Leos Of The World, Unite!

…not to fight crime or anything, but just to instill a sense of purposelessness among people born around the same time in a year. I was doing a bit of research into sun signs and what they mean for different people. I started by doing a bit of reading up on all the different sun signs and the common characteristics that people of a particular sign share. It was interesting to note that every single article or website I read had almost exactly the same information. Leos are supposed to be like this, Geminis are supposed to be like that, and so on.

What was more interesting to observe was that people model their behavior on the basis of what they read about their sun signs. I know a guy who was very shy and used to stutter in school. A few years later, he was a member of the Bangalore Toastmasters Club and was giving speeches all over the city. I ran into him last week and asked him about his miraculous transformation. He said, “I’m a Leo, bro. I’m supposed to be this aggressive and leadership-oriented guy.”

Though I was happy for him, I was frankly astonished at his explanation. He had modeled his behavior completely based on something he read about his sun sign. Okay, the guy was an idiot to begin with, but now, he had become a popular idiot. His fame roused my jealousy and my curiosity.

I was speaking to a close friend of mine who believes in sun signs to an extent. She’s a cusp between a Virgo and  Libra, and for some strange reason, of all the men she’s dated, she find a Sagittarius guy most compatible. This was a surprise because according to these websites, since she’s a cusp, she’s supposed to fall madly in love with a Leo guy and live happily ever after. It was also surprising because she dated me for a few months too, and decided that the Sagittarius guy was better! That was a bit disappointing, but I guess you win some and you lose some. She also feels that Geminis are the worst kind of people to be in a relationship with. I second that motion, because both the Gemini chicks I’ve dated turned out to be strange ones.

But then, there’s this other girl, who’s a Leo, and she’s had the worst possible luck anyone can ever have. She’s been in and out of relationships, she’s been close to killing herself and hasn’t had any luck in her non-existent career. And she attributes all this to her character and says, “I’m headstrong and adamant. I like things done a certain way and I can’t stand it being done any other way. Don’t blame me, blame my stars.”

As for me, I like women. Period. I don’t really go into details of their sun signs and their astrology. If I am able to have a good, intelligent conversation with that person for 10 minutes without flinching, grimacing or searching for topics, then I’m set. Nothing else matters, as my friend James Hetfield said once.

So, the point of this whole exercise was to find out whether or not people model their behavior based on what they read about their sun signs. And I guess they do. Most people do, some don’t and others don’t give a damn.

Of course, being a Leo has its advantages. It gives me a ready excuse to blame away my eccentricities.

PS: The use of the word ‘chick’ as a synonym for women has been allowed by the douche bags at Websters. So, if anyone takes offense, sue me.

Need vs. Want

It seems everyone around me is doing it. People I least expect to do it are doing it and it makes me feel a bit left out. No, they aren’t doing it, in the literal sense of the phrase. They’re getting tattoos done on their bodies, and I thought I should get one myself.

The funny thing about making up one’s mind about body modification is the fact that no matter how much one jokes about it, it has to be taken seriously. A tattoo is a permanent thing, and to take it lightly might result in being stuck with the mistake forever. Yesterday, I was having a very mature conversation with a close friend of mine (who used to blog before she ditched the country and ran away to hide under the Queen’s skirt in the United Kingdom). She told me that she’ was getting a tattoo on her back, under the neck and asked for my suggestions about the words.

Selfish bastard that I am, I somehow managed to turn the conversation thread into whether or not I should get one and if I did, what it should be. It also got me thinking later if it’d be a mistake to get one. I consulted another friend of mine who’s crazier than most crazy people, and she said that I’d be crazier than her if I got a tattoo. Now that’s not the kind of branding I want for myself. Another argument against getting a tattoo is the fact that I only want to get one because I’m bored in life and want to do something insane, and that I don’t really NEED a tattoo. In the past, when life got to monotonous, I have quit my job, I have gone on long vacations, I have gone on a spending spree, I have moved houses and I have slept with random women. This time, none of these options seem viable.

The counter-argument to this is I’m feeling left out and desperately want to be part of the tattoo’d crowd.

Now, 48 hours later, I’m still vacillating about this. Should I get one? Or should I just let it be and latch on to some other passing fancy? Help!

Cartoon Courtesy: http://www.cartoonstock.com

Writing For Money?

I opened my inbox this morning to find an invitation to a blogging contest hosted by Indiblogger. Along with Yahoo! Real Beauty, they were hosting a blogging contest with the following announcement:

What does real beauty mean to you? Is your perception different from what most people imagine beauty to be? Let us know and win the biggest prizes in the Indian blogosphere, ever!

They were offering a prize money of Rs. 100,000  for the best blog on the topic of ‘Real Beauty’. I was stumped.

Naturally, my mouth watered at the prospect of making easy money and I opened my editor on WordPress and started writing. Three sentences in, I hit a block. I just couldn’t write anymore. I sat at a different table, I used another computer, I smoked, I had lunch, I tried to plagiarize, but I just couldn’t finish writing it. Every now and then, a tantalizing thought came into my mind about all the goodies I could buy with the prize money, and I smacked my lips, hunched over my computer and tried to type a word. In vain.

Absolutely no thought came to mind. In all the vast writing experiences I’ve had in my life, I couldn’t draw on any one of them for inspiration. I just could not write an article all morning. It was weird. I had never had such a strange writers’ block in my life. True, I’ve had a few, and I haven’t been able to write anything for months on end, but all those were times when I had no motivation. Today, I had the biggest motivator in the world – easy money! And yet, I couldn’t write a word. I knew I had to write, I knew there were words on the tip of my fingers waiting to get transcribed on my keyboard, but I just couldn’t get them out.

For a writer, the biggest hurdle he will ever face is himself. If he has some principles in life, then no matter what he does, he can’t break them. But that’s not me! I have absolutely NO principles in life. I’d sell my liver for more alcohol. I should be the last person to be facing a writers’ block.

Writing for money is something half the world does. I was a journalist before I decided to ruin my life, and I used to get paid for whatever I wrote back then. I wrote two books and I certainly used all the money I got from the sales on alcohol and other vices. I have done if before. Why should this time be any different? Then, the answer struck me, like a slap in the face from an ex-girlfriend – this time was different because this was a contest. I have never written for any contest before. THAT was my unwritten rule back when I had a few remnants of principles left over. I had vowed never to take part in writing contests because it wouldn’t be fair to the other participants.

And incidentally, that was when I had my illumination. “Real Beauty,” according to me, is a person’s ability (audacity?) to use vanity as an excuse to explain his shortcomings in life.

Phew, I just tricked my brain into entering the contest.

Things To Do Before I Die

No, this isn’t just any other bucket list. This one’s unique.

There are quite a few bucket lists floating around in the blogosphere (By the way, is the word ‘blogosphere’ extinct?). I’ve seen and read them all, and most of them follow a predictable formula – go traveling somewhere, see some sights, taste some foods, etc. That’s all fine and dandy, and I wish them all the best in their endeavors. I have a few of those things to do as well, but I don’t think they would qualify for my bucket list. For example, I’d love to see a sunset over the Grand Canyon someday and I would give a hand and a foot to see the insides of a Pyramid. But these are things that I can and will do over the next few years. What I would ideally put in my bucket list are unconventional things that one would not normally find in conventional bucket lists.

Here’s my list.

  1. I want to see the DNA molecule. Not the vague, hazy white mass that appears at the bottom of a test tube after centrifugation, no. I want to see the molecule in all its double helical glory. I don’t think anyone has. Ever.
  2. I want someone to come up with a concrete explanation for the nature of light. I think Newton was confused enough to propose two theories that fit his math better. If light is a wave, then one equation works and if light is made up of particles, then the other equation fails. I don’t think I’m alone when I say that both these schools of thought were born out of necessity than reality. I want to see a solid unifying explanation before I die.
  3. I want to travel around the world in 80 days without flying. If Jules Verne can do it (or his character, at least), then so should I. Yeah, I know, this isn’t exactly a wow-event, but it’d be cooler than seeing the Eiffel Tower. And without flights, it’d be double the fun!
  4. I want to be able to sit on my porch with my dog on a Monday morning, put my feet up, open a can of cold beer, and shoot trespassers with birdshot. Redneck for a day. Nice concept!
  5. So far, in all my 27 years, there has only one book that has made me go, “Oh wow!” at the end – Italo Calvino’s “If On A Winter’s Night A Traveler”. I want to read three more such books before I die.
  6. There are seven people I know whose lives I want to ruin. I think I should be able to do that without too much trouble. Don’t worry, I’m not a scheming psychopath. I just think that these seven people deserve a lot worse for all the lives they have ruined.

One fine day, I’m going to buy a house in Gokarna and settle down there. What would make life more interesting at that point of time is owning a nice big tavern on the ground floor.

One day at a time.

PS: I used the full screen distraction free feature of worpress to write this. A neat idea, Jane. Thanks!

How To Kill The Nerve Endings In Your Bum

It’s very simple, actually. Does not involve any major surgery, does not involve a great deal of torture. All it takes is a 6-year-old motorbike that has seen better days, a 220-mile stretch of a badly maintained road, total disregard for the well-being of your ass and the ability to risk peeing blood for a week. That’s all it takes to kill the nerve endings in your bum.

It was one of those Sundays that you wished was a Saturday. Wait, why does this statement sound familiar? Anyway, my friends and I decided to take our bikes out on a (very) long road trip this past Sunday, and it turned out to be a pretty amazing day. Except for the fact that I walked funny for two days after and couldn’t sit on anything for too long without my bum muscles cramping up. We were six of us, on three totally mismatched bikes – a Bullet cruiser bike, a Yamaha sports bike and a Bajaj Boxer. Yeah, the Bajaj Boxer was mine. (Non-Indian readers, FYI – a Boxer isn’t a type of underwear here. It’s the unfortunate brand name of a motorbike.)

We set out from Bangalore early, around 6:30 in the morning, and drove up on State Highway 7 towards Mysore. After frequent stops each half hour to regain blood-flow to our asses, we stopped for breakfast at Kamat Lokaruchi, next to a place called  Janapada Loka. They had a south Indian breakfast buffet and I did not miss the chance to stuff myself with all the vada I could eat. After deciding on the route to Talkad, we headed out and cruised along for the next hour-and-a-half. The roads were so good that even my rickety old Boxer touched 80 mph. That’s around 65 kmph, and that’s her limit. She tends to get a bit ‘cranky’ if I push her harder.

Talkad - Shores of the Cauvery River

Talkad was a pretty neat experience – sat on the lake shore, ate an enormous amount of cucumbers and washed them down with some ice cream. A local guide offered his services and we took him up on his offer, and for the next hour, we were treated to the entire history of the place, and a running commentary of all the six temples as we walked past each one. This is heritage site, according to a recent government declaration and it was quite interesting to see 2000-year old temples being resurrected.

Talkad - A temple in the process of being excavated

We had our lunch at a local ‘mess’ in Talkad – it was the best lunch EVER because we had an unlimited amount of rice, sambar, rasam and papad. The taste was not too bad either.

Once we were done with Talkad, we got on to our bikes and headed south towards a place called Shivana Samudram. The roads were atrocious and my bike finally decided to call it quits. Twenty minutes of engine cooling time and an oil change later, we were back on the road.

There are two waterfalls in this place – one was a mile-and-a half walk from where we parked and the other was accessible by road. We were so tired that we decided to ride up to the second one, and were thoroughly disappointed by the thin stream of water that we could spot with difficulty at a great distance. We decided it was the best time to head back to Bangalore.

Free Beer to anyone who can spot the water fall

Four hours and a very sore ass later, we finally entered home stretch on the Bangalore highway. I dropped off my friend at her hostel around midnight and headed back home to a warm and comforting bed. I could not sleep on my back for two nights after.

All in all, it was a fantastic journey. Everyone had a great time and one of the highlights of the day was when my battered Boxer overtook the Bullet cruiser bike on the highway at full speed. I was at full speed. The Bullet was standing still on the side of the road.

The Joys Of Riding In Threes

It was one of those Sundays at the end of which, you wished it were a Saturday.

Six of us decided, I don’t know why, to take our bikes and go on a long road trip. And we decided to do it on a Sunday, with all of us having to work early on Monday morning. Yet, the enthusiasm of youth (or stupidity) made us go ahead with the plan. Out came the three mismatched bikes (a Bullet, a Yamaha and a Bajaj) and with a pillion rider each, we set forth on the path to serendipity.

I will write a longish post about the trip with photographs by tomorrow.

We did, however, witness something weird on our sojourn. No sooner had we left Bangalore, we started seeing a lot of bikes on the road with three people or more squeezed on them. I think the record was five – two adults and three kids on a scooter.

The trend continued all the way to Talkad, some 160 kilometers from Bangalore. On our way back, we saw a family of three clutching on to dear life on an aging bike that had seen better days. The funniest one was where we saw two fully-grown men on a bike, and behind them, a woman in a silk saree sitting sideways. The guy who was driving was almost sitting on the gas tank. Twice or thrice, they almost toppled over, and given the fact that it was slow-moving bumper-to-bumper traffic, the balancing act was that much harder.

I have never ridden in threes on any bike. Maybe because I’m huge, but I like to consider myself a very rational human being. I wouldn’t want to torture any bike with three people, where one of them is me.

My Pervert Uncles

There’s one in every family. There are two in mine.

The first one is a 70-year old pervert. He’s my uncle on my Dad’s side of the family and has always had the ugly habit of addressing small (male) kids as, “Hi Miss!” and “How are you, Miss?”

If that isn’t uncomfortable enough, he still follows the ritual. I ran into him at a cousin’s wedding recently, and even though I’m taller and bigger than him, he smiled at me through his dilapidated yellow teeth and said, “Hello, Miss!”

I cringed and moved away, oblivious to his hurt sentiment. A minute later, I heard him say the exact same thing to my brother, who  is taller and bigger than me. I caught my brother’s eye and we both ignored the old pervert and moved away.

This pervert family member has kids of his own, who are both grown men and I feel sorry for the fact that they have to endure this kind of sexually explicit torture each day. I won’t be surprised if those two kids grew up feeling very confused abut their sexuality. I think it borders on sexual harassment.

The second pervert in my family is another 70-year uncle on my Mom’s side, who just can’t stop from touching himself in ‘special’ places in front of everyone. I had the misfortune of running into him as well during the wedding, and while he shook my hand, he twirled his other hand inside his white lungi. I rushed to the restroom and washed my hands with soap vigorously. Who knows where that hand of his has been.

As I stepped out of the restroom, my brother ran past me and starting washing his hand.