Tuesday, March 28, 2006

out in the cold.

I have joined the ranks of the discredited and marginalised for real, and it's frankly pissing off. It turns out that the flatmates and I are not eligible for the house in ___ Towers. We are financially solvent, of sound mind, and own nothing, not even a television, that would create decibel issues for the two-grandchild neighbours. However, a committee of these bald and shaggy-eyebrowed dudes retroactively judged that we would make unworthy tenants of their halls, and threw our advance back in our faces (the metaphor is close to literal) and told us they didn't want single women to share living space with them. I regret, now, that we never fed them the atheist-lesbians story when we had the chance. I also regret the fact that I can't live in an apartment I loved, because a bunch of stuffy parochial old dears are innocent of basic ideas of tolerance/diversity/leaving other people the fuck alone. But quite possibly they were horrified at the thought that their curly-haired children might be introduced to ideas of Arts degrees, or lying around eating bon-bons and reading Proust on weekends.

In retrospect, however, I ought to have taken the 'we-only-want-Hindus' thing seriously. And then they came for me, alright. Je regrette tout.

Sunday, March 26, 2006

adventures in house-gathering

I finished reading my first Terry Pratchett novel on Friday night, said novel happening to be Night Watch. I thought it lacked tension, but it was funny and smart and good enough for when life is playing Silly Buggers with you. I also read more Barbara Trapido and am amazed by how good and how obscure some writers can be, although the maiden-fantasy gent, who also makes an appearance in this novel, turned out to be an adulterer and somewhat stuffy to boot. I would much rather know Vimes and Vetinari.

The rest of the weekend, when not engaged in idle banter and hair-washing, was spent house-hunting. The flatmates and I have lived in our cozy little 2BHK marble halls long enough for the landlord to raise the rent, and we've decided to cultivate advanced notions of privacy and upgrade to a 3BHK. Our guide in this endeavour was a demure, doe-eyed young biker in flared jeans who insisted on taking us to places uninhabited by 'bachelors'. Do married men commit less sex crimes, on the whole? Or was it that he thought that all the carrom tournaments and lying about in faded lungis that bachelors are supposed to carry out all the time would offend our sensibilities? (It would.)

He took us to a quiet little situation with a Swami Vivekananda poster on the wall and enough storage space to please a cartload of Regency heroines, by which we were floored. We were almost ready to make camp there, until the inevitable occurred, and his gentlemanliness forebore him to open up the balcony off the third bedroom. This looked out onto a graveyard with lumpy little headstones populating the square patch between us and the road. We gave in to superstitious hyperventilation and the entry of new, sinister doubts in our minds regarding the watchman, the neighbours and the possibilities of actually being grabbed by the ankles when going to bed. I don't suppose any of us could have abided staying there for a moment alone. Suppose the electricity went off, or a thunderstorm came on! Ghastly thoughts. The flatmates and I were never impressed by this goth nonsense in our dissipate adolescence and we're not about to start now, even if the gravestones are all painted in bright primary colours like nursery school chairs (they are. I do not kid.) and overgrown with shrubbery. Paint will chip. And shrubbery will creep.

Our young man grew steadily more despondent and ended up taking us to just one more house that we could not enter as a key was not available. We were pretty much ready to go back and nibble on Britannia cheese and Dairy Milk for comfort. Then by luck or instinct something someone said about an available apartment struck us, and we decided, once the biker deserted us, to travel recklessly into a dim-lit bylane close to our house and take a look at it. There were no graveyards or winding alleys lined with electrical goods shops on our way to ___ Towers, a magnificent edifice that consists of three dumpy floors. We took the towering to be symbolic and sallied forth.

And the house was lovely. It had swanky grey and black granite flooring, fancy woodwork, heaps of storage space (again!) and a hall big enough to please the heart of any guest. We were shown around by a security man who spoke no Hindi and a grandmotherly woman who spoke nothing but Telugu. Anxiously they mumbled that they wanted only a) Hindus and b) families. Anxiously we presented ourselves as three model young women with jobs in a prestigious software company who worked regular hours and bathed in the mornings. I wonder if they'd have had us if we presented ourselves as atheist lesbians, but this would have been a lie, as we are all very hetero, and one of us is an extremely devout Christian. Our landlord-in-the-offing, an elderly gent, hoped we all had at least a Bachelors in Science and begged us not to behave like students. We hoped inwardly that he would never drop by and see us living amid our mattress-seating, faded bedsheets and lack of television. Worse, we have flimsy, gauzy curtains from FabIndia, which none of our stolid two-grandchild neighbour families do.

So it looks as though we might soon be inhabitants of ___ Towers, but we are keeping our fingers crossed and a hold on the money, esp. as we're going to have to pay the rent in both places come April so as not to piss off either landlord. Savings are for the weak.

Eeee. At last, a room of my own - with closets!

current musix: cafe tacuba - el aparato

[In closing, Sting is profoundly irritating for all that he is an Easy Listening arteeste. The only people he really feels comfortable addressing direct and up front are out-of-reach prostitutes and himself in a vague, second-person manner. What is the deal is with all these schmaltzy songs that talk about women in the third person? There is no deal!]

Friday, March 24, 2006

here at the end of all things.

A short while ago I returned to my copy of the Lord of the Rings to re-read the bit about the Paths of the Dead and the moment when Aragorn unfurls Arwen's standard to call the ghosts to arms. It turned out a little differently from the way I remembered it - I thought All Was Revealed in that scene, but it so happens that no one can see the emblem of Numenor in the dark. It's days later, when the dudes from Rohan look up and see the Corsair ships, when they think they're going to die glorious and very * dead * deaths, until Eomer notices that the black flag is actually set with gems that catch the sunlight and reveal the White Tree. It's a very posh moment. I remember reading it for the first time and heaving a sigh of relief, before flipping feverishly to see what was up at Mount Doom. Even on successive readings of Tolkien, when you're caught up in the thick of battle, knowing that Good Will Triumph becomes merely objective. I inevitably have to sweat out the small stuff, the moments of anguish and terror and doubt before I finally get to the eagles.

I'll be offline tomorrow, but here's wishing everyone a very happy March 25th, better known as Overthrowing Sauron Day to those from or around Middle-earth.

Two art links to celebrate the day: the art of Jenny Dolfen, a very talented artist who does fabulous fantasy art. Most of her Tolkien stuff is Silmarillion-inspired, but drool-worthy even if you haven't the foggiest about who the Feanorians are. Her GRR Martin stuff is also high and excellent (I'm currently using this one as my desktop background.)

And this is the work of London's wonder, the graffiti artist Banksy. I had the good fortune to be educated about the life and opinions of this subversive and sometimes shocking gentleman a while ago by a native, but I rediscovered his site and its remarkableness today and found it mostly, if not entirely appropriate.

Thursday, March 23, 2006

ya rly!

Slate's this-speaks-for-itself piece on the witness document of one Dan Brown.

Brown resolved to become a writer when he read Sidney Sheldon's The Doomsday Conspiracy while vacationing in Tahiti. "Up until this point," he writes, "almost all of my reading had been dictated by my schooling (primarily classics like Faulkner, Steinbeck, Dostoyevsky, Shakespeare, etc.) and I'd read almost no commercial fiction at all since the Hardy Boys as a child." The Sheldon book was a revelation, swift and merciless where Shakespeare, etc., had been slow and cumbersome. "[L]ife seemed to be trying to tell me something," Brown notes[.]

Pulp novelist tells all. Well - that IS their job.

I wrought a humourless blog upon reading his opus many months ago.

eta: And an article in today's Guardian: Today's ultimate feminists are chicks in crop-tops. In which the author, making the stunningly original argument that, y'know, some chicks just want to be sex objects! proves, yet again, that stupidity is a universal enemy.

current musix: the beautiful south - don't marry her (fuck me).

Monday, March 20, 2006

have a meme, dammit.

It's been a long day. It's not like every other post here is not about me.

# Were you named after anyone? Coming late as I did to the evolved human race, yes, I was named after many, many people. However, I named myself after a German nun for the purposes of this blog, and you can read about her here.

# Do you wish on stars? You can't see stars in Bombay. It may seem like a good reason to respond to this question with a 'no', but honestly it's just because I think it's stupid.

# When did you cry last? Recently, of PMS.

# Do you like your handwriting? Crazy about it.

# What is your favourite meat? Ew ew ew ew. (Fish, as I'm a pescatarian.)

# What is your most embarrasing CD on your shelf? Ah, I get it. A nineties meme. * smiles patronisingly and whirs through iPod* I have 'Rock Tha Party' by the Bombay Rockers, because it used to play all the time in the gym. I don't know why anyone, upon hearing the words 'There a parteh goin' on/and they're playin' your favourite song/so girl get your ass on the floor' would get up and do so. I don't.

# If you were another person, would YOU be friends with You? Only if I was, like, really cool, and took the same classes.

# Are you a daredevil? More like a plodder.

# How do you release anger? I cry. BUCKETS.

# Where is your second home? And each town looks the same to me, the movies and the factories, and every stranger's face I see, reminds me that I long to be. (This is such excellent songwriting.)

# Do you trust others easily? You can't trust others in Bombay. Also, it would be stupid.

# What was your favourite toy as a child? I read books as a child, just as I do now. Clearly I am a woman of singular passions.

# What class in school/college do you think is totally useless? LET ME HEAR NO ONE DISS ACADEMICS.

# Do you use sarcasm a lot? Would I ever?

# Have you ever been in a mosh pit? Oh, uproarious laughter and dimly-remembered innocence! But of course I have!

# What do you look for in a guy/girl? Complete devotion and a measure of pleasing unsuitability.

# Would you bungee jump? Would I eat the last gulab jamun?

# Do you untie your shoes when you take them off? I hope my mum's not reading this. I never do.

# What’s your favourite ice-cream? Roasted almond, from Gokul in Santacruz.

# What are your favourite colours? Red, of course.

# What are your least favourite things? Snakes and fascism.

# How many people do you have a crush on now? Oh, an excellent question to segue into a short description of my weekend. I watched Pride and Prejudice, but I also watched 'Casanova' < insert fervid babble re: the attractiveness of Heath Ledger > and found it a charming little diversion that I would not at all be averse to watching again during a mid-week crisis of boredom. And I read a fabulous, obscure little novel by Barbara Trapido, 'Brother of the More Famous Jack', a melancholy, hysterical story with a happy ending, which has kept me going all through today. It is full of fabulous writing and beautiful little moments and a love interest who answers my maiden fantasies trait for trait.

# Who do you miss the most right now? * quotes In My Life, a sad, sweet work of minor brilliance by the Beatles for the benefit of absent friends *

# What are you listening to right now? Road Trippin', by RHCP. This song made not the tiniest stir on the surface of my consciousness when it came out. I might have lived life out without knowing I knew of its existence until it played as I was shopping in Westside (yes Virginia, there is a Westside in Hyderabad) and I stood transfixed and came into office, pinched it off a friend and listened to it sixteen times in a row.

# If you were a crayon, what colour would you be? Oh, for fuck's sake.

# What is the weather like right now? It's bloody boiling. We're marching straight into the furnaces of the cruelest month.

# Last person you talked to on the phone? My mum.

# The “first” thing you notice about the opposite sex? That they are not, in fact, correspondent with my maiden fantasies.

# How do you like the person who sent you this? Aw, he's a darling, is Mithun.

# How are you today? Good, actually. Really, really good, thanks.

# Favourite non-alcoholic drink? Am I really so different from the average human being that every time I do a meme, I have to bring up the exceptional fact that I do not drink enough alcohol for it to count significantly in such tottings-up? Wait, don't answer that. It's orange juice.

# Favourite alcoholic drink? Rum, of course. Vodka is terrible. I'm sure Catherine the Great never drank it.

# Natural hair colour? Verily, I haue ye tresses of ravenne-blacke.

# Eye colour? Bloodshot.

# Wear contacts? Nah. Glasses are way sexier. Not that I need them yet.

# Siblings? I doubt they'd have survived this far if I ever did have any.

# Favourite months? And what profound truth would this reveal about me? Would not having one disqualify me from the great class of memeing beings forever?

# Favourite food? Maggi with cheese. And gulab jamun. And banana chips. And OJ.


# Have you ever been too shy to ask someone out? I am a bit of a shy violet. I can never bring myself to imagine the asking-out being a success in the first place. And then, what if the date is not a success? What if the relationship doesn't work out? What if he turns out to be the critical, negative influence that I intend to be? What will we name the children? Won't someone think of the children?

# Scary movies or happy endings? I quote the previous memer, dear Mithun: This is a stupid question and I'm getting bored.

# Summer or Winter? The monsoons, naturally.

# Holi or Diwali? Wow, an excuse to rub up uninvited against other people's bits versus an excuse to rid the world of its auditory senses. I'll take Vishu, thanks.

# Do you like your name? Love my name. I'm predictable.

# What book/magazine are you reading? currently flipping through P and P once again. And RAVE.

# What’s on your mouse pad? Once again, I find Mithun's words worthy of perpetration: Dont have one, If I did I'd have a mouse on it.

# What did you watch on T.V last night? Last night I went to Dosa Plaza, ate a scrumptious mysore masala D, talked with my flatmate about our lives, and thought of three short stories I want to write someday. Choke on your own uncoolness and die, meme.

# Favourite smell? A loved one's hair, freshly washed.

# Have you ever regretted breaking up with someone? Oh no. I've been lucky enough to break up with people I don't regret, and regret is hardly my share of the hardship when it comes to people who have broken up with me.

# Most tiresome thing you’ve ever experienced/done? I stay away from tiresome things unless there's a proft motive, which gives me no right to complain, I feel.

Saturday, March 18, 2006

austensible drama

Pride and Prejudice, after opening in major cities all over the world, was at last allowed into the hallowed cinemas of Hyderabad, lately voted the center of the universe, owing to all the infotech offices and Dubya’s three-hour stopover and other such signifiers of awe and wonder. I don’t doubt the jealous bastards out of Bangalore and Bombay will be leaving a huge-ass wooden horse outside the city any day now because we are so important. Moreover, Hyderabadis chose to express superior taste by not showing up for the film at all, evidently having better things to do on a Friday night than sit around and schmooze, converse or suck face in a movie hall – actually watching the film being, as most experts agree, a stupid thing to do.

Being uncool, however, I did manage to catch almost enough of it to form vague impressions of parts I liked, parts I did not like, and parts that I failed to enjoy. I fell prey to the whole identifying-with-Elizabeth thing that millions of people do the world over, and which immediately annoyed me because I will never look like Keira Knightley, no matter how dark and shapeless her fashions or how windswept her hair. It is true that Darcy fell in love with her for her brains and not her looks, but that never mattered either because I never cared much for Darcy except as an escape from her irritants for Liz.

Until this film.

A Byronic hero is lovable only up until you hope he chokes and dies on his entitlement complex. While Darcy, at least, does not fall into the mould of the reprehensible Mr. Rochester, he remains a stuffy prick, not helped along by the delicacy of Jane A’s language, or the fact that everything he does always comes down to how much money he has. (imho, imho.) I don’t think Colin Firth was the best person to explore Darcy’s vulnerabilities, because, with all due respect, Colin Firth being vulnerable makes him look like he’s swallowed three rubber ducks for breakfast instead of his customary two. On the other hand – and there is no way to say this but quickly – Matthew McFayden is simply scrummy. He looms over the landscape; he has untidy hair, and sticks out like a sore thumb. His social challenges are offset by his swinging between dignified sarcasm (the ‘wtfamidoinghere?’ moments when Caroline is hitting on him are priceless) and dignified haplessness (when Elizabeth is not hitting on him, the saucy minx.). He is totally Elizabeth’s bitch, in short.

NB: My ideas of romance are not warped. YOUR ideas of romance are warped.

What really struck me about the film, however, was the calculatedly authentic setting. The Bennet farm was immediately striking; the animals, the jostling for space, the table manners, the simple facts of living before ideas of personal space and privacy had developed overmuch. I thought the Bennet household was brilliantly taken, a study in familial chaos that is practically universal. Totally resonates for someone who’s never had a room of her own. And I was even more impressed by the interlude at Pemberley. The terrible Augustan art, the faux-Grecian statues, the background music – everything spoke brilliantly of a time and place; where Beethoven was still twenty-seven years old and the Lyrical Ballads yet to be published. I fawned over that sequence. It’s central to P and P in so many ways because it clearly ties up the idea of big house + posh gardens making a ‘material difference’, in Lizzy’s own words, to her sentiments about Darcy, and that translated so well in the film – Elizabeth’s looking at the classical nudes was a great way to depict the dawning-realisation/awakening-sexuality thing. It’s a pity it wasn’t reinforced more in the rest of the screenplay, but it would have been difficult at any rate.

[digression: Although art and architecture tend to matter far more in Henry James than in Jane Austen, it’s exciting because it reminded me of Wings of the Dove, the only film I’ve ever loved in spite of being compelled to study it; the filmmakers moving the storyline of Wings ten years ahead so that they could make a point using Klimt paintings was divinely inspired. Please do watch it if you get the chance; it’s the one with naked Helena Bonham-Carter on the back cover, because they realized how slim their chances of selling an idiosyncratic, nudity-free adaptation of James’ most difficult novel to the junta were.]

Still, turning good novels into great screenplays is hardly impossible, and it does hurt in that the filmmakers found it necessary to transform a comedy-of-manners into a farce in more than one place, including all of the scenes involving the Collinses and quite a few with Bingley, played by someone who looked vaguely like Paul Bettany and then distracted me with the thought of Paul Bettany in an Austen film. This one definitely has none of the sensitivity and the cogency of the Ang-Lee/Emma Thompson version of Sense and Sensibility, but it still far from what I’d call a failure. In fact, I think I will grab the DVD. When I get around to having a DVD player. I have a feeling it’ll look great on the small screen.

current musix: adagio, moonlight sonata – beethoven. the story goes that this piece was so beloved even during his lifetime that ludwig was prompted to grump, ‘surely I’ve written better things.’ wonder if jane austen ever felt that way about p and p.

p.s. I forgot to add, there is Judi Dench! Who is, well, Judi-Dench-er than ever before.

Wednesday, March 15, 2006


+ events, persons or poetry reminiscent of renaissance tragedy.

+ all re-runs of hollywood mega-busters such as ben-hur or the BITCHMAKER (elsewhere known as 'gladiator'). for good measure, do not go anywhere near 'star wars' or other works of art directly impacted by gibbons' 'rise and fall of the roman empire'.

+ races.

+ best friends.

+ lean and hungry looks.

+ big crowded public places, esp. if in pristine white robes.

+ the senate.

happy ides of march. If you ignore any of these, think of roswitha when you are STABBED. to DEATH.

(caps are to me what exclamation marks are to samuel l. jackson, i discern.)

Monday, March 13, 2006

mocking the beautiful; other flotsam.

Being exempted from common human compassion on Mondays, I feel the need to perpetuate the following link: David Beckham awed by six-year-old son's math. homework.

It's totally done differently to what I was teached when I was at school, and you know I was like 'Oh my God, I can't do this'."

Oh, wait. He plays football too, dunnee? Well, never mind, to paraphrase Leonard Cohen. We are ugly, but the two times table is not beyond us.

The weekend was engaged in the pursuit of beautiful artistes, all of them British and spiffing, but lazy. I refer of course to luminous prodigy and my new role model Zadie Smith, who is clever but clearly not too stressed by the need to transcend brilliance, make us think radically new things, fulfil promise, etc. This is sad as she is pactically aflame with potential. (But unlike the Romantics, I do happen to believe there are worse things in the world than unfulfilled potential.)

Additionally, I have joined the ranks of those who have seen a little production called "Love Actually" (or loveactually per the opening credits), which is almost as full of respectable and sexy thespians as the bloody Harry Potter franchise. Of course, Harry Potter does not contain Rowan Atkinson, but in its favour, Liam Neeson is an ultimately poor if charming sub for Ralphiemort.

Hugh Grant, the Prime Minister of Britain, making disco w/ self, as his govt. has never sent people to die in needless wars or lied to the electorate.

Love Actually, quite like Harry Potter, come to think of it, is a shameless bid to satisfy the world's Anglophilia, in itself a not-blemishless affection given colonial past, carb-rich stodgy food, etc. Like Harry Potter, it satisfies the belief of the Americanised global citizen that s/he is a misunderstood, unique and quirky individual who would indulge in smoking and swearing and free love and dry wit, given half a chance, (alright, so maybe not entirely Harry Potter) and further allows for the possibility of such a society actually existing. I, of course, am a firm believer in this fantasy and will be taking a holiday to the British Isles as soon as socioeconomically feasible.

I would say more about the further similarity of HP and LA in that they consistently marginalise or ignore love-actuallys that exist in the form of interracial and LGBT relationships, but it would kill the mood. Besides, everyone knows that Draco Malfoy and Harry Potter are secretly obsessed with each other.

Lastly, I effectively destroyed any delusion I entertained of intellectual cred when I fell about weeping listening to the Beatles at one a.m. last night, but I'm not stressed about that either. It's a visceral thing. If Zadie can be cool, I can be cool.

Tuesday, March 07, 2006

on pondering the disdavantages of no man being an island.

Being very far removed from the what’s-what of the Indian blogosphere, I had to be alerted by Aishwarya of the admirable Blank Noise project, which has made March 7th a ‘Blog Against Sexual Harassment/Eve-Teasing Day,’ a project I endorse as heartily as tomorrow’s ‘Blog Against Sexism’ initiative. I encourage passersby to spread the word, especially the male of the species that come here because they are super-intelligent, enlightened friends of mine who would never ordinarily count themselves as members of that panting, sweaty, narrow-minded mass of patriarchy that treats women as less than human beings. Stand up and be counted as protesters against the soul-destroying illogic of sexism and gender oppression.

Be counted if the reasonableness of having a day for women without giving them a holiday from being the victims of systemic abuse, open as ever to the neglect, discrimination and violence they face on the other three hundred and sixty four days of the year eludes you. No one has been ludicrous enough to suggest celebrating days of awareness for discriminated-against races, or classes, or castes, or even sexual orientations. There seems to be no other point to celebrating Women’s Day other than allowing a lot of powder-puff enthusiasts to gather around and exclaim over the very specialness and fragility and the powerful emotional appeal of women, much like diamond jewellery. Be counted if you think that ‘charm’ and ‘mystery’ are deeply flawed reasons to build lasting social ties.

Blogging about eve-teasing is less simple. One does not know if one’s own run-in with prurient lechers in the past merits the moral and emotional consideration of women who have been through so much more; one has lived a relatively charmed life in the city of Mumbai which, while not perfect, has happily proven that perfection is not synonymous with goodness; one’s powers of expression cannot do justice to the helplessness and rage and humiliation that never disappear after the first time a man treats one’s body like public property.

It is worth running with the idea of public property as analogous to the carelessness with which people treat things that are not expressly and solely their own. Perhaps it has something to do with the general tolerance of men being able to piss in public. They’ll do it against someone else’s wall; they’ll spit paan and scratch themselves in broad daylight, and all of this is observed behaviour only with regard to the possessions of others. It’s almost as though the long-suffered repression of women in society has balanced out with an almost utter lack of impulse control training in men. Coupled with an ingrained belief in their supreme lordship over the universe that is socially and legally sanctioned, for unknown reasons, the result is a state of affairs in which no woman - no woman at all - will ever be able to answer the question, ‘Have you been sexually harassed?’ with a negative. Even public structures have a better track record against abuse. It is also worth noting that men of an economic class that generally has recourse to private bathrooms and non-spittable drugs are far from innocent of being participants in this systemic oppression.

It takes a lot of maternal teaching and reinforcement, as it did with me, to learn to “just ignore” abusers. Theoretically, ignoring is a sound idea – deprive them of attention or acknowledgement, and sooner or later even the privileged sex should get the message that they are not all that special. This, at least in my social class, is the general consensus on how to deal with sexual harassment. There has been such widespread use of the silent accusation tool that it, had it actually been effective, would have shamed a lot of scumbags into virtue. At best, the errant abuser who isn’t-quite-a-rapist-but-really-just-one-of-the-boys takes the silence as a sign that he has well and truly frightened his victim and lays off, not wanting to take things further. Evidence forces us to accept that “ignoring” is a practical disaster as a defence tactic.

Is violence the answer? It is a knee-jerk response and, to tweak the nose yet again of all the supporters of an evil new Bollywood blockbuster that shall not be named here, it is undeniably a false and crude solution. Hitting a man who doesn’t expect it is a bit like – well, groping a woman who doesn’t expect it. I have been leered at, touched, talked to and stared at so much that no amount of shouting feels like it will be enough. Who do I talk to? My father and protector? My friends, who cover for me in train compartments and drop me home on late nights? I don’t know how to talk to strange men, having learned only to ignore them. Does flippancy work? Sarcasm? A casual swipe at the head with a magic sword? But what sort of battle are we at? Not a very meaningful one unless both parties fight. And a completely pointless one, may I add, unless women win.

(My solution to the combination of a visceral fear of sexual abuse and a lifetime’s conditioning to ignore is a pre-emptive ‘elbows-out’ strategy that involves a poke in the stomach to anyone who gets too close. It doesn’t teach anyone a lesson, but it works for me. As for getting anyone to listen, learn and desist from using their paws on anyone but themselves, I’m quite willing to shout at men when my mother is not around. It’s very soothing to the mind, and surely at least a little more effective than the ignoring strategy. There’s got to be some dogs out there that’ll run off when the hydrant talks back).

Read for edification the posts of Annie and Aishwarya. See also a related post by Twisty that may be one of my favourite ever pieces of writing. In Sunday's Guardian, a slightly obvious but compellingly statistics-filled look at rape as a consequence of war.

Finally, I would like to dedicate this, if she will accept it, to Kate, for successfully overcoming the discreet charm of the bourgeoisie, and shouting back.

Monday, March 06, 2006

stumbling the obfuscation unremarkable.

I fail to comprehend how any god began work on the universe on a Monday. Perhaps the Almighty intended to begin the Friday before last, got lost in a good book and the pleasures of rum and milk chocolate along the way, before they woke up at eleven in the morning with five days to go before the project deadline, going "shit, shit, I'll never get this done!" (Going by their general force of habit in the scriptures, however, said A. could to discerned as having meant for it to happen like this all along.) Building upon the hypothesis that humans are created in his image et cetera I am forced to conclude that the divine vision is a truly Orwellian thing. Never have I felt more like an unperson than on Mondays. Especially this Monday. It's been the kind of day when you want to admire citizens who can work up the emotional energy to withstand a Two Minutes' Hate.

Perhaps none of this might have happened had it not been for a happier weekend than usual, during which I got a fair amount of writing done, spoke to Emily and Lindsey both, and began to think that I might not be a complete creative failure in spite of the disaster that was the previous week. There was shopping, there was food. There was Raymond Chandler, who I haven't read before because I dislike crime fiction, but the discovery of whom has been as satisfying as that of the aforementioned Plushenko.

She took the photo out and stood looking at it, just inside the door. 'She has a beautiful little body, hasn't she?'
She leaned a little towards me. 'You ought to see mine,' she said gravely.
'Can it be arranged?'
She laughed suddenly and sharply and went half-way through the door, then turned her head to say coolly: 'You're as cold-blooded a beast as I ever met, Marlowe. Or can I call you Phil?'
'You can call me Vivian.'
'Thanks, Mrs Regan.'
'Oh, go to hell, Marlowe.' She went on out and didn't look back.

The trouble began at two this morning, when I woke from what seemed like hours of persistent B-horror film nightmares involving a groping skeleton, a woman whose house rested on her toes, wilfully inattentive landlords who collected rent from tenants misusing the premises, and generally oppressive anti-feminist behaviour all around. I struggled out of sleep, found I was too terrfied to close my eyes again, and ended up reading Zadie Smith to lull my unconscious back into oblivion. It might have been the cauliflower manchurian for dinner, or maybe an instinctive disinterest in crime fiction is a survival mechanism after all.

It might have been a passing Romantic mood had I not come in to work bright and early and found that my system was missing from its usual place. Not shifted or disconnected, but vanished as a Homeric heroine. We won't speak of that. Someday I might have the courage to tell my story to the suffering dispossessed who live from fix to fix, dragging themselves through the negro streets at dawn* and so on, but today is not that day.

I don't remember much of what resembled the passage of time after lunch. There were brown lunch trays, little compartmentalised units of food receptacles that variously recalled The Shawshank Redmption, Small Wonder and a long journey in a Southern Railways train. I was dehumanised.

And that is all, really.

P.S. It seems stupid to care that a film I haven't even seen (although I have read the story and I do love Ang Lee and I am embarassingly enamoured of Heath Ledger) should have lost out on a pretentious award, but Brokeback Mountain not winning much at the Oscars is just a sign that Mondays do the world no good and should be abolished if humanity is to be protected from itself.


* This is from Allen Ginsberg's Howl and not the dregs of any warped social sense I may be said to possess, in case someone decides to flaunt their ignorance and disgrace the principles of democratic expression in the comments again.

eta: It is now Tuesday morning and I am feeling much better. Fruit breakfast with OJ has been good, and I've started work, and I'm not about to drop off to sleep. However, it will be ten a.m. soon, and then I will need all the help I can get.