Monthly Archives: July 2013

The First Lie

“Will it hurt?”

It’s a small dose, Baba. You’ll fall asleep. You’ll wake up tomorrow like nothing has ever happened to you.

“They’ve tied my arms and legs to the bed…”

I’ll untie them after the injection. You get very restless when you have those medicines, Baba.

“Will you make me some tea?”

I’ve got it in the thermos.

I felt the tea touch my tongue. I felt the needle prick my battered arm. That’s when I saw them, there were tears in her eyes. That’s when the realisation dawned.

I don’t know what felt worse. The fact that I was being killed on my own daughter’s orders, or that in her entire life, today was the first day she had ever lied to me, looking straight into my eyes while she did…

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Kill their loyalty- they’ll love you for it : Game of Thrones

Why do people support Manchester United?

‘Support’ – It’s a very powerful word. Does it mean you love the club with all your heart? I don’t entirely believe so. Love is an emotion that comes with attachment. It’s something that matures over time. Love is like whiskey in a barrel.  Attachment is an entirely different matter. The right question to ask is, how does one get attached to something he isn’t directly connected to?

Performance. Consistency.

It’s natural for a kid living in India to pick a team like United as his favourite. They win more. They win more often. I’m merely talking about the very birth of a kid’s selection here.  I was born in the nineties. All my friends maul out their football arguments over the existence of four clubs – United, Chelsea, Arsenal and Liverpool. When we started watching football, these four were the cream on top of the table. They all had moments of glory.

It’s after selection, that loyalty kicks in. When you’re sure you’re with the candidate, you root for them no matter what happens.  We don’t want to be wrong. We find excuses to cover their flaws. We find flaws in rivals which we use as excuses. Liverpool supporters that had their birth in the early two thousands still give it all for their club. They know they’ve been fighting a lost cause for the past half a decade, but they won’t ever accept it.

Unlike the English, who find their loyalty on the basis of geography, we find ours based on performance. What would incentivise a fifth grader to cheer Reading? Nothing. No one around him does it. No one cares about the club. Let’s pick Manchester City. They’re new, they’re fresh, they’re loaded. Thirty fellow batch mates became die-hard fans in 2012 – All hail City.

Our IPL works on a mixture of geography and performance. No person living in Mumbai would dream of supporting Delhi, till he pops in some LSD. But a kid in Goa who follows cricket, he could support any city in India, the probability of him supporting Chennai more because they’re consistent performers.

The human brain is beautiful. It needs reassurance that its choice in selection is the right one. I will support an institution either because A) It has existing power. B) It is the best current performer/ It is close to being the best or C) Because everyone around me is doing it.

How is any of this related to Game of Thrones? It has everything to do with it.

Whatever we’ve read or seen in fiction is shown through a singular viewpoint- The author’s. The story evolves through a lead character/characters who trick the viewer into believing that their side is the best way to enjoy the story. We slowly forget their flaws, we slowly rationalise the way they think and keep the book down in the end knowing our lead had his way. I lived on Harry Potter since I was 11. Looking back now, I really don’t think Harry had a great personality. After a lot of thinking, I’ve drawn the conclusion that Rowling cheated. She gave us someone who we could easily like. He had no parents – Sympathy. He had a powerful destiny that he didn’t choose, besides being gifted with unique powers himself – Incentive. He always walked the line, he was straightforward in love, he was brave, he was popular and he saved the year at the end of each book. What’s not to like?

All these pop-culture icons follow the trademark hero’s journey. Lord of the Rings, Inheritance, Potter, Star Wars, you name it. We sit on the shoulders of the hero from the beginning to the end. In our heart, we know nothing wrong will ever happen to him. We sit on a rollercoaster because we know we’ll be safe while having the feeling of impending death right in front of our eyes. Let’s face it, we love having a thrill when we know we’ll be tucked into bed in the end.

Authors bank on the reader’s support. Which is why they give you those two dollops of chocolate cream right on your plate- Performance and Consistency.

No one ever reads a story out objectively. There were five brothers on one side who were sons of Gods. There were hundred on the other side who were human. They fought a war. The five cheated and eventually won. No, the Shivsena will harvest my privates if I narrate the Mahabharata like that. The Pandava’s are protagonists. They HAVE to be correct.

That is why I love George R. R Martin. He simply gives you a wide angle lens, and a story. No one is right, no one is wrong. Everyone is an equally big rounded cunt. Why did so many people love the Starks? It’s because in his mammoth collection of books, the Starks are the only ones who follow the path of extreme hero’s righteousness we’ve been trained to love since we were kids.

I don’t want to play a spoiler to the unfortunate ones who haven’t passed the third season in the television adaptation of the books, so I’ll restrict myself to that point. I find the Red Wedding one of the greatest highlights shown in the recent past in pop-culture. It broke the entire way people viewed a story. It established that audiences need to grow up. Life isn’t a frigging fairy-tale. All those reactions on the internet were a cultural triumph, almost like an awakening.

12 of my closest friends ardently follow the series.  We each find ourselves attached to a house of our own choice, and hating another house who we despise for reasons suiting our personality as compared to what the author wants us to choose. Tell a twelve year old Harry Potter bug he looks like a guy who ought to be in Hufflepuff, and he’ll lock himself up in a room for a year. Everyone wants to be a in Griffindor, because it’s cool. There’d be a few who wouldn’t mind Slytherin because again, it’s cool. It’s the opposite end of the spectrum, but it’s still an extremity. No one wants the middle.

In Game of Thrones, it’s not about the house, but about the game. Every single time we read through a new viewpoint, we rationalise based on the character we’re reading through. I hate the Starks. I love the Lannisters. I haven’t ever been more aroused by the mind of a character as I was when I found out how Tywin Lannister plotted the Wedding. It’s genius.

People complain about how Martin is absolutely merciless when it comes to his characters. I think it’s daring. The man has balls. He’d rather sacrifice the guaranteed success of keeping a central character by simply ending his life when he finds his job is done. It’s what Hitchcock did in Psycho. It was unheard of, killing the leading lady before she’s had the chance to show what she was worth. It’s taking a choice, do I care more about my story, or the person starring in it. Martin chooses the former. His entire tale drips the colour grey. There’s grey everywhere, in the characters, in their choices, in the way they behave. For once, no one is right and no one is wrong. I can’t get enough.

What makes it even harder to take in is that the thousand plus characters written in GOT all come from a single person’s mind. How complex would his brain be? He’s woven a phenomenal tale of political genius out of a brain I would love to inhabit, even for a split second. His use of religious differences, the shockwaves of incest, greed, lust and ego make Game of Thrones the most life like fantasy series, psychologically speaking that is.

I always judge people based on the way they gossip. It’s so easy to understand whether the story came from the person who’s been wronged, or the person who has wronged based on the way they narrate it. I stay silent and ask questions till I find out which side the person lies. It’s a little trick.

In today’s world, we’re so conditioned to picking what’s seemingly white or black that we forget that both are actual shades of grey. For me, Martin is my messiah. I’ll kill him if he dies before finishing the series. Though I’m sure he’d smile if he hears of this plan. How ironic is it, to make a paradoxical statement about a man who never gave a damn about our mainstream figures of speech anyway.

Till next time…

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The Symbiosis Curse

I dread telling people in Pune I’m a Symbiosis student. It takes a huge amount of courage. One needs to take a deep breath and say it as casually as possible and wait for the interviewer to roll his eyes and slowly contort his face in disgust like a jumbled Rubiks cube. In nine cases out of ten, he will proceed to put you in the category one associates with Mexican drug peddlers. In the tenth case, the candidate will turn out to be a fellow Symbian, who will make a mental note to bitch about the worthlessness of your particular institute at some point later in his life.

I would love to tackle some FAQs at this stage. Firstly, we aren’t all rich, spoilt brats. Just because we happen to wear a uniform involving the amalgamation of a shirt and trousers and speak the English language with above average lucidity doesn’t mean our parents supply us with a diet of caviar and lobsters on plates of platinum at home. Secondly, please don’t give me the management quota look. I did actually study to get in. My admission procedure didn’t resemble a Dawood Ibrahim Hindi film parody, where the college asked for dus khoka and it came in a Qualis carried by 5 muscular men wearing aviators and white pyjamas.

Contrary to popular belief, we aren’t exactly a territory of the Netherlands as well. We don’t have an inner-circle currency system that runs solely on the market of psychotropic drugs. Not every person from our university is a Marijuana aficionado, and even the ones who think they are talk out of their ass most of the time. I’m not saying we don’t have our share of illegal trading, but it’s not like we die of withdrawal symptoms when we don’t get the herbs either. We do normal thinks like eating poha for breakfast, eating wada pav at the tapri and drink more tea than the English.

If I thought college would be a mean place where they’d beat us to the ground and other phrases Rocky Balboa had slurred out in his famous guttural speech, I couldn’t have been more wrong. The campus was harmless. There were groups of Delhites who liked Salman Khan, but they’re too lethal to be elaborated on here. We all saw the heart-wrenching video of how college blossomed out of the end of God’s own rainbow as a place where students of every shade, name and nationality could study arm in arm. We all signed an affidavit that declared ragging was an act of Satan. We all knew anyway that no one gave a two bit flying fuck to actually bother ragging anyone. Everyone was too immersed doing ‘their own shit’ to care.

If you’re talking to someone from a Symbiosis arts college, I’d really request you to not make eyes at the people around you, as if to suggest, “Symbi arts! Must be a complete knob-head.” If you’re an engineer who’s doing this, I’d really like to use this time to offer your eyes the wonderful company of my middle finger. I don’t make comments about how I’d rather watch Deshdrohi with Kamaal R Khan himself than be studying how to derivate the third root of an imaginary number. Though our lives aren’t perfect, we aren’t stuck in a vortex of oily hair and unwaxed limbs – and I thank my stars for it. So sod off.

Our houses aren’t brothels. If you knock at our door and happen to see a bored skeleton like human watching an Entourage marathon, don’t look around as if the air is bewitched.  Keep your visual expectations of Naked Mile and Beta house locked in your own head; because we honestly spend most our evenings with no idea what to do. You might think us living in small herds together has something to do with promiscuity in every possible form, it’s actually because we miss home. Our friends are actually like family. At the end of three years of breathing down each others necks, people tend to get close.

I was in a college where my attendance was a disgraceful 92 percent. I attended more college than school, which really haunts my nightmares sometimes. It wasn’t because I wanted to, but I didn’t have a choice. They had a mandatory limit of 90 percent and I didn’t fancy spending my holidays doing detention hours in a library where bats would have happily committed suicide.

I spent three years in a place which I grew to love, and I’m very sure there’d be many like me. I spent three incredibly cool years, but I also learnt more about the world in general studying with such an assortment of people, that I’d never take it back, no matter what they say about our publicised Woodstock culture.

I’m sure a lot of the others would agree.

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