Spolied dream..

I was about to kiss that girl from 'Before Sunrise' when my phone started ringing. Without opening the eyes I searched all along the bedside to grab and smash the phone on the wall. But then, I had kept it away on the side shelf, so that I had to get up from bed and walk across the room to turn the alarm off. A 'clever thing' done to ensure that I don't switch off the alarm, turn around and go back to sleep. I am on a strict fitness regime these days which starts with the morning jog. I normally have no problem with Pearl Jam or Eddie Vedder in particular, but when he sings "Have no fear for when I am alone.." at 5 in the morning, when I was about to kiss the most beautiful woman in the world.. yes, I do have a problem.

But what is the fuss all about? Why can't I just get up and go ahead with the day, like I do every other day? The problems are many. To start with, a dream disturbed is a dream lost. Straightening the leaning tower of Pisa is easier than recreating a dream. You just don't have any control over this one thing in life. And if you come out of one, there is no way to get back in. I have tried all the tricks - not opening my eyes, pulling the blanket over my head, curling the pillow around my head, thrusting both hand between legs and getting into the fetal position and what not. More over, how many times you get to dream about spending time with a beautiful woman? All that I see in my regular dreams are monsters, some scene from 'Koyaanisqatsi' and an occasional bus journey to the market with strangers.

Adding to the misery, it was not just any girl in the dream.. it was Julie Delpy from 'Before Sunrise', damn it! If you still have that frown on your face it's because of one of the following. 1) you haven't watched the movie. 2) you have a twisted perception of beauty. 3) you are a certified nut. 4) all of the above.

Anybody who can come up with a method or device to program dreams is definitely going to make a lot of money. And there should definitely be a better way to start the day than getting up early in the morning.

I have problems with religion

Religion explains everything. There is an answer to every question. Ya, but what is wrong with that? Isn't having answers for every question the best possible situation? The problem here is that the answer is same for all the questions. Why are people suffering? Why is the earth revolving around the sun? Why do we all have to die? Irrespective of whether the question is philosophical, rational or factual, the answer is always the same- "Its all part of God's plan".

Religious dogma has already solved all the puzzles and enigmas in life. By the time you were ten or twelve it had already explained to you all that you ever need to know - from the origin of things you see around to the purpose of life. God created the heavens and the earth, He created every one and put us here on Earth. We all have a purpose in life which is nothing but living a good life and getting back to him in due course of time. Religion has already compartmentalized everything into two discrete buckets - the material and the spiritual. Anything that does not benefit the congregation or the clergy is labeled materialistic. Materialistic is described as the work of the devil, whose only intention is to snatch us away from God. Religion has already defined what is and what is not. You are the prisoner of the boundaries it created for you and there is no looking beyond it, unless you heart damnation.

We start believing unconditionally in an answer/explanation only when it is proven to our satisfaction, only when it could stand scrutiny and review. Till that happens we have to continue our quest for more details and a better answer. This doesn't happen with religion. None of the answers are provable and any cross examination is labeled blasphemy. Nothing dampens and destroys curiosity and inquisitiveness in life like religion. Even when science constantly reduced the scope of God through its discoveries, religion always found new excuses to latch on, and protect God and his earthly manifestation, the clergy.

Religion has over a period developed into the most profitable business after Drugs and Education. It will continue to remain so as long as there is a divide between the haves and the have-nots. The 'haves' need something to not feel bad about the amassed wealth, and the 'have-nots' need some consolation and hope to continue life. After all ,suffering and poverty are no bad things.. they are just passport to a better life in the other world... so don't crib and be happy.

Walking down memory lane 1

Why do we retain memories of some things while conveniently forget some others? A little Googling told me that our brain too has a RAM and a ROM like a computer, one which stores long-term permanent memories and the other short-term recent memories. But if we have enough storage space for old memories, why are we forgetting them? Is it that the limited storage flushes out old memories once a while, the 'First In First Out' method? But then this doesn't explain why we do not have ALL memories from a particular time period saved or deleted.

It seems the real reason is not faulty storage, but the inefficiency of the retrieving mechanism. Voluntary searches for specific pieces of memory, if unaided by visual/audible cues, is highly susceptible to interference and forgetfulness. And nature has its own way of prioritizing filing of memories as well. Something like the less used, rarely accessed, memories fade away with time, like websites losing out on Google page ranking. Though this might sound like the stupidest thing to do, it fits perfectly into the Darwinian scheme of survival. I have a lot of memories which I want to bring back to life every now and then, but sadly a lot them have already been pushed way down the relevancy list by mind's page ranking algorithms. So I thought of writing down those random memory snippets from the past.. don't want to lose them through the cracks in time!

I remember the first house where I lived as a child. Milky white mushrooms used to pop up at one corner of the courtyard after the rains. There used to be hundreds of them under and around a large coffee plant there. Those days, I was afraid of some monster hiding under my cot. I never dared to look under the bed once it is dark. I remembered this after seeing 'Monster Inc.' a while ago. Dad used to play the harmonica in the evenings and tell stories before putting me to sleep. My favorite story was about a stork family where the grandfather's name is 'Kiri', father's name is "kiri-kiri" and son's name is "kokkiri-kiri-kiri".

Then we moved into another house which had a small stream flowing by the side. There were a few ducks fishing and swimming in the waters all the time. Mom used to drop me at a play school on her way to office, and pick me up on the way back. I used to carry biscuits and a flask of hot milk with me. I hated milk even then and always tried to find an excuse not to have it. The play school was in the first floor and it had a nice wooden floor. I don't remember learning anything there.. but do remember buying candies which looked like miniature apples from the shop nearby. I used to get dreams about a many headed snake who lives in the well just outside the house. I remember my neighbors once having the 'Garudan Thookkam' at their house, a religious ritual where people dress up like 'Garuda', the king of birds and dance through the night. The dance starts pretty late in the night and lasts till the wee hours of the next day morning. I stayed up late to watch this, but slept off soon after the dances started.

Then we moved into the third house, the first one my Dad constructed. I was very fond of drums even when I was a child. There was something about the sound that was so captivating, and my parents had to hang around the drum circles all the time when we go out to temples or churches during festivals. I would come home then and try to imitate the drummers on the table, with the glass and spoon, with the plates and bottles and what not. So as we moved into the new house, Dad arranged for a tutor who would come home twice a week and give me some basic lessons in drumming. Soon couple of kids from the neighborhood also joined the classes and we used to have good fun. We used to have fishes in a water tank outside the house and rabbits in a cage behind the house.

It was during this time I learned to operate the radio and the cassette player and it opened up a new world. My dad had a good collection of music and I started listening to the Beatles, Boney M, Jim Reeves, Nat King Cole, Cliff Richard and the Carpenters without realizing who these guys were. The music was good, I could hum the tune even though I never understood a word, and I could follow or makeup some kind of rhythm to go with the music. Though I had a very good relation with my little sister, I occasionally used to be mean with her as well. I remember pushing her down a flight of stairs at home and tricking her into drinking super-hot water from the thermos flask. I don't have to mention that I got good spanking from my parents on both the occasions! Apart from these occasional fights, we were great friends.

To be continued..

Kannur Diary

There is something about the city air that makes my armpits itch vigorously on weekends. When I consulted 'Swami Asabhyananda' on this, he suggested that I should probably get out of the city before the weekend arrives. I had never thought of that possibility before, and I realized his holiness has to be the real deal... only God can give such profound enlightenment. I have been trying my best to follow this advice ever since. Though swami became in-famous recently through some of his videos, I firmly believe that it was his advice that saved me and my armpits all these days.

So when Rob invited me home last weekend I was more than happy to oblige. Rob is the reigning prince of 'Mavileri', a small but prominent kingdom in North Kerala. To give you an idea of his wealth, he has 15 cows, 300 chicken, 40 sharks and 173 other miscellaneous fishes. Yes, people there still got their own ingenious ways of measuring wealth. This doesn't mean that they are behind the rest of the world in other areas like technology; they use calculators and wrist watches. If I continue ridiculing the lifestyle and culture of his people, Rob will banish me from his kingdom and it will seriously jeopardize my chances of going back there to examine the dragonfly fossils I found on the terrace of Rob's house. My best guess is that they belong to the 'mesozoic period', though Rob insists that these dragonflies were still around when he grew up there as a kid.

Rob's house is a small 6 bedroom, 9 bathroom 'hut' in the middle of sixty acres of vegetation. They grow Rubber, Cashew, Coconut, Arecanut, Banana, Pepper and grade-A Marijuana there. Ok, I was kidding about the Marijuana, those were some stray plants which grew out of the seeds dropped by some pot-head birds in the locality. I reached this beautiful place on Saturday morning and as Rob had made up some good stories about me, his Mom and Grandmom were happy to welcome me in. After refueling with some tasty 'appam' and chicken curry, we decided to explore the place. Being a king, Rob has the luxury of having his 'own' hills, valleys and ponds in the property... even an underground tunnel! We walked through the cashew plantations towards the hill top and tried flying a kite. We barely managed to get the kite off the ground as the wind played spoilsport. As we were climbing down, we noticed a chameleon with a scorpion in its mouth. I wanted to take a picture of this guy and his unusual prey, but it ran away as if I was after the meal. One dead snake, one live snake, 17 sword tailed Drongos, 3 Tree Pies, 6 Bulbuls, 1 squirrel, few sunbirds, some tasty cashew fruits; and we were back in the house for lunch and some fresh toddy.

In the afternoon we decided to take a drive and went to the snake park at Pappinisseri. It was lunch time for the crawlies there. The snakes are fed small chicks, 4 to 5 depending on the size. It was disturbing to see the clueless chicken running around the cage, at times even on the body of the snakes. The snakes waited patiently, as if letting the chicken enjoy their last few moments of fun. We were closely watching a Cobra who had his head up in the air, the hood in full display, having a silent conversation with his victim. Then he struck in a split second. The chicken fell down, twisted and turned a couple of times and submitted itself to the powerful venom. The meal was ready and he gobbled up the tasty bunch of flesh and feathers in no time. The park had an impressive collection of snakes, both venomous and non-venomous. The 16 feet long King Cobras who got air conditioned suites of their own were the biggest attractions. They were majestic and menacing at the same time!

After the wind cheated us on the hilltop, we had decided to go fly the kite in the beach. So from the snake park we went to Kannur beach. Luckily we got a chance to climb up the lighthouse by the beach and watch the sunset from there. It was amazing to see the vast blue ocean turning orange like a lake of fire, one of the most beautiful sights I have ever seen. We soon moved to the beach and started playing with the kite, which we managed to get up in the air after a few efforts. We came back home to a delicious supper and slept off soon after.

Rob went to church the next day morning like a good boy and I got some time to wander around the house and click pictures of birds, dragonflies and what not. Just before lunch we decided to take a dip in his royal pool. This is a 70 feet, shark infested swimming pool, where Rob has put some 40 sharks, but haven't seen any after that day. He told me they are swimming quietly in the depths, waiting patiently to grow big enough to attack and eat the juicy flesh that occasionally falls in. Anyway. we escaped without a shark attack that day. If the Catholic church ever decides to appoint a patron saint of ice creams, my vote goes for Rob. I don't know anyone else who can eat two bowls of 'Death by Chocolate' at one go and afterwards wash it down with a chocolate milk shake. Mind you, 'Death by Chocolate' is a mixture of chocolate chips, chocolate cake, chocolate syrup, chocolate ice cream and caramel served in a half-liter container! So when Rob told after lunch that he want to eat ice cream on cakes, everybody just nodded their heads.

There was some more excitement left in the day in the form of badminton games. Rob had some great friends who play regularly with him. When George sir and Santhappan chettan told me they are 65 and 62 years old, I thought the game would be such a boring affair. But I was amazed at the agility and competitive spirit of them; Rob and myself won a doubles game against them at 14-12, after much sweating. It was fun playing badminton after a long time, that too with such an interesting group. I wish I would be in a situation to at least lift the racket when I turn 60. After some five games it was time for me to retire and plan for the return journey.

Then came in this feeling I am so familiar with on Sunday evenings.. the momentary sadness of traveling back to daily life.

Click here for some more pictures.

Det-ohX.. the alcohol antidote!

I have a new product idea. I think this one has the potential of becoming the greatest idea of this century. Well, it might not be as exciting as the Viagra or that fuel cell which can generate electricity out of even the sweat under your armpits; and probably not as clever as selling plain water in bottles or the silicon implants. But it just might share the same status as the iPhone or the Big Mac in terms of convenience.

So, the idea is to develop and sell the perfect antidote to alcohol intoxication. Imagine you having a few drinks at the bar, enjoying the feeling for a while with your friends by throwing peanuts at the bartender, and then when it is time to go home drinking a magic potion which instantly gets the high off you! You become as sober as an Orang Utan in a minute, and you can drive back home without worrying about the cops, or even worse, your spouse who waits at the doorstep with a breathalyzer. How cool is that? I don't think the liquor companies mind a bit about the idea. This will only increase their revenue as more and more people would be willing to indulge now. It is actually the fear of imprisonment (police station or home) that prevents most of the people from having a good time every evening. A little bribe can make the government to pass a law, making it compulsory for everyone to buy the antidote along with alcohol.

The benefits doesn't end there.. it is actually a win win situation for everyone at large. The liquor companies can make a lot more money by selling more liquor or manufacture the antidote themselves and have an alternate revenue source. Even the 'mineral' water manufacturers can think of diversifying. The restaurants and bars can remain open all night and serve the hungry public round the clock. The police need not frequent the pubs to ensure that they all close down by 6 in the evening. The government can save a lot of money by taking the police force off the sniffing job, and employ them for tasks they were originally meant for.. like buying groceries for the politicians. The age limit for drinking can now be officially relaxed, as we no longer need to fear the 80-somethings getting drunk and becoming bad examples for the younger generation. Also we need not demarcate drinking as an afternoon activity, for fear of being thrown out of the office or classroom. Can't you imagine the happy society we are visualizing here!

The product development is not a difficult thing at all. We all know that it is the '-OH' radical in the alcohols that make us do all the funny things. So the plan is simple, kick out all these '-OH' radicals from the blood and we will just be fine. And we have also learned in our Chemistry classes that alcohol when mixed with acid produces salt and water.. both of them perfectly harmless compunds. So the antidote, in layman's language, will be a diluted acid.. laced with some dried fish or ice cream for flavor! I thought of a nice name for the product as well "Det-ohX" (pronounced as detox); where the '-OH' stands for the alcohol and the 'X' stands for the kind of acid used. So depending on the kind of salt deficiency you have, you can either choose a Sulfuric acid based Det-ohX or Hydrochloric acid based one.

I know there will be some resistance to the idea from the companies that manufacture those breathalyzers. But with some slight modifications they can still be used to identify people with bad breath. They are much worse to interact with, than the drunkards. The toothpaste companies will line up behind the cause with some motivation and some projections on tooth paste sales figures through mobile police units. And then there are the policemen themselves, who make decent money now a days from the unfortunate mathematicians who drink and derive. But I am sure the idea of selling cartons of toothpaste in the grey market will soon appeal to them as a better alternative to poking their nose into every john's mouth.

Overall, I have a pretty good feeling about this whole idea. But then, I had the same feeling about a number of other things as well, which never worked. But, what if some cash rich venture capitalist read this post by chance, while searching for Viagra online?

Suicide Helpline

I had the good fortune recently, to meet a dear friend who almost committed suicide. She tried her level best to execute this noble act, I quote, "of leaving behind this senseless world that does not let us love or live the way we want". But as the story goes, a bunch of strange coincidences blocked her path to glory and peace. So after a long chat with her on what failed her, I decided to put in place a list of do's and don't s, for those who are seriously contemplating suicide... something like a quick reference. Mostly I will be talking about the Don'ts here... as the Do's obviously have to be speculations!

I know it is cruel and insensitive of me to make fun of those who fall prey to this desire. But I personally feel that those who look at suicide as an easy way out of what they call the 'misery of life', should definitely be helped to accomplish their act. They are simply a burden on this earth.. not worthy of enjoying the most beautiful thing they ever can - life itself. I understand that problems in life at times get overwhelming, and you feel the earth slipping from under your feet. But when will we realize that what we call 'comfortable life' is nothing but monotony and routine paraded in designer clothes? And that it is the ups and downs that give life a texture. Anyway, I don't intend to stray away from our core topic with pseudo-philosophy. The following are things I suggest every potential suicider should keep in mind, before they set out for the final act.

- Reason: You better have a reasonable motive for committing suicide; than the neighbour's dog biting off your middle finger. There is something called late realization, which can make you think that an index finger is as good as the middle finger for almost all practical purposes. Whether it be scratching your back or picking your nose or the glorious act of pointing at someone's face with the other ones folded, in the ultimate act of macho-ism. Don't let a dumb reason kill your enthusiasm at the last mile!

- Alcohol: If you are planning to get drunk to ease the process of transition between the planes of existence, then avoid Rum. Rum has been proven time and again, as something that can germinate a strange feeling in people's mind called 'love of life'. It has also been accused of being so tasty, that you end up drinking too much to even stand up, forget getting on a chair or lifting a bottle. If your plan is to choke yourself in your own vomit, then this trick might work.. just might. The odds are something like one to 13 million... its always good to be aware your chances!

- Suicide Note: People get so carried away writing suicide notes in an attempt to steal another 15 seconds of fame, that some of them have actually dropped the idea and have become writers. If you don't want to continue the 'misery', better make it sweet and short. You write something like "with the setting sun, sets my life" and we get the point. Especially if you are generally a humorous person, you will inevitably end up writing something funny in the letter, laugh at it, and then forget the real purpose of the evening. The lady I met had written this in the 14th page (A4 size) of her suicide novel - "cremate me and put my ashes in a compost pit. I always liked organic farming". Nobody is going to write a book or make a movie about your stupid suicide note unless you are Angelina Jolie; so relax and get on with it.

- Get real: I know it might sound strange if I suggest that you should meditate a while before you do the thing. But it can help a lot in shutting out unnecessary thoughts that might hamper your goal. Take the case of our lady who was worried whether the wooden stool will damage the pearl-white floor tiles, as she kicks it away doing acrobatics on that piece of rope! She didn't know that the sphincter muscles generally give up as you dangle up there, decorating the floor in shades of yellow and red. I understand that her concern is genuine.. but ultimately it made her think, and she woke up alive another day to tell the story.

- Research: It might actually help if you know how to make a noose or at least have internet at home to search for it at the last minute. Imagine the embarrassment if you have to abort the mission just because you did not know how to tie a knot on a rope. I understand there are a million types of knots you can use for this purpose, some of them so complicated and intricate that you need almost a week to make one. But I feel the effort is worth it.. imagine people looking at the knot and appreciating your creativity while you do your twists and turns in the breeze.

That's it? Of course not.. but these are all the inputs I could gather from one person. I am looking forward to updating this list with more information in due course of time.

Back to Thadiyandamol

People always look for excuses to do things they love. I am no different and is always ready to travel at the drop of a hat. And when the trip is to Coorg, there is never any dearth of temptations. Full moon night, camping on a peak, friends, guitar, harmonica, fried pork, campfire, a bottle of Jack Daniels, a little singing, a little dancing.. you get the point! After waiting so long for a full moon night to coincide with a weekend, the moment finally arrived; 28th February was a Sunday and a full moon too. So after much planning and discussions, the four of us - Rob, Jai, Chevy and myself - started for Thadiyandamol, the tallest peak in Coorg, last Saturday evening. This was my fifth trip there, and second for us as a team.

The Bakrid processions delayed our exit from the city by an hour or so and we reached Kings Cottage, our destination, only by 11 in the night. Jai had pushed the car to its limits that almost every part was rattling by the time we reached there. The credit partially goes to the bad roads as well. We had some hot rice, chicken curry and fried pork waiting for dinner and with a couple of shots of Jack Daniels, we soon forgot the tiring journey. Discussions soon started on the next morning's trek and possibility of a long trip to Leh & Ladakh. When Jai and Chevy are around, no conversation is complete without a SWOT analysis of at least one automobile. So after much deliberations, Mahindra Getaway was chosen as the best vehicle for the ride to Ladakh and the responsibility of getting one was passed on to Rob, the reigning prince of Mavileri kingdom in North Kerala.

It was a serene morning the next day and the fields and cottages were all drowned in the morning mist till about nine. After a breakfast of idlis, a short walk in the field and a couple of beers, we finally packed our food and started the climb by afternoon. The initial 3 kilometers of the trek is through the coffee and cardamom plantations and has got good tree cover. After a couple of hours we reached "the rock", the terminator of many a treks. This place is so beautiful with all the mountains and greenery around, that many a treks die a premature death here. The trekkers stop at the rock to admire and enjoy the beauty, and then simply refuse to move ahead. This is the place where the same gang once sat for half a day, drinking vodka and requesting God almighty to grant us rebirth as leeches that inhabit this beautiful landscape; not to mention aborting the rest of the trek. So we were cautious not to get lured by the beauty of the beast this time, when we stopped at the rock for lunch. We decided to keep the fried pork and whiskey for dinner; another motivation to complete the climb.

Once the stomachs burped out their satisfaction and the water bottles refilled from the nearby stream, we resumed the climb. After a couple more hours we reached the top, minutes before the sun shut shop for the day. We decided to camp just below the highest point as it offered a great view of the valley. Soon we gathered enough firewood for the campfire and the tent was also pitched in no time. We chanced upon few decaying logs with big white worms inside them. A juicy worm is always a good meal, especially as we had no starters to go with the whiskey. Jai and myself pinned them on a sharpened stick, cooked in the fire and had a yummy snack; much to the disgust of Rob, for whom it took a few more shots of whiskey to realize what he missed. The moon was high up in the sky by then and the valley was slowly getting filled with snow-white clouds. As the Feb light turned to moonlight, Sherwin started singing 'Country Roads' with the guitar and harmonica providing the harmony. The singing session went on for a while till the thought of the roasted pork inside the bag became too overwhelming to ignore.

We soon unpacked the rotis and pork and sat at the edge of the cliff, watching the valley bathed in the moon light. The combined effect of altitude, whiskey, full moon and pork on body and mind is better experienced.. another of those moments you feel limited by the vocabulary. This was undoubtedly one of the best nights of our lives.. how often do you get a chance to stand above the clouds, stare straight at the moon, listening only to the whisper of the air in your ears, all in the company of good friends! If the evening sky was all clouded and misty, there was nothing hampering the beautiful views of the valley in the night. We sat there savoring the grandeur of the landscape for a few more hours, before the cold winds finally forced us to retire for the night. As we had just one tent for the four of us, myself and Rob slept outside, wrapped in our sleeping bags. The uneven surface initially made it a little uncomfortable to sleep, but the satisfaction and serenity of the experience soon overcame the discomfort and we were soon slipping and sliding into a dream.

The morning was as beautiful as the night with all the bird songs and the orange hue of the horizon. We got a fire going and sat around it watching the sun come up the clouds and mountains; a daily chore maybe for him, but a breathtaking rare moment in life for us. Waking up to such a glorious sight is probably the perfect prescription for a joyous and energetic day. Soon we climbed to the tallest point of the peak and clicked a few pictures, pixellating all the amazing scenes we had around us. As the stomach started complaining for food we packed up the tent started the descent and reached back at Kings Cottage in time for a late breakfast. After a refreshing shower, a small nap and another tasty lunch we started back to Bangalore by 4 in the evening.

Though the legs were paining and back was aching, something told me that there will be a sixth time... and I know that is something to look forward to!

Some pictures from the trip here
Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...