31 July 2007

What's our President's name?

See if you can answer that without googling it!

I'm ashamed of my ignorance of what's happening in the world around me. I do vaguely remember reading something somewhere about our new president, but realized I don't even know her name. I pinged Sohna and Shirley, and was relieved to find I'm not alone in the dark.

Me to them: do you know the name of our new president? not allowed to google!

Sohna: ummmm
no :P
did u?

shirleyg: yes yes
shes a woman

Sohna: it's a female??

shirleyg: a woman
with the name beg with p
some patil

me: did you google shirley?!

shirleyg: padma patil

shirleyg: noooooooooooo

shirleyg: prema patil
shilpa patil

So, we finally googled. Pratibha Patil is the new President of India. (Yep, Shirley definitely didn't google.) Three cheers for the lady! We're glad to have her as President.

I'm politically demented, I can't even form ideas on what she will be like as a leader. I know absolutely nothing about her. I wikied, found some things I liked, how she handled the Rajasthan Dharma Swatantrya Bill for instance. And some unnerving stuffs -

"Patil claims to have spoken to the spirit of the deceased leader (Baba Lekhraj) of the Brahma Kumaris World Spiritual University at their headquarters in Mount Abu, Rajasthan.

"Dadiji ke shareer mein Baba aye ... Maine unse baat ki (Baba entered Devi’s body and he communicated to me through her)," she said on TV camera. Reporters began to report on the message she received of a “divine indication“ of great responsibility coming her way.

Patil claims to have received the mediumistic message during the last season in which the spirits they call "Bapdada" communicated with the faithful of the Brahma Kumaris sect. She had gone to seek the blessings of Hirday Mohini, also known as Dadi Gulzar or Dadiji."

Source: Wikipedia

You're kidding right?!! I don't mean any disrespect, but c'monn...

I don't have anything against divine interventions and other-worldly conversations but I just want our President to be clear in the head if she's going to lead the country. Of course, if it's just 'cutting ribbons', I guess then there's no harm.

But anyway, the fact alone that we have elected a female President will show people that India doesn't mistreat its entire female population and that we women don't just meekly walk behind our men. Because there are people who think India is full of savages who kill female babies. We walk ahead too.

And let's watch our President walk ahead and the men following her. I'm going to enjoy this.

25 July 2007

Hampi - Close Encounter With The Third Kind!

A picture of Hampi first, by way of an introduction -
Was there last weekend with Katrin. I always hated history and all history-related subjects in school. Going to Hampi made me realise my feelings haven't changed. Smriti says she's not interested in Hampi because there's nothing to hump in Hampi :P
We got there pretty early, it was still dark out and we took a rickshaw from Hospet, and it was complete wilderness, with just us two girls and our rickshaw driver. I was a little uneasy, but it started to get light while we were on our way to Hampi. And I was beginning to enjoy the sights and sounds when bam! our rickshaw's tire got a puncture! In the middle of nowhere.

Our valiant driver, Shiva, took us to a nearby temple on top of a hill, and further took us up on the top of this hill (?) (more like a dollop of boulders) near the temple so we could sit and watch the sun rise while he goes to fetch another rickshaw. We asked him several times while on our way there if there were monkeys around, because we are both terrified of them. And each time Shiva would say, 'No, no, ma'am! No monkey here, haha, no worry.' Assured, we sat down and lit cigarettes, ready to watch the phenomenal event of the sun coming up on the horizon.

Then I heard Katrin's voice, sounding Katrin-like but with a new, exciting tremor to it. 'Jerusha!' it whispered. 'Jerusha! Oh god! There are monkeys here!' I, whose eyes had been fixed firmly on the distant horizon, turned and looked, and saw she had not lied or was joking as I wished she had been. There were two little monkeys, just sitting there and staring at us. And what was worse, there were more coming out from behind a big rock, in a single file, who came out and sat down around us, staring at us like we were the famous little green men from Mars.

Katrin froze and blabbered something about how she can't let 'anything' happen here (I assumed she meant 'death' by 'anything'), not here in the middle of nowhere, not here in Hampi, not here in India, separated from her loving parents' arms by endless miles of the yawning ocean. I think I would have bolted and ran if I had been with someone who was braver. I watched those little buggers, more of them coming out and placing themselves in a circle round us, like we were sacrificial lambs, and all I wanted to do was hurl myself down the boulders with not a thought of broken bones, and even possibly, 'anything'.

'Don't panic, get up slowly, grab your bags and walk. Walk, don't run' I said, but all I wanted to do was run myself. Somehow we did as the voice coming out of my mouth told us to. And we easily scrambled down rocks which we had climbed up with so much difficulty. At one point, I turned back and didn't see a single monkey. I thought they'd stopped following us, relieved, I even relaxed enough to take this picture - our distant beacon of hope, the temple.Tree branches above us swished again. We scrambled down further. They followed us till the temple and stopped. We hovered somewhere around the temple's entrance, too scared to go back up and too scared to venture further down the road where wild, stray dogs and buffaloes roamed - both of which we are both again terrified of.

We sat there near the temple and waited for Shiva to come back with the life-saving rickshaw. It was like Psychology class all over again. The devil and the deep blue sea. The monkeys on one side, and the buffaloes on the other. And the temple had several towers, all of which had fearsome demon-like statues. It was not a very pleasant thing, sitting there with these statues glowering down at us. I, however, meekly got my camera out and zoomed in on one of the statues and hoped he wouldn't mind if I took one picture of him. The hyperthyroidic statues with the protruding eyeballs. No I didn't like them at all.

It was getting later, there were priests on the temple who must've just gotten up and were walking down towards us. It seemed the monkeys had destroyed our trust in our own fellow creatures because K asked me if they were going to attack us :-). I said I didn't know for sure but most likely not. They didn't.

When Shiva came back, the first thing he heard from us was 'Shiva, there ARE monkeys on that hill!!' Reproach loud on our voices. And what did he say? 'Of course ma'am, here monkeys everywhere. Is okay. They don harm.' Blithely. As blithe and as cheerful as a lark. He had no idea we had been treading on the very edge of death just a few minutes before. Thoughts of being bitten by a mad monkey, not to instant death but the bite sealing me to an eternal doom of leading a rabid life had also ran rampant in my mind. But yes, Shiva was hale and hearty and blithe and gay.

On a more serious note, the crumbling ruins made me angry that these people, who were once this powerful and ruled in such glorious magnificence, didn't have anything better to do than built elaborate stables for elephants and more temples than one could pray in in a lifetime. That's all well and good but look at us now, maybe there were things they could've done differently.

All that glory, power, learnings, skills and we, heirs of all that glory, are now third world citizens, forever stricken with poverty, where people come to play missionary and social worker and good samaritan and cleanse their conscience and dirty their feet. 'Developing' all the time, and I'm sick of the present-continuous-ness of this term. I wonder what the old Maharajahs of yore would feel if they can see us now.

Eagerly awaiting the day we, the once-developed and civilized, that by some ill-luck regressed to a developing state, can kick the 'ing' out and turn that gerund into a regular adjective once again.

Other than that, I think there were too many temples that looked alike, too much sun, too many monkeys and our driver, too enthusiastic - which was tiring for us, who were not interested and refused to step out of the rick in most of the sites, and also disappointing for him, who was obviously used to people ooh-ing and aah-ing away.

Aside from all these, I liked Hampi and the surrounding countryside, it's really charming, with bullock-drawn carts and sugarcane fields, and mobile phones that don't work :). Also easy to feel kind of detached from the world and a little lost. But I really did like the place.
And there were lots of colorful, friendly gypsies!

But if i were to go back, there's only one place that I think is really worth going back for - the Mango Tree restaurant. Under the shade of giant mango trees, nestled close to the river Tungabhadra, quiet and peaceful and close to nature, you sit on mats on the floor and eat. They serve only vegetarian food, and it's REALLY cheap. I did not see a single dish that cost more than Rs 100. They also make very good tea, which is very important in my book. I had plain rice, dal fry and aloo jeera - served on banana leaf! It was probably the best meal I've had in a very long time. I don't remember ever enjoying dal and aloo so much. That meal was better than any I've ever had in all the fancy restaurants I've ever been to. That's Shiva, happy and full from his Thali dinner. You can see the river in the background. We ate dinner there, with the lantern and on the mats and fireflies overhead. It was just lovely!
Men with Coracles on the river. K asked me if they got those from turtles :)

Went walking further down the river and found this lone fisherman -
His catch so far -
The people are very friendly. The fisherman asked me 'What is your name?', the kids on the street asked me my name, everyone asks you for your name. I almost had to pay the foreigner price of Rs 250 entry fees, but I speak enough Hindi to save myself. I don't speak a lot but I can speak the little that I do know like I know a lot :P They kept on telling me I spoke 'excellent' Hindi. (That's a feather on your cap for you, Mr Kutty)

And oh, if you're ever there, you have to beware of kids that just jump in when you take pictures. Gypsy kids with wild hair and tattooed chins and foreheads and colorful clothing and beautiful eyes, they grab you and smile for your camera, and they all want to look at the pictures before going back to tending cattle or collecting firewood. And they look at their pictures, and give you a thumbs-up and say 'Super!'

Despite the harrowing encounter with the monkeys, the trip was super. I hope to make it back there again soon.

19 July 2007

Questions for all who'd bother to answer

I got a couple of questions. I'll list them below, I'd like to know everyone's idea on these, so please comment if you have the time. Questions are not based on any particular thing or person or situation.

Question 1: Is love ever wrong? I mean romantic love in this case, and if yes, when?

Is it when it's between two people who don't embrace the same religious faith, who pray to different gods? Or is it when it's between two people who belong to different castes and/or communities? When and what makes love a 'wrong' thing? When/how can it be a 'sin' to love someone, no matter who that person is?

And if yes to either one/both of the above, why?

Question 2: Do you think the world would be a safer, more peaceful place if we were all either atheists or agnostic? If yes or no, I'd also like to know why you think so.

I'm neither. I believe very strongly in a one and only true God. But I still wonder. And like me, most of the people I know, most of my friends also believe in the same thing. It would be interesting to know what you, who could be an atheist/agnostic/liberal/radical/unitarian/Hindu/Jain/just plain spiritual/whatever thinks.


16 July 2007

Poppin' babies...

There's that song called 'I wanna have your babies' by Natasha Bedingfield. At some point, it was a hot subject of discussion during work. We sit quietly, me and my friends, staring at our computer screens, looking like we're very deeply engrossed in our clients' problems. But no, our fingers work faster on our IM windows, and sometimes I can even hear them giggling out loud, over my headphones playing Coal Chamber in full volume.

I'd rather talk about some dumb song than waste precious grey cells on ungrateful clients' dumb problems. Common factor here is the dumbness of both subjects, but lesser of the two evils, I consider, is discussing Miss Bedingfield's song. At least there's fun to be had while on the subject.

So anyway, if you haven't heard of that song before, the last two lines on the chorus goes 'I wanna have your babies, I see 'em springing up like daisies', which, me and my girls thought, was just plain stupid. Sohna, in fact, initially sang 'I wanna have your babies, they're poppin' out like daisies' :-)

'People write whatever crap they want and then slap some tune to it and call it a song. It's sacrilegious' said one. 'It's desecrates the word 'song' and all that it stands for and all that it signifies' said another.

But we learned the hard way that writing silly songs is much easier than writing really significant, profound works of art (as if it needs to be learned at all, but we did need to be taught!).

It also depends on the name one has carved for oneself. If you're an accepted genius all around, you can just about get away with anything. If a nobody like me created a "supposed work of art," and called it something like 'The flight of the bumblebee' I'm sure it'd get a lot of snickers. Only works for established geniuses like Korsokov. In the same way, if it had been Shakespeare who wrote 'I wanna have your babies, I see 'em springin' up like daisies,' people would be quoting it now and still quoting it for eons to come.

Anyway, we tried to better the Bedingfield song, with drastic results. I may brag about having never used Spell-check in my life, but songwriting is a different matter altogether. My friends too could not come up with anything song-saving. Shirley came up with -

'I wanna have your babies, and hope they don't get rabies'

Sohna's attempt -

'I wanna have your babies, what'll I do if they get scabies!'

So Shirley suggested they combine both and have something like 'I wanna have your babies, and hope they don't get rabies' with 'And scabies, and scabies..' as a part of the fading chorus.

Tried singularising it -

'I wanna have your baby, and watch him grow up to be a lady.' (This would be our way of showing our passive support for the gay pride movement.)

You can put your two cents in, if you think you can do better.

We, the newly humble and modest, now no longer scoff at songs. We have been given lessons in humility, and our prides have been squashed to bits. We are now epitomes of humility and peace, with not a harsh word or thought in our heads...I think.

Our new obsession - the Animal 1 vs Animal 2 videos on YouTube. Anaconda vs Jaguar, Python Vs Croc, Tarantula Vs Centipede, Sumatran Tiger Vs Wild Boar, and sometimes we pair our own fighters and that's usually more fun than real videos.

Like today for example, Shirley pitched a peacock against a bear. And I've been laughing for the past 2 hours because Shirley is a member of the duck-stealer clan and speaks like a true duck-stealer.

(Duck-stealer clan - People who use what I call Shakespearean language. Like for example, when she IMs someone, instead of the regular greetings like 'Hey, what's up?' Shirley would say 'Greetings, O ye noble prince of darkness.' Call them the duck-stealer clan because Shakespeare was a duck stealer.)

To give you an idea of 'duck-stealer' language, and also because it's just plain hilarious and I hope it'll make you shed your worries and laugh a little, I am going to paste my conversation with the duck-stealer here, as it is, laced with typos, as follows:

shirleyg: oh oh
peacock vs bear
who's side are u on

Jerusha: hahahha

shirleyg: hehehe

Jerusha: personally i like bears better

shirleyg: but wudnt it be more fun to see peacock eat bear

Jerusha: but ill be on peacock';s side just becos of its odd chances of winning

shirleyg: bear in tummy of peacock

Jerusha: yea yea
would l0ve to see

shirleyg: oh!!
yes yes we shud see

shirleyg: hahaha
so peacock seduces bear with his lovely feathers
he does an angelic dance
the dance of death

Jerusha: hahahahhahaha

shirleyg: calls the bear closer n closer n closer
bear then caught unawares in tiny beak of peacock

Jerusha: yes yes
very tiny beak
but in tye midst of the seductive dance trance, bear has no wish to be out of peacock's beak ill bet

shirleyg: oh yeah oh yeah
in his lustful ways n pure pleasure of being eaten by the peacock he does not see death approach
before long he floating down the peacocks gullet
to the dark abyss of eternal damnation

Jerusha: peacefully floating down the river of death through peacock's digestive tract

shirleyg: haha

Jerusha: he knew not that he was floating through the valley of the shadow of death

shirleyg: yes yes lost in his own pleasure death seemed but a sacrifice to eternal love
his love for the peacock that is

Jerusha: yet peacock was only sealing its own doom, for in the process of eating and swallowing the bear whole, it was commiting one of the deadly sins
O gluttonous peacock
bring forth thy secret of never gaining weight even after swallowing bears whole

shirleyg: ah but forgive ye this sin....gluttony n lust hath come together in such harmonious ways. the peacock suffered greatly but the bear ... oh the bear
death had to come to them so they be reunited within the fires of hell

Jerusha: level 2 I suppose

shirleyg: i wud say so yes


Poor bear.

Poor peacock.

(Also, the way Shirley described the bear's pleasure at being eaten reminded me of Armin Meiwes and his friend.)

10 July 2007

Lustful Me :(

I took the Dante's Inferno Test just to see which level of hell it's going to banish me to. And I've been banished to the second level of hell. Where the lustful goes. I'd never have thought 'lust' to be one of my major sinning areas. It's just a virtual test developed by humans, but it does make you think.

The sweet light no longer strikes against your eyes. Your shade has been banished to... the Second Level of Hell!

You have come to a place mute of all light, where the wind bellows as the sea does in a tempest. This is the realm where the lustful spend eternity. Here, sinners are blown around endlessly by the unforgiving winds of unquenchable desire as punishment for their transgressions. The infernal hurricane that never rests hurtles the spirits onward in its rapine, whirling them round, and smiting, it molests them. You have betrayed reason at the behest of your appetite for pleasure, and so here you are doomed to remain. Cleopatra and Helen of Troy are two that share in your fate.

...old friends :-)

I remember years ago in school, we were reading out a play, Helen of Troy and I got to be Helen's voice. The girls envied me, and I was feeling pretty darned good that I was the 'chosen one' to be Helen. Seems teacher did a good job. He probably saw kindred spirits and picked me because of that. :P

Take the Dante's Inferno Hell Test

06 July 2007

Whammy! Bammy! Thank You Maammy!

So someone told me this picture looks 'Whammy! Bammy! Thank you Maammy! - for whatever that's supposed to mean. What do you think that's supposed to mean?

That's Smriti, sloshed and sleepy and feeling naughty! Staunch Firaangi Paani fan, and swears by vodka and Sprite. Sohna's having fun without us livin' it up in Sydney, so we're trying not to be too envious and make up for the lack of hot, Aussie guys here by dimming our eyesights in Firaangi Paani so we'd appreciate what we have here more.

Kidding! Don't really need to dim the lights or my eyesight or go to Sydney to appreciate what I have. I appreciate who I have to bits - in the clearest of minds, in my highest levels of consciousness, in the brightest and starkest of lights :-)

Man, that's corny! :D

03 July 2007

Let's Ramble

Do you think the stuffs that we were taught in school were relevant? Looking back now, I think we were taught more crap than stuffs that makes sense.

You ever have those cursive writing lessons way, wayyyy back in school, around standard 1/2? I remember I used to hate those so much back then, but I will admit that I write beautifully on paper, I mean the handwriting, not the content :P, and I think it's all thanks to those cursive writing exercises. At least not all the things they forced us to do turned out to be completely useless.

Did you ever get slapped around in school? Caned? I remember being hit flat on the face a couple of times, and I was even pretty proud to walk around with red, hand-shaped welts on my cheeks, laughing about it. Girls usually cried. I cried only once, not because I was scared, or the beating hurt, or I was embarrassed. I cried out of extreme hatred for the teacher. Extreme hatred. At such a young age. It makes me wince now to imagine hating anyone that way. I no longer have the passion to hate/dislike someone that intensely.

He pulled my hair and he pinched my ears, he slapped me with the back of his cold, clammy hands on my cheeks a bit, and it wasn't even painful, his beating didn't really hurt, but I looked at him, his oily hair, hair sticking out of his ears, his barely-understandable English derisively asking me questions he didn't want me to answer, and it angered me so much tears came to my eyes. And the tears angered me so much more came and so on and so forth. That was when I was in Class III.

I went to a school that believed very strongly in corporal punishment. It was a regular thing to hear sounds of flesh against flesh, wood against flesh, foreheads against blackboards, wooden rulers breaking on small hands. I was always a good student, I mean, I did my homeworks, passed all my tests and exams, always tried to be #1 etcetera etcetera. But I just couldn't stop yapping. Which was not too bad, but my refusal to yap in English always ended in me bending over a table and getting my butt whacked.

I watch these videos on youtube about 'violent' student-beating teachers, and everyone seems to think it's a colossal matter and I only ho-hum. Seen too many more violent teachers.

I remember getting caned so badly one time I couldn't sit. I had big, nasty, purple bruises on my butt, and I showed them to my mom and she had tears in her eyes and told me she's not letting me go back to the school. I've never been slapped or physically beaten ever since. I moved school the next year.

I'm now actually pretty close to one of my old teachers who used to beat me the hardest, go out for dinner and all that. Am I just stupid or am I just an extremely good human being?? LOL! I think I'm just thick.

But one thing I wonder about, now that I'm all grown up, and has had the experience of teaching in school a couple of summers, all I wonder about is how they could've possibly done that to little 9-13 year old kids? I taught Science to high school kids, and even to the students that irritated me most, physical beating was not something I would ever consider. And they're high school kids. And some of them were older than regular high school kids with kids of their own. But you're their teacher and they look up to you and they're your students, your kids, your responsibilities, and you just love them.

I wonder sometimes did we have monsters for teachers? How could they do that?? Maybe someone like me who always broke the rules needed a little beating, but there were some who were such angelic kids you wouldn't even think of speaking to them harshly, not to mention raising your hands on them. But they all got beaten too.

Anyway, I don't know how I got onto this subject. I was just gonna....ramble.

I think I'm in love. Or pretty close to it. Or not even close at all. Just obsessed. Well, just a little crazy at the moment. I don't know. I'm sick of trying to figure things out. Not just about love. Things in general. I am going to take things as they come. One day at a time.