30 September, 2006

An unusual match of wits

This is a story that’s been with me for very long. Almost 8 years. The funniest part is that this is one of the few stories Iv never heard said elsewhere or published. So there’s every chance that the story was made by the person I heard it from.

It’s a little weird. About a golf match. The weird part is that the golf match is played on the lush green course of heaven. And the Hosts are witnessing a match much alike a royal rumble, as they call it. Well the best-match wits. There’s the trusted stalwart Moses, the man who with a show of his rod led the Israelites across the Red Sea. Then of course there’s the star himself, Jesus. And to make the pool, playing the host, there’s an old man, old even by heavens standards.

The match, a one hole affair, starts off with Moses putting. Suffice it to say that a good shot ending up in the wrong place. The pool which forms part of the course, in this case. And when the heralds look down, anxious to see what’s going to happen (for, for a change, Moses seems to be on his own) he calmly walks down to the water. He holds his club over the pond. The waters part, like it happened scores of hundreds of years ago, and Moses calmly walks on the bed of the pond, takes the shot, which ends up very close to the hole!!

Now Jesus, the toast of the archangels. He walks up to take his shot amidst deafening cheer (he’s more used to it than Tiger Woods). The shot, again, though well crafted, ends up in the same old pond. Hey, the fans know whats going to come next. Jesus coolly walks down to the pond, and on the water and takes his next shot. Genius, and the crystal ball, misses the hole like it can only when it is torn between the desire to stand up tall for itself and when confronted with genius (okay, sorry, it happens in US Open ad’s also). It reaches the hole, grimaces the edges and rushes out, eliciting the most significant ooh. never heard on earth.

Finally it’s the old mans turn. The audience rub their palms with anticipation. They know who he is.
The shot, as frail as the looks of the shooter, manages to end up in the same old pond (sorry people, but, after all, its just a story) But wait a muinute, the ball, it doesn’t really touch the water. It falls into the mouth of a poor frog enjoying its heavenly swim. Alas, there’s an eagle swooning down spotting its prey and when it rises, the frog is in its mouth.
Now there’s a problem. Ball in the frog’s mouth. Frog in the eagle’s mouth. And the eagle, no less menacing than on lowly earth. The anxiety is apparent. Its turning out to be like some of the cricket matches they’ve watched us mortals watch on TV. Where you lose matches from a position where, even God cant make you lose.

But of course, like all good stories, there had to be a climax. And it had to come in a way no one expected (silly, otherwise how can it be a climax). When the eagle had reached the exact spot above the hole, the frog feels like choking. And you can guess what happened.
The ball is in the hole.
That’s when Moses calls Jesus aside, and quips, “this is why I hate playing with your dad”

(The explanation later)

28 September, 2006

Sweet nothings

It is said that M F Hussain, the painter, once exhibited a blank canvas, calling it a work of art

Ive heard about a famous singers (the name eludes me) song which contains exactly 1 minute and 13 seconds of silence, the background voices audible

A Pink Flloyd song I was listening to this evening had around 30 seconds of simply gun shots (or whatever else can sound like a gun shot) in fact, every time I listen to the song, I need to bend over and check whether the disc is still running!

So, here's writing to you, kid (to misquote Bogart in Casablanca)
Atleast Iv bothered to explain why this post is for all practical purposes blank.

Sorry dude Its only because I don’t get the time. That’s after saving the world, and making sure Im still sane (two things that don’t usually go together)

18 September, 2006

Hail Mary, the absolute

To anyone who knows anything history, the use of the salutation Hail, brings out either of the two extreme feelings. A chill, from the haunting memory of torture, epitomised by Hail Hitler, and the diagonally opposite warmth of love which is Hail Mary, full of grace.
Once in a while, though inbetweens rarely get recorded in history, they occur, and occasionally in our house too. Domestically she is known as amma.
Mary, because of the name, her maiden name, or atleast what I think is a maiden name. And Hitler because of the Iron rule she would exert.
I know your will’ing to tear at me for portraying her as such, but just wait till you read the extent of the dictatorial powers she commanded.

The Kitchen is mine

I decide what can make its out way from the larder through your food tube to god knows where. And believe me, word was seen by one and all as command. It still is an unwritten rule. She even had to insert a clause to make it possible for her favorite son (no prizes for guessing who!) to help himself while slogging the study holidays. No doubt, the rule had to be suitably amended when her second son also had to stay back home

The house is yours, keep it clean

Not one belonging of yours out of place. She doesn’t destroy it. She makes you clean it up. Books, clothes whatever.

You dirty the dining table, apart from the splatter of words, you’ve gotta clean it up yourself. Now, inevitably she also drops the curry on the sheet. But that’s justified as “After all, its I only who’s going to clean it up”

It’s a sin to be found walking in the house without wearing chappals. The tangible consequence being that your not allowed on any bed without proving to her satisfaction that the feet have been since washed.

The TV is yours to see, but I decide what you can, and when(and sometimes, even who)
(But of course, mamma, that’s only when you’re around!)

Would you believe that I had to nag her for a week, and be the best son in the world, every time I wanted to see a European football match, which inevitably is played only at night, Indian time.
Not that rules were always obeyed, but there was never a lack of fear+ guilt.
Seven to nine at night was strictly off bounds for TV. The only place you can be would be at your table, you’ve got to have a book in front of you, whether you study or not, oh forget it, whether you have to study or not.

Now being outside the house was again not an option. She expected us to be good boys, and in Kerala, good boys have nothing important to do out of home after 7 in the night. (And for the record, bad boys were simply those who gathered together in the late hours and sat on the sides of the small bridges which are everywhere and simply talked. The occasional cigarette or the rare comment at the very rare female who dared to go out of the house is an exception.

Chappathis?, you’ve got to do your share!

Believe it or not, Chappathis were the most wanted item on our breakfast wish-list, and for amma, the most hectic. On school days, she claimed no time, on Saturdays, we cried foul. So she came up with the idea, you want Chappathi’s for breakfast, you’ve got to help out in the kitchen. Well, all three of us weren’t welcome at the same time. That was too tiresome for her, so it was only one of us who had to stand next to her, rolling them, unmade chappathi’s or toasting them, enduring her comments on the perfect round shape, or a little too much oil or even worse, the odd one gone charred (which was, as a rule, reserved for the maker.)

I guess its one heck of a job to be momma. Tell her that, and she'll suggest getting paid for it.

And oh, I forgot, what prompted me to write this was a conversation I had with her last week.
I was just back from home and had promised to call her on Sunday. I called her two days early on Friday, partly because, well, you would have read the previous post by now! And while winding up, I told her Id call her next Friday, when she came up with the idea that next week also, why don’t you give a surprise by calling two days early!!
I said I wont. (but I did)

It’s a pleasure to know that people really appreciate the difference you make to their lives. Well, we do talk about being there when the neighbour needs you. But do we make an effort to make people who love us feel wanted?

To all my friends and my sweet mother(with the most frightening pair of eyes in the world), who gave me a wonderful week, Hail, your the best in ther world.

And by the way people, there’s a rule-the day my mother gets to know my blog, Im quitting!

Yeah, I mean it

15 September, 2006

Not for reading!!

I know this is an uncharacteristic post. Its just full of filthy rubbish. So dont read unless you feel inclined to

"In sooth, I know not why I am so sad:
It wearies me; you say it wearies you;
But how I caught it, found it, or came by it,What stuff 'tis made of,
whereof it is born,I am to learn; The Merchant of Venice Act I Scene i

Well, my condition is not so pathetic. I know exactly what is itching me.

Here I am, sitting in office. And feeling damn bored.
Not like theres lack of work. But no work wont make me feel even more bored than I am right now.
And Im alone here.

So I decide to do what I love doing. Break a couple of rules.

I start with a personal rule. Not to blog during office hours. And Iv broken it.
I play some music. Britney spears. Hit me (somebody out of laziness) one more time
Now for information, to strictly abide by law, I understand that, my employer is to pay entertainment tax for letting me listen to music, or so goes a recent TRAI notification. As if he'll know. For that he has to be in his office! (I know that was a little wicked, but. well...)
I sign on to yahoo messenger. The only contact signed on is at work. busy! God whats wrong today.

Let me tell you what Im listening too.
'From this moment on' (Shania Twain with Bryan Adams) not bad considering that I adore both of them.
Now Im checking on all my other favorite singers. (For the record- Elton John, Celine Dion, Shania, Bryan Adams Britney, Ronan Keating) No difference.
I dont check ABBA. Thats the last thing I want to do. Feel bored listening to ABBA. Id rather suicide!
I even check out Paris Hiltons new album. Slut! Hey, Ms. Hilton, if you by any chance happen to read this, Please undersatnd whats wrong.
Britney Spears sings much better and looks infinitely better than you. Dont bother to even try to compete
Hey, by the way, I have the feeling that Ill be one of the very few Indians who got to see the video. Thats unless somebody's loaded it on youtube.
Now Iv found a good song O Holy night by the Lousiana Choir. But it fails to lift my spirits. Or is it me. DAMN IT. It is you

Sorry, Im writing this real time, alternating between choosing songs.

Glory to God. Ive found what Iv been searching. Handel's Messiah. Thers not 1 christian bookstore Iv not searched without being dissapointed in Chennai or Bangalore.
Finally, Im not letting it go. Let me tell you about Handel

George Frederick Handel
We had to study his story in school. Lived in the 17th century(if Im not mistaken)
His father wanted him to be a great doctor. The young boy of 6, a musician.
And to him, dovctors, didnt waste time learning music
Fortunately he had an aunt, who secretly bought him a piano. He stole away to the attic at nights to practise.
When he was 8, his father took him to the church where the King worshipped. At the end of the service, the boy managed to sneak to the organist.
What the king heard next was the most beautiful music ever. He adopted the boy, amidst protests from the father.
What remains is maybe the best piece of music ever written. The Messiah, which contains the Halleluiah Chorus. A song any chorister will die to perform beautifully. Not that its easy. Ive been struggling with it for two weeks.
Sometimes you wonder what about the countless less fortunate children who dont get to display their talent.
Cruel Fate. Maybe the cruelest fate.
But again, whenever real talent has combined with the unfearing will to achieve a dream, it has never gone unnoticed.

Its around 5:30 and I guess Ill pack up
Now a new fear, Am I becoming a typical government employee.
Shucks, thats ruined my night also!

Afterword: To cap the evening, this damn thing isnt getting published!


Last week
On the Chennai Mail- Superfast
My ticket booked two months prior to ensure I had the seat of my liking. A side-seat
On the train- my sideseat happens to be the safety exit windows, which renders it impossible to rest my elbow on the sill
I try to open the window.
And believe me- the SAFETY EXIT WONT BUDGE
Yes. the safety exit in S9 of the Chennai mail is not safe.
I complain to the TT. he assures me Theyll look into it at Ernakulam.
Later that night. Sitting on a better seat, which took all my strengths of manipulation, I remind him again.
He just smiles.

Income tax Office, Chennai
A small parking lot with the board "This place is reserved for the physically challenged"
But lo, what would appear to the common man as the obvious parking space is sealed off with chains.
Maybe by physically challenged they meant 'Blind'. They wont see the board anyway.

More when something comes up

11 September, 2006

My Tribute

Mr Agassi

Only once have I laboured through the wee hours of the morning to stay awake and watch you play. But then, you didn’t play football for AC Milan.
O Come to think of it, Iv never ever switched on the TV just to check whether you’d won or not. But again, you weren’t your wife Steffi Graf or for that matter, Pete Sampras to command such allegiance from me.
The truth is I never really cared. Atleast, I didn’t till last September, the day you said that maybe youd never play at the Open again, where they say, you loved most to play. Remember that night, in front of a sold out crowd you rallied from two sets down to beat James Blake. Poor chap, I couldn’t help feeling sorry for him. Not one person outside his his own box cheering his heroics. That too in his own country. But then, he should’ve known what he was up against. The last remnant of, arguably, the greatest era in tennis.
I remember that week still. Three five setters in four days. Each of them as physically taxing as the previous one. Each against the hardest hitters in tennis, all atleast ten years younger than you.
And I still remember that Sunday, 52 sundays before yesterday. When after those gruelling battles, you came to the last frontier. Roger Federer. Of course, every athlete would want to sign off in style. Achieving what gets crudely dismissed as the impossible. And what better way to show that than beat the master. I think that’s when the admiration started.
When I was young, too young that in my fantasies, only bad boys wore earrings, only bad boys married film stars, only bad boys pulled up tee shirts to display their sneakers and only bad boys beat Pete Sampras, you were the ultimate bad boy of sport.
Disgust turned to hatred when you beat Pete to titles quite often. Hatred turned to sadistic mirth when you ruined your own career by simply being ‘yourself’ and slipped to way down in the rankings, much deeper than I would have ever prayed for. (And I used to pray for my stars, and for you, though for different fortunes)
I think the first wharf of approval came when you won the French open, cementing your place in history. I started supporting you after the dream final of 2002. The last Agassi Sampras clash (not least because on that day, you lost, and Sampras was lost ever since)
But last year was the best of Agassi.
Agassi the teacher. Agassi the inspirer. Who proved that nothing in life is impossible, not even getting Roger Federer to miss the sidelines, if pursued with passion.
That was the best lesson Id learnt in a year. And one lesson Ill never forget.
Die another day!
Maybe you’re too old. Maybe everybody’s written you off. Maybe the mountain in front of you looms larger than life size mountains. But none of these decide your fate.
That you don’t deserve to die today. Maybe tomorrow you wont be there. But that’s only tomorrow!
You faltered on that day. But I dont have any regrets. Atleast you fought gallantly. You lost like a Man. On your feet. Not like most of the other finals we get to watch these days(including yesterday). In any case you hadn’t much to prove. At the end of maybe, one of the longest careers in tennis(Lets forget Navratilova for a moment)
A career in which you changed from the brash teenage icon, to the mature adult we have today.
You’re still not my favourite sportstar. I still wont spend the rest of my life defending every slight somebody makes against you.
But one thing is sure, you’ve inspired me like few other living people have
And that’s my tribute.