Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Humping Her Highness

I am Thomas Cromwell, Ist Earl of Essex- advisor to that oversexed lump of a man called Henry VIII. It is 1535 and sitting in front of me is that androgynous daughter of his- Cate Blanchett- oops- Elizabeth.

'Tis a furious arguement that hath ramifications so vast that they shattereth the most profound Shakespearean monolgue.

Liz/Cate- Tom, I cannot say I care for your technique. You don't lift your leg at the right time and it comes banging me in the midlands.
Thomas Cromwell/Me- Midlands?

Liz- You know, the foliage.

Tom- Your Highness, I fail to comprehend.

Liz- You fool- down there. The south pole, the netherworld, the antarctic- you pleibians have so many unsavoury words for it, I never know which one to use.

Tom- Ah, your Highness I understand. But all that is too complicated. It is a new age now. An age of sophistication and discovery. Now we call it- dramatic pause- 'the pussy'.

Liz- A cat? Why?? -long pause- Well my cat doesn't like the way you ram your lollipop into it. You need to learn how to lift your leg when you feed the cat. Let me show you how to hump the hostess.

And she lifted up a stubby leg to demonstrate- and it was unusually short, disgustingly hairy, with blue veins all over it- which was strange because Cate Blanchett- who is also Elizabeth- shaves her legs and armpits.

Ah- there is that John Webster dude behind the Queen- He points at her and whispers- Mine eyes dazzle she died young...- which is peculiar because he was born in 1612 and wrote The Duchess of Malfi in 1623....

Now I see KD standing there shaking his head in disgust. And this girl's smile over and over again, which is decidedly odd because the Queen of Hearts had thundered Off with her head! long ago. Ah yes. I remember now- the Parisian guillotine still had Marie Antoinette's hair sticking to it- what with the slow drip drip of blood falling to the wooden planks below, it aimed wrong and cut off this other girl's head above the smile.

But that smile- haunting, beautiful and forever real- doesn't leave my head. It keeps bothering me again and again.

And now I'm on the floor of the bathroom- violently vomiting into the toilet- there's undigested food, bile and blood. And all the while that smile in front of me...

Then there's a vibrating noise. Which is odd 'coz my sex toy cabinet doesn't have a vibrator. Duh- only women and Bobby Darling use them.

It's a phone.

And then there was light. It came flooding back to me. An explanation even Freud couldn't have given. I know what this is.

A dream I had on 24-02-2010 at 11:00am.
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Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Of Medical School and Role Models

The whole role model question has always been a little strange and frankly embarrassing to me. Strange because I've never aspired to be like anyone. Ever. And embarrassing because my answer to the dreaded question- Don't you look up to your dad or grand-dad? (both of whom by the way are super achievers)- has always been a nervous, fidgety silence- with me hoping to flee or die before I admit 'no'.

Joining medicine didn't help matters- medicine is a minefield waiting to explode and kill you almost every step of the way. To add to it the whole perception of doctors as serious boring individuals is- and I hate to admit it- largely true. I mean sure there are nice people and gifted students as there are in any profession, but to come across people with definite character and balls (pun unintended) is a bit like searching for a needle in a haystack. And this is particularly in medicine because on the whole- we're geeks, let's face it. Geeks conditioned to plough through book after book and soon you go on cruise control. There are those inevitable times when people marvel at the size of your textbook and you show off with it- but when the studying part begins it's no big deal. And that's not boasting- it's just how it is. You flip pages and whatever sticks, sticks. Obviously whatever doesn't stick is the only thing that's asked but then you are beyond caring- you become fatalistic.

And this attitude soon rubs off on character as well. Which is why it takes something special- some special kick in your arse (which you have to administer to yourself ) to be different- to maintain individuality.

I guess its easier to say this now that I'm done with the first stage of my education- a sort of retrospective look back. And curiously the two role models I at last have are two of my classmates. Not the great doctors I've known nor the Nobel laureates I'm fortunate to have met, just two 24 year olds who've taught me more about life that all the super talented docs couldn't.

Is it unethical to take names and divulge details on a public forum? It is. But what the hell- I can write what I want here right? So here goes..

The first time I saw E- now Dr. EP, it was outside the loo on the first day of med school when we were having the somewhat grandiosely named orientation session. Tall, lissome and undeniably beautiful, the real surprise came when she spoke- with classy English and great confidence.

It went without saying that most guys at some point or the other nursed a crush for her- it wasn't possible not to! And she did have her share of flings- who doesn't in college? Well most people don't actually, but that's besides the point.

We were friends- at one point good enough friends to go out for Shakespeare and stuff together. And because of some insufferably stupid and juvenile tiff, that went to hell.

She soon became one of the most hated people in class. Which is a little weird- because with great looks and sharp outspoken intelligence, you'd think that would have made her popular. But her personal life generated so much buzz- which was none of anybody's bloody business, but you know how college kids are- that somehow she was almost universally disliked.

How you may ask did such a diva become an example? She who after an idiotic tiff about some exam didn't give me a second look nor me her?

It was precisely because of that.

Not once did I see her wilt. In that quagmire of snide remarks, rude glances and almost total isolation from the class she stood tall and unashamed. Never once did she give any of the haters the satisfaction that they'd got to her- and she didn't change her lifestyle at all. She remained true to herself and unapologetic about her choices which is more than I could say for many other judgemental cribbing people that were.

She and I were the class valedictorians at our graduation and on the day, she was grace personified- talking with pride about a class that had rejected her for so very long- praising the very people that she surely must have felt nothing but contempt for. But not once did the mask slip, not even at the end.

It may sound a trivial reason to admire someone for. After all she hadn't discovered the cure for HIV or the common cold. It wasn't even related to medicine- just the fact that one needs to stand up for oneself and be who one is without thinking of what others may say. As for the so called moral police- oh yes, that's what most people are even if they aren't Pramod Muthalik- one only understands how idiotic and meaningless they are when one starts seeing someone. Then one realises that having a girlfriend is cool but doesn't define you and it definitely isn't the end of the world if you don't have one. And that it doesn't remotely have anything to do with who you inherently are as a person. Which sounds utterly simplistic and obvious, but I think somewhere, until you have that first date and stuff you never really understand it, despite the fact you're always pretending to do so and looking with disdain at the people who are together, airily claiming that 'I have no time for this crap and those who do are dumb and slutty'. Which is Bullshit. And although they would never admit it- Envy. With a capital E. And this sounds like the bad embarrassing confessions of a teenage drama queen- but most doctors, both men and women, atleast initially are just that.

The other guy is KD. Now his is a story so dramatic it would be fit to be featured in a lifetime special. He lost his father at a young age, lost his faith, descended into an incubus of smoking, terrible relatives, terrible company and profanity. But lightening struck and suddenly- just like that, he gave up smoking, concentrated on- what else- studies and has honestly blossomed into someone I honestly believe will be a great doctor. And I'm not using the word 'great' the way we use to praise food or a Sean Penn performance- in this case I actually mean it. And I've been fortunate to have been really good friends with him until weird circumstances increased the distance somewhat, but even now he's the picture of joie de vivre. It isn't the story of rags to riches- it's better- the story of picking oneself up and getting the best out of oneself that's so admirable. Even more so because I actually saw him do it.

Well- medical school is long over. The last webs of memory...Bah- that's stupid pretentious language and I won't complete that sentence! But there's a yearbook where all my classmates now live and each one has a particular story, a memory attached. But it is these two that even today I miss. That even today I wish things had ended differently with. It is these two who I think I'll always in a way look up to. Because life's hard as it is. And they've shown me that you can't be- shouldn't be- weak.

And its those two- those two above all else that I wish would someday read this blog.

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Wednesday, February 3, 2010

It's cool to be free

Anonymity is a convienient mask- one which I've desperately sought since I can remember. There's a reassuarance in it that's hard to shake aside- this belief that you can just be there in the background observing. And contrary to popular belief, it doesn't make you a follower.

Opinions matter. Even if they are mine. Even if they are in an anonymous blog which will be read by some, commented upon by none and then forgotten.

There are some actions that infuriate you into action. One was a police officer smiling mockingly when he walked out of court having escaped punishment for abetting in a young girl's suicide.
The other was tonight when I watched Uddhav Thackeray eloquently shrug his shoulders on NDTV's 9'O Clock news- in response to a question as to whether the release of My Name is Khan would pass unhindered.

It was an action that repeated tales that I want to believe that my generation has moved on from- the chasm of regionalism.

I'd be lying if I said I didn't find the Shiv Sena's rhetoric preposterous. I do- not only is it utterly reprehensible but also it strikes me as extremely lazy politics. Which is exactly why the Sena is in the state they are in today. Gone are the days when people were taken in by proclamations of nationalism and pride- it has been almost 63 years of independence- and let's face it- to me and my generation, freedom means a good deal more than empty words. Which is exactly why it is lazy. A true opposition would have taken advantage of the woeful apology of a government that is Maharashtra's and swept into power. On real issues which would've made more sense than stopping the screening of a film or calling Chidambaram the Home Minister of Pakistan- a statement so laughably juvenile that you wouldn't hear it even in a school level debate.

Even that is fine- everyone can say what they want. But when you use muscle power to stop the screening of a movie because it's actor has said something to annoy you, you need to take a good look at yourself. And coming from me and my ilk that really is something- we- who are so used to being steeped in cynicism that ideals are far from our thoughts. But even in a generation of cynics, this marks a new low. Open threats on national TV aren't my idea of democracy. Actually they shouldn't be anyone's idea of democracy.

Of course 'Bollywood' (I hate the term, hence the quote marks) has notoriously pandered to the whims of the Shiv Sena and Bal Thackeray since- well forever. For some reason they've had a curious hold over the film business. Which in itself is disturbing, not to mention downright wrong. What riles me even more is not that they're against Valentine's Day or lesbianism (read Fire)- but the fact that they take it upon themselves to force that down everyone's throat. And tonight I sat watching amused, but mostly infuriated when the legal chief of the Shiv Sena says that the campaign against the movie is a 'movement' started by the 'people' and he could not guarantee what the 'people' would do when the movie released.

That's such a load of crap.

And they know it. They must be knowing it. Surely they aren't that self deluded to think that 'all people of the country' feel this way. And they're milking the issue for all it is worth. Which would be completely fine as long as they kept their hands in their pockets instead of on lathis and guns, and not calling up theatre owners threatening them with 'dire consequences' if the movie was screened.

I've been accused of looking too much into history before- maybe it's a disease- but all this rhetoric about 'people's movement' and 'people's anger' was exactly how Herr Adolf began. Or Mugabe. Or any other dictator.

I'm no admirer of Shah Rukh Khan. But I must say that what he's said is admirable. Even if it is a ploy to sell his film. Even if all he wants to do is to be on the news garnering publicity and even if it is the 'in thing' to hate him- despite all those things, what he's said is admirable. I'm glad he's not going to apologize. I do not want an apology from the Thackerays either. They can say what they like- anyone can- but coercion is just not done. And the self styled Tiger of the Sena Bal Thackeray needs to realise he's really being a mouse. This is the behaviour of cowards not leaders. Cowards who want to cling on to something rather than face political obscurity. Real Tigers would have constructively pointed out the missteps of the government, of which there is no dearth. It comes as no surprise that they aren't in power if this is the kind of crass, degrading politics they want to play.

The whole question of identity is curious. I am from Karnataka, born in Andhra Pradesh, schooled in Maharahtra, now in Karnataka. And I'm a Hindu and it has been so incidental. I've had-er- have wonderful friends who are Christians, a rather special half Muslim friend and it's never made one bit of difference. And yes I've loathed certain people who happen to be Muslim but not because of it- they were just gutter rats who happened to be Muslim. And at the risk of sounding too in-your-face, I'm proud to be Indian- which is what I am first and last. That's the only identity that really matters.

Which is why I don't get the Sena appeasement by the likes of even Amitabh Bachchan what with him organising private screenings for the self proclaimed 'Tiger'. Shouldn't he have taken a stand against this war mongering? And when asked as much by Barkha Dutt, a visibly squirming Jaya Bachchan said 'the film industry stands together in a national crisis.' Which implies of course that this isn't one. (More on that here

And yes, I've been called too liberal although I'm not sure I understand that. It is like saying 'too free'- one is either free or not. Can you be free one day and enslaved the next? One is either liberal or one is not- you cannot grade freedom or liberalism. But the difference is that liberalism is a choice I've made.
Freedom isn't- we ARE a free country whether you like it or not.

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