Friday, November 29, 2002

Modern drama

It was Deepawali time and it was usual for all us cousins to celebrate together. In the village we really celebrated the festival on a grand scale. Since it’s a small village its usual for everyone to contribute something or other for entertainment. My cousin and I decided to do a small skit for the general public. The stage was the raised foreground in front of the village temple with the court in front covered by shamiana.

The scene starts off with the narrator telling the crowd the cooked up history of our Super Drama Company. He then runs through the difficult financial situation for drama companies in these ages and how even the actors have not been paid for months together. We had a good narrator who made up all sorts of stories and all the villagers were silently listening to the tragic tales and woes of our drama troupe (for they didn't know what was yet to come!!). Finally he ends by telling us that the scene to be enacted is about Ram and Ravan's dialogue when the war has reached the final stage. I played the role of Ram; my cousin played the role of Ravan.

Drums’ beating in the background and red light slowly fades to normal light. I am standing on a table and so is Ravan (which you should realise are our chariots). Two little kids squatting in front on two chairs are our charioteers. There is a hushed silence in the crowd.

Ram: Ah! there you are thief and coward. You stole my wife and for that sake you have sacrificed your entire family.

Ravan (cleaning his ears): Who are you calling coward? I think the effect of staying with all these monkeys has rubbed onto you.

Ram: Ha! It's these same monkeys that have literally destroyed your army. And now I will make sure you will not run away. (With that he shoots an arrow at Ravan's charioteer).

Ravan (looking down casually at his dead charioteer): Nooo problem! Today you cannot kill me.

Ram: Well let’s see. Here comes the mighty 'Varuna-asthra'.
(A colourful arrow flies across and Ravan catches the arrow. And snaps it into two. Ram looks perplexed).

Ram: Fine be like that! Boss will be angry for breaking that arrow. But here comes the ultimate 'Brahmastra'. You cannot escape this.

Ravan is still chewing the paan and spitting. The arrow flies across, only to be caught in one hand and snapped into two pieces again.

Ram (almost teary eyed): What?!! That arrow cost us five rupees! (Turns to the narrator, cum director, cum drama company owner) He broke the arrow.. he broke it again...

Narrator runs on screen: Arrey Ravan, what is this? Every show you die... what’s the problem today?

Ravan: I am sick and tired of waiting for my salary. Unless you give my salary today I won't die.

Narrator: Offo! Look I will give you after the show.

Ravan: You say that all the time. I'm not listening to your excuses any more.

Narrator: Now stop acting like real Ravan. We can discuss all this later.

Ravan: No chance… I want my salary now (squats on the table and continues chewing the paan)

Narrator walking towards Ram: Do you have any money?

Ram (lifting his dhoti and taking out a leather purse) : I have two hundred and a credit card.

Narrator: Ok..forget the card. Here is three hundred more... (he runs and picks up the half broken Brahmastra on the stage) Now tie the five notes and shoot the arrow at him.

After a short while.

Ram: Ha! I have a more superior weapon than the Brahmastra coming now. Prepare to die.

Ravan: Shoot ... (The half broken arrow barely makes it across. The charioteer who had been shot earlier catches it and hands it to Ravan.)

Ravan (counting the notes): One, two, three, four five... aaaaaaahhhhhhh.. (collapses and dies).

Narrator and Ram do the ultimate victory dance.

Thursday, November 28, 2002

Village life...

India is a country of villages and in my view village life is the best. It’s a calm, content life. My village is called Sarathy, which is about 30km from Davangere, the town I live in. Our family have been the village heads for eons. My grandfather, who was an accountant in some British office, moved to the town because it was easier to commute. In those days buses didn't ply to my village and much of the journey had to be by walk or bullock carts.

We still have a major part of our lands in the village. We grow paddy in the irrigated lands and groundnut in the non-irrigated lands. Off late we have been thinking of moving into commercial crops (like curry leaves or vanilla) but my brother and I are both busy to give such a major change the full attention it deserves.

Initially I hated going to the fields and watching the labourers’ plough and weed. I found it too boring. But time passed and slowly I fell in love with the simplistic life. I used to spend from dawn to dusk in the fields either riding a tractor or standing behind the plough pulled by bulls. Lunch often used to be in the field itself with one or the other servant bringing it to us. It was nice to sit with all the workers, listen to their jokes and woes. A small siesta followed the lunch and if I couldn't get sleep I would just lie in the shade and watch the steel blue sky and daydream.

We always used to get a cool breeze because our village and the fields are on the bank of Tungabhadra River. By late summer, the river would have depleted to such a low level we could wade across it without the help of the round bamboo boats. You could see small fish, almost stagnant as they swam against the current. Naked little kids swimming and fighting. All this is such a far cry from the life in London.

I know there is no flow in what I have written... but I'm just thinking of home. I miss home.

Ashish, Suku, I am not the best of the persons when it comes to saying thanks in beautiful words but all I can say is...well.. Thanks. I really mean it from the deep. Without your tiring efforts, my blog would not look so elegant. :)

Wednesday, November 27, 2002


This is going to be my last picture / post on wars for a long time to come (don't ask me how long though). The image on the left shows Belgian peace keepers torturing a Somali child while they were assigned the task of 'peacekeepers' in Somalia.

This particular incident happened because they wanted to force some information from the boy about the rebels. The boy suffered severe burns. Meanwhile the courtmartial in Brussels pardoned the two soldiers on the ground that they didn't anything wrong considering the situation. I won't comment much further... you are left to your own feelings and views.

edited after Ravi pointed out to my errors

Tuesday, November 26, 2002

"We learn from mistakes...or do we?"

The map below shows our planet in a very unique way. It shows the intensity of wars during 20th century. Four world maps showing four different quarters [top left is 1900-1925, top right is 1926-1950, bottom left is 1951-1975 and bottom right is 1976-2000].

courtsey of Matthew:

How much has this world changed over the last 100 years? Not much. I see a lot of red all over and our own fight for Independence is not that bright (considering millions died!). So you can imagine how much more wrath there must have been in other places. Look at Africa, its colour has not changed much over the last one century. In fact its got worse over the last 50 years, while Russia is slowly cooling down. Australia has been quite all the way through.

I'm sure as I write this, you all must have already looked at USA. Pretty cool uh? No reds at all. The country that goes to war at the drop of a hat has not fought any wars on its own soil. Maybe that's the reason it doesn't know the pain a war can cause. Maybe that's the reason why its economy went steaming ahead after the World Wars, while every other country struggled to recover from the fury of guns and bombs.

All this in just one century. Imagine if we were to plot charts for the last 2000 years. I don't think man will ever learn to live in peace. (Ok ok... I can hear someone groaning 'when will this guy stop ranting about wars?')

Monday, November 25, 2002

"Hey Nathuram!"

I am an avid time-travel freak. I mean it. I believe someday - if mankind exists long enough - we will discover the secrets of time travel. I read a lot of books and hypothetical theories on time travel. The classic, yet mundane, question that I get on time travel is "what if one were to go back in time and kill the parents of the scientist who invents the time machine?" Yes that's a paradox but its much harder to explain why such a situation is not possible. I would have to go about explaining the concept of parellel universes etc, which would take up several blog posts.

About two years ago, I started to write a novel (stop laughing!!) with the plot set during the Indian independence movement. I stopped writing after the first chapter but the crux of the story was that the famous freedom fighters whom we know today, were actually from the future. They were scientists and parlimentarians who after much debate decide to go back in time to alter certain things. Ok this may offend some of you, but in my novel Gandhi and Godse were both members of RSS in the year 2169AD, and in the Parliamentary debate they both have different views on what should / should not be interfered with when they visit the past. I had made use of incidents like, the unexplained deaths of Subash Chandra Bose and many others, to spice up the story.

But my best part in that was the use of Gandhi's famous last words "Hey Ram!" When Gandhi is shot, he staggers back a couple of steps and holding to his bleeding chest he recognises Godse, since according to my story both of them come back in time together to alter the course of destiny. As Gandhi collapses from the gun shots he looks at Godse and utters "Hey Ram". My story implies that what Gandhi actually meant was "Hey Nathuram!", because throughout my half-finsihed novel Gandhi always refers to Nathuram Godse as just Ram.

Cruel and disgusting twists? Or a cunning plot??

Sunday, November 24, 2002

Red or Green

Pool is a game that I really love. Maybe because I am good at it; or maybe because I can play that game while actually I am thinking of something else. Or maybe because, it is so similar to carrom. My initiation to pool was when I was studying 8th. The table was half the size of normal pool tables but still it was good enough for me. By the time I had reached 12th year in school I was literally called the God of the pool table. I don’t mean to boast but the fact remained that if I was allowed the break, there was a rare chance that the opponent got to play because I would pot all the eight balls in a row. I had also (after much hard work) learnt how to pot the #8 ball on the break itself (according to rules if you pot #8 on break, you automatically win).

It so happened that there were quite a few other players who were exceptionally good. And one such person was by the name of Umesh, a wealthy tea planter’s son, from Calcutta. And it also so happened that one day I lost my pool game to him and boy, was it some news for him! Within the next 12 hours he had told the entire school, including the kindergarten kids, how he had beaten me fair and square in the pool game. To me that was ok, but being the prankster that I am, I wanted to hit back. And hit back hard!! It was Friday evening, weekend had begun and about 20 of us were relaxing in our exclusive senior students lounge. From the distance we could see Umesh walking towards the lounge and that’s when the bulb on top of my head lit up. I told everyone present to get with me in this prank and we decided to make Umesh believe he was colour blind. If he hit a red ball, we all were to protest by asking him why he hit green. And if it was green, to protest why he hit red and thereby cry a foul.

Umesh walked in and naturally asked me if I wanted to play pool with him. I said, “Naaa, I’m not in the mood”. A slight pause before he said “Why, are you chickening out?” A sigh from me and I said “Ok, lets play”. It was a classic act from all those present to just carry on with what they were doing. The game started and after a couple of shots he hit the red ball and on a very natural tone I said ‘foul’. He said ‘that was red’. I said, ‘no that was green’. He laughed but another person next to table said, ‘that is green, can’t you see’? Umesh was perplexed. Game continued and when he hit red I said ‘foul’ again. And this went on till everyone in the room agreed with me and within ten minutes Umesh was having doubts over the colours he was seeing. And finally he ‘fouled’ so much that he just quit with tears in eyes saying “Guys I think I’m going colour blind”.

Few of my friends and I consoled him by saying “Umesh there is nothing wrong with it. Lots of people go colour blind. Eat a lot of carrots and all will be well soon”. The prank continued for few more days and half the school knew about this prank and so all played along. Every lunch and dinner you could see Umesh piling on carrots from the salad menu. It all ended when a teacher came to know about the prank and called on Umesh. When he came out of the teacher’s room, well I can’t describe the face, but if you have ever seen a monkey that has eaten chillies, then it was pretty close to that.
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