My life and rants

There’s a lot of talk of knowing your ‘roots’ and having a cultural identity and so on and so forth. And for a while (proImagebably even now) I felt quite inadequate because I didn’t have one culture that I was a part of. Despite “belonging” to Kerala…I’ve spent the least amount of time there, and my malayalam is broken and colloquial, learnt from the people in a Northern Kerala village, that seems to have, in its own speech, adopted a mix of Tamil, Tulu and some form of crass Malayalam that my other relatives despise and my friends laugh at. 

But you know what I just realized (well, not just realized, but realized just before the realization I just had) was that I love it. Not my Malayalam. Not that I don’t love the way I speak Malayalam. I love how I don’t really ‘belong’ anywhere at all. I love that I can say “ki naekka tui!” (Bengali; roughly translates to “what a drama-queen you are”) Imagein the same breath as “manga toli!” (Malayalam; literally translates to “skin of mango” meaning something like “bullshit”….don’t look at me! * shrug *). I love how I can reminisce fondly about the Marina Beach in Chennai with as much nostalgia as I can miss the cleanliness of Chandigarh. And yeah, of course sometimes I envy people when they sit in a group, all from one place, and talk about the movies they watched when they were growing up or use words that I couldn’t understand the meaning of. But I wouldn’t give up this confused mishmash of cultural identities that I have for anything!

There’s always a little more toothpaste in the tube

I was reading Slavoj Zizek the other day, and he was talking about how the 2008 meltdown is going to be the death of capitalism blah blah. But I just realized…capitalism is going down alright but it’s not the meltdown, it’s IPR. I mean, think about it, all this while, everything was going hunky-dory yeah? Computers, TV, tractors what-not what-not and everyone was really happy and no one (at least no one that matters”) was thinking about what we were losing out on. But with IP it’s different see? cuz now they’re privatizing our knowledge….basically our thoughts…all our thoughts…and then saying that we can’t have access to our own knowledge. And that really don’t fly. It just can’t work. The biggies got too greedy and they haven’t got that yet. So now everyone’s mad at them. Kinda like that boy who wanted too many cookies.

I’d follow you to the ends of the earth, except that they don’t exist

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I dare say that cow up there’s got the right idea.

About three years ago, something momentous happened in my life. I fell in love with a vegetarian. And I’m not talking meat-is-impure Brahmin vegetarian, who’ll finish off a plate of beef in private and preach vegetarianism to others or even the ewww-I-can’t-stand-the-smell sort of vegetarian. I’m talking hardcore, taking-life-is-a-horrible-thing-to-do vegetarian. Now, I’ve been brought up in a Malayalee Catholic family….which is just a euphemism for a mindbogglingly-alcoholic, eat-your-own-mother-if-she’s-roasted-well sort of a family. So you see my fix. On the one hand, there were principles and values and goodness, and on the other, well everything else. But there was a third factor…she was beautiful!

Don’t let anyone fool you into believing that you follow your principles for your own sake. Oh no! You follow your principles because you’re trying really really hard to make a good impression on that girl you’re infatuated with. Don’t get me wrong….I am completely in support of vegetarianism….I think that killing animals (or even plants for that matter, but one’s got to eat something) is a cruel and horrible thing to do, and I’ve thought that since before I learnt to behead my barbie dolls. But to actually stop eating meat, to look at mouthwatering fried fish and chicken grilled to perfection and see dead animals, or to see dead animals but not ignore their deadness, was asking a little too much of me and my ability to follow my principles. So good old attraction really helped fire up my imagination some. I was vegetarian for two whole years.

But as they say, “Out of sight, out of mind”. So with my infatuation in remission, it became harder and harder for my imagination to turn beef into a cow bleeding to death or to see crabs drowning in hot water. Sure enough, I went back to my roots, so to speak.

People who’ve always been vegetarians, or who turned vegetarians at a much younger age than me, have it easy. Their brain doesn’t need to take that monumental leap from delicious food to coldblooded murder. I mean think about it, really think about it, isn’t it possible that the only reason humans don’t eat each other (nowadays) is because we’ve been conditioned not to? To firstly think about non-vegetarian food in terms of killing of animals, when your entire life has been conditioned otherwise, is in itself a great step. A challenge to everything you’ve come to accept. So while vegetarians all over the world condemn you for actually “not caring enough” to put your principles into practice, I want to lend you my empathy and praise. If your guilt gets too much, remember that everybody has a lot of principles that they don’t have the courage, the willpower or the opportunity to practice, and this doesn’t necessarily insincerize your belief system. And in the meantime, find yourself a vegetarian to fall in love with!

02.00 am

I love the rains. I love seeing the clouds gather and the sky darken. I love watching the wind carry the water in sprays everywhere and screaming and jumping back when a particularly powerful spray threatens to drench us as we stand on the balcony. I love the sound of the fury of the rain. I love how after it stops, and the sky clears, everything looks new….the trees are greener than before, the mud is a deep beautiful brown and even that ugly pink house across the valley that blotches your view every time looks forgivable. I love standing with a steaming cup of tea and watching spare droplets fall from the sill. I love getting drenched in the rain, and how complete strangers will snuggle under the same umbrella as they run to the shelter of that tiny tea shop and create a lifelong friendship in an instant. I love how when you’re in a train crossing a bridge, you hear the sound of the river over the sound of the trains clattering on the tack. I love the awesomeness of the rain, and the romance.

Or rather, I loved these things. Rains are rarely magnificent anymore. With huge concrete buildings everywhere, that just seem to turn even more depressing gray than usual when it rains, potholes on the road, squishing mud everywhere and the only “tea stalls” being the newly opened Costa on your street, rains aren’t half as much fun as they used to be. Now they’re just a mad rush to save electronics and protect those new shoes you just paid a fortune for, and should anyone dare offer you their umbrella, you’d probably spend the rest of the day whatsapping everyone about “that creep!”.

Which is why, when today I stared out the balcony at what is perhaps the 10000th rain of the season, and remembered that I have to leave all this wonderfulness behind and go back into the city, I was taken over by the beauty of that rain, and stared as if I’d never seen a rain like that before. As I haven’t.