Photobucket had recently made a very dick move by disabling all third-party embedded pics unless I pay $399. I've been blogging for 13 years and have 2000+ embedded pics across 650+ blog posts, which are now all unviewable. I'm working on moving my images to a new host, so until then, please do bear with me if you cannot view any images on my older blog posts.

Sunday, April 30, 2006

Chp 65. Wu Ji - The Promise

Hehe... I can’t believe I've just spent 2 hours watching a Chinese flick in Chinese language with Chinese subtitles!

Ever since The Promise appeared at imdb.com, I was dying to watch it. But I couldn’t find it anywhere at Ares and Limewire. And the very few people who are sharing it were not letting me copy at all. Finally found someone happily sharing it with me. At first I grew suspicious coz this guy might be one of those guys sharing a totally different movie under this name. But when I tested it, it was indeed the right one. And it was an amazing print! Only sour grape was, the subtitle was in Chinese. Anyway jobless me watched it.



I think the movie is definitely not up to the level of CTHD, Hero, Warriors of Heaven and Earth, House of flying daggers etc when it comes to the fight scenes. The graphics were a bit unreal... I mean, I guess that might be because the print was so clear that some of the CGs look a bit artificial and ridiculous. But the background setting was just Oh My God, if there was one place I must take my gurl to before I die, this is it. Truly breath-taking backdrops and sceneries.

There were some really good dialogues too, like when Don-Kun Jang (Kunlun) looked at Cecilia Cheung (Princess Qingcheng) and said "Ching hua mau ki" and she replied "Mai ping ling sing". awweeee that was chooo chweeeet

Hehehe... Anyway, I am definitely going to see it in the theatre once it is released coz from what I've heard, this movie is more of a love story than an action, so one HAVE to understand what the actors are talking about

Here is the gist of the story. Warning: It contains spoiler (Duh!)

One girl, one boy. Both fighting for food in a ravaged torn war zone surrounded by corpses strewn all over the Battlefield. Childish kidding and lots of Chinese dialogues later, girl ran to lake, dropped her food (which extremely resembles an idly) and cried. The river Goddess came and returned the food to her, and told her something.

Next scene: War. Evil King. With a huge army. All wearing red. On hill-tops that resembled the Grand Canyon. Down below, slaves in brown attire forced to crawl. Enemies from other side (dressed in black) released thousands of bull. All the slaves died except Hero slave. He out-crawled and out-ran the charging bulls with a wounded friend on his shoulder and actually led them back to the enemy's camp! He kept on running and running. Until he reached a place where he buried his friend. Then the red General came and probably said he was impressed by the way he ran so he made him his personal slave.

Together they ran until the General was ambushed by an Assassin who moved as fast as Hero. Just when the Assassin was about to kill the General, Hero stepped in. Hero and Assassin fought. They both moved equally fast and hence recognized each other. Assassin fled. With General injured, Hero wore the General's uniform and put on a golden mask.

Now red King became white King. Everybody dressed in white now. Enter the beautiful Princess. A bad person in red uniform tried to kill Princess. So Hero who was wearing the General's mask rescued her. Hero fell in love with Princess. But they were trapped at a waterfall. Hero, who still hadn’t disclosed his identity to Princess and evil King, jumped into the water.

Princess is now taken back and evil King fell in love with her. Put her in a huge golden cage and tried to woo her but to no avail. Later General recovered from his wounds and went to the Palace with Hero to rescue Princess. General fell in love with Princess. Princess thought it was the same man who rescued her earlier, so she too kinda liked him back. Hero very sad. But still he forced the Palace gate open so that Princess and General can escape. Hero captured and tortured by bad King, but later managed to escape too. Went back to his master, the General. Together the three of them lived happily. General humped pretty Princess in all directions. Not a scene I would recommend to your children.

And then things became even more and more confusing. Some magical race of people who saved Hero once are now killed by evil King. Maybe they were the Hero's people because they all moved as fast as him (and the Assassin who nearly killed the General once). Hero very angry. Vowed to take revenge in Chinese.

General tricked by evil King and captured. Evil King then sent army to capture Princess. Hero once again went to Palace to rescue General and Princess.

Next scene: General tied to a tree and Princess tied to a chair. Evil King laughing. Evil king revealed to Princess that he was the boy who snatched her food away from her when they were kids. He even showed her the bread he took from her (I wonder what kinda preservatives he must have been using) Anyway a small fight erupted. Evil King stabbed General. Hero suddenly appeared out of nowhere and stabbed evil King. With his last strength, evil King pulled out knife and stabbed back Hero. So, there they were, Princess crying and all three men who loved her bleeding to death. Some more Chinese dialogues. Then all three men died.

Final scene showed Hero being reborn! He took the Princess on his back and together they flew away.

Now seriously tell me, don’t you think the movie was good?

Anyway, another reason why I wanna watch the movie again with English subtitles is because I wanna see how way off I was in interpreting the movie Because I consider myself to be really good at this interpretation thingie, as I have watched countless number of Tamil and Mallyalam movies even before I could understand a single word.


Wednesday, April 26, 2006

Chp 64. Birthday Memories

Two bottles of Old Monk Rum and 78 Birthday wishes at Orkut later, I was just sitting in my room, enjoying this new sensuality of turning 26, in my own version of what I call voluntary solitude, when a strange feeling suddenly hit me. Boy, it felt good and at the same time bad to age older.

But whatever be the feeling, I made a promise that I will not write and crib about how sad I am to be growing older and how everything around me is moving so fast while I am left behind blah blah blah. No mid-life crisis posts here.

So now I am 26. Old enough to start a family of my own but still the baby of my own family. Talented enough to find a decent job but still unemployed. Experienced enough to pass on my legends to youngsters but still riding the silver highway.

As you grow older and older, birthday seems to become a lesser and lesser deal… now it is just a matter of formality. Happy Birthday to you! Oh that is so sweet of you. Muaaah muaaah. So when’s the party? Hmmm I don’t know, am pretty much broke. Ok, don’t forget to invite me if you throw a party. How can I forget you of all the people? Aweee now you’re the sweet one. Take care. Bye.

When I was young (read: below 10 years), I always celebrated my birthday twice a year. Once on my actual birthday and a second time along with my sister Dinpuii on her birthday. I don’t know what that was all about, but at every birthday picture of Dimps, I would also be there with a cake of my own! I guess you can call it sibling jealousy. There were times when I would actually invite my own friends to her B’day.

Birthdays are always memorable those days. I went through some of my old photographs and dug out a couple of them, the really unforgettable ones:

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21st April 1989:

All my three sisters were studying in LaMartiniere’s that time and Mom flew down to Calcutta to visit them or bring them back to Mizoram for their vacation or something like that. So it was just me, daddy and our life long servant U Liana who is more like an elder brother to me, at home. My aunt Pi Rini suddenly came to our house one fine day and told dad “Hey today is mama’s birthday!” Dad was like huh are you sure? And he checked up and yes it was indeed my birthday!

So he got to work immediately. No time to order cake from Zote Bakery. He went through his almirah (The one that he never opens up to me and my three sisters) dug out a packet of neutrino sweets, told U Liana to buy nine candles, and called up my aunties and uncles immediately to send over their children to our place for my Birthday party! LoLx! It was one of the sweetest thing my dad has ever done for me. Check out me and my “birthday cake” below!



And people actually turned up at the last minute. Given below are the party people of my happening ninth birthday bash


[ Cousin Zualteii, cousin Mahruaii, cousin BT-i, cousin VL-i, aunty Zohmingi, cousin Hriatpuia, Me, cousin Atea, my frens Zorema & Tluangtea, my best frens Tlaunga & Sanga (the twins) and good ‘ol U Liana ]

Eventually everything turned out great. I was happy because for presents I got a sketch pen set, a drawing book, a new pair of shoes and a toy gun that makes electronic sounds when the trigger is pulled. So after I blew out the candles, daddy and my aunties made dinner for me and my friends and cousins.



Till today, I think that was one of the most memorable birthdays ever.

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School days:

During my seven years at Montfort Residential Boarding School, birthdays never involved any cakes or parties as such. Instead, a birthday meant you can wear colored clothes for the day instead of the strict school uniform, distribute sweets to your classmates and teachers, and for dinner, your cafeteria table gets a roasted chicken And the best part was, during the dinner, suddenly somebody would start “shhhhhhhhh” and taking his cue, everybody would join in with the “shhhhh” and stop talking, and then a loud big Happy Birthday song, sung by everybody present in the cafeteria. *sigh* I really miss those times. And after dinner, you are usually sprayed with pepsi outside the cafeteria and given a wedgie by your classmates.

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College years:

My birthdays during Engineering College were all memorable. Birthdays then meant getting completely sloshed the previous night and missing the next day of class due to an inferno hangover But my most memorable birthday would be the one during my final year. Ofcourse it was a complete sausage fest as you can see in the pics below, after all, it was Tamilnadu, where the ladies hostels followed the most stringent law ever proscribed.





Sausage Fest indeed but what mattered the most that night was the fact that all my closest friends were there. Thomas, Paolo, Johnny, Jimmy, Varasidhi, Abhi, Jacob, Jazz, Kutti, Ani, Seby, Puia, Rohan, Kevin, Yohan, Arjun, Tony etc And that particular night coincided with Good Friday, and although a majority of us were Christians on Lent, we were all completely sloshed that night.

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So I guess that’s pretty much how I have been celebrating my birthdays these past 26 years. Sometimes simple, but what really counts, is the thought.

Thursday, April 20, 2006

Chp 63. R.I.P. Isaac L.Hmar

Isn’t it strange how you can feel so close to somebody you’ve never even met just because you’ve read a lot of his publications?

I’ve never been that attached to men of paper before. The only time I’ve ever felt a deep sadness and remorse over a writer’s death (like the kind that hit you when your relative or someone very dear to you passes away) was on the sad demise of my favorite author, the late Robert Ludlum. Nearly cried the day I learnt about his death.

And today a very similar feeling overcame me. I just heard that the lifeless body of a journalist, Isaac L.Hmar, was found a couple of hours ago in Zemabawk, Mizoram.

Isaac Lalmalsawm Intoate, merely just 37 years of age, son of a Journalist and one of the chief contributors of English articles at various Mizo websites like zoram.com, izawl.com and hmar.net (currently closed down as a mark of respect for the dearly departed) spoke out against the recent rape of 21 hmar women by meitei militants in the Manipur-Mizoram border, and this could possibly be one the reasons why such an unfortunate incident befell him. The hunt is still on for the evil perpetrators.

We are once again reminded of how all of us are not equal. Some people are braver and more fearless than the rest of us, not afraid to stand up and speak out against what they believe is wrong even if it means bringing upon a threat to their very own existence. Isaac definitely falls in that category. And he paid the price for that with his life. He seeked justice while he lived. Rest assured Issac, you will definitely get your justice on Judgement Day.

Isaac, it is too bad we never got to meet or mail each other personally. I love your articles and would have considered it a great honour had we just sat down for tea and discuss about all those things in your mind. I know you will be missed by all, especially the Hmar community. My utmost sympathies and condolences to your family. India has just lost one of its most promising North-east writer.

Some of the articles Isaac has published at zoram.com are given below. You can find more about him at hmar.net, once it is up and running again:

-> Can Jesus Christ’s alleged marriage to Mary Magdalene be trusted?
-> Pre-marital sex, marriage v/s Law of land
-> The H.S.A: 50th General Assembly, 2005
-> The Mizo-Israel: Uncertain Future
-> Wish You A Happy New Year
-> Violence against women
-> Mizo-Kuki’s Claim Of Their Jewish Origin

[A picture of Isaac from Youthim.net]


Rest in Peace my brother.
We never said “Hi” while you were here.
Maybe if it is meant to be,
We will say more than a “Hi” up There.

Oh what a loss for the North-east,
To be martyred at such an early age.
You will always be remembered in our hearts,
And your words, immortalized forever.


Thursday, April 13, 2006

Chp 62. Bangalore Burning

At around 3pm yesterday, I got an sms from my roomie who has just reached his office.

“Rajkumar died. That same guy who was kidnapped by Veerappan.”
“Shit! Are you sure? Tomorrow’s definitely going to be a state holiday then. And hey, I was planning to play baskey at KMG in the evening. Do u think it’s safe to go there?”
“No man, you better stay indoors…”

So immediately I was all over the net. Googled all sort of keywords, but there was nothing mentioned about Dr.Rajkumar and his death. Went to www.ndtv.com, www.deccanherald.com, www.thehinduonnet.com etc but nothing was mentioned anywhere. Pronto went an sms back to my roomie.

“Bastard, it’s a hoax. There’s nothing mentioned about his death anywhere.”
“Fucker, he died just some 30mins ago. Check www.msn.ac.in It’s given there.”

So I went to www.msn.ac.in . There, in the latest news section, was just one line. “Kannada thespian and film idol Rajkumar passes away”. Just one line, which was not even linked. The fact that such a news like this was not linked made it look even more genuine and current as one can actually get the feel that the news reporters are right then rushing to the scene to get the full story.

I got to work immediately. Smsed as many people as I can about this news, urging them not to go outside. All in all, I forwarded my warning to more than 70-80 people. I made sure I described who Rajkumar is coz I don’t want to receive 50 replies with “Who is Rajkumar?” A majority of the people I smsed were people from my place (Mizoram) and also those who are non kannadigas. My kannadiga frens were on the last rung of my priority list bcoz they were relatively much safer than people who are not from Karnataka. Number one priority on my list were ofcourse my tamil friends. Remember the anti-tamil sentiments that hit the streets of Bangalore in 2000 when Veerappan kidnapped Rajkumar? I certainly would not like to see a replay of that.

Here is another example where people from far away places who have been at a particular location for too long, tends to think just like the locals. I have been in the South for nearly 15 years now. I don’t know how but the moment I heard about the sad demise of Dr.Rajkumar, I knew immediately that there was going to be unruly incidents (I just didn’t know it was going to be THIS bad). And when I warned my friends about it, the non-mizos replied with a “thanx for the warning” but most of the mizos replied with “Why? Why should that stop us from going outside?” and “Why would there be a problem, was his death controversial? Was he murdered?”. Here is a clean cut case of how people from different regions think differently. People who have just moved here from Mizoram have absolutely no clue as to why people would incite violence over someone’s death (especially a natural one). Back home, funerals are a time for mourning. Everybody talk in hushed tones, sing soft funeral songs and everything is peaceful because of respect for the dead. But here, when someone dies, people burst crackers, play loud music and dance as if possessed during the funeral procession (apparently to scare away evil spirits). And in the South, film Idols are looked up with the deepest respect possible and some of them are even worshipped and given a God-like status, erecting temples in their names. Hence when their Idol dies, they go berserk destroying everything that lie in their path, to show their grief and how much they are going to miss him. By “they”, I am ofcourse referring only to the truly fanatical ones. If you have been watching the news yesterday and today, you would have noticed that many kannadiga celebrities (actors, directors, writers, politicians) have spoken out against this current violence, stating it’s a “Black day for Karnataka” and “a disgrace to every kannadigas”. I totally understand what you mean. Even I would feel the same way had my mizo brethrens did something like this.

Yes, even though most of us foresaw such an event occurring, nobody imagined it would be this serious. Yesterday as I finished warning everybody through sms and posting on the front page of www.misual.com (“Hence please refrain from going outside your home unless it is absolutely necessary. Dr.RajKumar has a fan following of more than a million kannadigas, and believe me, I may be brave but I am not stupid enough to stand infront of a million angry crowbar wielding mob on a rampage.”), I went outside to buy food and drinks for the next few days. But alas, every shop has already downed their shutter. News definitely travels fast! I was hungry as hell.

Emily, a very close friend of mine, told me to come over to her place for dinner if it was safe, and even though it wasn’t safe at all, I went anyway, mainly because I was extremely hungry and also partly because I wanted to be where the action was. I wanted to see with my own eyes what was exactly happening on the streets. Could this be the journalist in me begging to come out, or just the inquisitive child in me being curious?

Before I left, we had an unofficial building members committee at Maureen’s room. Steve, an Infosys techie, was asleep the whole day so he had no idea what was going on. Vicky, whose AOL call-centre cab did not come to pick him up, told me NOT to take the bike, and incase I was, then I should fly one of those yellow-red flags the fans of Rajkumar were carrying, but Maureen said this was a bad idea coz I wasn’t going to fool anyone once they see my face. Damn. So they suggested the best solution would be to walk, that way I can easily run into one of the gulley incase the mob chases me.

From my place, it’s a straight road till Banaswadi flyover which is around 2-3kms away. Walking down that road at that exact time was a completely new experience for me. There were tyres burning everywhere in the middle of the road, all the shops were closed and the street was completely void of any vehicle moving. Ofcourse I did not see any vehicles burning like the ones on TV, but there were broken glasses everywhere littered across the street, glasses from the windows of vehicles (they are brittle and not sharp). There were quite a number of people here and there standing on the edge of the road in groups, not fanatical mobs but rather residents of our area. And many of the families have put up huge posters of Rajkumar and garlanded it with flowers, sweets etc. Now this is how one should pay homage to the dead. Over all, the atmosphere was extremely tense and heavy, and now and then I was finding it a bit difficult to breath. It felt like a dream actually. Everyone talking in hush tones, looking here and there, turning sharply at the least loud noise heard, as if we were sitting in a time bomb ready to explode. Even all the dogs were unusually quiet. Not a single dog barked. Clever dogs. The entire stretch of road is filled with shops and commercial establishments, but till the flyover, only two medical stores were open that day. It was exactly a ghost town.

From the flyover, things were a bit different on the main road. There were a couple of life commuting on the road, and it definitely felt safer. I reduced my pace a bit and started walking normally. There were even a few autos plying on this road, a perfect opportunity for them to make a killing. Finally reached Emily’s place after a total 45 minutes of walk. Siami, roomie of popular blogger arunima was there too and she made this amazing “bai”. The dinner was definitely worth it. After dinner, Emily’s bro Jim asked me to stay over as it’s even more dangerous than before to go back. But something in me (stupidity?) wanted to go back home. My roomie called me up and told me he’s safely back home, but some drunkards threw a beer bottle at his Convergys call-centre cab. That incident took place near the Lingaraja flyover which wasn’t the route I was taking anyway, so it didn’t affect me much. The streets, which were partially deserted before, was now completely deserted. Not a living soul in sight. But as I proceeded towards Banaswadi flyover, the sudden sound of bottles breaking nearly gave me a heart attack. Two drunk guys were throwing bottles at the buildings around them. Even though they were on the other side of the road, I just ran and ran until I reach the flyover. The putrid smell of burning rubber still filled the area under the Banaswadi flyover and I have never been this alert in my entire life. From there till my house, no further incidents took place, thank God. I passed four vehicles on that small street, and all four drivers stared at me, probably as scared and alert as I was, seeing if I was carrying any bottles in my hand or not. Lolx.

You know what was really scary last night? The fact that there was not a single cop in sight. During my journey from my house to Emily’s and back home again, there wasn’t a single law enforcement officer on duty. On that very same road I was walking, on other days there would be lots of cops checking bike papers and giving the people their “holier than thou” attitude. But tonight, haha, they have all gone into hiding. Even the Kamanahalli Police station was locked up!

Reached home and there was this Arsenal-Portsmouth match going on at ESPN. Around 30 mintues into the game, the channel suddenly went static. My roomie n I cursed and searched for other channels. One by one, each channel was becoming static. Only the news channels remained active. So we watched the rest of the match on the net. Arsenal drew with Portsmouth. Bummer. It was only today that we found out all the cable operators have stopped airing all channels other than news as a mark of respect for the dearly departed.

Woke up this morning and was ecstatic to find out the small shops near my house were opened. Bought the most basic essential immediately: Goldflake Kings cigarette. Woohooo!

I went out in the afternoon to buy some grub. The big daddies like Nilgiries, Hotel Empire, Aiwas etc were still closed, but Hotel Imran, a small sidey kabaab place had its shutter half open. I went over there and asked for a biryani. Immediately I was ushered to a corner of a street and ordered to stand there. I gave the guy 40 bucks and later he came towards me and slyly handed me a plastic bag. Lolx. It felt as if I was buying some illegal contraband stuff. So I went home with my biryani and watched the news again.

Ah the news! NDTV kept on showing this clip about a cop running away from the mob with stones flying towards him, until one guy caught him and then the people trashed that poor cop. And he was grinning as he ran. Man I feel soooooo sorry for the bugger. Another clip showed a cop being carried away by the mob. God knows what they were planning to do to him.

All in all, what the kannadiga celebrities said was so true. Most of the mobs are anti-social elements, making trouble just because this is the only time they can commit such outrageous crimes. Compare the two television clips of angry Palestinians stoning an Israeli tank and “fanatical fans” of Dr.Rajkumar stoning a burning KSRTC bus. You can literally see the anger and passion in the faces of the former, while the latter shows grinning faces up to no good. Here I quote what the NDTV driver said after he was roughened up by the mob: “They were pelting big big stones and clearly everyone is booze, and they did not come to see Rajkumar but came to make violence.” sigh* How true.

Watching the news and other people comment definitely makes the common man come up with their own different judgment. NDTV claimed there was only one death during the violence while Times now said 5 people died so far. Girish Karnad, actor and theatre personnel, blames this whole thing on the poor response and preparation made by the police, while DGP DS Sial said this whole incident is an insult to the departed soul, clearly evading the question on whether this whole incident is a failure or not on the law enforcement part. Still, whatever be the outcome, the common man suffers. No water supply, electricity blackouts in some part of the city (luckily we had electricity the whole day), no restaurants open, and most important of all, no wine shop open!

I hope and pray tomorrow is a better Bangalore. It’s Good Friday tomorrow. Am planning not to miss the evening Mizo Church service. Hope I don’t get pelted with stones on my way to Church.

Tuesday, April 11, 2006

Chp 61. Happy Birthday Eve



[Imaginary background music = “Happy Birthday to you” by New Kids on the Block, put on unlimited loop]

Darling,
A very very happy birthday to you.
Although we’re miles apart,
Deep inside we are but one.
I know I cannot be by your side on this day,
But if God acknowledges,
I promise I will be for the rest of your life.

On this day, ** years ago,
God made my Destiny, with extra care.
He sees the future, He knows the past.
I thank Him for all that He has done.

As you celebrate this special day,
Always know deep inside
That I am there too,
Right by your side in spirit.
Looking shy as I stand besides you;
Smiling as well wishers shake your hand;
Holding back your hair as you blow the candles out;
Clapping as friends smear your face with cake;
Kissing you as you make a wish,
A wish that has just come true...

Baby, on this special day,
I send you my very best wishes,
With lots and lots of kisses,
And hope you have the time of your life.

I know I suck at poetry,
And I know my lines don’t rhyme.
But what I do know is that,
There’s no greater love than ours.
Happy birthday once again my darling,
May the good Lord continue watching over you.

Sunday, April 09, 2006

Chp 60. Monster Bike: Thunderbird

“It’s simple. It’s just like riding a bicycle. And you’ve been driving a four wheeler all your life. Combine those two and that’s it, you’re driving a bike”.

Those were the exact words from my good fren Isaac.

And last night, for the first time in my life, I drove a bike. Not just drove it around the block, but went all the way from Shivajinagar to Kamanahalli! Mannnnn it felt great!!!!

I have never been a bike person. Unlike most guys, I never had the chance to learn how to ride a bike. 9th grade. That was the time when all my frens in Mizoram started hitting the roads and rebelling. They all had their own two wheelers and they would zoom thru the streets of Aizawl late in the night. I was young then. I begged n begged my dad to buy me a bike. He immediately ordered our driver to teach me how to drive the car. Because after all, I am the youngest and the only son in the family, the apple of daddy’s eye and mummy’s spoilt little pampered child. They were never going to let me drive a bike as they considered it suicidal.

So I started driving a Maruti van at a very early age, followed by a gypsy and finally replaced by a Wagon R (By the way, we were the first people in Mizoram to own a Wagon R when it rolled out from the factory. Boy it felt great driving that car, bcoz everyone would stare at the car as if it’s a foreign car like a BMW or a Diablo or something like that. Plus, till now I strongly believe Wagon R is the best car I’ve ever driven in the small car sector. Indica, Matiz and maruti 800/zen are nowhere near it when it comes to ease of performance. But I admit, it does have a very shitty design.)

Anyway, there I was, driving a four wheeler all over town. And then came College. From our gang, Paolo had a 4-wheeler, and sometimes Johny would bring his car for the weekend. Nobody in our circle owned a bike. So engineering college went by without me ever getting the chance to learn how to drive a bike. Moved to H’bad after college and my Iraqi roomie Hyder owned an 800 and Haj also rent a Maruti now and then. So again I got to drive only a four-wheeler.

Post graduate. IIM-B. From our cirle of frens, Amol had a diesel Indica and Monu had a petrol Indica. Ofcourse they had bikes too, but I was only into the car. So two years went by, discontinued from IIM-B, and yet I never got to drive a bike. I always had Amol or Monu’s car at my disposal.

But the story changed as time moved on. Recently all my frens graduated from IIM (a compassionate post about farewell coming up soon. Promise it will be a real tear jerker) and shifting location means sending home a lot of stuff. Unfortunately Amol was not able to send his bike home because he couldn’t find the papers. So the responsibility of arranging the bike duplicate papers and sending it to Delhi fell on my hands as he could not postpone his flight.

Yesterday I went all the way to KMG, and picked up Isaac in an auto, and went to Nitya’s place near campus where the bike was parked. From there, Isaac drove till T’s place, which was as far as he was willing to go. At T’s place, I started learning how to drive the bike. I mean, I know how to drive in theory, like, bottom is 1st gear, then neutral, then 2nd gear etc. I drove around T’s block nearly 10 times. Soon got the hang of it. My dear roomie Amos was shit scared as hell to sit behind me as I hit the main roads for the first time in my life. But I assured him I am not going to screw up. Finally he sat on the bike coz he really had no other option. Amos was so scared that he hugged me tightly… or was that just an excuse?

Man, the ride back home was AMAZING. Driving a bike is nothing like driving a car. The sheer thrill of zooming 140 kmph on a flyover while I could do just a mere 90 in a car. Plus the noise the monster was making, it was absolute Heaven! Thunderbird. India’s version of a Harley. Mean heavy machine. Powerful as hell and sturdy to the bone.

And today I took the bike to Church. Ofcourse I was still a bit hesitant to go alone, so Isaac came over to my place in his Enticer and we went to Church together on those two bikes. I surprised everyone. Nobody thought I will have the guts to drive the bike in traffic as I’ve just learnt how to drive last night. Even that surprised me too. I guess I got the guts because I’ve been driving a car all these time on these very same roads.

After church I drove back immediately to my place although the guys had plans to meet up at a fren’s place. Here are the reasons why I wanted to play safe and be home before it gets dark.
• The bike had no papers and it was a weekend, meaning cops are all over the city checking bike papers.
• I did not have a two-wheeler license!
• The brakes aren’t working properly
• The battery is wasted. I can’t even see if the indicator is on neutral or not.
• When the engine dies, am having a tough time kick starting coz I couldn’t put it at neutral, and if it is on gear, a Thunderbird cannot be kick-started while gripping the clutch. It HAS to be in neutral.
• And oh one last thing. The freaking horn doesn’t work!

But inspite of all these, I drove pretty well. According to Isaac, I was a prodigy! He has never seen anybody catch up that fast. The only part where I was goofing up was at the signals. I always forget to switch the indicator off after giving a right or left signal. And Isaac has to turn back and shout that my indicator is still on for the umpteenth time. I mean, I am still so used to cars where the indicator automatically switches off. Guess I’ll have to work on that.

Last night after I drove the bike for the first time, I was excited as hell and obviously dreamt a lot when I slept. My dreams were all hazy n fuzzy and there were a lot of people and incidents involved. Can’t recollect much, but what I do remember is that this Thunderbird was involved in each and every part of my dream.

I really hope the bike papers can be made ASAP so that I can send this Monster to Delhi. The sooner the better coz I am starting to get really attached to it. So help me God.

Friday, April 07, 2006

Chp 59. Massage

On one of my earlier posts, I wrote about addiction and the kinda stuff people can get addicted to. Contemplating on that, I serious feel it’s possible to get addicted to massages.

You gotta be a true massage freak to enjoy this particular post.

How many of you can truly say you don’t enjoy a good massage? Especially after a stressful hard day’s work in the office, or after a tiring game of football or basketball or any kinda ball? If there is anyone who can honestly admit that a massage is the last thing on his/her mind, then I will personally come over to your house and clean your dishes for a week (My way of telling everyone that this is what I’ve been doing for the past 4 months )

Back in College days, during 1st and 2nd year of Engineering, I always go for a head massage every time I have a haircut (I used to have a weekly haircut and I still do even now) and also after a really tough workout during basketball practice. Man it just feels sooooo good to have the experienced barber rubbing and pounding my head with his bare hands (I would have said with his bare masculine huge strong hands, but that kinda made me sound a bit broke-backish ). He rubs and rubs and always manages to find the right spot, the right artery, the right tendons, the right muscles. Each stroke of his hand brings about a new sensation of ecstasy electrifying through my entire body. I can practically feel every molecules of my body jumping up and down and at the same time completely relaxing. Ah!!!! And after the massage, as I get up from that chair, I am completely re-vitalized, with an over-flowing feeling of calm, relaxation and satisfaction that I don’t seem to be experiencing anywhere else.

But 3rd year and 4th year of College, that was when I suddenly realize something very serious. I was actually starting to get uncontrollably attached to massages. I started visiting the barber just to get a head massage (15 bucks) even if I was not getting a haircut. I was on 3-4 massages a week then, and during exam week, it was a daily head massage. I know this may sound stupid but I actually believed I found it easier to study for my exams after a quick session of head pounding. But maybe this is partly true, after all, the more we learn, the more we forget. And when the barber starts hammering my head, a couple of things that I have learnt before are pounded out, hence making it easier for me to learn new theorems and programming languages. Towards the end of my 4 year sentence at PSG Tech, I was already on a daily, and sometimes even more than once a day head massage

After completing my engineering, I migrated to Hyderabad. There, things went for bad to worse. Not only did I continue going for my daily head massages, I even started “cheating” on my regular barber and “experimented” with others. It was like a new thrill. At first, yeah I did feel guilty about it, but what can I do. The body may be strong but the mind is weak. I found out that every barber have their own unique way of massaging. Sometimes, a particular barber concentrates on a particular style of massaging or on a particular spot while another lay stress on a different form. And some barbers even have their own modified version of head pounding. Some of them are exotic, some of them use appliances, and a few others surprise you with a new trick or two that you least expected. And I really love the ones that massage for a longtime, you know. Barbers who don’t last long, aren’t fun. Ofcourse if he finishes too quickly, I don’t complain but I make sure I never go to him again. (Gee, I only wish you guys can read my post as a completely decent and innocent post and not think of anything else all these time. Sheeesh, the kinda people that read my blog... )

Back to my addiction now. Ofcourse there is no such thing as “Massage Anonymous” but I really wished there was one right then. You know, something like a bunch of guys facing each other, sitting in a “straight circle” as my school PT Master used to say, somewhere in a shady damp place with just one yellow bulb flickering above.

Me: Hi. My name is Ki... Michael
Everyone: Hello Michael.
Me: Hi... Uh… well, the other day I passed Royal Saloon* on my way back from work. Stood outside the place for 10 minutes just watching the barber run his hands smoothly through his customers’ hair, and I could feel my knees go weak and my scalp twitch. But no, I told myself to be strong and suddenly made a dash for the other side of the road. Ofcourse a bus rammed directly into me as I was running across the street and ended up with seven multiple fractures, twelve stitches, a broken rib, a minor intra-cerebral hemorrhage and doctors said I may never be able to pee the normal way again. But the main important thing is, I resisted the temptation to go for a quick head massage.
Counselor: Bravo. Everyone, give a big hand to Michael.
(Everyone claps)
Counselor: Ok next…

[ * Why do so many people in India use the word “Saloon” to describe or name a barber’s place? I’ve seen atleast 20 different haircutting outlets with the word “Saloon” attached to it, like “Ramu’s Saloon”, “Hair Saloon”, “Bombay Saloon”, “Style Saloon” etc. The correct word is “Salon”. “Saloon” is actually a tavern, especially the ones we see in old western movies with gun-slinging sheriffs, tight denim pants and inflated crotches. Mizos on the whole too use “Saloon” a lot, but then, we can atleast say it got lost somewhere in translation, due to the letter “o” having a different pronunciation in Mizo from English. ]

Anyway, damn I’ve crossed the 1000 word milestone already! And all I’ve been talking about so far is just the head massage. I guess BlackWhite is kinda right. Once I start writing, I just don’t know when and how to stop. Hmmm, maybe next time, we will move further south, coz after all, if there is one thing that’s better than a head massage, it is a back massage. Yes yes, I know exactly what you were thinking, faith_no_more. And I’m sorry but you are not going to find the kinda massage you had in mind here in my blog. If I do move even further south, then it will be a foot massage. Just give up.

Tuesday, April 04, 2006

Chapter Interlude: Yahoo Offlines

I got a couple of offline messages when I logged in @ Yahoo while I was staying over at a fren's place in IIM the whole of last week. But then his comp hanged and all my offline messages are now gone forever. Since most of the messages I got were regarding my blog or from people who read my blog, I hope whoever messaged me can plz do it again since I never got the chance to reply or save the IDs.

As far as I can remember, there was one "sidewinder" something who wanted to discuss about something that I went through, "marie" something who wanted to talk more about an old post of mine (Older women,younger guys), and "Elektra" something who I've completely forgotten what he/she wanted to talk about. If you're any of the above people, plz do message me on yahoo again and am really sorry for the inconveniences.

Cheers...

Saturday, April 01, 2006

Chp 58. Basketball

Gallons of beer and crates of Rum later, do take a look at me. I am a balding pot bellied aging fart. Lazier than a sloth and slower than anyone’s grandma.

But there once used to be a time, long long time ago, when I was one of the most sought after point-guard in Tamilnadu school and college level. Ah! Such sweet memories. Waking up everyday before sunrise to jog 20 times around the football ground, skipping continuously for 30mins with 3mins break every 5mins, and undergoing the most stressful and tiring endurance work-outs under different State Coaches. There had been hardly a time when I did not do more than 100 sit-ups daily those days. Now I cannot even do 20 at one go.

Basketball has always been a part of my soul. Have been playing it since 3rd std. The only reason why I got into basketball at such an early age was because of my role models. Nope, it’s neither Jordan nor Magic. My two role models those days were my two elder sisters. They were really into BBall and were both captain of their school team when they were in 12thstd. La Martiniere’s School, Calcutta. I used to look up to them a lot and I started playing basketball only because of them while every young boy from the North-east was playing football.

Yet I trained harder and harder. Basketball is the only part of my life where I’ve actually ever pushed myself to the limit. In St.Thomas (Calcutta) and Montfort (Yercaud), my two alma maters, I was always the only mizo in the basketball team while the rest of the mizos went along the football mainstream. Years later, when I was in 10thstd, I was nominated the senior basketball team captain (Montfort School, Yercaud) and 2 years later, the School Basketball Captain, bagging the prestigious best Basketball Player Award. My dreams came true.

As far as I can remember, I’ve been playing basketball every single day during my school and college days. And I had the honour of playing under many great coaches, of which my most treasured coach would be Mr.Elias. Not just the best coach I’ve ever come across but also a great friend whom I turn to for advice on life, love and all sort of crazy stuff growing kids were curious about.

During my school captaincy, I led my team to the States Championship! That has been one of my proudest achievements so far. Winning a couple of state level tournament is something (to be precise, we won 12 state level tournaments under my captaincy), but winning zonals, districts, inter-districts, divisionals, regionals, inter-regionals and final reaching State is a completely different thing. Man it felt great.

Even in Mizoram, even though I am hardly there, I do play every time I go home for the vacations. My first team was “Vipers”. A total wash-out. We lost the second game we played. The next time I went home, I joined “Vikings”, a team made up by our locality group of friends. I did have a good time there. But it was not fruitful. During my 10thstd vacation, I was recruited by “J.L.Vision”. It was one of the best games I’ve ever played and we won the Mizoram tournament that year, and yours truly was awarded the best Player of Mizoram! Even got an offer to join the State team, but unfortunately had to decline because I had to go back to Tamilnadu for my studies. During one of my College semester vacation, I joined “ABC”. It stands for Andrew Basketball Club. Andrew was a dear fren of mine and ex-teammate from “Vikings” who passed away, may God rest his soul. The team is made up of people who were close to him. We won the Mizoram Tournament that year too!!! Had a blast celebrating our victory. And right now, am currently playing for “Club Francis” even though I never got an occasion to actually play for the team yet because it’s been ages since I last went home. “Club Francis” is formed in memory of Francis, a very close fren and classmate of mine, who died in a car accident in 2003, May God rest his soul too.

College was no different. I was a complete jock. We won TIES (Tamilnadu Inter Engineering Sports) three out of the four years I was in the College team. And during my final year at P.S.G. Tech, I was elected the Captain. But unfortunately I had to decline this offer and appointed Guhan to take my place. I assured the team that I will be just the playing captain. Coz being captain over all, means doing a lot of things like, registering for tournaments, arranging the transportation of the team, managing the funds and DAs (Daily Allowance) and TAs (Travel Allowance) etc and since my tamil is kinda weak, it was not something I can live up to.

Apart from being a 3 times TIES gold medalist, I played for the PSG Sports Club, one of the best college-level basketball clubs in Tamilnadu. We even beat Loyola whites once. PSG Sports Club is made up of the best players from PSG Tech (Engineering), PSG CAS (Arts) and PSG IMS (Medical) colleges. PSG Tech has given me some of my best memories when it comes to basketball. Long before I joined this college, when I was the captain of my School team, I scored my career highest of 42 points here in this very Institute. And PSG Tech was also the place where I actually dunked during the course of an actual tournament (Fuck, now I cannot even touch the ring). And during my PSG days, we even beat Customs & Excise, one of the best Clubs in TN, with a buzzer beater! I couldn’t sleep that nite.

But I guess one must sacrifice if one wants to do something else that is more important. During my final year at PSG, I had a couple of back-papers that I must clear if I wanted to graduate. It was then that I got an offer to join my University (Bharthiar) BB team. With a heavy heart I had to turn it down bcoz I had lots to study. And our team went on to become runners-up in the All India University Tournament, losing to DU (Delhi University) in the finals. Damn, how much I regretted letting that opportunity pass.

Anyway, even though I’ve stopped playing for the past 3-4 years, I do hit the court like once or twice a month. It is then that I go through a very emotional phase that every ex-sportsperson goes through. It is at that very moment that you realize how different you’ve become, when you realize how much it hurts to know you can do a particular move, but physically you just can’t do that anymore. Like, your mind is ready to execute that 360 degrees double fake in the air, but when you actually do it, your body lands on the hard concrete floor even before spinning 270. I mean, your mind is perfectly capably of doing it, and in your head, you’ve actually pictured yourself doing that move, but in the real world, it is just not possible anymore. Or the way you fire a fade-away three pointer downtown. Nobody could stop you once you were on fire those days. But now, people block your fade aways as if it’s a casual jump shot. Sigh*

But there is one thing I will never regret from what I gained playing all those tournaments all my life. Experience. This is probably one of the most important factor in a game of basketball. I have seen so many players who are extremely good courtside while practicing, but when it comes to a real tournament with national refrees and flood lights and the crowd heckling them, they easily give in to pressure and even miss a Childs play underbasket.

With experience comes a whole lot of advantages like the ability to analyze the whole game, the ability to predict your man’s next move, the ability to predict the opponent’s coach’s next game plan, the ability to understand the whole game as if its nothing but a simple game of tic tac toe, the ability to keep calm even when you’re having the ball and there’s only 5 seconds left on the clock and the opponent is leading by two points.

During my college days, when me and my frens would just sit and watch top level players like Robinson Sr. (IOB), Hansel (ICF), Jayashankar (Indian bank), Parminder Singh Sr. (Punjab) etc perform on the court, we used to actually laugh at them coz they were so talented yet so slow due to old age creeping up on them. But then you realize how critical their position is on the team. These people have more experience than all of us from our college team put together. Their main job on the team would be to feed the much younger and vitalized players. And right now, I feel nothing but like these legends. An old fart on the court who knows every trick in the book but cannot even shuttle run a half court under 1 minute anymore. Age and nicotine takes a toll on everybody sooner or later.

I used to follow the NBA loyally too. Knew every single player from Western to Eastern conference back then. But nowadays, am completely out of touch with what’s going on in the NBA. I had a lot of idols too, role models. And I was completely crazy over them. I used to hate Shaq. I still do. The people I really love are phenomenal players like Iverson, Jason Kidd, Stockton, Snow, Stoudamire, Hardaway etc. Yup if you are a follower of NBA, you will realize what profile really impresses me. Short guys. Especially short point guards. Why? Coz I too am a height impaired basketball player (I’m just 5’10, tall for a mizo, but short for a basketball player) and also a point guard. I really love it when short guys boldly challenge a taller player and shoots over him. Honestly speaking, I am not even a fan of Yao Ming, and it’s really irritating when people ask me if he’s my idol just because he happens to be oriental too.

Anyway, I guess basketball will always be a part of my life. Sometimes it hurts when I read the mizo papers and find that Mapuia is glorified for being the first mizo to play in the National team. Mapuia, who was nothing but a mere kid during the peak of my career, is now playing for the Indian juniors team. Sometimes all these makes me think, I could have very well been where he is right now had I not decided to concentrate on my studies. Ah life sux. But then, when I think even more deeply and ask myself if it was really worth it, the answer is definitely yes. I have gained so much more after I took the academics path even though I discontinued from IIMB. I would have never been where I am today had I decided to ditch my studies and concentrate on sports.

This is why I just love the NBA. They have just one simple message for all the youngsters worldwide. “Stay in School”. Ofcourse this doesn’t apply to the likes of Kobe Bryant, Grant Hill etc who joined the league immediately after school. But still, it is reassuring to know that the NBA discourages people from dropping out of school just for the sake of playing a professional game. Long live Basketball.