Tuesday, April 17, 2018
Stop With The Lessons, OK?.
You know what they say about life teaching you lessons and every experience is a blessing in disguise? Well I dunno who came up with such empty platitudes but take it from me it’s all such a load of bs (pardon my language). I mean who of us, given a chance wouldn’t prefer to skip over all the gory details of our lives and move straight on to the end part where we get what we deserve? On second thoughts, scratch that sentence and let me rephrase it again. Where we move on to the end part and get the victory we justly deserve?
Oh yeah right, I hear you agreeing ladies and gentlemen and I nod back. All this character building through adversity and struggle for success is also overhyped in books and media. In real life there isn’t a single one of us who wouldn’t prefer to take the ladder over the snake despite the many benefits of the snake’s lessons. If life was a movie wouldn’t you like to fast forward it through all the tough parts, the boring parts, the violent parts and prefer just to watch the colorful duet songs in Switzerland alone?
Unfortunately my life as a movie has been more an 80’s violent blockbuster type than the 90’s romantic Euro-train missing/Switzerland duet singing screenplay till now.
Much against my will I seem to have been cast in the role of the angry young man, yep the role patented by Mr.Bacchan the elder, where I keep defeating gangs of ruffians and rowdies trying to do me harm and a few reels later those same set of villains keep turning up again and again to get bashed again. I mean there should be an end to the number of villain’s sent against me by life right? Or at least some variety in the screenplay? That’s not asking much is it? If I were Batman in one of the innumerable sequel movies, I would be, by now looking at the camera of my life and whining “oh the joker? Again? And the riddler? Again? And two-face? Again and again?” For that’s the kind of scam life is trying to pull on me all the time. And you the audience watching my life with bated breath for what happens next are going to be sorely disappointed at the same old faces turning up like clockwork.
To tell the absolute truth (is there anything else I ever say?) I am frankly bored of the old villains turning up again and again to thrash me and put me in hospital and then when I get discharged and released out again the same set of villain’s are waiting outside the gates to send me back into the hospital ward which I just said a cheery farewell to. I wonder don’t they ever get bored of swearing revenge against a single individual and move on to others once they have had their fill of me. Even villains (/essess) should be given a chance to randomly select fresh targets instead of wasting all their hate and time on an old and well dusted antagonist like me.
And as for me, well, if I haven’t learnt my lessons by now, doesn’t it mean I am not the learning type. So stop with the lessons and bring on the end credits already, fate or destiny or whatever you are. Be warned.
Wednesday, January 10, 2018
Travels in Sikkim-3rd Part
So what is the first thing you do when you hit the north east? You give into the clichés and eat momos right? And of course that’s exactly what we did once we exited Bagdogra airport. But first there was a minor kerfuffle in locating our driver who was supposed to pick us up at the airport. Not having visited the north east before we had to trust travel websites to decide our place of stay and itinerary. Thankfully a friend in Kolkata gave us the contact details of a well-established travel agency conducting tours of the north east and we made the arrangements – even paying the fee upfront for an airport pick up to airport drop trip entire travel experience.
And then when we landed at Bagdogra we couldn’t locate our driver outside the airport. I kept getting calls on my mobile from an unknown number – someone called Pandey (according to true caller) who kept saying something in Hindi, but as the only Hindi I knew was limited to Baba Sehgal singing “aaja mera gaadi mein betja” I couldn’t understand what he wanted me to do. I mean, I had expected the driver to stand outside the airport arrivals with a big board bearing my name – as seen in numerous movies. I hadn’t expected him to call me and give me directions (in Hindi) to go somewhere. So laden with luggage, I did the only possible thing which came to mind.
I looked around till I could find a south Indian looking army officer (it shows in our faces right?) and I explained my predicament to him. The army officer (he was keralite by the way) took the next call from the driver and gave him an earful in Hindi such that the driver was present in front of us within the next five minutes. We learnt that he had parked way down the road to avoid the parking fees at the airport parking and had hence been giving us directions to exit the airport and walk down the Siliguri road to where he was parked. We communicated to him in our broken hingilish that we didn’t mind paying the parking fee in future if it means avoiding the long walk uphill dragging heavy luggage. And with that sorted out we began our journey into the hills.
Now the first order of business was to get some hot food inside as we had travelled by a budget airline in economy class and they basically will give you nothing but water for the entire flight. So as we travelled on the road to Siliguri we broached the topic of a late lunch/early evening tiffin. Meanwhile our driver asked us the passport size photographs the travel agency had recommended us to carry for applying to get a permit to travel to the Tibetan border. As a couple of us were not carrying two passport size photos per head we decided to get it taken in Siliguri itself along with all the Xerox copies of the various documents required and so, we first made for a fast food joint were we ordered momos with hot sauce- authentic Tibetan style and meanwhile got our pictures taken.
I have never had much taste for momos, but given the cold weather and our empty stomachs since breakfast, those momos disappeared fast. And then we had that most magical of drinks- authentic Darjeeling tea for after all we were in Darjeeling weren’t we? And then we were on our way hoping to reach Gangtok in time as the travel time – optimistically from Siliguri to Gangtok up in the hills was five hours when there were no landslides or accidents. We had travelled a long way to get to the Himalayas and just couldn’t wait to see the famed hills.
And that’s how our trip up that long, narrow treacherous road into the hills began. But you just had to roll down the window and look outside to forget all the dangers and get mesmerized in the beauty of the landscape you were passing along. The mighty Brahmaputra roaring out of the gorges, the long beautiful tea plantation’s everywhere, tiny streams and thundering waterfalls everywhere. Not to mention the cold, the bone freezing chill as went ascended up into the hills, clad in singleton t-shorts appropriate for hot and muggy Kolkata from where we had come.
Tuesday, December 26, 2017
How History Is Written- An Explainer
The king was sitting impatiently in the audience chamber while the nobles around him argued loudly back and forth. One of them shouted “but we can’t keep allowing these migrants to invade our country, they might soon overwhelm our native population at the rate at which they breed. The best way to stop them is to build a wall across the border and make them pay for it”. Another minister screamed even more loudly “and their culture is so primitive- they worship the fire and offer sacrifices- animal and human to it. They don’t have gods like us”. Meanwhile a third noble stood up and said “but my lord we have to remember that these are peaceful refugees, they are unarmed. We cannot in good conscience turn away starving women and children who are fleeing famine from our bountiful lands”.
Another minister offered his view “he is right my king, these refugees prefer to settle in the forest areas by clearing the plantations. They don’t trouble our native populations except to work for them or to trade with them”. And one of the other ministers tried to interject “and they bring certain useful animals with them. That horse animal they have domesticated for sacrifice that seems to me a far more practical animal for travel than our own native racing bulls”. At this a whole host of voices tried to shout him down as a “barbarian lover”.
Meanwhile the king scratched his head and asked “so what do you want me to do? I don’t think these tribes are any threat to us in our strong citadels. They might trouble a few far-flung villages but we have received no news like that till now. Can we postpone making any decision for later?”. The general of the army stood up then and said “why not send a warning my lord?” the king looked at him hard and long “what kind of warning?” the general, who was a pretty bloodthirsty one as generals go “ the kind of warning these half naked fire worshippers will understand. Pick the next batch of refugees illegally entering our border and kill them to send a message to make sure that others don’t follow them”. The king frowned “women and children too?” the general shrugged “of course, elsewhere is the message that our borders are inviolable? We can’t allow any tom, dick and harry to cross our borders”.
The wise chief minister stood up then and said “if that’s the course you follow your majesty, let me add a small piece of advice. These fire worshippers would like nothing better than to burn their bodies in their fires, so deny them that and just bury those bodies in plain view outside our citadel as a warning to further intruders.” And so it was done and a refuge band of fifty men women and children were massacred and buried outside the citadels walls as a warning to others.
Four thousand years later a group of archaeologists were excavating the area and they accidentally chanced upon the citadels walls and the graves nearby. Excitedly they dug up what was left of the buried remains and sent them to foreign universities for DNA analysis for identification. The next day all the newspaper headlines screamed in bold letters “Aryan migration theory disproved by new DNA Evidence- Aryans have always lived here” “DNA analysis conclusively proves that it was the fire worshiping pastoral Aryans who were the builders of the great Indus Valley Civilization”. “The Indus valley civilization was a myth- it was the Aryans all along says DNA evidence” etc. And that’s how history is written – by whatever/whoever survives.
Dedication : To Tony Joseph for his piece in The Hindu on the IVC excavations.