Me, myself and you

Scene: Me is sitting staring the the ‘Compose’ window, not typing a word. Other-Me is yapping non-stop somewhere in the vicinity of the brain. Other-Me’s voice sounds strangely familiar. The sarcasm is definitely familiar.

Other Me: So, write something fantabulously awesome that’ll shake the entire blogosphere and bring them all to your blog-step!

Me: Oh yeah? Like what?

Other Me: I don’t know! But something really really cool.

Me: Ice?

Other Me: Funny?

Me: (dejected) No. But it’s irritating when you have to convey something really huge and you don’t find the words!

Other Me: No words at all, eh?

Me: Nope. Nothing. Zero. Zilch. Nada. No. Shoonya. Poojyam. Sunna..

Other Me: Ok ok, don’t go all polyglot-ic on me. How about google-ing for an image. It is equal to a thousand words you know.

Me: You think I didn’t do that already, you knucklehead? Why don’t you just shut the heck up for a while and let me think?

Other-Me: Oh, but I can’t shut up. You know I can’t. You can’t shut up! How can I? Maybe you should just let me do the writing. Like you always do. *smirk*

Me: WHAT??!! HOW DARE YOU insinuate that I pass off your work as mine? How dare you, cheater, pumpkin-eater?

Other-Me: Fine, fine. It’s all your work. Now get to the work at hand. Write something good. But sweetheart, pumpkin-eater? Seriously? That’s all you could come up with?

Me: *through gritted teeth* I will not swear or name-call on this blog, so shut it.

Other-Me: Oh right. Forgot. Did you wash the blog with turmeric and apply kumkum on it today? How about actually using that coconut you bought 2 weeks back? Can I get some camphor?

Me: Leave me alone!!!!!!!!!!!

Other-Me: Can’t.

Me: Can too.

Other-Me: Can too not.

Me: You mean ‘cannot’?

Other-Me: Whatever. *long series of beeps that can’t be typed on a public domain*

Me: Ok!! No point resisting you. Give me one good idea and I swear I’ll treat you like an equal.

Other-Me: God promise? You will?

Me: I will. *fingers crossed behind back – loophole for the promise*

Other-Me: You do realize I can know that you intend to cheat, right?

Me: *giving up* Fine fine fine! Tell me.

Other-Me: Considering the dire straits you’re in, and considering the fact that your mental health is my mental health and considering the fact that I do owe you one from long time ago and considering…

Me: You know, I would like to publish a post on this blog at least before 2080 so…

Other-Me: *Dont-push-your-luck-too-far-or-I’ll-have-to-kill-you look* considering the very obvious fact that your writing skills are fast drying up, I will give you one piece of advice.

Me: Which is?

Other-Me: Just say it.

Me: Er, what?

Other-Me: No big hungama, no party-ish shouting, no fancy pictures from Google, nothing. Just say it. Those few words. Say it.

Me: *bewildered*

Other-Me: What? You got a better idea, chum?

Me: No. This is it.

Other-Me: Then go! Now! Before they all leave. Go!!

So, Me is writing the following in the ‘Compose’ window and hitting ‘Publish’ –

This is my 200th post. I’m happy for me! (going ‘YAY!!’). Thank you, my silent and not-so-silent readers, who put up with everything that I post here and who actually come back (God bless you!) and say nice things about what I write. It’s easy to say that I write only for myself yada yada yada, but the honest truth is, after a point, it gets really lonely writing just for yourself (and the occasional spammer advertising engine oil). It could be no big deal for you leaving a comment, but if you’re also a blogger you’ll know it’s a huge deal to see a comment on something you felt about and penned. And if I’m still here, still writing, still yappin’, it’s because of you. Yes you, right there, reading this line. 🙂 Thank you. You’ve been great, and I do hope I can keep you interested in Thought Process, at least for a little while longer. And I’ll sincerely try not to get this mushy again. But maybe for my 300th post, no? 🙂

Other-Me: See? That wasn’t so bad after all, was it?

Me: *relieved* So now I have to treat you like an equal?

Other-Me: *strutting about proudly inside head* You bet, lady!

Me: In your dreams, you nut! *wicked grin*

Other-Me: Hey!! That’s not…

Other-Me’s voice fades out. Enter Bryan Adams with ‘Summer of 69’.

P.S: 200! Two hundred! 2 followed by 2 whole zeroes. Yippie! Woohoo!!! I did it! I lasted this long! *goes away imagining Oscar statuette in hand, acceptance speech in mind*

Bram Stoker’s Dracula

Jonathan Harker is a real estate agent who has to travel to the mountains of Transylvania to meet Count Dracula to discuss affairs of the latter’s latest acquisition, a rundown castle in England. Harker braves the journey, even though he has his own doubts when the innkeeper (where he stays for a bit) gives him a crucifix and asks him to keep it for his mother’s sake. What follows is a bizarre adventure that starts with his imprisonment by the Count and ends with his escaping the dreaded castle where the dead rise from their graves. He keeps a count of the incidents that occur in the castle, and even when he is finally in the arms of his love, Mina Harker, he is visited by nightmares of the stay with Count Dracula.

Lucy Westenra is a demure English girl, who’s biggest problem at the moment is being proposed to by three very eligible gentlemen. Dr.Seward is a psychiatrist, Quincey Morris is American and is fun to be with, but above these two, is Arthur Holmwood whom she truly loves. But weird things start happening to Lucy when she starts sleep-walking and is, one night, found in a graveyard with a man in a black hooded overcoat. She also has a mysterious wound on her neck which worries her doctor, Lord Van Helsing who has arrived to treat her at the behest of Dr.Seward.

When Lucy dies due to excessive blood loss, her family and friends are none the wiser about the meaning behind it. But Van Helsing has his own doubts, which are proved when he finds Lucy’s coffin empty in the crematorium. What’s even more bewildering is Lucy back in the same coffin during daytime, looking as beautiful as ever, without the slightest signs of being a one week old cadaver.

How did Lucy die? And why does she seem to be regaining her youth after death? And what are those 50 wooden boxes that the Count despatched to England from his castle? What does Mina have to do with all this, other than being Jonathan Harker’s wife? How many more will fall prey to the Count, and become the Un-Dead?

Bram Stoker answers all these and more with his amazing horror story of a book, ‘Dracula’. The book is a set of letters (between the various characters) and diary entries of the Harkers & Dr.Seward and traces the series of events that lead to the revelation of the true identity of Count Dracula and Mina Harker.

The language is pompous, characteristic of prim and proper English men and women, with exaggerated proclamations of friendship and faithfulness. But then, the novel was written in 1897 – enough reason why every sentence written reeks of chivalry! Some of those are so cliched-ly chivalrous, that if it weren’t for the fact that the book is about vampires, it would seem outright funny. It’s set in the England of yore, where women were treated as delicate darlings in the truest sense of the phrase.

The way the author has painted the characters, leaves nothing to doubt. Making the movie must have been a relatively painless affair, thanks to the vivid details presented in the book. What I loved about the narration was the way the author kept the interest going, even though the concept of vampires and Dracula, in general, are very well known these days. The puncture wounds on the victims, the garlic used to keep the vampire away, escaping wolves and a zoophagus mentally-ill patient – we know what it’s all about, but still we can’t wait for the actual words to appear in the book! Now, that’s what I call a page-turner.

What remains now is the on screen adaptation of the book. Something tells me I shouldn’t watch it alone. And maybe I should sleep with a couple of garlic cloves under my pillow!

An excerpt (from the back cover of the book) –

There he lay looking as if youth had been half renewed, for the white hair and moustache were changed to dark iron-grey; the cheeks were fuller, and the white skin seemed ruby red underneath; the mouth was redder than ever, for on the lips were gouts of fresh blood, which trickled from the corners of the mouth and ran over the chin and neck. Even the deep, burning eyes seemed set amongst swollen flesh, for the lids and pouches underneath were bloated. It seemed as if the whole awful creature were simply gorged with blood; he lay like a filthy leach, exhausted with his repletion.

If this cannot get you interested, I don’t know what will!

You can read the book online on Dracula’s page – apparently, the work is now in public domain in the US and other countries where copyrights expire for works published before 1923. (Whatever that’s supposed to mean!)

If you feel the book is just too much trouble, well, you’ll just have to catch the movie. The latest I heard of is the one with Gary Oldman as Dracula and Winona Ryder as Mina Harker (directed by none less than Francis Ford Coppola). But for a true bibliophile, nothing beats the touch and feel of a book. Absolutely nothing. So while you get a tub of popcorn and sit in front of the television, I will snuggle into my bean bag with a cup of hot chocolate and my favorite tome.

P.S: The book is a gift from my husband – a souvenir from a church in Whitby, which was Dracula’s home in England.

A dog’s life

No, not talking about my own. Well, at least, not in so many words. The daily commute from home to workplace and back takes it’s toll on one’s body and mind. The most affected, ofcourse, is the mind. Why? Because the mind is constantly on overdrive trying to make sense out of the chaotic surroundings (otherwise known as deathly traffic, arising mainly due to neanderthals under the garb of sophistication, behind steering wheels), and bring a semblance of sanity to the entire journey. It’s not easy, I tell you. As if your self-consciousness was not enough, you also have to keep abreast of the latest styles of handbags, footwear, salwars, jeans and tops that the rest of the office is wearing. When best to do that other than on your commute!

After attire-checking-out-ing (I’ve given up on my vocabulary, bear with moi please), the other hugely popular time pass for someone on a commute is a game of Who’s-Got-The-Most-Yucky-Lanyard. It’s simple enough and enormously time-passy. And this can be played in and around any office space that has at least one other human being other than yourself wearing their corporate ID cards on a lanyard. And as a person who has successfully completed a zillion commutes, I’ve seen the best and worst of them all. So much so, I could write a thesis on it. Pity I ‘m not doing anything even close to a post graduation (or just even education!) which would expect a thesis from me.

Well then, getting to the point, there are a million different types of lanyards. Ok, so not a million. But at least 20,000 types exist. From the completely harmless single string hapless looking one to the 5cms wide yellow colored I’m-a-clown-look-at-my-lanyard one – they’re all there! And some poor soul is wearing one right now (and we convey our heartfelt sympathies to him/her) at the risk of looking like a, well, a cross between a clown and a pet. A lovable pet who goes around with a yellow leash around its neck.

It’s not so much the size of the lanyard that matters. It all comes down to the color, IMHO. Honestly, the I-look-like-a-clown lanyard wouldn’t be so gross if it had been, say, white! Where it could just blend into your shirt. Or you could be wearing a black shirt and completely throw my argument out of gear. Ah well. Happens. One wonders why some corporates insist on blinding colors like lemon yellow, Ferrari red, Fanta orange or candy-floss pink! Whatever happened to human rights?! If I were ever made to wear one of those monstrosities, I swear I’ll quit! (Understandably, that’s a blatant exaggeration. I won’t quit. I’ll come right back to this very blog and post my rant and expect you all to leave me sympathetic comments. Just so you know.)

But what sometimes gets my gall is people wearing these things for their mobile phones. I mean, when you have a choice between looking smart and looking like a dumb fool, what would you choose? Honestly! It’s a pain on the eyes, people! It’s a veritable pain on the eyes to see pink, red and yellow colored ribbons hanging around your necks and if this is your idea of cool, then you’re probably living in the wrong century.

The whole thing reminds me of what my aunt says everytime she sees my ID card – ‘Doesn’t it make you feel like a dog?’. Yes Auntie, it sure does. And that’s why it’s safely hidden inside my purse. (I still have the lanyard mind you, otherwise the poor ID card would drown in the deluge of crap that is my purse.) You wouldn’t catch me dead (or alive) wearing it around my neck. I’m not stupid, ya know. At least not as much as you think.

Image Source

The Bartimaeus Trilogy

I’m no good with reviews. But once in a while you come across this amazing book or movie and it’s just very very hard to not talk about it. Very hard, indeed, to not tell people to read it or watch it. Jonathan Stroud’s Bartimaeus Trilogy may not be in the same league as J.K.Rowling’s Harry Potter series, but if you’re a fan of fanfic – rest assured – you will love these books. The imagination is vivid, the plot is non-complicated and above all this, the hero – Bartimaeus – is absolutely AWESOME! I’m no good with superlatives either, so ‘awesome’ will just have to do.

Remember the genie from Alladin’s lamp? Remember ‘I dream of Genie’? Yep, it’s the same kind of genie, only very cheeky and spelt ‘djinni’. Bartimaeus is around 5000 years old. In his own words –

“I am Bartimaeus! I am Sakhr al-Jinni, N’gorso the Mighty, and the Serpent of Silver Plumes! I have rebuilt the walls of Uruk, Karnak, and Prague. I have spoken with Solomon. I have run with the buffalo fathers of the plains. I have watched over Old Zimbabwe till the stones fell and the jackals fed on its people. I am Bartimaeus! I recognize no master. So I charge you in your turn, boy. Who are you to summon me?”

From ‘The Amulet of Samarkand’

To add to the fun, he also talks in footnotes! The author’s style of narration is the first of its kind that I have come across. The narration is partly through the eyes of Bartimaeus himself, and partly as a non-participant of the story. And since Bartimaeus is such an all-knowing, all-seeing, cheeky-and-witty-as-hell djinn, he tells us a lot more about magic and demons using footnotes. And trust me on this – these books are some of the few books where I actually laughed when I was reading them. Example? Here you go –

Situation: Bartimaeus is currently transformed into a fly, doing some eavesdropping. He buzzes too close to the guy and, whup! he’s hammered by a rolled up paper and is left lying on the floor in a daze. He manages to crawl out of the pub into the open street. And what follows is –

Out in the street I kept the pub door in view, while inspecting my tender essence. It’s a sorry state of affairs when a djinni who _________[5] is laid low by a rolled-up piece of paper, but that was the sad fact of the matter. All this changing and being batted about was not doing me any good. Mandrake…It was all Mandrake’s doing. He’d pay for this, first chance I got[6].

[5] Insert achievement of your choice from the following selection: (a) fought the utukku single-handed at the battle of Qadesh (b) carved the great walls of Uruk from the living ground (c) destroyed three consecutive masters by use of the Hermetic Quibble (d) spoke with Solomon (e) other.

[6] Not that I could not do anything to him in my current state. At least, not alone. Certain djinn, Faquarl among them, had long espoused collective rebellion against the magicians. I’d always dismissed this as so much hogwash, impossible to achieve, but if Faquarl had come up to me with some boneheaded scheme right then, I’d have joined him with much high-fiving and inane whoops of joy.

From ‘Ptolemy’s Gate’

Now who wouldn’t like an adorable djinni like Bartimaeus!

The books in the trilogy trace the series of events that happen between Bartimaeus, the magician Nathaniel (aka John Mandrake) and a commoner, Kitty Jones. Nathaniel (which is the magician’s birth name, supposed to be guarded very dearly but which inadvertantly is learnt by Bartimaeus – thereby forming a different relationship between the magician and the demon) summons Bartimaeus for the first time to steal the Amulet of Samarkand from the wicked power-hungry magician, Simon Lovelace. What follows is a game of cat and mouse, with each wanting possesion of the amulet which has the power to absorb any magical attack and protect the wearer. How the plans of Lovelace are thwarted by Bartimaeus and Nathaniel forms the rest of the plot in ‘Amulet of Samarkand’.

In ‘The Golem’s Eye’, Nathaniel is older and is now a government official looking into the activities of a bunch of revolutionary commoners, headed by Kitty Jpnes. Their aim is to overthrow the tyrannical rule of the magicians and form their own ruling mechanism. Bartimaeus and Nathaniel come together again to find and capture Kitty Jones, but before that to get rid of a crazy Golem. I won’t divulge what it is, so go ahead and read the book.

‘Ptolemy’s Gate’ is the second most interesting of the trilogy, the first being ‘The Amulet’. It starts slowly, but gathers pace soon enough and before you know it, you’re having the most amazing rollercoaster ride of a book! We get to know more about Bartimaeus’ past and his relationship with the boy magician Ptolemy in this book. Kitty Jones plays a bigger role in the events and Nathaniel undergoes a life-changing realization when he sees what he has become in the past years.

I wish I could just write the whole story here, for it’s all so exciting and well, awesome. But I refrain. I’d probably murder it in cold blood (which I have succesfully done to a lot of my own so called stories), and that’s the last thing I want to do to Bartimaeus.

There’s magic, there’s humor, there’s action and some tragedy too. No surprises that the Amulet is to be made into a movie. Remember how they killed the essence of Harry Potter with those movies and their half-baked plots? Apparently, Bartimaeus is not an exception.

And before I leave you in peace, one last witty bit from Ptolemy’s Gate – had me laughing in the waiting lounge of an airport, to curious onlookers who probably thought I’d lost it for good!

Thing was, I knew this mercenary. Both times we’d met we’d had a difference of views, and we’d done our best to resolve it in a civilized fashion. But whether I squished him under a statue, blew him up with a Detonation or (as in our last encounter) simply set him on fire and hurled him down a mountainside, he never seemed to suffer the slightest injury. For his part, he’d come annoyingly close to killing me with various silver weapons. And now, just when I was at my weakest, here he was again. It gave me pause. I wasn’t scared of him, ofcourse; dear me, no. Let’s call it judiciously nervous.

As always he was wearing a pair of ancient leather boots, scratched and worn, which positively stank of magic[1]. Presumably, it was these that had triggered my Pulse.

[1]: In contrast to most of my masters (Mandrake’s) shoes, which just positively stank.

Oh, this is just my kind of literature! And as always, don’t let my review bring down your interests in reading the book – forget the review, remember the book! It’s just that I’m amazingly good with words when I have absolutely nothing to say. And always at a horrible loss for words when there’s something very interesting/good/important/useful/creative/intellectual to be said. Yes, I’m weird in that way. And yes, I was born like this.

A Rajasthani affair

We stood before the entrance with an uncertainty that arises when you’re not quite sure you did the right thing by coming there, when it’s vastly different from what you had baselessly imagined. It took 2 whole minutes for that to change, with the re-assurance of a choice well made. We were greeted by trumpets and drums, and by an elderly gentleman who would have made a good village headman in a Hindi movie, holding a plate with the traditional welcome items like rose-water, kumkum, flowers and rice. If you’re also a tourist and are really in the mood for some Indian Maharajah treatment, you will also be honored with a pagdi (a type of headgear) and a chain of pearls!

Welcome to Dhola ri Dhani, the Rajasthani theme resort (for want of a better word) located on the outskirts of Hyderabad. Although the term ‘outskirts’ is hugely debatable, the drive from our workplace to Dhola ri Dhani (hereinafter referred to as DRD owing to the author possessing a high level of laziness in her blood) through non-existent roads and villages sure made it seem like the middle of nowhere. Thanks to an over-zealous taxi driver who was pretty sure he knew what he was doing even when the car had to go over mounds of mud and sand – we could have been in the middle of a river being dug up and we wouldn’t have known!

The ambience in DRD is typical Rajasthani – or so they say. I wouldn’t know ‘coz I haven’t been to the Northwestern Indian state. All I can think of about Rajasthan is desert, a lot of camels, Udaipur-Liz Hurley-Arun Nayar-wedding and Rudali[1]. And BITS, Pilani. And hey, more recently, Eklavya! For a person like that, this is quite an experience. You’re welcomed by Rajasthani folk music blaring from unseen speakers which, although quite endearing in the beginning, starts to get to you after a while and you just wish you could strangle the voice singing it and end the misery once and for all.

We (‘we’ here refers to a team of 15 people who’s only intention in coming to DRD was to have absolute, unadulterated fun. And ofcourse, food. Oh wait, maybe that’s just me!) took a walk around the place, waiting for the rest of the team to turn up. And what we saw left us saying, ‘Hmm..that’s nice’. There was a temple (which we conveniently did not visit), a bit of open lawns with those cots that one would find at a dhaba, lots of mosquitoes and the omnipresent folk song on the speakers. If you’re a kid in body and soul or a kid in soul inside that rough-looking exterior, you could sit on the swing (which was pretty sturdy, I must say) or play see-saw with an equal weighing companion. You could also play a local version of bowling involving 3 golf-ball sized balls and a stack of steel tumblers. You get to pick artsy trinkets if you can unstack all the tumblers. Or you could totally miss all the tumblers, even if you’re standing 5 feet from it. What’s important is you had fun. Fun, ladies and gentlemen, is the essence of living. (I’m shortly coming out with my own Book of Profound Lines, stay tuned!).

I swear the camel smiled!

One of the things we realized about the place is that it can keep you occupied for an entire evening. There is a camel ride, if you like sitting on a moving stinky mountain and feel like royalty, even if its only for 10-15 minutes. And even if the rest of my team does not agree, I really think the camel smiled. Or maybe that’s just the way a camel looks (more probable, isn’t it? Ho hum.).

Mehendi! My hand!

We girls got some mehendi on our hands from the resident mehendi artist. If you’re a guy, there’s nothing you can do but feel left out (or you can go right ahead and get some yourself – whatever makes you happy, chum!). There were puppet shows and folk dance recitals (which we successfully stage-crashed at their invitation) that were really nice, these guys have some talent and it’s a pity they don’t have a larger audience. And if you’re a hindi movie buff, worry not! there is an in-house production of Sholay in nothing less than Hyderabadi Hindi! Get ready to hear Gabbar say ‘Jab tak tumhare pairaan nachte, iski saasen chalta’. I walked out of the amphitheatre (?!!) thanking my stars that they staged only the climax scene. Thank God for small mercies.

Puppet show

The highlight of our trip to DRD were two things that I haven’t mentioned till now. Best for last, you see.

One, the food. Oh. My. God. Three different types of roti (bajra, missi, regular chapati), 4 curries to go with, dal baatis, dahi vadas, the yummiest jalebis, misri, papad and the I-totally-loved-it kichdi made of bajra and rice with ghee and sugar! This is my kind of paradise! ‘Drool drool slurp slurp’ would be a gross understatement. You’d feel full if you just taste the umpteen number of things on your plate. So much so, I didn’t even notice my right leg going numb due to lack of blood circulation for we were sitting down and eating, a la Rajasthani isstyle. Finish the whole thing off with buttermilk, which I should say had a tad too much of coriander leaves and don’t know why, tasted a bit like Hajmola! I guess I need some getting-used-to for the North Indian platter.

The second highlight was the magic show. It was mind boggling! This guy was right in front of us doing the most amazing of tricks, and we were mute spectators to the whole show! Well, almost mute – we did have to shout meaningless jargon, abracadabra and poo-poo (not to be confused with baby language please) and assorted actions that included coughing, sneezing and a certain action involving a ball and a bag between one’s legs. I refrain from elaborating further on that and you’re forbidden to ask me. What mattered, as always, was we had fun! And the last trick of the day? How about rubbing fists with your neighbor and choosing your favorite flower, only to come back with the smell of the exact same flower on your fist! I’m almost on the verge of believing that there is such a thing called magic and, wait for this, Harry Potter could be real! Now that, dear people, is what I call the essence of living!

On that note, also by popular demand from colleagues, presenting…the smoking camel! Apparently, the aforementioned camel can smoke beedis very expertly!

As Jim ‘The Mask’ Carrey would say – It’s ssssmokin’

Photos by Vivek (Thanks!)

[1] Rudali – That beautiful movie which tells the poignant tale of a woman who could never shed a tear but who finally ends up a Rudali – women who are paid to cry at funerals. That movie where we saw a never-before never-after Dimple Kapadia playing Sannicheri. The same movie where Bhupen Hazarika’s songs cast a spell on us, bringing the despair of the sandy desert into our hearts.

Newton and I

Newton’s First Law of Motion:
An object at rest will remain at rest unless acted upon by an external and unbalanced force. An object in motion will remain in motion unless acted upon by an external and unbalanced force.

My Corollary:
A weekend of rest will remain a weekend of rest unless acted upon by an external and unbalanced weekday. A weekend of fun will remain fun unless acted upon by an external and unbalanced Monday.

Right, all I need now is the Nobel prize for contributions to Science.