICH IS AGAIN AWESOME. And boy, these guys can walk. I used to think I was reasonably fit. Not anymore. Not after I went hiking, pretty much lost it after the first couple of hours, and then saw Bhutanese guides run circles around me as if they were in a friggin playground. Not after I met titchy school-kids, all nattily attired in ghos and kiras, walk some 10 odd kms everyday to go to their schools.

So, in Bhutan, you do as the Bhutanese do. You Hog. And Then You Burn ‘Em Calories Off on Some Random 15 km Trail. Much, much good 🙂

Ran-dom

I usually avoid going to multiplexes. I usually avoid watching Hindi movies. At times though, I tend to forget the exact reasons why. Then, after I’ve wasted some three hours on some random, nameless tripe (not to mention, being lighter by around half a thou in the process), I’m good for another year or so.

Well, tripe this time round was Abhimaan meets Amadeus in the Land of Union Jack. A land where a groupie-cum-background dancer is a bona fide member of a full-fledged rock band. A land where the rock band itself was formed by way of an impromptu jamming session at Trafalgar Square (They were just roaming around with all their heavy-duty muzeek artillery, you know). Bloody hell, a land where Salman Khan, his dudeness himself, is the best friggin part of the movie. ‘Nuff said.

Was just going through the longlists for the Man Asian Prize. Methinks they should call it the Man Indian Prize. The rest are outnumbered by a ratio of somewhere around ten to one. The only surprising bit is no Indian has won it yet. Well, there’s always next year. Always something called mathematical probability, na. Or as Godzilla would say, Size does Matter.

There’s this song you know; major, major staple at farewell dos. And its called ‘Good Riddance’. Damn, even if the song itself had been utter crap, this alone should have sufficed for cult-dom. Caught the video on VH1 today. And realized, I’d never seen the blasted thing before. Much good.