Places

A Week

Been a week now. Almost to the hour. 

Last few days have sure been pretty hectic. An accelerated version of an accelerated version of a law degree; Scouring around the city (and Gumtree) (and Moveflat) (and lots of other places) for somewhere to stay; Futzing around in general; And the COLD.

The funny thing about locating acco in London (for me, at least!!) is that, taken cumulatively, I must’ve spent at least some 50, 60 hours on websites like Gumtree and all, either searching for acco, mailing ’em flat-wallahs, or for that matter, replying back. In London itself, I must have easily gone to at least half a dozen places. Not to mention shortlisting two places, and almost drawing up and signing a contractual agreement with one of ’em (Sorry IC and Am). But at the end of it all, (and after, (heh) a thorough perusal of the terms and conditions of the aforementioned contract!), putting up at that place, which I might have very well finalized from India itself.

I know I’m a git. I just keep on reinforcing the fact over and over again.

Immigration clearance at Heathrow takes a long, long time. At least, now it does. 1 and a 1/2 hrs is a lot, don’t you think. Still, I shouldn’t complain too much. Given that I’d forgotten to lock my suitcase when I loaded it in Cal. And got it back with all my stuff pretty much intact. There’s something called gratitude after all 🙂    

And finally, a word about the COLD. In Cal, I had a bit of a rep for being an Eskimo. Which was kinda redundant, considering the fact that Cal is almost entirely populated by Bedouins. AND, has a predominantly Bedouin-Land-like climate 🙂 ‘Em Desert-Dwellers should come to London though. And find out what ‘COLD’ really means.

P.S. Here. Cookies. Are. Seriously. Good.

P.P.S. Portobello’s probably more of a Haat, than a Haat itself.      

P.P.P.S. Dunno why, but walking on Bond Street, whilst wearing a monkey cap seems like an amazing, amazing thing to do 🙂

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Astounding Alliterations for the Absolutely Unabashedly Asinine

Before that, this:

It has come to my notice that this git has been making one too many unwarranted, not to mention completely unsubstantiated allegations with reference to yours truly. Now, I’ve been long aware of this git’s git-like ways, so that really ought not to have come as a surprise. Be that as it may, spreading canards amongst friends is one thing, bad-mouthing in front of teachers another, but to smear and and tarnish someone’s fair name in this hallowed realm of cyberspace, is something I most certainly shall not stand for. No, Sirree, No.

Ergo, I propose an entire sequence of posts on THE Git. You’ll hear anecdotes; you’ll hear tales told. You’ll know why THE Git was also known as The Body (aka btw, as The Shark). You’ll hear the truly heart-wrenching tale of how the man lost his mush. You’ll be informed as to when THE git was on the verge of submitting the single most awesome memorial EVER, but being THE git he was, how he developed cold feet at the last moment. Or why he was once found crawling around in a law firm library. Or for that matter caught kicking a poor hapless female, who was unfortunately sitting in front of him. And perhaps, the greatest revelation of them all, what does THE git have against hygiene? What primal need drives him into abhorring all kinds of daily ablutions?? For all this and more, just tarry a bit, patient adept, cause my patience is running thin, and the appropriate hour for a GIT-post would appear to be nigh.

Now, that:

In my second year at law school, classes used to be pretty much joyless affairs. Not to put too fine a point on it, but I don’t think I’ve been ever as bored out of my friggin’ skin, as I was that summer. And as you know, zing is what makes the world go around. If there ain’t any zing, there ain’t anything. So, for the few classes I used to be present for in that semester, and in face of teachers who either went motha-fatha-motha-fatha at the lectern, or had hand-movements and speech inflexions, which would have done a flight stewardess proud, I had to do something. Anything. The following 🙂 I give you, The Astounding Alliterations for the Absolutely Unabashedly Asinine:

  • Amnesia : The ambrosia of the asinine.
  • Poetry : A parody of pantomimed polemics.
  • Man : A modicum of meandering mendacities.
  • Passion : Platitudes of platonic perversions.
  • Siesta : Soothing somnolence, served usually in shade.
  • Quarrel : A quorum for the overtly querulous.
  • Essay : An inscription of infantile inanities.
  • Short Story : A smashing smorgasbord of senile semantics.
  • Denouncement : Damnation of decidedly didactic dimensions.
  • Fastidious : Feisty finickyness foisted on the firmament of fallacious fisticuffs and foibles
  • Tantrum: Trenchant trials of tedium typified tangentially by temper

(1. My initial POA was to have an entry for each letter of the alphabet. Unfortunately, I attended far too few classes for that.

2. Further, in relation to the two luminaries I’ve alluded to above, I missed a better grade by .05 in both their papers. Anybody from NUJS would know what that means. As highly evolved a Karmic comeuppance scheme as I’ve ever seen.)

Some 12 years back, it used to be 2/2 Bakralwala, Nashville Road. Today it is B 10/17 Green Towers, Golf Green.

I had no words back then. And even now, I don’t really know what to say.

mnesia : The ambrosia of the asinine.

Poetry : A parody of pantomimed polemics.

Man : A modicum of meandering mendacities.

Passion : Platitudes of platonic perversions.

Siesta : Soothing somnolence, served usually in shade.

Quarrel : A quorum for the overtly querulous.

Essay : An inscription of infantile inanities.

Short Story : A smashing smorgasbord of senile semantics.

Denouncement : Damnation of decidedly didactic dimensions.

Fastidious : Feisty finickyness foisted on the firmament of fallacious fisticuffs and foibles

Tantrum : Trenchant trials of tedium typified tangentially by temper

Inter Alia

Was caught in midst of a proper forex turf war today. Vicious. Like ’em mealy-mouthed piranhas. Like millions of ’em. Managed to escape relatively unscathed though.

Saw me a fight today. South City was the scene of action. Again. There’s apparently this Cal hotshot called Tapas Pal. Don’t think I’d heard too much about him before.  Well, in any case the chap merits a lal-batti. Which should suffice as a suitable hotshot qualificatory paradigm. (Heh, nudge, Maruti :), wink wink; Inside joke, don’t try figuring that one out). Well, in any case, our hotshot was traveling with his even more hotshot hanger-ons, when an Alto brushed their car’s rear fender. From the looks of it, I think the Alto came worse off. But, you should have seen the hanger-ons let loose. They probably regarded that as a personal affront to their resident deity. A few of ’em looked like they were on verge of coronaries. Good fun.

Disclaimer: I’ve no way of knowing whether the hotshot in question was INDEED, as stated hereinabove, Mr. Pal. Given my general knowledge of hotshots, I wouldn’t have known him from Father Adam. The credit for identifying THE man, must go to my auto-wallah, a maniac so engrossed by the spectacle that he parked himself in the middle of the road for five whole minutes, just to watch those gits shake their fists in each other’s faces.

Had some work at Esplanade yesterday. There was also this massive rally there, which basically put paid to all my plans. Now that’s not the surprising bit. Staying in Cal does kinda inure you to instances where bandhs, rallies, hartals, et al, reinforce again and again, the dictum of living in the moment. And that plans, of any kind, which do not involve ferrying people across in public buses to show the sheer groundswell of public support, are for cretins 🙂

But I digress. The surprising bit was that there was absolutely no publicity about this particular thing. Not even a word. Usually, the Telegraph, or more usually the Metro, might be relied on to serve some kind of advance notice, but in this case, nothing. Zilch. And then even today, forget about there being an article, there was not even a friggin’ sentence about it anywhere. I googled it then, all necessary catchwords, in place. All I managed to locate was one picture by some freelance photographer.

One thing I haven’t mentioned yet. This was a Muslim rally. By which I mean, the entire stretch from about Eden Gardens till possibly the Indian Museum, was full of bearded men, in Kurtas, and wearing skullcaps. Dunno exactly for what reason. And as most Cal-wallahs would know, rallies and reasons don’t exactly always go together.

But those are not the points. Neither the participants nor their agenda. The point is about this whole-scale media blackout. What really gets my goat is this truly awesome political correctness thingie. Not to mention, having a media in place, which for all its positives, still believes that there are certain issues to be handled with kid-gloves, because, we, even after sixty years of democracy, are still not mature enough to handle them.

P.S. Questionable non-sequitur 🙂 I think Rann releases today. Dunno which RGV would turn up this time. The one of Sarkar, or the one of Aag.

P.P.S. Might be guilty of a wee bit of stereotyping above. But then I guess, you gotta call a spade a spade. Much in the same was as a RSS rally = Knickerwallahs Unlimited or…No, I think I should stop here!

Beezee Busy (And South City Psychedelia)

Life’s been a bit busy these last couple of days. Might get a lot busier in the days to come.

Met Ambrosius yesterday. For the first time in around six years. Chap hasn’t changed a whit. The man’s sporting a mush now, and is up to weird and wonderful things in the auditing world, but that apart, he’s still pretty much the same.

Met quite a few NUJS-wallahs yesterday. The usual gang, up to their usual antics, at the usual place. Also saw Larry’s stealth techniques in action. Which was kinda redundant considering the fact that the person he was trying to hide from, had already seen him!

Had gone to South City a couple of days back, and there was this guy there who was trying to flog me some free trip abroad. To lay my hands on which, in his words, “Sir, you just have to answer a very simple question”. My natural query was obviously, “Which is what??”. To which the man replied, “Sir are you above 24??”. That, presumably was the question. Bleedy weird demographically-inclined freebie scheme.

Reminded me of another time when I was browsing at Starmark. Again at South City. Then this chap comes up to me, thousand-watt grin on his face, and muttering something which sounded vaguely like same, same, same….I thought I probably had earwax or something, and started ‘eh’ing and ‘umm’ing around. Same difference; more of the same, same, same…. And this time followed by exaggerated hand gestures. Then, I got it. Both of us wearing the same type of jacket. Which probably was cause for celebration. So we shook hands, and thumped each other on our jacketed (blue-striped rectangular on black) backs. I think I even remember my exact words, “Aah! You mean our jackets. Ok, lets shake on that then”.

And lastly, in terms of South City psychedelia, an honourable note of mention goes to the South City Phantoms. There’s this Wodehouse yarn about a chap called Blister, who proceeds to pop up at the most inopportune of times and places, and scare the living heebie-jeebies out of a chap called Plimsoll. The South City Phantoms are a bit like that. Almost everytime I go there, I’m invariably bound to find them waving at me. As a matter of fact, I am surprised only when I don’t see them now 🙂 The only obvious difference from Blister being that they are two in number. And, that the antics of the Phantoms are rendered even all the more remarkable by the fact that Mr. Phantom is off studying in Singapore.

Two current ohrwurms: Waqt by E.P., and Ud Chalta by Nitish Pires. Hadn’t heard those two in ages, and suddenly they are in infinite replay mode.

Of Fosbury Flops and Angst-Ridden Ditties

Read a piece yesterday about how Air India chooses to treat Sarods and maestros (Had blogged previously about Air India’s unsurpassed consumer relations skills here). The moment I read that though, I couldn’t help but think of this classic video:

Never knew locating decent acco in London would be so much of a goshdarned  hassle. I don’t think I have researched as much even for my final drafts! Hell, for my IPC paper…., but, I digress 🙂

My stomach’s screwed up. Like, seriously seriously screwed up. Its currently doing Fosbury Flops and Ferris Wheel imitations every half an hour. Like  clockwork. Of Swiss Vintage. From the Old School. Probably serves me right; Karma, comeuppance, the works. There’s only so much cheap, Jewish fast food that one should hog! (Do not worry 🙂 ; the only way yer getting that reference is if you stay in Golf Green and/or frequent the narrow bylanes of Bijaygarh)

Zurich is No More

Zurich is no more. Long live Zurich.

Many might there be Picadillies, and French Loaves and Cream and Fudge Factories, but there shall be (was) only one Zurich.

Got into a fight today. With an auto-wallah of all people. In re two bucks of all things. But as always, a fight though triggered by specifics, is never about them. Nor can it be broken down into disparate components. A fight is always about generalities, of principles, of sahis and galats, and similar platitudinal excesses 🙂

Today, the entire sequence consisted of the auto-wallah pocketing ten bucks instead of his usual eight; of being almost run-over in rush-hour traffic; a 100 metre dash behind the offending party; a proper shove-session in front of the traffic policeman in front of South City, who true to form, washed his hands off the affair, with the exception of proffering a suggestion to register a complaint at Jadavpur P.S.

Then, trundling back to Lord’s; being accosted by the Auto-wallah there who had somehow tracked me back, and being threatened with dire consequences if I registered a complaint (and at which point, I truly lost it). A psychedelic 2-3 minute hand-to-hand combat session, which almost culminated in my shoving that git’s face into a vat of boiling oil where jalebis were being fried. And finally, getting back two rupees.

A honourable mention goes to the Skulker, who was comrade-in-arms, for the entire bit till we trundled across to Lord’s and whose cell probably still has stored, the offending auto’s license plate number.

Also, on a slightly more personal note, the most psychedelic moment of the entire episode probably occurred when in midst of grappling with that jackass, I picked out a complete stranger and asked him to hold on to my specs, so that I could let loose. For in sooth, though I mind not specs, they do hamper you, come fights. That, and also in terms of utter psychedelia, abusing him in English 🙂

Saw me a movie recently. Thought ’twas alright.

I still remember the first copy of Sherlock Homes I ever picked up. I must have been in Grade V then. Rajpur Road used to have this really old bookshop called Jugal Kishore. I’d got it from there. I think I even remember the first story I read; The Adventure of the Speckled Band. And I was HOOKED. Next year I came to Cal for the first time. The first bookstore I visited was Oxford’s. The first books I picked up were The Adventures, The Case-Book, The Memoirs, and The Return of Sherlock Holmes (I read His Last Bow only a couple of years later).

Guy Ritchie’s Holmes though, is not one (only) of cobblestone streets or meershcaum pipes. His is one of kinetic excesses and excess coolth. And one, who is, a tad vertically challenged. The greatness of true literature is that often it not only leads itself to translations, or transliterations, but also to transmutations. Take Mahabharata; you have Mrityunjaya by Sivaji Sawant, Randamoozham by Vasudeva Nair, and Yajnaseni by Pratibha Ray (a strand later  taken up by Chitra Divakaruni), all of which use entirely different narratives in respect of the same overarching structure. And more pertinently, succeed in doing so.

Whether Downey Jr.’s Holmes also falls into the same category is for you to decide. I though, for one, shall stick out my neck, and say, verbal fencing and witty repartee apart, there was little to distinguish it from say, a cerebral version of Van Helsing.

Of Revisionist Tendencies (And Cocky Chumps)

Orissa = Cuttack = Kalyani Nagar + Tulsipur

In much the same way as,

Dehradun = Bakralwala + Rajpur Road

and, Cal = Golf Green + NUJS + A dash of Park St.

See, there’s revisionism for you.

I don’t mind people with serious attitudes. Neither do I mind jackasses. However, a jackass with attitude issues, is way, way beyond tolerable limits. Beyond one’s ken, as some would say; %$%^%&**, as I would say. And most of these gits, in terms of actual responsibility are at the very bottom of the ladder. As if the only way they could assert their importance is by acting like prats. That, and they’re usually dumb too. Potent combo that.

Ran into two of their breed today. Had a proper shout-session before getting my way. What was truly incredible though, was how wronged they felt at the fact that someone had, so to say, put one over them. Mr. Cocky Chump was busy trying to explain how he’d been right all along, and how I had managed to finagle my way in owing to a mere technicality. Ms. Cocky Chump on the other hand was adamant on the point that I was a git. Which, true as it might be, was pretty much a non sequitur apropos the point under discussion 🙂

Weird Indeed are the Ways of the Cocky Chumps.

What Makes the World Go Around

Some prat once said that ’tis love which makes the world go around. For me though, it’s probably expectorants.

My fav-est term in the Bong lexicon is probably ‘Dhurr’ followed closely by ‘Chhagoler Dim’. The first roughly corresponds to ‘Gah’ in English. The second one is untranslatable. Gotta wonder though, who first called someone a ‘Chhagoler Dim’. Takes a really special sort of a snowflake to come up with something like ‘goat’s eggs’, you know. Sukumar Ray would’ve been right proud of him! Cult.

Looks like India’s gonna have a new state pretty soon. Some chap went on a fast for 10 days, and ergo, Telengana it is. Just to put it  in perspective, Irom Sharmila‘s been fasting for 10 years now. There is actually a school of thought that KCR’s fast has less to do with the Telengana cause and more to do with the manner in which his party got served in the 2009 elections. Don’t blame the chap though, anybody would’ve been pissed.

One would think though that some 50 years after Independence we would have better issues to go apeshit about. And heaven knows, if there is any country with a dearth of issues, it sure as hell isn’t us. But nope, old habits sure die hard.

Reminds me a lot of Dehradun though. When I was studying there, for a few years in between, the Uttaranchal agitation was in full swing. Which was awesome! We used to have at least one strike every fortnight, with an almost metronomic regularity. And given how considerate most of these strike-wallahs are wont to be, it used to be invariably scheduled on a Friday or a Monday. So, every couple of weeks, when the clarion call was given, you know, when the bugle was sounded, it was essentially a signal for us to pack our stuff and hotfoot it across to Delhi for a small li’l break. Which was, I repeat again, awesome!

And when finally the State go-ahead was given, I don’t think anybody was as pissed as us schoolkids. Or even our teachers for that matter 🙂 Its kinda hard you know, reconciling yourself to the same old weekly routine, after months and months of four and three-day weeks, mini breaks, picnics, general vela-ness et al! For about a month or so after the announcement was made, all our faces were sullen enough to make the very milk curdle!! We. Were. Pissed.

And now look at Doon. Its hot, its crowded, its noisy, you’ve cars honking the smidgens off each other on Rajpur Road, and most of the trees are gone. Basically its like a miniature version of Delhi now. Yeah. See. That’s what Statehood does.

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 🙂