Tuesday, 25 August 2009


I am not generally given to loud, expressive fits of anger. This might be in part because I think loud fits of anything are genuinely warranted only in very rare cases. Also, I despise confrontations like I despise Criss Angel, that no talent, goth fuck. And usually before I work up to that kind of anger, I get distracted by whatever social networking site I’m using indiscriminately at the time or say like, a potato chip. Then there’s the fact that I stay calm to spite those people who say ‘let it out’ with those infuriating hand actions, heads cocked to one side, voice all calm and soothing-like. No bugger off, I’m keeping it in, I’m keeping it ALL in, go be Oprah some place else and get out of my face.
But a big reason, you’ll almost never hear me screaming or typing in angry caps, and I’m aware of how cutesy and made up this sounds even though it’s a 100% true, is the Old Spice song.

Remember that one? Unfortunately I can’t find it on Youtube so for those who can’t remember it, you may use Chariots of Fire as stand in, it has the same effect. If you haven’t heard Chariots of Fire, you’re probably deaf. In which case, nevermind the rest of this post.


Everytime I’m on the brink of blowing off some serious steam, the song starts playing in my head. Its rising crescendo perfectly accompanying the gradual slowing down of the words and expressions until it’s all very comical, I stop to chuckle and in the process the loud anger has dissipated. What’s left can well be dialed down to sarcasm, the odd snide comment and some heavy duty passive-aggressive bullshit like eating the last muffin I knew the person really wanted or uploading unnecessarily cheerful status updates that I know will piss him/her off.

Only recently it occurred to me that the latter method is long drawn, tedious and even more laughable than being caught Old Spicing. Also less fulfilling, because honestly, while I’m plotting all these abstruse ways of putting it across, the person concerned probably just thinks I’m having my period. Whereas a well-timed ‘Fuck you’ said at a higher decibel is succinct yet descriptive and clear as a bell.

That settles it. Come Monday (I hate starting new resolutions mid-week) and I’m really getting into this whole 'expressing self' business. I may end up feeling better or I may end up halving the number of people who put up with me always, to one. But that’s okay. No longer is a men’s aftershave lotion going to come between me and my true feelings.

Wednesday, 19 August 2009

I'm going to have to let you go

It occurred to me yesterday, during a particularly tiresome conversation when my brain came up for some air, that firing someone should not be restricted to jobs alone. Imagine how easy relationships would be if you could just eject people from your life without having to wade through the emotional afterbirth.

You cordially invite them into a safe (for you) space, make nice for a few minutes - "Your hair looks neat", "That leopard print really suits you.", "No you don't come off as a pretentious self-serving twat at all!" - and then you go in for the kill or in this case, an excruciatingly polite rejection.

"So I'm sure you're wondering why I called you out to this sardine tin of a coffee shop, in broad daylight, with all these pretty prospective witnesses. It's just that your performance has been slipping lately. I've tried to cover up for you with the others - I told them you had a shitty childhood, you have extremely low self esteem crossed with a puzzling narcissism and your mom always loved your sister more. That kept them quiet for a while. But it got harder for me to cover your back, you know. All the lies, all the incessant mooching off, all the general douchebaggery and this complete disregard for personal hygiene? I mean give me something to work with for chrissake!

Anyway, I'm sure you have your reasons for being such a conscience-free prick. And for why your personality is only the tragic imitation of everybody around you. Maybe your skill-set will be more employable some place else, say like...in a...um...well I'm sure you'll figure it out.
I wish you only the best. Don't let this small hurdle change who you are. Lots of people are sociopaths. And maybe someday you'll end up killing someone just because you felt bored but that's way into the future. And what's important is, I won't know you then.

I was told to release you with immediate effect but I got you seven days notice. I figured you'd need time to finally return my clothes/books/CDs/money. You can keep that framed picture of us - I already have a tonne of uncomfortable pictures with people I don't really like lying around. I'd return the stuff you gave me too, but can you ever really fit deep mistrust and disillusion into a paper bag? I'm not sure.

Anyway I think I'm going to go now because this has already been half an hour of my life I'm never getting back. And just to paraphrase our relationship, as usual I'm going to pay for this elaborate and expensive meal you had no qualms ordering even though your er, dog ate your wallet. You might want to go easy on the grease though, you're looking a bit fat. Bye now."

Yeah I think this could work. You should try it. I would but we all know those who can't do, write.

Saturday, 15 August 2009

28 years

He saw her, he saw she was sublime.
She saw him, she liked his shoes.
"She made me want to start over," he'd later say,
"They were *really* nice shoes," she'd shrug.
The other men stood beneath their windows
Wooing her friends with spangly trinkets.
He came for her twice a month.
5 chikus were his offering.
"Did you know they're also called sapota?"
She stared at him, then shook her head slowly.

They went through the motions
Got married.
She for a roof, he for a second chance.
Had children.
She for companionship,
he to prove he could.
She from despair, he from indifference.
Because they both keep promises.

The worst has passed,
for the first time they notice each other.
His mangled hands,
her maddening pronunciations.
His emotional stutter,
her unbelievable strength.
The story is told that
for the five days she wasn't home once,
he went hungry.
"She didn't make it, it wasn't worth eating."

The beautiful bits always stop short
so you never forget just how good it got.
She awoke one afternoon with the deafening silence,
his breath had stilled for the last time.
For as long as she lives,
she will never forget his slumped head
or that feeling of being well and truly alone.

The years fan out.
Some worth remembering,
some just disappear into others.
There are no smiling portraits on the wall.
No gracefully yellowed black and white photographs.
And the mind's moths continue uninterrupted.

The hallmarks of true love
have changed since 1981 too.
"Of course he loves me but he listens to bhangra-pop!"
"She's perfect except for her beer belly."
"I think I love him. Or do I?
No, I do, I do. But what if I don't?"
Thank God she's hard of hearing.
These eedyets wouldn't know love
if it smacked them full in the face.
She'd tell them her story
but devotion isn't part of their vocabulary.

Wednesday, 12 August 2009

Be yourself

That's a big bag of crap, let me clear that up once and for all. I learnt this important lesson early.

Right from the time you're a kid, it's what adults are always prattling on about.
Like Mrs. Rose, my second standard teacher. Rose only in name, I might add.
So when she cracked one of her really obvious, middle-aged jokes, I, being myself, rolled my eyes.

Let's just say I didn't see that backhanded slap coming.

Moral: Be yourself, you get slapped so hard your brain rearranges itself.

Still my naivete prevailed. Maybe Rose is just the exception, I fooled myself and stuck to my guns. Until it happened again.

Now when you're a quiet kid and you sing to yourself, people take that to mean many different things. But boiled down to their concentrate, all these opinions generally end up at 'weirdo' or 'asshole'. I've always got the latter. So between totally missing the boat on teacher humour and not being related to anyone who had "pull" in the staff room, I was the farthest thing from teacher's pet.

Cut to standard 9. I get called into the staff room minutes before break time. Nothing too ominous, just a whole bunch of underpaid, predominantly single women in their late 30s, gathered in one place, looking for an outlet.

Me: Can I come in?
Degenerate 1: It's MAY I come in, not can.
Me: Sorry. May I come in?
D1: No.
Me: Okay.
D2: You have an attitude problem.
Me: ...
D1: See? This is what I'm talking about.
D2: *nodding happily*
Me: Okay.
D1: Okay?! She's saying okay! Do you have a problem or not?!
Me: I don't know. No.
D2: Not even owning up to it, trying to defy us.
Me: Can I go? (break time was coming to a close! Those delicious cream biscuits weren't going to eat themselves!)
D1: Don't act too smart, you will not go anywhere.
D2 : Admit you have an attitude problem and say you're sorry.
Me: ...
D2: Say you're sorry!
Me: ....
D1: Say you're sorry or no break.
Me: I'm sorry.
*Bell rings*
D1: Looks like you're going to have to wait for the next break.

Moral: Be yourself and you miss snack time. No go. NO. GO.

Then I grew up, got a tonne of bad haircuts, made a tonne of bad decisions, had a tonne of personality crises, you know, usual teenage stuff. But through it all, I refused to act. Why? Because it takes effort and time. Time that could be spent watching Superhuman Samurai Syber Squad. So that's what I did. Until I got slapped in the face again. This time metaphorically.

The year was 1999. I remember this because every time Summer of 69 came on, I'd shout 99. Yeah. I know. Take a moment.
The boy was wiry, he was tanned, he had dirty brown hair and cute mispronunciations. When we finally talked (he caught me on one of my blank calls to his house. He said 'Gyuri?', I said 'ye..NO!' and the jig was up) and told me I was awesome. He liked me for me - androgynous, bushy eyebrowed, bespectacled and kicking his ass at carrom. Best moment of my teenage life. Also the last time I ever heard from him.
The next time I saw him, he was with a girl who, if this were a highschool movie, would be the main sidekick atleast.

Moral: Be yourself and you'll be with yourself too.

Now I could keep the examples coming but I think I've made my point and more importantly, I'm irritating myself. The bottomline folks, is this: Stop lying to kids. Or if you must make overly simplistic remarks like 'be yourself' atleast have the courtesy to emphasise on the 'as long as you're not making anyone mad, as long as you're not swimming too far from the stereotype and as long as you're doing it on your own time".
Kids have a hard enough time reading, nevermind reading between the lines.

Saturday, 1 August 2009

Sometimes my mind don't shake and shift, but most of the time it does.

Everything has a place. Everybody has a place. Our lives are like a labyrinth of people and the experiences they bring along, all crisscrossing in a mindboggling fashion. Some tiny doorways lead to light so blinding you have to shield your eyes and others go and and on before you realise those flickers of light you kept moving towards were just fireflies doing what they do, completely oblivious of how much you're betting on them.
Each day you try to simplify. For such a complex species, we're very simple. It's what we like to do, simplify. Some days you draw a connection - 'Aha! So this is where that door was leading to!' - and you feel pleased - 'I've come close to solving the puzzle', you think - until this turns out to be yet another little passageway with a series of indistinguishable doors all lined up, waiting for you to see where they take you.
Behind one, there's sedate 2+2=4 happiness and people with smiles that are kind but dispassionate. Behind the other there's no floors, this place has no need for them, it's like a tornado and promises to be euphoric and exciting and very very lonely. And behind the third, time seems to slow, it's all like a big moving sepia toned picture. You've been here, you've done this, it's comfortable. Just cash in your chips and say I'm too weak to wander down all these little alleyways.
Or sometimes you can just squat in the hallway for a bit, light up a cigarette and examine the cracks in the wall. Let the fireflies do their thing.