Saturday, October 23, 2004

obituaries dept.

Its been a month since Udayan Shinde finally crossed the threshold into the great unknown. Perhaps the next world shall be kinder to him than the one he so briefly inhabited. I, on the other hand, must resign myself to the fragments he left behind. Perhaps my whole existence was a manifestation of his own imagination, and soon, I shall watch the world I know and hold to be so true, dissolve before my own eyes until I, myself, am slowly erased into nothingness. But for now, I do with the occasional visit to his weary, desolate house. I do with reading the lines in his mother's face, the jadedness in her eyes -- (Oh, heaven, release me from that haunting spectre!); eyes that give away the arbitrary, empty meaninglessness that her life has now become. And sometimes I hear the vulgar laugh of fate echoing in the unkempt recesses of his house, and in vain try to stifle the terrfying thoughts that enter the mind of a condemned man.

I have the consolation of knowing that he died quickly, painlessly. Also of knowing that both the police report and the autopsy have exonerated him of the vile charge of trying to end his tangled, confused life himself. Its a gamble really, every day, when we so casually try to drive those brutish machines on our roads. All that remains for me to do, then, is to chronicle my own perpective of this tangled web he wove (oh! but such a fine pattern it was!); to leave it to posterity to judge him and understand him.

I confess that I saw him only as any other man. We all have aspirations, loves, hates, talents and flaws. Udayan had his. But it was his constant struggle to understand, to rein the wild steed that fate had so cruelly forced under a man of such delicate sensitivity that to me, separated him from other men I have known.

In the final email I received from him before the end, he wrote:

I think I have finally discovered my place here :). There is nothing more traumatic than estrangement, nothing that gnaws away at one's soul like the curse of alienation. But I think I'm learning to deal with both of them. I once wrote to you that I thought life had no pattern, that it was only a bunch of random occurences to which no motive could possibly be ascribed. Perhaps I was a bit harsh in my judgement, definitely more than a little hasty.

Yesterday, on Bajirao Road, looking for food, I entered an obscure khanaaval, and ordered some Usal-paav. The Usal, steaming hot with a generous side-helpuing of rassa, almost made the hair on my skin stand on end. And the paav, dipped in this divine concontion, simply melted away in my mouth. Random, life may be, but it is extraordinary how beautiful in its simplicity it can be too, *sometimes*. On the very same day, I found myself in IBH looking for a lucid explanation of queuing theory, when I smelt the whiff of an intoxicating perfume. Who the wearer had been, whether a man or a woman, I do not know. But I felt humbled that nature should so conspire to reserve for me this singular, delicate moment of sensory delight.

You must think I'm going crazy. Sometimes I don't know myself why I write such things to you ;) -- perhaps I'm not helping my cause. But even If I were really only a raving lunatic, I can assure you of the sincerity of my convictions :).

BTW, I think i've finally figured out how to write poetry. The form comes easily, with practise, but the content is harder to work on. In my opinion (and there's a strong caveat on that ;)), intuitive writing is somewhat shallow, deliberate, false. Most of the poems I like have consistent themes and develop them using innovative metaphors. I intend to try this out (easier said than done, right? ;)) -- may require some discipline and patience and *lots* of time, but hey, time is all I've really got, right?


Tuesday, October 19, 2004

Veerappan-est-mort!-Vive-Veerappan!!! dept.

According to all the news channels, infamous sandalwood smuggler and kidnapper Veerappan is now no more. The official version says that the joint Special Task Force created by the Karnataka and Tamil Nadu police departments finally hunted him down after years of sustained intelligence gathering operations in the sandalwood forests.

Yeah, right!

What we have not been told, however, is that the man responsible for ridding the world of this notorious anti-social ruffian was none other than S.K.Gowda, sarpanch of Ramangiri village on the outskirts of the sandalwood forests, and on the fringes of the territories that Veerappan called his own.

Here is the truth behind the veil of lies that officialdom has so elaborately constructed around the entire episode...

Blessed with matinee idol looks even in his fifties, with thick eyebrows, and a stack of pristine, glossy hair with streaks of silver running through them (almost as if painted by the creator himself with his divine 15 no. brush), S.K.Gowda is part of the task force in better times. Responsible for the group's intial successes, he incurs the terrible anger of the forest brigand.

Violence and death are now so mundane that even the most horrific of deeds do not move us anymore. Populations are wiped out by famine; rioteers indiscriminately loot, pillage and ransack neighbourhoods. Women and children suffer unthinkable abuse at the hands of psychopathic chauvinists and perverts. It should be no surprise then, that Veerappan's ruthless mass-murder of Gowda's own family should go unnoticed by the national media. Neither is the blatant arrogance with which the government disowns him after both of his arms have to be amputated when an impetuous, unauthorised reprisal goes horribly wrong.

Reduced to farming his dying fields, and, dressed in a spotless white kurta and pashmima shawl that hides his discomfiture, stalking the dark galleries of his ancestral home like a sulking ghost, Gowda confronts the terrible meaninglessness and emptiness that is his life. And then, discovers reserves of strength in his mind. A strength he has no idea ever existed.

Like the Count of Monte Cristo, he finds vengeance his only aim, and he channelizes his terrible hatred to one end -- the destruction of Veerappan and his cohorts. Stealthily he assembles a village militia to counter the barbaric forest men. In Javagal and Veerangal, two ex-convicts, he finds able lieutenants. One-by-one they pick off Veerapan's men until they force a final confrontation.

In a finale as bloody and viscious as the worst in the annals of human warfare, Veerappan's band is wiped out. Not without heavy casualties. Javagal, in an unprecedented act of bravery, or maybe stupidity, blows himself to pieces when he misjudges the timer on some explosives that have been strategically placed in Veerappan's path.

It is only hours later that the task force is notified, and police officers and Karnataka Pradesh Congress Commitee members rush to Ramangiri to claim all the credit for the destruction of the century's most elusive criminal.

But Gowda still lives. Alone in that massive edifice erected by his ancestors which he has made his labyrinth. And here he waits patiently for the end, when he shall be summoned again by his creator in his next life -- there again to confront his nemesis. Again to play the part that fate, that harsh mistress, has decreed he play...

Sunday, October 17, 2004

the-play's-the-thing dept.

"So I hear you are leaving for the US tomorrow?"

"Yes. uhhh...My flight..uhhh..leaves on Tuesday."

"What is it you do exactly, again?"

"Well, uhhh...My company...uhhh...provides software consultancy services to American software companies. I'm ...uhhh... going onsite for upcoming release, where..ummm..."

"Oh, so basically, you're going to go there and tell them why this button doesn't appear on this window, and where to point the mouse and click...hyuk, hyuk, hyuk...."

"ahhh...ha..ha...something like that..."

"Where do you normally go then, (sneer) New York, Chicago?"

"No...actually, San Jose, usually...ummm...California. That's where most software companies are."

"So what do you do in your company? How many (sneer) people do you have working under you?"

"I ... uhh... don't think of them as working under me, but yeah...ahhh...that depends..."

"Arre, these software companies usually pay really well , you must be senior now right, arre they must be paying you well, na?"

"Uhhh...ok, I guess ."


"So, did you go anywhere when you were in the US? कुठे-कुठे गेला होतास?"

I.Well,.uhhh..once...I... we...uhh... went to LA..."

"Oh, I'm sorry, you (sneer) wanted to say something?"

", please, go ahead..."

"Ahem, so I went to LA with my advisor, with some friends from the eFF-dEE-aYYY."


"Food...FOOD And DRUG ADMINISTRATION...they approve all the drugs in the US, our work falls under their jurisdiction. So we went to this restaurant which is owned by Spielberg's parents. You know, the film director. His parents are really old, and they actually run the restaurant. We met his mother...Spielberg's mother. She is a really nice old lady. Amazing people, the Spielbergs."

"So why don't you (sneer) do your post-graduation?"

"I...uhhh...there was a time I thought of doing that...but..uhhh...ummm...Well, I guess I..uhhh..wasn't up to it..."

"Hey, (sneer) you should really consider it, its really great. So let's go then? Oh no, please, let me..."