The thing about life...

The thing about life is that you keep trying to grasp it but it's always a step or two ahead. It lets you think you are catching up only to sweep it all away in one stroke. It took Deena an amputated leg and twenty years to accept this. He knew the truth in his heart of hearts but he never gave up the hope that someday everything would become good. Of course, some days everything had been good but good things - happy times - had a way of rapidly unravelling for him.

He sat there at the entrance to the waiting room every day, noon and night. The railway station was always busy and the waiting room was always full. He didn't really have anything of importance to do there but a then minister of the state government had winged this job for him. He was greatly thankful to the minister for this, although he was the reason Deena limped around on a single leg.

Day in and day out he checked people's tickets and decided who would be allowed in and who wouldn't. He was the master of the doorway and quite protective about it. If someone ignored his request to examine the ticket, he ensured that the evader got an ear full of his opinion on how civilization was going to the dogs.

Looking at the nose-cringed affluent in the waiting room, he often wondered how his own life would've been if not for that fateful year. He had been a better than average student made it to one of the better known "arts" colleges in his town. Deena emerged one of the finest students in his class during the first year of his bachelor's degree. He had taken up Commerce and aimed to get certified as a CA . The dream of one too many teenager in every town but even his teachers believed that he had the drive to succeed.

One fine rainy evening, on his way back home, he saw this girl at the bus stop. She had a worried look on her face and stood there alone. He stopped to ask her if she needed some help. As she explained that she had missed the last bus home and it was quite a long way off to home, he noticed the way her long braided hair reached her waist and how the droplets shone under the lamp. Prying his eyes away, he offered to wait with her until the rain stopped and take her home on his moped.

Deena had fallen for Priya that first day but he didn't tell her that until after many many chance encounters with her. All his friends in college knew, of course and they him on with their unsolicited advice and their random bantering. When he did decide to tell her, she simply said that she was already engaged to another guy. He was devastated. Now, when he thought back, he saw clearly how he wasn't even that much in love with her but it was a big blow then to his adolescent ego. If he had been that clear-headed then!!

Someone tapped on his shoulder. It was the station master. He was a kind man and brought sweets to him whenever his wife packed them in for his lunch. "Too old for sweets but can't have the missus think that, can I?", he said. Deena and the station master chatted for a while running their eyes over the people huddled inside and sighing at the monotony of it all. As he was leaving, the station master mentioned that "his" minister was scheduled to take a train that evening.

Deena saw Ravi walk down the platform with what seemed like fifty men following him. Every single one of them was dressed in the trade mark white that politicians seemed to favour. That was just to project an image of honesty, Deena thought to himself. Ravi had risen from the same background as Deena but his life had been set on a completely diferent course. He had been a shy kid in school. Deena had been a year older than him and naturally Ravi was not even a speck on his horizon. Even otherwise, Ravi was not on anyone's horizon. He was very frail and was lousy at sports. He was neither a geek nor a cool kid and he was left to his own most of the time.

After school, Ravi had managed to enrol in a college in the nearby city. He was only an average student but his father's network had ensured him a seat in the course of his choice - Literature. Less than a year into his collegiate studies, Ravi had transformed into a very popular student. He was devoted to Tamil literature and could quote from poets known and unknown. His own compositions were well regarded by his peers and his diction showed the makings of a great politician. It was a remarkable thing how Ravi discovered his abilities. He had risen like an eagle and soared through everyone's ken. He became a member of the circle of intellectuals and politics was a natural progression for him.

After being rejected by Priya, Deena had pursued her in vain. He felt humiliated and didn't want his friends to think low of him. He was miffed at Priya's rebuttal of his advances and hounded her like a maniac. Like many a spurned suitor, he tried all the classic formulas he had learnt from watching the movies. He threatened to kill himself and have her blamed her for his suicide. He wrote to her that he would kill her and for good measure, her parents too. He hunkered around her home and at night threw flowers through her window. He wrote letters after letters and got them delivered through his friends and her friends. Nothing convinced Priya. She told him to get lost.

Then one day he followed her on her way back home from the bus stop. He kept begging her to love him back and when she didn't even pretend to have heard his rage knew no bounds. He caught her by her arms and pulled her towards him.

Priya was made of stronger stuff than that. She had been a fiercely independent girl. Her father had died young and she had seen and learnt from the struggles that her mother faced. A lone woman needed grit to survive the world - a world bent on taking advantage of the unfortunate. She had been grateful to Deena for helping her that long past evening and that was the only reason she had tolerated him until then. She would've been good friends with him if he hadn't gotten smitten with her.

She pushed him way and planted a slap on his cheeks. She could see the blood rushing to Deena's face. She saw how anger soared through Deena and his entire body tightened. Deena raised his hand to strike her and that's when both of them heard and noticed Ravi running towards them. Ravi came in between them and pushed Deena away. Deena silently withdrew. As he turned away he noticed Ravi put a protective arm around Priya and they turned and left the place.

That night as he lay in his cot, a group of men had dragged him out of the house. He remembered how the sky had been bright with moonlight and the stars had seemed outshone by the moon. He remembered how he had withdrawn into himself and did not seem to feel the thuds the logs made on his body. Not a sound escaped his mouth until he saw the glint of steel slice through the air. The next moment his heart seemed to explode and his eyes bulged. He could feel a warmth in his left leg and then every nerve in his body screamed in agony. He heard himself shout out a long wail and wondered if blood spurted out of a severed leg or if it flowed like from a normal wound.

He felt a hand settle on his shoulder and he awoke from his revery. He looked up and saw Ravi's smile. They exchanged a few words and Ravi left after putting an envelope into Deena's pocket. Deena knew that it was Ravi's way of penance.

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The blogdom

Most often than not, I have seen bloggers ponder over their respective blog journeys. Wondering how their blogs have seen ups and downs, how for weeks or months together they don't have anything to say and how one day words come gushing out. To me what's fascinating, more than the journey of this blog, is the journeys of blogs that I happened upon and added to my growing list of reads.

Over the years - not that there were that many - I have come across numerous blogs through links and cross links. There have been blogs that were intellectual, bordering on philosophy and examining the world and its ways. There have been those that told stories - stories that kept you asking for more, stories of real people, stories of fictional folks. There have been those that saw the world through the looking glass of humour. There have been the ones that worded out what the blogger saw, how the blogger felt - an open journal laying out interesting questions, delivering possibilities.

The blogs have changed over time. Growing with the authors, is my guess. Their views may remain more or less the same but they have become tempered with experience and exude a richer aroma. Some have changed even more transforming into something that's completely different. Many of the blogs have slowed down considerably. The occasional posts on some of these are still interesting enough to warrant their presence on my RSS feed. Then there are those that have disappeared from blogdom leaving no traces behind. I haven't cleaned out my RSS feed in a long time but I don't see a need to do that.

P.S: Pondering out loud in a without-any-point-really post.

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A group of us ran a sandwich stall at work. It was a for-charity event. Our sandwiches, especially the Corn-N-Mayo, were a big hit. Sadly, the Employee Club imposed price controls after the fiasco by another team yesterday. A lot of folks were unhappy about that event. Two (yes two) potato wedges for 20 bucks was not their greatest idea. Our collections weren't anywhere near what we could've done, because of the price controls but it was totally worth it. We spent almost two non-stop hours in the kitchen, catering to the demand. Totally washed out now but Yay!!

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random PJs

So this friend says something to the effect - "UP was fun" and I go "UP what?" (That's a prelude of things to come).

The friend meant the new Pixar animated movie. That should get to India in a few months as long as the poor-and-need-to-loot-more-people Muxes (he he he) don't land a shouting match with Hollywood. The Muxes apparently lost crores of rupees during their stand-off with film producers. Goes on to show the amount of money they grab out of the GIMC's pockets. 200 bucks to watch a movie that will 80% percent of the time turn out lousy! Thank God for our protectors - the movie reviewers. They help me reject every single movie - "Na, that's said to be a lousy movie." All of that is thrown out the window if someone else is paying for the tickets.

In other news, someone named "Krushnaa Patil" (with the ubiquitous letter-repetition) climbed Mt. Everest. Well done, girl! Our fellow countrymen congratulated her with such gems as -
Why MHtrian going out of MH o climb.
Mt. Everest has also been declared a holy place by someone that calls himself "gg gg". This is as historical as it gets. If only this other poor dude (be warned, queasy tummy) had known that the top of a train was also a sacred place and it could take him to a more sacred place in a matter of seconds.

I have been trying to tweet but never have any interesting ways to answer the question - "What are you doing?" I can't really have people know what I am doing, can I? Or like the real deal, I could go - "I am now typing letters into the twitter box...." Anyway, tweetvalue declared that my twitter account was worth a measly 9$. Anyone wanna buy it off me? Every penny/dollar counts in this recession. (Ha, I used the in-word of the year).

Have you seen Room 401 on vh1? It's frigging awesome. The scariest part, of course, is the host himself. A man as plasticky as that has to be supernatural. I am just kidding. It is a good show. Go watch.

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Band Rant

Bands in India ought to wake up and smell the goddamn coffee. Most bands are musically unaccomplished and have only gimmicks up their collected sleeves - Fake accents to sound cool; Resorting to metal to cover up their inadequacies. I mean metal is energetic and everything but that doesn't mean you don't need tight music to go along. Metal is not just making some loud noises and screaming w/o the musical talent to support it.

Just happened to chance upon a show called "Launchpad" on Channel V (which is a t.v. channel I learned to avoid long ago). The finals featured a band called "Faridkot". They were perhaps the only guys that really did make music from the heart. Whilst the other bands took to gimmicks that showed none of their talents, these lads made music. Sad that they didn't win but what they do is what bands in India should learn to do - make music not sound.

Oh, and TAAQ rock solely cos they do that. They make music.

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Kitchen Attempts 2: The chicken redux

Yeah, yeah. It is the same grilled chicken recipe from the last post but with a brocolli sauce. Yep, you heard it right. I had once before had brocolli sauce at some restaurant and remember it being surprisingly good. Got the recipe from here and it came out decently well. Not as awesome as the restaurant sauce but doable.

The chicken came out better but I couldn't get the outside charred at all and I didn't want to over-grill at the risk of making the chicken too firm. I am still looking for the trick to get the proper brown grilled look.

Maybe I ought to get one of those charcoal compact grills.

/Been looking in vain for mushrooms for more than a week. Where do all the mushrooms go?

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Kitchen Attempts: Grilled Chicken Breast with Brown Sauce

The original recipe was from here. My marinade was Olive Oil, Red wine vinegar, ground pepper, coriander, shallots and a lil bit of mint. Don't ask me why though. :)
The grilled chicken turned out a bit dry. Should have used more oil.

The brown sauce recipe was from here. I tried this first but screwed it up totally. It wasn't even brown. Of course, the second attempt was only ok. At some point during the making, the sauce appeared good and very flavorsome. Then my experimentation took over and it ended up with a bit extra flour. Wasn't a total success but I was cooking for myself. :-D

The side was steamed green beans and brocolli tossed in olive oil and pepper. The brocolli could've been a little more done though.

Happy with the attempt. Probably will attempt this gain next weekend. :-) Practice makes perfect, innit?

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grey-haired, balding and muscle-sprained

To tell you the truth I am not that old. In times before, I would've been a mere few years over the limit. In the current state of the age-psychology I am just a few years away to the magic (and disliked for god-knows-why) number. I know you are not here interested to read this. I know that you most probably inadvertently tumbled in here for no fault of yours. So. Let me get to the point of the post, if it does have one.

I used to play tier- volley-ball in school. I was ok at it, relatively speaking. I was in a proper team and all that (It's a different matter that we didn't win much). Other than volley there was a spot of cricket (aarrghhh, I hate that game) and a bit of badminton, where some trained champs that I had for friends mercilessly smashed my egos to pieces. On a side note, there was one day when, one champ smashed another's awesomely light, all-graphite Yonex racquet that cost a small fortune even then. The owner, surprisingly, held his own and resisted smashing the breaker. Damn it, there I go off-tangent again.

So I used to do some active sporting in school. That vanished once I got into college. For one, the college team was no place for a frail, unaccomplished player like me. I don't remember any active sports/games during those four years. After that, when in my new job, a few of us got together to play weekend volleyball or cricket. That must've lasted for a few months but once again given up on. Beyond this, it was an occasional game during a team outing or such. Until this weekend that is.

Folks in my apartment community have been playing some clubhouse cricket on weekends. Our club-house is supposed to host a badminton court but right now it's just one big four-concrete-walled room. So every Saturday and Sunday a group of anywhere between 3 to 10 people gather around and play some bat and ball. After promising to join them quite a few times (and obviously not waking up before 09:00), I finally delivered on my word. This Saturday I played some no-net badminton for a half-hour. On Sunday played some cricket from 07:00 to 08:00 before totally giving up. I can't bat for someone's life or bowl for mine. Though I was in the zone for a couple of rounds, it soon became apparent that I am just not cut out for cricket. That and I was beat tired too. Thankfully no aches and bruises. I missed the touch-wood incantation and the thanked joy was short-lived. By evening I could feel my muscles pulling up tight and not the good kind of body-building tight. My back was sore, my shoulders were sorer. This is what sudden activity after a long hiatus does to you.

Anyway here I am (on Monday afternoon) boring you to death and still nursing some aches. Nursing them like a bad tumbler of blended whiskey - you don't really like it but you can't dump it. I am hoping that with continued persuasion it all becomes a nice, warming scotch on the rocks.

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Quote-unquote Wassup

So we moved into "our" new apartment. "Our" in air-quotes because every well-wisher reminds us of the air-quotes thanks to ICICI home finance. Remember how Matt LeBlanc used air-quotes in Friends? Hilarious within genuine quotes, I say. 

Nope, to be honest, moving into our new apartment did not keep me away from blogging. Weekend mornings are spent making plans for the evening, while waiting for the god-incarnate mason/painter/plumber to turn up and fix up long pending niggles. Of course for the tasks to be long-pending, it is obvious that the god-incarnates don't turn up.  Weekend evenings are spent lazing around and disposing off of any plans that were made. I just didn't blog. No reason, no "writer's" block. 

Being "our" apartment, we now have the boon (or bane depending on how you look at it) of decorating it however we want. This means weekly ideas and daily vetoes. Let's paint it another colour, says missus. The off-white/cream-whatever makes the house look spacious, says I. Let's do textures, says missus. Watch for cracks and seepage, warns everyone. Let's get a used sedan, says I. "Are you mad?", asks the missus. I just had to slip in the last one :-D

For now on the backburner are the plans of a bicycle for me, a scotterette for wifey and a car for us. On the car front, I am a great admirer of the Nano. No, I wouldn't get it for myself although it's my favourite weapon to frustrate the missus. I am waiting to see how the Nano changes things on the road. There are many theories for and against the Nano. One theory that I hope turns true is that "With a large section of the two-wheelers replaced by the Nano, the average size (length, width) of vehicles on the road will become a little less skewed and ultimately mean better flow of traffic."  Ah, for some inkling of road sense in our country!

On the immediate list are the rest of the furniture (I am gonna miss you, space). We've successfully bought and slightly burnt a couch already. It's a nice piece, priced double what I wanted to pay. Snooping around for furniture has brought us in contact with a lot of price ranges and one arrogant old man in FurnitureWala, Koramangala. With his octogenarian glare, the gentleman said - "All our furniture are expensive. Starting at xyz onwards." Holy, mahogany.

Both of us are hooked to "How I met your mother" and "Scrubs". "According to Jim" and "Different Strokes" (yeah that old blue series) are our not-so-bad side orders. Yep, that's what's up! Couch potatoing! And it's fun(tm)!

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One small love is all it takes.. in a tired world

TAAQ's single One Small Love makes it video debut. Watch on youtube. The mp3 is available for free download on their webpage. An inspiring song for the times that we are in now.

TAAQ has been around for 12 years and are one of the most mature and easy bands in India. They don't try to be hep, they don't try gimmicks. They just make music that everyone loves. 

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Oh rama!

Bullshit me not! Culture in India is definitely going to the dogs. This was a country where mythological women gave birth to children without "doing that". All it needed was a tear drop or drop of sweat or a bit of light. Look at the country now!! People want to do it for pleasure. Not for procreation (mind you, the one thing that our culture and tradition has excelled in) but for pleasure.  How horrendous! 

You must stop and admire these xyz-Sene gangs. Not that they wanted to, but they are mostly staunchly celibate. For the cause of the nation and its culture, they have given up one of the most basic of human desires. Except for the occasional groping of the "pub-culture" women, there is no physical intimacy (with the opposite gender) in their lives. Poor, poor souls. Their life is more miserable than the "Big Bang" category of nerds.

You should understand that by declaring a war on Valentine's day, they are also reducing the misery of millions of wannabes (including themselves) who are alone and without "partners". What the heck will these men do if all the girls are already in love with someone else? How will they "fulfill" their own destinies? That just cannot be allowed. And why do we need a special day for showing love? For eons, men in India have been showing their love not just to their wives but to any woman that walks by them. Don't mistake their leering for leechery. They are just showing their love for all humanity. 

We must applaud these brave souls and marry them off to their pet goats

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iTunes/iPod tag

Picked up from Vani. Total timepass. Play your iTunes or iPod in shuffle mode and write down the songs that play under the question. I did skip a few songs that would've gotten me skinned alive by various folks :-)

1.If someone says, "Is this okay?" You say?

Jackass (Green Day)

2.How would you describe yourself?

Heaven Knows (Squeeze)

3.What do you like in a girl?

Californication (RHCP) - ok, that's wicked!

4.How do you feel today?

Doolin-Dalton (The Eagles)

5.What is your life's purpose?

Cheap 'n' Chessy (Carter TUSM)

6.What is your motto?

I Ask of You (Anastacia)

7.What do your friends think of you?

Gypsys (Cher)

8.What do you think of your parents?

If I had $1,000,000 (Barenaked Ladies)

9.What do you think about very often?

Way Down (Tori Amos)

10.What is 2 + 2?

Gin Soaked Boy (Divine Comedy) - he he he

11.What do you think of your best friend?

Duchess (The Stranglers)

12.What do you think of the person you like?

I never dreamed (Lynyrd Skynyrd) - righto!

13.What is your life story?

Children play with Earth (Arrested Development)

14.What do you want to be when you grow up?

Nice Guys Finish Last (Green Day) - yup always a nice guy

15.What do you think of when you see the person you like?

Aao Milo Chalo (Jab we met) - Come meet Go!

16.What will you dance to at your wedding?

Driving Rain (Paul McCartney)

17.What will they play at your funeral?

Have you ever really (Bryan Adams) - whatte!!

18.What is your hobby/interest?

Don't pull out on me yet (TLC)

19.What is your biggest fear?

Chains of Misery (Iron Maiden)

20.What is your biggest secret?

Bringin' on the heartache (Def Leppard)

21.What do you think of your friends?

Smells like teen spirit - right, I think my old, graying friends are still teens in spirit

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