Deposits may not be available for immediate withdrawal.

Monday, November 28, 2005


My parents live in a very nice part of Calcutta. New Alipore is one of the posher areas - pretty houses and tree-lined lanes. If you enter some of the inner lanes anytime apart from the rush hours, you will find them quite peaceful and deserted - remarkable for Calcutta. The reasons are not far to seek, either. Rich kids don't play on the streets. They have large houses with spacious lawns. If the lawn is not big enough to lay out a cricket pitch, then there are always corridors, terraces, or - at a pinch - drawing rooms.

So come evening - when the weather is pleasant, and the setting sun tints everything in orange hues - and you would think that a brisk evening walk would be in order - clear the head, get some exercise and return in time for a bracing cup of tea.

If you thought that, you would be wrong.

There is a fly in this ointment.


Yes - I mean shit. Faeces, excrement - take your pick. Shit by any other name smells just as bad.

The roads of New Alipore are caked in shit. Fresh, moist shit. Ancient, fossilised shit. Lumpy shit. Melted shit. Coagulated shit. Spattered shit. Neat little piles of shit. Buzzing-over-with-flies shit. Tyre-tread-patterned shit. Pristine white shit. Sienna shit. Ochre shit. You name it - we've got it.

Venture sometime, if you will, into the bowels of some of Calcutta's most wretched slums. There too, you will see shit layering the ground. But that is human shit. It is the shit of people who have never seen a water closet in their lives. People who really have no choice in the matter. It is very different from the shit in my part of town.

You see, we deal strictly in animal shit. Birds, dogs, cats and the occasional monkey. Ours is pedigreed shit. Imported foreign shit. There is Great Danish shit, Alsatian shit and Doberman shit. Shit spewed by animals worth their weight in gold. Their owners must believe that even the shit of these fine creatures is worth some sizable amount in foreign exchange. Even if it isn't, its no shit on their brogues. The task of sidestepping their animals undigested waste is left to menials who are hired for that task alone.

In the United States, it is a criminal offense to let your pet soil the sidewalks. Pet owners walk around with little trowels and bags, cleaning up after their animals.

It would seem that our shit, unlike theirs, smells of roses. At least it doesn't stink of poverty.

Paper Idea No. 1 - A Study in Excrement: On the Inverse relation between property prices and position on the food chain of roadside defecators.

Wednesday, November 23, 2005

Celebrity Deathmatch

They knew that this was the big one. They were ready for it when it came.

They also knew, realistically, that they could not win this. But like true soldiers, they went into battle anyway. They would not go down without a fight, and that was what mattered.

They were primed for it. Plenty of sleep on the flight had refreshed them. Large quantities of vitamin C had fortified them, and there was not a trace of alcohol in the blood - nothing that would reduce their fighting efficiency.

They had fought the good fight before. Each time, they had been beaten into near-submission, but there had always been an escape route. The option of tactical retreat had always been open earlier. Not this time. This time, they would not be able to run away to home base and heal their wounds. This time it was the long haul.

It began the moment they stepped out of the Dum Dum Airport. No warning bells sounded. Just and attack of brutal violence. The message was clear. No quarter would be given. There would be no respite.

Skin was the first casualty. This was not really a surprise. He was, after all, the first line of defence. He had prepared for this one before everyone else. Economy-sized packs of Vaseline Moisturiser (with Aloe Vera), exfoliating face scrub and Clean and Clear astringent had fortified him. But not enough... not by far. He was beaten by a devious double play. The smoke battered him down, while the retreating monsoons destabilised his units from behind. The oily T-zone had always been a weak link, and it was exploited to the hilt. When the acne hit, he had no response.

Respiratory System held up longer than expected. He was, after all, the weak link in the team. Unfortunately, his position was crucial, and replacements were hard to come by. RS had never lasted beyond one day. Also, they felt that he had become soft. Clean fresh zephyrs from over the Lake had spoilt him. He wouldn't be able to deal with the Smog, they said. But he showed them. He fought on. Days past, and he was still holding up. It was tear-jerking. It was inspirational. When he finally fell, he fell hard. But he had not deserted his post for two weeks. The Smog had to tear his cold, dead alveoli from their position.

Digestive System was the fiercest fighter in this battle. He had an ace up his sleeve. They hadn't seen the switch to vegetarianism coming. In one stroke, he reduced their modes of attack by three-fourths. He also had an advantage over the others. He had the choice of picking his battles. But he was no Iron Clad. All it took was one badly chosen battle. He was down.

With the big guns out of action, the fringe players didn't last long. Hair had turned to straw before anyone had even noticed. A voltage mismatch took care of the face. The eyes were never in it anyway.

The fate of the ears and fingers was sadder. They were done in during off-time. They all thought the pool would help. That it would strengthen all the players. They neglected to consider its effects on the ear. The weak eyes conspired with the murky water to take out the fingers.

Three weeks. The brain was left alone. Battered and bruised, and very much alone. Remix videos assaulted it from all sides. But it was only when it found itself looking at the Brain Killer itself, also called the ToI, that it knew this fight was over.

It was all over bar the shouting.

Which never happened, since the throat was too far gone.

But there was no reason to despair. Three weeks. It was a new record.

Well done, brave soldiers.

Tuesday, November 22, 2005

Not Funny

Some are born funny. People such as myself fall into that category. There's an aura of hilarity that clearly surrounds me. Walking into Gyan Manch to see everyone grinning in my general direction has made me absolutely certain of that. I am pleased, since it has always been my fervent wish to spread the twin causes of mirth and merriment.

Some attain funniness. They develop and maintain a unique sense of humour. Some are subtle and yet cutting. Others believe in broad slapstick. Still others are skilled in feghoots that make you groan and laugh at the same time. They all have a hand in making the world a better, lighter place.

Some people try and thrust their idea of funniness down the throats of disinterested strangers. Such people are pricks.

A word of advice to those who aim to amuse. The following are NOT funny.

1) Suggesting to a cat lover that he drown his pets.
2) Making disparaging comments about the breasts of a fellow blogger.
3) Mentioning your classmates by name, and then insulting them publicly.
4) Calling your sister a slut.
5) Using your ignorance of Eliot as an excuse to insult men whose age and IQ are both twice as much as yours.
6) Using a half-baked knowledge of sociology to attack people without provocation.
7) Calling into question the legitimacy of the marriage of the parents of one of the few people who still tolerates you.
8) Homophobia
9) Stupidity

And above all

Threatening to hit people is NOT funny.

But you know what would be funny.

TRYING to hit those people.


Monday, November 21, 2005


Nine months. Nine months in Calcutta. True, 18 years have been spent in this city, but that was a different me in a different time.

The change of scenery entails a change in blogging habits. This blog will be updated more often henceforth.

One last thing needs to be said.


That is all.