Friday, November 13, 2009

Messed up!

Ever since I've moved into a hostel, I've wondered what motivates people into maintaining their rooms like hospitals. The strange part is, everyone here seems to be like that. I came here, a year and a half ago, thinking about how awesome it would be to half my few square feet where I could live in as squalid conditions as I liked, irrespective of what anyone thought about it. I've always thought that being orderly and systematic was a wee bit too over-rated, and disliked it with passion. So I came here with dreams of squalid splendor, with nobody bothering me about the state of my room. Turns out, that's sort of true. The only bad thing is that rather that leaving me completely alone, they've started making trips to my room to convince themselves that theirs is so much cleaner. Which it is. Which I would happily go and tell them myself if they wanted the pleasure. But no, they insist on trooping down, walking through my mess, murdering a few paaavam (the disadvantage of hanging out too much with a tamilian :|) ants and making me rather annoyed. Worse, a few such trips, and I actually start doing something about my room.

So you have me, once every weeks, cleaning up the whole darn thing and turning it all upside down. Yeah, it does look much cleaner and better organized when I do that. Looks. I've no idea where my second belt is after I cleaned my room the last time, which is a bit of an annoyance since Max, the only clothing store in calicut randomly labels jeans with any size tags that they can catch hold of, with the result that unsuspecting customers (and also lazy ones, who do not try out everything they buy) end up having an assortment of stuff, half of which threatens to stop the family genes from going any further, and the other which makes me a fervent believer in the fella up there when I end up wearing it some groggy morning and praying that it doesn't come off till I am in the safety of my room again, all labeled the same waist size (am not telling ya what that is x-( ). And the other day, I drove myself up the wall looking for my pair of scissors, and found it half an hour later hanging on the softboard, apparently an appropriate place for scissors, as I had thought in the moments of insanity that take over me when I am in a cleaning frenzy.

Now the thing is, it would be understandable if folks maintained a bit of consistency in this fastidiousness about cleanliness business, and applied it other matters too, like, for example, hygiene. But no. You see those same buggers with sterilized rooms moving around in the same tee for a week or so. The reluctance to wash clothes and wear fresh ones is remarkable for a place which boasts of 100% humidity almost the year round. It would quite in line for a pig like me, but hey, those hospital keepers ain't allowed to do that!

It's downright funny when some company decides to distribute freebies to us on campus, during a pre-placement talk or some competition-related promotion stuff. Obviously, being free, most people make a beeline for it, irrespective of what's on it. And then, for the next week or so, you have half the campus as if in uniform, wearing the same stuff. I also fall in that category of freebie-lovers, and one morning as I walked to class, a friend asked why I was wearing the tee. I told him that it was the only clean thing I had, so that made it a simple decision. He said that he had received the same answer from a dozen people that day, and was going around checking how many were wearing it for the same reason. It did make me wonder about his sanity and what the hell he'd been doing all this while here if he had to ask people about such stuff.

All in all, I am rather peeved with these hypocrites. And rather disappointed with this aspect of hostel life. I mean whats a 4 by 4 (ok, they're quite nice to us, we have an 8 by 13) without there being no space left to walk in? Kind of takes the charm out of life...

And I reclaim all those comments :)

For a long, long time now, the comments site that I had entrusted the job of handling the comments on my blog was messing around with me. Or, I have moved from being techno-aware to remarkably techno-dumb in a short span of a few years. As much as I would like to claim the former, I have a strong suspicion that it was the latter.

Whatever it was, it meant that I no longer had access to moderating comments on the site. Which was all right, except for the fact that I started getting a few rather annoyed comments from people who were a tad unhappy that I had not approved their detailed comments on my post (not true, I just couldn't!!). So for all those folks, thanks for keeping the faith, and all your comments have been approved :) I've no idea how, but I managed to log in into the site after giving up the last half a dozen times, after trying an obscene combination of passwords and usernames and stuff. The thing is, every time I visit their site, they seem to have changed everything, which makes me rather confused (I have a strong feeling that business education is not too great for the grey matter up there :| ). And when I give in and tell them that I have lost my password, my username, everything, but I do want the site back, they throw some strange html code at me and ask me to put it some unheard of place in my site, stuff which I obviously have no clue about as much as I have done my own share of tinkering around with the template's html code (isn't half of it useless? I keep deleting and adding code and it doesn't seem to make any difference whatsoever :|).

To cut a long story short, and let you move on to the real short story if you haven't read it yet, I am now the supreme commander of arbit globe again :D Err, not a challenge to some bored hacker there... please... I love my site and respect your skills :|

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Trapped!

I am not very good at writing fiction, but do keep making the occasional feeble attempt at it. This story is one such attempt, originally written in an hour for a course in Term 5 at IIMK. I've made few modifications to the original draft, with the result that I am not overtly thrilled with the way it has come out, but the underlying theme is something which has been bothering me for quite some time.

The door of the cage shut behind the keeper, and Mordy waited for the familiar click of the lock that followed it. No sound came, however, and after a few minutes, Mordy couldn't resist his curiosity, and ambled his way across to the door. With his large paw, he nudged it, and it slowly opened a few inches. The keeper had gone, his duties done for the day. Dusk was rapidly losing its daily battle with the night, and a blanket of darkness was quickly engulfing the zoo.

Mordy pushed the door open and walked out a few feet, when a wave of terror hit him. Suddenly, he was petrified, and blanking out of fear. A cold wind had up, giving him goosebumps. He fled back into the cage and hurried to the farthest corner. He tried to ignore the open door, but it stared at him, tempting, confusing, seducing and utterly terrifying. He started pacing up and down in the cage, his mind a chaos of emotions and thoughts. He remembered his days in the lush, evergreen rainforests of the Malabar coast. Life had been a daily battle then, struggling for food, chases gone wrong, the unbearable pangs of hunger when the prey had been too wily, and, often, intensely satisfying too, the incredible feeling of being satiated and not needing to chase those darn bucks for another week or so, long afternoons spent on the warm rock on top of the lone hill in the forest and those intensely heady days with Kayra. The thought of Kayra sent a tear down his now increasingly scraggy face. Where was she? How would she be? Would she be still roaming those paths with his children? Or would they be out on their own, intimating the forest that a new predator was on the move, and that they had become a force to reckon with on their own? Life had been tough and exciting, frustrating and rewarding, stressful and leisurely, all at the same time. The constant struggle to stay away from that two-legged ape who could magically kill you from a hundred feet away, who would kill and then not eat, for some reason, who would kill for reasons Mordy could never understand. And yet, they had been so magical, those days.

A deafening crash brought Mordy back into the present. Thunder, followed by a heavy shower. He couldn't really complain about life at the zoo. There was absolutely no struggle. Food was regular and plentiful, and brought to him chopped and cleaned, everyday precisely at 7 in the morning. The zoo was well off and treated its animals well. The cage was clean and comfortable. And yet... Mordy missed the jungle. Years of lazing around and doing little had blunted his wild instincts. Even the children didn't seem to be too scared when he growled at them anymore, they laughed and pointed it out excitedly to their parents. He was bored to death. Life had become a meaningless chore and an orgy of sleeping and eating. His rippling muscles, primed for the kill in his forest life had been smothered in layers of fat. His keen, taut face had turned aged and scraggly, the wear and tear of years of having nothing to do and thinking about it showing clearly.

Yet, life in the zoo represented security. He liked the keeper. He got food regularly, didn't have to worry about the next kill, didn't have to fret over whether he was becoming too old to chase down prey or whether his tactics were too outdated. He didn't have to freak out, seeing his dad die of hunger, not being able to chase prey on his own, and refusing to accept charity from his son. Mordy thought hard and long, but just couldn't make up his mind. It was easy getting back to the forest, he had the night in front of him. Several times, he walked to the door of the cage, stepped outside, only to have the same, gnawing fear hit him like a thunderbolt. Several times he walked to the farthest corner and refused to look at the open door, but it refused to let him be. The clouds disappeared as soon as they had formed, and a full moon shone over the horizon, flooding his cage with white light. The wind picked up again, and hit Mordy in the face as he gazed at the moon through the bars of the cage, contemplating his past, present and the future.

The open door of the cage greeted the keeper from afar, as he walked in after signing his name for the day. Wild panic set in, and a bead of sweat trickled down his spine. Mustering all the courage that he could, he approached the cage slowly, anticipating a charge any moment from the thick shrubs spread all around the cage. He tiptoed to the door, and peered inside, trying to get a view of the farthest corner, the only one not visible from outside. With a sigh of relief, he saw Mordy looking at him, spread peacefully on the floor, his tail involuntarily swatting the half dozen flies which always seemed to be bothering him. A strange look had spread over his face, placed on the floor between his front paws - the look of an animal truly trapped.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Nostalgia...

Nostalgia is a funny thing. I have to admit that over the last few months, I've been a tad frustrated at various developments on campus. These things are inevitably a part of campus life, but when you are living through them, they tend to look much larger than they are - as is very often the case in life. I've tried hard to not let myself be affected so much by these small things when all this is going to end so soon, but I have to admit that I've failed. Slowly but surely, I was turning bitter, a state I hate. I don't mind being livid or really upset, but being bitter seems rather a waste.

Tonight, I sauntered into the Night Canteen for what has become a daily routine - a around midnight shot of cold coffee. The far corner table was empty, and I settled there. A rare wind was blowing from the east, cold and crisp. Within minutes, there was thunder and lightning, and the usual pitter-patter of large rain drops smothered most other sounds on campus. An unseasonal shower.

I finished my coffee, went down and stood at the cross-roads. Water dripped over the tall roof, glistening in the amphi lights. The wind brought the rain in in the form of a fine mist. And suddenly, from nowhere, it struck me - I was going to miss this place so much. I stuck my hand out, and wondered - is this the last one? I heard a deep, scary voice within myself saying that it is, indeed.

A short walk down from harvard steps with Rupee, Nami and Tanu, and I started feeling if I was going to leave tomorrow. Oh my god, this is getting over...

I have to cherish these moments. Cherish them for posterity, for a lifetime. Yes, times have been rough, but these times here have taught me lessons about life and myself that I will probably keep discovering for years. I have to be positive, not be petty and not hold silly things against people whom I probably won't see again in my life or if I do, will probably end up having a good laugh over. I have to be a larger person, I have to think big. I have made friends and lost friends here, but I want to take back only the good memories from here.

Can I...Will I?

Where the hell have I been?

I've dared to see my blog home page after what feels like (and turns out to be) an eternity. I see the last post on the 8th of October and wonder what the heck I've been doing all this while. I've really not been around, from the fact that even blogspot seems to have dumped my cookies and is asking me to sign in!

It's strange how you just stop doing the things you love so much for no apparent reason. I went through the first year like the clausial (that's not a proverb, so what else do I call it?) headless chicken, and yet managed a decent frequency with my blog. And then along comes second year, and there is this tremendous lethargy in me. I have a zillion topics buzzing in my head, a few hundred mentally written articles, but I just don't seem to get to putting finger to key (bah, oh, the old days when it didn't sound so ghastly!) to punch that piece down.

It's also strange how after dishing out stuff fairly regularly for a while, and then suddenly stop. It's not that I've been writing elsewhere (as one regular reader assumed). It's just that I've stopped writing. Period.

As I started off writing an essay the other day for a competition, I realized how rusty I was. I wrote the first draft and balked. What the heck was I writing? Right as I was punching out the words, I was going, oh god, what is this? Atrocious stuff.

And so, I make another attempt at a comeback. I am not very good at comebacks, though. My last one in photography ended up with me being in the field with a camera and desperately hoping for some inspiration. I dread to think of a time when I look at a blank screen and feel sweat running down my temples, or worse, nothing at all...