Thursday, February 28, 2008

Atavistic Regression

I think being a man in today’s world is a challenge. A challenge that is relished by men who can stand up and get counted and something that is dreaded by men who belong to a different century! Plenty has been written about how the brains are wired differently and how men and women differ. Going by these articles one is tempted to accept traditional roles and think that men go out to bring food and women stay back to procreate, rear children and socialize within the community.

But think of it this way, this is true as long as you stick to the roles. But the issue starts when women are increasingly expected to don male roles outside and also the women role inside the house. It has always been difficult for people who had power in their hands to relinquish that. Very few men in history have demonstrated that capability when it comes to greater good. Mikhail Gorbachev presided over the dissolution of the Soviet Empire when he pretty well knew that he himself would be a victim of his action. But then he knew that it was mandatory for things to move forward. So it doesn’t surprise me when men who want women to earn do not want to give up the traditional role as the figure head of the family.

But some men take it to extremes. At this point of time the only difference between men and women is that men can’t bear children. So actually it is one up on women in reality. They can do everything men can do, but men can’t. Maybe that’s what is hitting the men hard. So, they are tempted to keep women in perspective ( according to them ) by primarily seeing them as sex objects. And that thinking transcends various levels. From a highly educated senior management person to the lewd men on the streets pawing on women at new-year revelries! Men talking to subordinates about their experiences in nude bars and be shameless to ask whether they own a bikini to men who wet themselves up and down by looking at women.

They can’t bear the fact that women could be equals. If their wives can’t stand in front of them with bated breath and whispering humbleness, serving food and finding undergarments for them when they return drunk, men find it difficult to accept. But they want the money they earn for improving lifestyles. And worse is that some men still believe that women can’t survive single. True that more men will hit on women when they know they are single, but I have the theory for that. Women become single by divorce are best suited to handle the situation. First because they have experienced how bad men can be, otherwise they would have managed to stay in the marriage, second they would have survived a mean man for a long period and handling other mean guys outside when nothing at stake will be cakewalk to them.

It all boils down to Atavistic Regression. The tendency to revert to ancestral type! Whatever you are, you tend to revert to being archaic and hold on to the views fashioned by your ancestors. But strangely, I don’t think women suffer from this. They look forward. Maybe repression is an antidote to regression.

Going back to the challenge men face today, it is nothing but, about being civilized. But then it was always men who waged war and raped women of the enemies, and for them civilization is a tough ask.

Homage to Sujatha

How do you pay homage for a prolific writer who fashioned your thoughts and life in more ways than one? Maybe just attempt writing something yourself, hoping that atleast in such taxing situations, your thoughts and words would not fail you and you can manage to transfer the heaviness in the heart into words! That’s the way I feel now. When I woke up at the news of Sujatha passing away!

Generally news of death doesn’t disturb me much. I religiously read obituaries everyday as if it is an attempt to reassure that anyway people should die. When my father died, though there was a sense of loss, I didn’t manage to cry till I went back to see the empty bed. His physical absence had to be harshly reminded for understanding the loss which is hardly physical. But, now the feeling is strange. Here is a man who has lived for 73 years, and in my life I once managed a glimpse of him in a meeting and later by the good grace of my friend, had a private audience for almost an hour and came out as if I have achieved immortality status myself. The interactions have been just this. But I feel so very heavy and the loss seems to be personal. Truth is that I have interacted with him almost all my adolescent and adult life so far, maybe even more than what I did with my father.

Studying in an Anglo-Indian school where the Tamizh standards are appalling with the liberty of answering in English for Tamizh exam, my initiation to the language which is my mother tongue was pathetic. Didn’t have the current awareness that Tamizh was a great language and I would lose plenty if I didn’t know how to read and write was not much of a scary thought then. Till Sujatha happened!

From the moment I picked my first book of him and till now, the journey of amazement hasn’t stopped. Lately started collecting all his works and he had to confess to me that if I knew one of his works was not available, maybe it never was there. The obsession knew no bounds. Every single work would have been read a minimum of twice, if not more. Even if it was a half page snippet in a weekly which even he cannot remember! So much was his impact.

At this moment I pause to think what made him so special for me. Why do I feel a personal loss now, when I make light of deaths? Why this should haunt me no end and break my inertia to pick up the laptop and start typing first thing in the morning? How well do I know him? Why is it that whatever he wrote was like Veda to me? And why is that I feel that he can never be replaced, though I am certain that anyone who writes Tamizh, even just plain alphabets cannot do without his impact?

I understand that he just didn’t write. He had been a teacher all though my life. It is strange that how much you can learn by reading even plain fiction. His was always intelligent. And if distance education needed a mascot, it was him. Maybe the IGNOU’s of the world should have contracted him to write lessons. The content I have picked from him into making myself had been enormous. About 10 years back when I didn’t know the difference between a TV monitor and a Computer monitor I managed to get myself employed with an ISP. And as it is my wont, I assumed that I am a master of basic Internet in just about 3 months and lectured a couple of colleges. Well, all I had to do was pick his book on Internet and talk what he has written. Started feeling proud of being a Vaishnavite after his books on the subject! So much so that I feel that I know Mahavishnu personally now. Anything he wrote I felt there was something to be learnt in that.

His life was a lesson in terms of time management when I read about his scoffing at folks who ask him how he finds time to write. His life was a lesson in telling you how versatile one can become. His life was a lesson that constantly reminded you that whatever you maybe, you still have scope to learn. His life was a lesson that despite being a hardcore science believer, you can never speak with a certainty of an atheist. His life was a lesson in telling you that you grow young as long as you think young. In more ways than one he has been my guru. I find it strange myself to give so much credit to someone else, but I know inside that it is not a eulogy that comes in the wake of a fresh death. I am certain that I would acknowledge all of this anytime again tomorrow and in the future.

Talking of death, his best was about his own father’s death. I am sure he died a contented man in all respects, but for the yearning to read and write more. Reality sometimes makes you so cruel that you start thinking that why there are so many people who we can afford to let go live and the ones you want to live, go. There ought to be some reason! He wrote that he would want to go to hell when he dies, because he hopes to meet interesting personalities only there and he can’t stand the peace of harmony of heaven for more than an hour. But I know one thing for sure; wherever he choses to stay, that will be heaven for the rest of the folks there.

A stanza from Wordsworth's 'Intimations of Immortality' can very much sum up my thoughts

And O, ye Fountains, Meadows, Hills, and Groves,
Forebode not any severing of our loves!
Yet in my heart of hearts I feel your might;
I only have relinquished one delight
To live beneath your more habitual sway.
I love the Brooks which down their channels fret,
Even more than when I tripped lightly as they;
The innocent brightness of a newborn Day
Is lovely yet;
The clouds that gather round the setting sun
Do take a sober coloring from an eye
That hath kept watch o'er man's mortality;
Another race hath been, and other palms are won.
Thanks to the human heart by which we live,
Thanks to its tenderness, its joys, and fears,
To me the meanest flower that blows can give
Thoughts that do often lie too deep for tears.

I feel kinda strange and queasy when I dwell more into this. Maybe I just drop the thoughts and pick a couple of his books and read again today.

He will continue to live.

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Save the Earth

Just imagine this! You are on the verge of becoming the hottest thing in the Universe. And someone with a generous and ample butt is nudging you all the time that would eventually make you less hot! Completely baffling isn’t it?

Well that’s what is happening to Mother Earth! The guys at Sussex University are plush with funds I reckon! Someone has been giving them unlimited access to money and these guys are busy figuring out when Earth will destruct itself. Noble cause I would say! Only issue is that these guys have too much of a forethought. They are suggesting solutions for an eventual catastrophe that will occur 7.6 Billion years later. It is a different thing altogether that the Erath will become too hot anyway in a billion years and the planet will be completely inhabitable for any life form. And after that will have an inexplicable slow march towards the Sun for 6.6 billion years and commit suicide. Our friends are worried about that period. And are proposing solutions!

Thank Goodness it is not some kind of counseling to the Earth that it can’t commit suicide and really have a lengthy dialogue through a goatee bearing therapist who will dig deep into the billion year past history of Earth and find out what is that single devastating instance it had in its childhood. Or maybe try sending Bruce Willis or Will Smith to re-lay the orbit of earth with some heavy earthmovers ( or should I say spacemovers! )

Apparently there is a drag that causes Earth to start its journey towards doom. Tell me something I don’t know! Haven’t we all experienced this drag already? You meet a girl, she drags you like a moth to a flame and very very late you realize that it is doom. You are by that time anyway completely insane and in the same condition as Earth. Nothing grows in you!

So our friends suggest that we use a large asteroid to nudge away the Earth from the Sun eager to consume it. That’s where the first sentence comes in. You are trying to get hotter and someone nudges you away. In this case, it is all for good so they say. We humans are a funny lot! Always trying to redesign the grand scheme of things!

Anyway, I can sleep peacefully from now on. Because I know that the Earth won’t get destroyed. It is a different thing altogether that I have a target to meet and the month is dying is another 2 days and the destruction that would ensue is far greater.

Maybe I can give a call to the Sussex University!

Pays to Stay in Shape

Had always been convinced that taxes are fat and particularly when March arrives. But this news was appalling even for my standards. In Britain, they are proposing a ‘fat tax’!! Insurance firms are contemplating about levying a tax for obese people.

If your BMI is greater than 30, then you are dead. Well not literally, though that’s what the insurance firms seem to believe. Your premium would be up as high as 400 percent. Could have some funny impact! If you are going to be paying such a high premium, then you end up a pauper and thus have nothing to eat and automatically cure your obesity. Then what’s going to happen? Will the insurance guys reduce the premium or refund the amount? Why would they? They will be a bunch of happy guys because of the premise of you dying soon because you are obese and hence I have to pay is gone. So, they would not care much! Now look what all problems obesity causes!!

As usual I went on an exaggerated imagination trip and was wondering whether the premium will be proportional to the BMI of a person. And you may simply ask a person what is his premium and decide whether he or she is fat. For many of the worried people about whether they are over weight, they can now have a second opinion from the insurance firms. They ask you to pay normal, and then you know you aren’t fat. Invariably it appears being fat is a costly affair. You first maybe hog all the creamy and high calorie stuff from the junk food places, so you spend money. Then you go to a gym to reduce your fat or invest on exercise equipments. And later the premium also goes up. Hazardous to guess really! Some of the people who I know would probably have to take personal loans if they insist of having an insurance cover. I am looking at a possible positive point here. Are they going to be charging less if you are underweight? A thin person would then be lucky.

I was told by an insurance sales person that the last & lingering statement they leave with a reluctant buyer is ‘I am sure you do care about your family’. Now if this true, I guess the obese citizens are going to be one lot of irresponsible people!

Thursday, February 21, 2008


Just how many of the skills that we acquire we manage to forget? Your guess would be that we never do, we just are a bit raw initially and then in a matter of time we get back to the fluency that we were known for. In fact it is an oft-used point that, though we don’t cycle or swim for ages, if someone throws us in the water, we will draw our reserves and manage to float.

My knee seems to have a different idea. Two weeks I had been in braces that didn’t allow the knee to bend. And when it was finally removed, my knee forgot how to bend. Mind you, I had been using it for ages and two weeks I don’t, it simply ditches me. I had been dragging my foot literally to take myself from point A to point B. And when the physio demanded that I walk as I would normally do, I forgot how I was walking. He had to demonstrate how to walk. This upsets me terribly. The physio had his explanation about the small bag of lubricant which stops performing its job once it is not used and now the joints are rickety rackety. But I am not convinced. You don’t forget how to walk.

And in your life you simply want to forget many things and you can’t, but the brain takes the liberty of forgetting essentials. This is not a welcome state. We have got to do something about this anarchy. What if it suddenly chooses to forget other essentials? Let’s say that you don’t sleep for a while and the brain decides to transfer that essential to the recycle bin, then you are in deep shit. On the contrary, you would wish that you don’t want to remember that you are married, but the brain chooses otherwise and constantly reminds you. This is complete indiscipline.

I can’t hazard the eventuality of such kind of anarchy. Maybe everything would turn out to be reverse. You forget to walk, but not to drive. You forget to eat, but not to feel hunger and so on. The physio says that it is raw and he can manage to teach walking. Maybe he will give me a license too certifying me walkable.

In a way, I feel it would be fun to see how far it can go in terms of indiscipline. I can use that excuse to put the worst of my behavior up and later claim I wasn’t in control of what I was doing. The devil in the mind is working and let me prepare a list before I forget or the brain takes over.

Monday, February 11, 2008

Soccer Balls & Knee Balls

At 42, you feel that you are at the peak of your life. You have seen all, you now have power, you have youth and your audacity can be backed up with actions and you aren’t scared of anything. You feel that you have enormous self control and the pain is never shown in your eyes unless it is extremely destabilizing. And then you break your knee. You are somebody else from that moment. You are the one who moved on your feet like a gazelle and in a TV commercial when John Abraham does a body maneuver dodging a bunch of kids off a soccer ball, your legs pain and you tell that guy, just be a little bit careful buddy.

But till it gets destabilizing you don’t accept it fully too. You would fly to all parts of the country, take 150km drives on a single day for customer calls but just look like an sorry a**hole when it is time to climb the stairs of the aircraft with your luggage. Guys who look like modeling for Rice Barn oil breeze past you, throwing a contemptuous glare at you that means ‘you youngsters’. That’s the time you decide you will fix it once and for all and agree to be on the operating table. Now that is a positive move, so you know that whatever incapacitation is, it’s just for a brief period and proceed. Being a creature of habit, you make a list of what all you want to carry to the hospital. It was almost similar to a work trip sans the formal attire and the jackets. You pack your ipod; you carry enough books for the entire stay which includes the time at the table, you carry all kinds of chargers and your bag appears as if that is being admitted for labor.

You start off warm and flirt with the sisters ( sounds like incest, but then they are younger than your daughters which makes it even more incestuous ) and make life miserable for all of them till they utter the word preparation. All of them are trained to say that in a somber voice befitting a British funeral parlor. Surprising they wear white and not black when they say that. They bring a bagful of disposable syringes ( a bag that is bigger than your pregnant one ) and place it behind you, but you know that they are intruders of your body and they outnumber the cells in your body and you start wondering how they will manage to use them all, maybe use some of them on the attendants. That’s the easiest part actually. They just make one big hole and dump everything through that.

But the prep is not about that. A guy turns up ( he is supposed to be brother, ok ! ) and tells that he wants to shave the entire hair of your body. Normally I am given to exaggeration, but this one is not, he left the hair in my head, but suggested that I remove my Frenchie ( ok even that too ! ). You are appalled, a sparse growth at your chin is surely not going to hamper a knee surgery for sure, but he is just an implementer, he just told that he was under orders from the sister to do so. Maybe the sister didn’t like the frenchie or the surgeon has a bad superstition about this. You are categorical that you would want them to reconsider that decision and if it is upheld you would rather use your Mach3 and shave rather than using the skin hair remover that he brought with him. You need to give into this, that guy does a thorough job of shaving, barring a small nick in the shin. Your earlier blood clot test suggested that your blood doesn’t bother to clot soon and you are wondering this new development would set back the surgery date by a day. And then he springs a surprise, he asks you whether you are A1 blood group, you are amazed and reply in affirmative and he casually tells that all A1’s clot late. Fine you think, you should have asked this question before nicking, my friend. But, you turn around and look at your leg and have images of Levers calling you for modeling for their skin removing products. And it sucks to see yourself plain and bald in areas you loved with hair always. The ordeal does not end there, the sister turns up and runs her hand on your leg ( unfortunately only on the leg ) and finds out that there are strands are hair that can’t be permitted. You beg for mercy and promise to be even smoother in the morning when the surgery is about to start, after all hair grows was your logic.

You start thinking whether we make more doctors than what you need because as of then, your life history is just known to a million doctors as they troop in and out for the interview. And at last you manage to shut yourself to get some sleep. You don’t even know whether you slept before a duty doctor wakes you up at around 4.30 am, wanting you to sign a document that bequeaths your life to them. This I know is thoughtful. I have read in novels that the elite special commandos always attack at this time of the day, because they apparently believe that the resistances are lowest then. You don’t give up so easily, you read them thoroughly and later regret why you did it. Because just after you read, you start thinking about your mother, childhood friends and everyone else who is not around you. And decide that the only thing you will regret is the unfinished Dave Barry book. Then you don’t sleep again. Not that you don’t want to, but remember I talked about those million doctors, they have million counterparts for the morning shift starting from that undertaker.

The anesthetist troops in and he gets annoyed because you are brushing your teeth as if you are going out on a date with him. He asks all kinds of questions which your mother would not have known about her mother and you make a honest attempt to reply each one of them. Actually he could have tried this interview for a longer time, because he was anyway making me drowsy and that’s what his mission was. He agrees to add a valium to your drugs, because by then you are anxious and all that bravado vaporizes. And the ritual starts again, the brother comes again and checks the new development in the hirsute areas and tosses a gown to you that could be the skimpiest you will ever get to wear and yet look grotesque.

Then one single shot and you know nothing. You had prepared carefully for the recovery and promised to ask the clich├ęd question of ‘where am I?’ and your friend who is in an officer at that hospital leaks out a question which the anesthetist would ask showing two fingers expecting your reply. The before surgery you wanted to reply that with a single finger ( you know which one ) , but nothing you remember. You are warned that in the post operative recovery period there is a chance of you blurting out state secrets and leave the nation in peril apart from the names of all your girlfriends leaving yourself in peril. But neither was a problem, as you don’t know any state secrets and you yourself have forgotten the names of your girlfriends. You wake up like a heavily made up hero in the movies and tell that you want to go home. There you go!! Training always helps. You are then touted as the best person who has ever undergone Anterior Cruciate Ligament reconstruction. Then next you talk about the Builder meet and tease a friend. They all know that you are back. But that was a teaser. It takes enough and more time for you talk anything coherently and remember whether your daughters visited you. You are in a state of haze.

Everyone is happy barring me, because the next day the sheets are all bloody and with the leg like what you have, you start wondering what gender you are and what they cut off from you. Someone you manage to take a peep and convince yourself it is only the hair that is missing and go back to bliss. But the doctors and the paramedical have their KRA, the weightage and priority is as follows:

1) Patient should not sleep for more than 10 minutes ( while you understand the ulterior motive about checking whether you are still breathing, you think there were better methods.
2) Patient should not even feign happiness, because they then unleash a physiotherapist on you whose target is measured in the quantity of tears you shed.
3) Sisters should have prior experience in archaeology, as they would be needed to dig deeper into you for placing an IV cannula and excavate for that. ( once it comes out through your mouth and you start wondering that they could orally feed you medicines if this was the case ) and their results are in depth and size of your thrombosis.
4) The brothers on the quantity of urine you pass ( every time I topped beyond 700 ml there was a cry of joy from the brother because it was a new hospital record)

Was a fine bunch of guys who met their KRA always! But then you are used to this ritual pretty much yourself that you wake up every 10 minutes and press the buzzer and report that you are alive or hoard your piss to collect 700 ml plus and quickly cry when the physio walks in.

And after they get used to you as a victim, they quickly bored and wean off from you and that’s when you start missing them. You start realizing what all they did for you and their absence, and lack of smiles around you hits you hard and start waiting out for their arrival. You almost become a baby again and act like a puppy and wag your tail when you see one of the known faces ( not withstanding the fact that they show that you knee looks like a hardware shop and you have a lifetime supply of staples when they are removed and handed over )

And when the D day arrives ( in this case the Discharge Day ) you don’t want to go because you were so very confident about these guys and you are suddenly afraid to be alone without them.

You still wake up at 5 am, but miss the undertaker, you do your physiotherapy much easier, but cry when you realize that the therapist is not around who made a hard job pure fun and showing you birds in the marshland ), your symptoms of thrombosis fades but you smile at their attempt to find a vein in you and you know that these guys out there put you back on your feet. And you start looking forward for the review day and you start preparing another list which reads out the mementos you want to give them.

And you tell John Abraham in the TV, ‘just a couple of months buddy’, just that!!!