Monday, December 31, 2007

The obligatory New Year post where I choose to rant, yet again.

I do not know what it is, but words such as the "Festive season", "Festive cheer", "Bonanza", "Dhamaka", "Ho! Ho! Ho!", "The Christmas spirit" and the like give me a bad skin reaction. Like, I have to itch and scratch myself all over, like I have Henoch-Schonlein purpura (or something as dreadful sounding), like I have to throw things at you, ranging from truck-driver profanities to my now old mobile phone. I mean, what do you do when random people from your past you wish had forgotten you, write in inanities like "Merry Christmas! May Mother Mary and Her Immaculately Conceived child always be with you"; inanities I say, because the said person thinks Christmas is "kewl"; inanities I say, because said person conveniently chose to be oblivious to Gowri-Ganesha, Deepawali, Yugaadi; inanities I say, because said person's last name is Bhyre Gowda with family based in Honagondanahalli.
Also, will people ever stop saying, "What plans for new year's?" Since when did sitting in front of television all night watching Bollywood Star Magical Nite begin to be lame and not sound like a plan? These fancy pubs with "hip-hop music, yo maan" may eat shit.
This "Holiday Season" depresses me, I tell you. Contrived camaraderie it breeds.

Among other things, I recently saw two really ugly, really black crows making out. Just when I thought I had seen it all, the next day I chanced upon two lizards making out. Gah, what is this conspiracy to spite me, it makes me wonder. That too, by making out.

So you see, much has changed over this past year.
My idea of AARGH! has shifted from Michael Jackson to lizards making out.
I actually know what the fuck Tetralogy of Fallot is all about.
My chin has acquired a shapely scar.
My parents think buying a dog would have been a better investment.
Et cetera.

But you see, much isn't going to change over this next year. Which is what makes every Happy New Year such an abused oxymoron. I was hideous last new year, and going by the looks of it, much isn't going to change over this weekend. Here's why there is going to be nothing new about this next year. (Don't even get me started on "happy")

*Loved ones will continue to make wrong choices.

Seriously, Amma, nine Kannada serials a day is NOT healthy. Not even if one of them happens to have Anant Nag. And certainly not when one serial has a character that has had amnesia THREE times. And for the last time, you can't call someone pregnant by checking their tongue or feeling their pulse, and dear lord, Brain Transplants are NOT the answer to every loose end. They are not the answer to anything.

*Hutch will continue to be a bitch.

And insist on sending me messages of this nature. Sung to tune -

Ooh! Aah! Let the music play,
Express what you want to say,
Make your loved one happy and gay,
Dial 123815, dedicate a song to make someone's day,
What say?

Where do I even start about this one? What are they on, these people at Hutch? Not even Maarimuttu Special Country Toddy. That will knock you flat, but not make your IQ -10.

*That Thing Pink will continue to be That Thing Pink.

That Thing Karan Johar, that one. It will continue to make statements like "Film Fraternity", "In the film fraternity, I am the the Devil that wears Prada occasionally", "Pink is the new black. Film fraternity", "Film fraternity, King Khan is the greatest darling, in the film fraternity", "Film fraternity". We get it, That Thing Pink. No fraternity accepted you; no, not even one called Gamma Alpha Upsilon. (Let's not even get to the sororities.) And now, you have forced yourself into a fraternity, and CANNOT hide your glee. We Get It.
That Thing Pink will also continue to set new levels of atrocity by making another film, with That Other Thing Pink that has the mental faculty to carry off about one and a half emotions.

*The Times of India will continue to be my mother's favored grease paper.

Hugh Grant arrested for hitting lensman with a can of baked beans makes it to the year's roundup. Shakira raises temperature in Mumbai, Yuvraj-Deepika-Dhoni love affair gives television enough grist for days on end, Salman Rushdie splits with Padma Lakshmi and hooks up with Star Wars' Carrie Fisher, are some of the other things that altered the course of our lives over the past year.
Are these guys for real or what? Then of course, Bangalore Times will continue to catch us off guard every so often with its witty captions, not to mention Rohit Barker's opinion about everything from armpit hair to the Human Genome Project; from the best ways to comb your dog's hair to the implications of the latest G8 summit on third world countries.

*Chetan Bhagat will continue to write and (the horror, the horror) be read.

He will finish writing his third book, which will be about Who Gives A Fuck, and will term these three books as The Urban Indian Trilogy. Kewl dewds with streaked hair, and kewl chicks with embroidered jeans will buy original copies from Landmark, take over a week to plow through it, and later partake in intellectual conversation over their NSeries phones with other kewl peeps urging them to -
"2 reed it....itz v kewl. chtn bhgt ma favvvv ryter... :) :) :)!!!!!"
"u reed 22222222 (read, tooooooo) much buks ya...!!!
"ya ya, i m a bookie lolzzz!!!..."
"i herd sydney shelda also iz v gud ryter??????..."
"ya ya, hez ma favvv forin ryter....but ind onleee chtn bhgt. ma favvv, sply hiz l8est!!!!!!"
"ohhh vot itz abt????? :) :)"
"u no, abt peeps n all, itz v v kewl. chtn bhgt ma favvvv ryter... :) :) :)!!!!!"
"k..... :) :) :) !!!!!"
":) :) :) !!!"

They will also of course gang up and go watch the films based on his literary masterpieces, but would be visibly perturbed.
"i dint lyk movie ya..... 1 nyt @ cal centr was suchhhhh a nys buk..... films nevah do justis 2 buks :( :( :( :( !!!!!!!"
"k.... :( :( :( :( itz ok ya"
":) :) :) :)"
(Don't ask me why, but smileys have to come even here)

GAH is an appropriate term.

*Deve Gowda will continue to be a bastard.

Can you frikkin believe our misfortune? What we would give to have this lump of lard outsourced to Pakistan and have it blown up to smithereens. Poor Benazir, she was kinda cute even. And was Ivy League and Oxford educated. Lump of Lard on the other hand, went to some godforsaken lightning struck tabela on the outskirts of Holenarsipura.
As if putting us Kannadigas to inconceivable shame during his time as Prime Minister was not enough (the man actually fell asleep and rested his head on the shoulder of the Chief Justice of India, and drooled. Now, if it was on that wretched D Raja of the CPI-M, I'd give full marks to LoL, but this is the CJI, darnit), he goes ahead and behaves like an orangutan in heat on Crack. Can you believe the kind of foreign investment the state has lost ever since the bastard decided to act up and show that he was in fact menopausal? The last I heard, it was upwards of 50,000 crore rupees.
I hope, I fervently hope some Botulinum toxin makes its way into his Ragi Muddes somehow.

*Indian News Media will continue to be Ekta Kapoor's playground.

Karan Thapar. I do not like him. What is the need to clench his teeth for everything? And to talk in that argh-grates-my-nerves-in-ways-I-did-not-think-possible accent?
"Are you sure Mr. Amar Singh that your cat pooped this morning?"
"Yes, you can ask Adaraneeya Amitabh Bhai and Poojya Jaya Bhabhi that"
"Are you sure Mr. Amar Singh that your cat pooped this morning, and not last night?"
"Erm, erm"
(Yes, I put him in the spot! Look at my journalistic skills. Let me rub my hands in glee and clench my teeth a lot more. Karan Johar, are you watching? I do ham well, don't I? Come on, let's make out, you and I. Karan and Karan, namesakes on the run)
"So, it is true. There is conflicting evidence. You've been proven guilty in flagrante delicto. Come on, hand over your passport and leave the country."
"No no, my dog pooped last night, my cat pooped this morning. I am sure of this. You can ask Adaraneeya Anil Bhai and Poojya Teena Bhabhi this"
"Oh come come, Mr. Singh. You can't get away on a mere technicality; cat-dog, potayto-potaato"

Sagarika Ghose will make me want to pluck my ears out and drill holes into my cochleas. That woman CANNOT talk. Vidya Shankar Aiyar and his minions across news channels with their contrived dramatics will continue to irritate me. Sreenivasan Jain with his absence seizures will continue to be eluded by doctors than can prescribe him Valproate. Vikram Chandra will incoherently continue with The Big Fight and ruin what was once my favorite hour of the week.

Strangely enough, the only faces I can still handle are Barkha Dutt, Rajdeep Sardesai and Shireen Bhan.
Barkha, despite her over the top antics and her I-have-to-stop-you-we-HAVE-to-go-into-a-break ways is the only one that can still put a talk show together as effectively. Hers were the best reports from Pakistan, and I saw all the other reports too, given how I have chosen to be the Official Mourner of Ms. Bhutto. (What, she keeps me away from books anyway).
Rajdeep, of course was the reason why I considered Journalism after Plus Two. The man is so genuinely passionate about politics that he doesn't mind spitting into the cameras when he is "caught in the moment".

And Star News? Let's not go there, before I start spitting into the monitor.

*Spunky Monkey will continue to be Spunky Monkey.

And all the people in his head will continue to stare in disbelief when they can actually hear him enunciate "Pelvic Inflammatory Disease is a disease where there is inflammation of the pelvis. It is an inflammatory disease involving the pelvis and there may be a lot of inflammation. Mainly of the pelvis."
Oh dang.

There you are. Eight things that will defy change even in 2008.
All these old things will continue into the next year too, wretch all our happiness, make us want to tear hair and do a Howard Beale (
"I'm as mad as Hell, and I'm not going to take this anymore!"), and make me write long rant posts such as this one.

All this notwithstanding, for people who still think reaching a new January is enough reason to feel all woohoo!, Happy New Year.
And for those of us waiting for the Revolution and not knowing what/when the fuck that is going to be, here's to another twelve months of being pissed off about everything around us.

And I can already here firecrackers around me.
Oh boy.

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

A Rhapsody Not So Bohemian

So, I am done with college.
Exams remain; they, of course, come with the tedious inevitability of an unloved season.
But I am done with college-college.

No more "Amma, wake me up at 11:00 tomorrow, I have to go mark attendance in Pediatrics OPD, else I'm doing multiple re-postings", no sire, no more of that.
No more "Look chumps, I am not presenting another testicular swelling, I have had it with the balls; now give me breast".
No more "Erm, ma'am, I was in the OPD showing my one year old cousin, down with Chronic Wasting Disease to the Pediatrician, and had to miss the tutorial; could you please mark me present?" to the office lady, knowing with a fair amount of certainty that my cousin is neither a wapiti nor a moose, and that the kid is not called Spunky Monkey With A TV Remote In Hand.
No more "Alright, to save yourself some face, spell 'muscle' for me" by a senior consultant exasperated by the Monkey's ineptitude, despite which Monkey attempted attitude by venturing an M-U-S-S-E-L.
No more "Fuck, what WAS that paper? We had Medicine only no?"
(Okay, may be there is scope for that last one yet. Dreadfully enough. )
But, no more of the others.

And guess what? Despite my better senses hollering "What is UP with you man?", the one dominant voice in my head insists that I will miss it all.
And quite a lot.

Why, it seems like yesterday when I first came face to face with the rest of my class and wondered, "Jeez, am I going to be stuck with this cross-section of village idiots from across the country for four and a half years! This was NOT what I had thought of when I wrote the prize winning essay What I Want To Be When I Grow Up And Why, back in 6th standard. Oh hell, what of my plans to sip cognac with Genetics Professor In Tweed Jacket in his study with the Mahogany table, discussing why exactly Watson and Crick were chumps". Which was just when the student body President welcomed us with "Doctors are like candles", which was also when I thought there was hope to the place yet. Surreal similes always get me interested.

September 15, 2003. That's when it all began.

Is this the real life
Is this just fantasy?

I was in a beige T-shirt, and was among the shortest people there. Faced with a population that represented a mind-boggling array of demography, I think I shut up. More so because the room gave off an aura of expectation and apprehension so dense, that in my head it plays out even today as a climactic scene of a Hitchcock film. This, given the trouble we had undergone to finally walk the "hallowed portals"(my non-existent ass) of the "premier institution"(my non-existent ass reprisal).
In a strange set of circumstances, there was a sense of culmination to a process that hadn't even begun; there was a sense of alienation even before we could call the place our own; there were one too many complex issues to deal with and far too little gray matter to comprehend the gravity of it all, most importantly the import of the countenances of our thoroughly disgruntled but enigmatic hosts, the college seniors.
To half of us, Genesis was just a band, and a rosary was what a child with Rickets had; we'd call you mad if you said somebody walked on water and Immaculate Conception, to us, was merely a well thought out idea. (All this would change, of course.)
Dickens would be proud of the fin de siecle spectacle: it was the best of times and the worst of times.
[People who do not know me personally, please ignore the above paragraph. Mere verbiage it is; whereas the few people here who do know me personally (unfortunately; where went my anonymity clout), those were bad times no? Perfect dhobi-ghat kuttas we had become.]

Caught in a landslide

No escape from reality

First year was wonderful. The wide eyed surprised look at most things medical college persisted for a good 6 months or more. (Wow, white coats. Too muuuch). We knew we had chosen a different way of life, when on the very second day of college, we were taken into a big, bright sunny room. So? So, it smelled real strong. So? So, it smelled SO strong and bad that I knew that's what would kill me. So? So, there were dead bodies.

Thunderbolt and lightning - very very frightening

The Anatomy Dissection Hall. The first thing they make us do is a circum-ambulation (you know like a pradakshina/phera) around the dead bodies. I get that, you know like, the dead teaching us and how we should forever be grateful and all that. But it kinda creeps you out when you realize that there is a cadaver with an erection!
Which is when, it happens yet again.

Thunderbolt and lightning - very very frightening

We were all assigned cadavers. Ten people to learn off one cadaver. A scrawny Professor sitting in the center of the hall yelled, "Waat aar you wayting faar I say, cumaan expose the Pectoralis Major".
Groups of ten around their respective cadavers, at least three feet away from the table. Every pair of eyes scanned the nine other pairs, hoping for that one pair which looked ready to hack into another human being.
One of us ventured, "How about we read through the manual once?", knowing fully well that that should kill an hour at least. "Ah, but of course", the rest chorused. We took turns reading and thus began our preliminary understanding of each other. Oh, so this is what coconut oil and banana chips sound like. Hiss S'ss are lisssped. Ah, yankee twang, eh!

"Wopen Cunninghaam Manual, expose Pectoralis I say, waat you are wayting faar? Yuvar gryaandmother won't come to help okay? Dissect dissect".

Mama, life had just began
But now I've gone and thrown it all away.

But it wasn't hard. Perhaps the most fun we have had throughout college. Bonding over a corpse wouldn't be much fun, you'd think. Wrong you are. Friendships were formed, piques discovered, likes and dislikes unraveled, love blossomed, DC teams formed, DC teams fought over Deep Impact and Armageddon, copycat associations sprung up, all under the watchful eyes (err, make that presence. We had gouged the eyes out) of the man who was so sweet he didn't mind even being hacked into.

But, back home on the first day of dissection, amma made me stop at the door.

"HeNa muTTidya?"
(Did you touch dead body?)


"HeNa muTTidya, ilva?"
(You touched dead body, or not?)

"Of course Ma, I have to"

"Saaku tuss-puss English-u. Aa college-ge haakbaardittu ree. NODtiri, enneraD vaarakke Davidd-o, Josupph-o, Fernandes-o aag barthaane, udda koodl biTTkonDu, raaku-paaku andkonDu. Naav naav paDkonDbandiddu. Aa Kalaasipalya college-g hOgakk enaagitto? Bekalla shoki. Neenu, Enoo muTTkobEDa, straight bathroom-g hOgu. Taley-g snaana maaDi devrig mooru namaskaara haaku. NAMM DEVRIGE!"
(Oh, enough with your flashy English display. Ree, I told you we should NOT have put him in that college. Just you see, in two weeks, he'll be David or Joseph or Fernandes with hippy hair and a penchant for Rock-Pock music. What to do, our share of fruit from past lives. Why could he not go to that Kalaasipalyam college, like good Brahmin boys do? No no, he wants razzmatazz, of course. YOU, touch nothing, go straight to the bathroom. Take head-bath, and do namaskaara to God. OUR GOD!)

"Maa, you know I missed the Kalaasipalyam college by a whisker (okay, may be a little more than that; a twine thread, let's say). And I am very tired right now. Can we skip my cleansing issues?"

"Matte English-u! HaaLaag hOgu, aadre snaana maaD haaLaag hOgu"
(Oh that wretched English yet again! You go rot where you want, but rot after bathing)

She grew considerably calmer over the months that ensued, however. Dead bodies got to be routine with her, as they did with me. She grew communally tolerant too, I am assuming. Given how she would, without flinching, ask me, "What did you chop today, David?"
Like that wistful saying goes, "Dina saayorge aLoru yaaru?" (Who will cry for the daily-dying?)

The chopping itself was SO much fun. When we spliced the heart open, in my true Bollywood persuasion, I rattled off some twenty five Dil type songs. Wrenching the brain out was some tough carpentry. Discovering that the cadaver had no Sciatic Nerve was fun, only to rediscover it (Waat I say, thickest nerve of the baady you cut aaf, und say there ees no Scaiatic?).
Physiology and Biochemistry were a blur save an enterprising young chap egging thirty hesitant students (with yellow conical flasks in hand and rooted to their spots in the lab) to "Go discharge the sample. After all, Urine Is Like The Fountain Of Life".
Gee whiz, what is with similes and this place anyway?
(Yes, we tested our own urine samples, and mine had no sugar/ketones/bile salts/protein. Yay me!)

Second and Third years passed soon after without my consciously registering the change in the numbers on the calendar. Fests all over South India, major victories in some, "Fuck you, bastard" on stage many times over, on realizing I had potato sacks for teammates; one blind, and the other, well, a big potato sack. Academically, only two things stand out.

A. Watching post-mortems:
Do Not Attempt It. Perhaps the most macabre thing ever. I mean, they RIP guts out. Even metaphorically that sounds dreadful. And I watched eleven! of them, oblivious then to the power of proxy. Eleven painful sessions of punishing a dead individual. Farrokh Bulsara, if he had seen one, would go -

I don't want to die
I sometimes wish I'd never been born at all.

Here's the thing, I have told this to a couple dear friends, and you my readers are going to know of it too: If I die, do not let them do a post-mortem on me. Even if my death was caused by angry communal cricketers, or I looked a dangerous shade of distemper green when I died.

B. The ENT viva-voce:
I do not remember much of it, except I think it went something like -

Bismillah, we will not let you go.
Let Me Go!
We will not let you go.
Let Me Go!
We will not let you go.
Let Me Go!

Final year, in all its ugliness was reached.

And I was none the wiser. But, with an unsettling certainty that it has all come to an end. The Farewell Dinner is pretty much the last nail on the coffin.

Medicine, unlike other courses, does not have a specific Last Day Together. Internship scatters us across the breadth of the hospital, and one never gets to meet friends or "hang out" as much as before, what with grueling 36 hour shifts and having to moonlight as everything from wardboy to aide to scum of the pond to things beneath the scum of the pond. Which is probably why there is already a sense of finality to everybody's tone. Our last film together no?, one would say. Ooh, the last birthday treat, another goes. (We are not dying, I say.) But, it is inescapable.
Four and a half years of being together, and then the prospect of not being together does a little more than twist your sobriety, I assume.
Some people are already talking engagement and marriage! Suddenly, you realize the gravity of being 21+. This is what they mean by adulthood, it dawns upon you. Having to stand at a crossroads and deciding by yourself and for yourself, which road it is that you want to take.
Only, this isn't to get the tastiest Golgappa for the cheapest money.

Too late, my time has come
Sends shivers down my spine.

Talk invariably also turns to 25th year reunion and who would be doing what, and where, and when? (10:00 AM on September 15, 2028, the yearbook insists)

A would be a Pediatrician, lending Mr. Pinkwhistle and Mallory Towers to eager kids, and impressing upon them the force that is Dhoom 2 and Hrithik Roshan's pelvis.

B and C would be married, with B still trying a weary hand at the electric guitar and telling his kid why exactly Iron Maiden is the greatest thing that happened to mankind.

D would open a hospital called Exclusively Exotic Diagnoses and deal only with Gerstmann-Straussler-Scheinker, Kocher-Debre-Semelaigne, Lawrence-Moon-Biedl and such other diseases, and be content provider for House, Season 28.

E would be in the North-East, dealing with hypertension, coronary artery disease, diabetes; all in himself.

F would be completely bald. And precious else. (Perhaps out; who knows?)

G would be either frikkin fantastic (being the editor of the International Journal of Oncology) or running a clinic 20 x 10.

H would get married, fly to the Gulf, make children, and go into hysterical fits over unclean cutlery.

...and I?

I am easy come, easy go.

Nothing really matters,
Anyone can see.
Nothing really matters,
Nothing really matters to me.

Any way the wind blows...

P.S.: Queen who? Bohemian Rhapsody what?

P.P.S.: People who know who I am, could you please please not tell other people about who I am? I will give you 5 stars. In gold color pen, no less.

P.P.P.S.: It's been more than a month since I posted, I know. Exams were happening. Anyone missed me? Humor me, no? You did not? Dang.