Sometime in my very late 20s or perhaps even very early 30s, I came to the realization that most of my most critical life decisions had never truly been taken after considered deliberation, at least nothing remotely resembling the ”should I this or should I that” decision-paralysis that I find myself being afflicted by before every purchase of a fairly expensive consumer durable. I studied engineering, not because I particularly wanted to or felt it was a good fit for my skill sets, but because that’s what “all the good boys do” (There was medical also, but then I found cutting toads yucky). When it came time to do a PhD in the US, I again went with the flow. All my smart friends had taken the same decision and well, all of them couldn’t be wrong. Whether five-years of poorly-paid slogging away at impossible problems aligned well with how I defined the concept of “reward”, I never gave a second’s thought. Getting married at the age of twenty-five was also something very impulsive, how impulsive I realized a few years later when the rest of the curve caught up with me and I heard stories, perhaps apocryphal, of “arranged-marriage-tours”, meeting one prospective match for lunch and one for dinner, and Excel sheets with SWOT analysis of matrimonial candidates.
His birth-star glittered in the night sky. That day again.
The sell-sword felt his years. Every one of them. They had removed the arrows and dressed the wounds. Yet they still burned his flesh, more deeply tonight than on any other. As an old crone once said “A warrior carries his battles with him.”
Each scar. Each blow.
Bhagyasree’s “Qaid Mein Hain Bulbul.” Sunil Gavaskar curled up like an armadillo defending against Wayne Daniel. Imran Khan sending Michael Veletta’s stumps walking. Vinod Kambli crying in Kolkata. Zico missing that kick. A man in front of a blackboard and a long wooden stick explaining election results on DD. News of Indira Gandhi’s assassination stopping the commentary of an India-Pakistan match. Cheering for VP Singh as the Congress gets drubbed. Mandal and feeling betrayed by the same man we had once cheered for. Hawa Hawa. Oye Oye. The taste of Re 1 chumchum. All of these feel just as fresh and as vivid as if they happened yesterday. But if you ask me about things that happened in the last few years—all the movies, matches, events become a jumbled mess of color and noise and I have to pause, hem and haw, trying to unravel the tangled web of what passes for my short-term memory.
On August 20 2004, Random Thoughts of a Demented Mind was born. Now many of you readers, the regulars and definitely the drive-bys might consider this silly or borderline kooky that someone would consider the anniversary of a blog worth remembering and devoting a whole post to. But for me this entity made up of bits, suspended in the conceptual space called the Internet, populated by my thoughts and supported by technology has assumed a life of its own as I fuss over it, worry about how it looks, change its clothes from time to time, clean the dirt that trolls and advertisers leave behind, fret about illnesses brought about by server crashes and spend days, months and years just watching it grow. And so in this vein of anthropomorphizing, blog birthdays become significant events if only because they serve as an excuse to stop awhile, cut a cake and blow a candle. Or six.
While I was off the grid for the last few days in New York City, much seemed to have happened. Harbhajan Singh ultimately got a wicket, Mohammed Azharuddin flashed once again outside the off-stump with his stick and knocked the feathers of a shuttle-cock [Link] (obligatory Gunda reference: Azhar hain jurm se nafrat karney wala, garibon (match-fixers) ke liye jyoti, aur gundon ke liye jwala) , the Indian woman’s hockey coach was accused of doing too much of “Chak De” [Link], Arundhati Roy advanced yet another step towards her Nobel Peace Prize [Link] making it to the list of Forbes (evil capitalist alert) world’s most inspiring women and Wikileaks confirmed that the ship of government is the only ship that leaks from the top [Link].
As to the so-called classified information leak, while it may be big news in the US with Pakistan’s duplicity in the AfPak region being exposed for me it was more like “Tell me something I don’t know.” The day Wikileaks has the full Amar Singh transcripts [link] or the gory inconvenient truths behind all Al Gore globally warming shenanigans [link] or details of Zardari’s five female Turkish “guides” whose services were not compensated for by the Pakistanis [links], I would be mildly interested. But not now. For the present, what was infinitely more intriguing was attending an underground party in the Bronx, thrown in a warehouse, with a “macabro” theme, wherein along with retro erotica from the 1920s being projected on the walls, there were decks of old Tvs showing, in addition to ancient Japanese horror and psychedelic patches of color——hold your breath——Mithun-da’s “Disco Dancer” and Shahrukh Khan’s “Duplicate”.
Watching NDTV’s We the Tweeple was fun if not for anything else but because one got to see a few familiar faces, people I have met in real life (@samitbasu, [His latest book, from what I have heard and based on the sample chapter provided, is a must-read] and @nilanjanaroy) and also because one got to hear India’s most famous anchor, someone known to never take herself seriously, concluding the segment by saying that the lesson of Twitter was not to take ourselves seriously. I felt this was also as good a time as any to do a post on Twitter, one that I have been meaning to do for a while.
The question I have been asked the second most number of times during my book tour (the first one being of course “Do you give ipods for the first comment?) was why I do not follow anyone on Twitter.
When I joined twitter, I felt there were two options open to me with regards to my follow policy.
To be truly equitable, and to make the social interaction be based on “friendship” rather than the rather weird-sounding follower-followee (I am the only Prophet type) relationship, I figured I should follow back everyone who follows me. That however would simply flood my time-line leading me not be able to read most of what was coming on the stream.
The other option would be to do what most people do—–follow a selective few.
Given how “personally” people take the whole concept of “following” [much more than say subscribing or not subscribing to someone's blog feed], I figured that this selection would essentially make a very public distinction between two kinds of people—-those whose opinions I think I want to hear and those whose I do not want to (even though they want to hear mine). This I felt would be kind of impolite.
And so I decided to follow no one.
News update 1: I am one year older today. As to how old I am, you should never ask a thirty-four year old guy his age.
News update 2: I will be in India (New Delhi and Kolkata) in the month of March from the 1st to the 29th [dates finalized]. Tentative book reading dates are the 6th of March (New Delhi) and the 20th of March (Kolkata). Hope to meet a lot of you there.
News update 3: This is still not the cover. Just something I made to pass the time.
Have a happy new year everyone.
It was in 1984. I was sitting in front of the TV when the pre-Grammy awards program came on. In pre-MTV days, state-controlled Doordarshan had almost no Western pop/rock programming except some horrible Europop that acted as fillers.
So I had absolutely no idea as to what I was going to see. I did not even know what the Grammies were. Good Bengali boys were supposed to listen to Rabindrasangeet and not even think about the devil’s music.
And then I saw him.
I did not know his name. I neither understood the lyrics. Even if I did, I doubt whether as a seven year old I would have understood a song about an illegitimate child.
But I was blown away. By the man in the video. The tip-toe stand, the twirl, the way he moved his jacket. The walk. The beat. And the pavement glowing as he put his foot on it.
Who was this mystery man?
My maternal uncle (mama) had just come back from the US. He had a wondrous cassette player and a few cassettes. One of them was “Thriller”. It was then, over endless loops of that album, that I fell in love with what we then called “Western fast” music (as opposed to the slow Beethoven).
And I also fell in love with the man whose album it was. A man whose name I, and my generation,will never forget.
In the spirit of this silly day dedicated to St. Valentine, I copy the viral “25 random things about me” note from Facebook.
1. I do not like driving. My official “oh ho” reason for that is when I was 8 years old, I was involved in a bus accident that killed the people I was with and I escaped death by falling between dead bodies. For which I have an excessive fear of dying on the road. Now you are free to believe that reason. Or just call it an excuse.
2. I studied in Presidency College for one day in the Economics department. I guess I was trying to follow my father’s footsteps. Didn’t last long.
I turn thirty-three.