Dec 31, 2010

New Year's Eve party

I was in two minds to attend a New Year’s Eve party. I didn’t want to go to the crowded nonsensical GB party and I didn’t have a date to hang out with. Voila, one of my dear friends (who is also a hot Daddy) gives me a ring and invites me over to a BYOB house party. His apartment is very close to where I live and he had promised me that there will be a lot of Daddies out there. He even ensured that I will have a blind date.

So, with all this high expectation, I went to this party dressed up in a tight fitting beige pants (that my friend Shruta gifted me) and the Bodies exhibition T-shirt (that Vinokur had gifted me). I also sprayed myself with the new perfume that the Frenchman had brought. I brought whiskey with me to the party.

At the party, I met friends and past fuck-buddies, some of them I was very surprised to run into. This included the sculptor and the weird older friend that I have who has many “boyfriends.” The guest included LGBT heavy weights such as Ashok Row Kavi, Sridhar Rangayan, and Vivek Anand (Humsafar Trust). The blind date was charming as well and it was a pleasure be with him all throughout the party.

I made it a point to not get too drunk. That helped me enjoy the party better! All in all, a fabulous jump into the new decade!

Happy New Decade everyone!

Dec 30, 2010

Bad Influence

I don’t have a clue how many readers I have in this blog. But at least some have requested me to update them about the situation with the new band, Bad Influence. Well, at the moment that I’m writing it, we have had three rehearsal sessions. Overall, it has been a good experience. But we need to tighten up a little bit more and may be requiring some personnel changes for the same.

We have already started working on our original compositions. Of course, this is what inspired me to get back into songwriting, which I had done last weekend. I hope to do so in the New Year’s weekend too!

Dec 29, 2010

The French Connection - 2

The first date went so well that the Frenchman and I decided to meet up once more before he left for Paris. This time we met up at Churchgate station and went to Marine Drive. After spending some lovely time at the Marine Drive, we went to Pizzeria (Not Just Pizzas By the Bay) and had some nice pasta. Then we headed back for the routine of wine, sex, pipe, and photography. It was another brilliant date. Some pictures of me smoking the pipe have been taken. I’ll post them as soon as I receive them from the Frenchman.

Unfortunately, this will be our last date on this trip. Even though I invited him to the New Year’s eve party that I’m going to be attending, he said it wouldn’t be a good idea for him to party because he’s leaving on the same night. Until next time, bon voyage dear Frenchman!

Dec 28, 2010

Another Jew in the pond

Silverdaddies.com is just amazing! Tonight I met the most handsome, funny, charming, intelligent Jew Daddy in the world. He’ll give Vinokur some serious competition. We talked for a bit on the chat room and then on Yahoo. I think he’s simply lovely. If wishes were horses…

Dec 27, 2010

Free me, feed me, kiss me, kill me

You may not be what I had in my mind
You may have come up from behind
You have always been far from being kind
You have always been that, I don’t mind

Feel me inside out, it your only chance
Drown me down and out, it’s a fat chance
Feel my breath, it’s not happenstance, you
Drowned me in your charm, as per plan

Free me, feed me, kiss me, kill me
Free me, feed me, cuss me, kill me

Dec 26, 2010

Writing songs again

Being part of the new band Bad Influence has kick-started my desire to write songs again. I only wish I had a better recording setup at home. This weekend, I spent a lot of time doodling around the guitar, trying to create riffs and hooks. I wrote some lyrics as well, which I will post soon. I’m glad that I have restarted songwriting again. May the force be with me!

Dec 25, 2010

The French connection

I have conquered the French now as well! A handsome, intelligent professor of French literature and I went out for a night out in Mumbai today. A wonderful way to welcome Christmas. I met him at the Barista near Regal cinema. After having a coffee there, we headed to the suburbs by the local train.

We smoked wonderful hooka from a friendly neighborhood gay-friendly hooka place called “Planet Rainbow” and went to Kareem’s to have delicious chicken and mutton biriyani. Then we bought a bottle of wine and headed over to the apartment. I had already gotten in cleaned a neat for the date.

At the apartment we drank wine, smoked pipe, and had wonderful sex. He gifted me a bottle of eu de toilette from Paris!  It was truly a memorable date. I only wish I would such interesting men would be willing to stay in India rather than just visit it. I will upload some pictures soon!

Dec 24, 2010

Secret Santa at Work

Last year this time around, I was drowning in depression. I couldn’t enjoy anything at that time, forget buying gifts for a strange person that I didn’t even know. That’s exactly what Secret Santas are supposed to be, aren’t they.

But this time, things have changed. I’m on therapy and I feel good. That’s the reason why I decided to make this Secret Santa the "bestest" ever. I bought gifts for over 25 people at work, and for most I bought more than one gift. I did this over three days of intense shopping at Bandra Linking Road and Andheri station.

Not only did I make my Secret Child feel blessed, I made others feel loved too. Everyone seemed to have loved my gifts. Of course, I spent quite a lot of money on buying customized gifts for almost everyone. But it was fun and worth the effort and money.

To top it off, I won the “best dressed dude” and my Secret Child won the “best dressed damsel” at the office celebrations! This is what I wore for that! Of course, I have had to blur the face of my office colleague. Forgive me for that. But still, what a Christmas!

Dec 17, 2010

A new band

I'm waiting once more at the jam room. But this time it is different is a different jam room. And it is a different band. In fact, it is the first jam of a newly formed band - a band that could very well prove to be what I have been looking forward to be in all my life.

I reached here much earlier than the time slot that we had booked, and I have some butterflies in my belly. I am trying to spend time listening to the songs that we are supposed to rehearse. But the expectancy is overwhelming. Could this prove to be a memorable day in my life? Let's sit and wait and watch!

(PS: Even though the drummer didn't turn up, we had a good jam session. We went out for drinks afterward and are calling ourselves Bad Influence!)

Dec 16, 2010

The wonderful world of online relationships

It has become a ritual these days. Every evening, after work/rehearsals/gigs, after reaching home, I log on to the internet and to SilverDaddies.com, where I participate in chatting in a chat room - yes, it is so '90s and early 2000s to be in a chat room, I know. There, I meet my friends from all over the world, crack jokes, pull legs, and of course, get better in the act of seduction.

SilverDaddies.com and this chat room, where I had met Vinokur in 2007, has once again become the place to meet quality men. Every other day, I stumble on to men with whom I establish varying degrees of friendship. Some last just the length of a casual chat, some go on to other intsant messaging/chat platform, and some meander into furious e-mailing back and forth.

In the past 6 months or so, I have acquired at least 5 such friends, two of whom I have become very close to. One of them, a guy from San Rafael California, has become an integral part of my routine - he's the guy that I wrote about in my blog post about the Federal Government of the United States denying visa to his Indian boyfriend. I need to hear from him daily to know that he's alright and relatively positive about his future.

Another friend that I met there, a professor of French literature from Paris, is visiting Mumbai for Christmas and New Year's. We have already decided on meeting up for at least a couple of dates during the time he's here. I try to keep in touch with daily over Yahoo messenger. He is a poet and sends me across some poems that he has written. I comment on them and he replies to them etc.

And then there are Scots working in Yemen, Canadians retiring from public service, and yankees pretty much doing nothing ,-). I meet such a plethora of interesting, charming men. I like doing this to know more about people from other countries and cultures - it's almost like traveling without spending a rupee. Whatever it is, it is worth the effort!

Dec 13, 2010

Chuck becomes a father again

On the 11th of December 2010, Chuck sent me an SMS announcing him becoming the father of a newborn boy. I was so happy that I had to break my telephobia. I rang him back immediately to congratulate. Because of the appalling network reception at the new office, the conversation could not go on for more than a few seconds. But, the end result, which made both him and I extremely happy, was worth the wait.

Today, on his birthday, I sent him an SMS which said “Happy b’day, double daddy!” He called me back and he asked me I had meant ‘sugar daddy.’ He’s one of the few guys in my old friend circle who realizes what a sugar daddy means. We had a relatively long conversation where we caught up with each other. He hadn’t yet decided on a name but for his son, but the current nickname that is being used is “Appu,” made famous by the Simpsons character of the same name.

Now I can proudly claim to be the uncle of two nieces and one nephew!

Dec 10, 2010

Mumbai winter

The chill is in the air. Not quite a chill I guess, but there is a nip. Yes, it is winter in Mumbai and I am enjoying it. Although, it was heralded by a very bad upper respiratory infection, which is almost under control after a course of antibiotics, I love the fact that it is not warm and sweaty anymore. My apartment, which is always relatively warmer than the outside is a pleasant environment to be in during the next two months or so. No ceiling fans! Ah, what a relief from the creaky noises!

I love winters in Mumbai.

Dec 7, 2010

New office woes

After nearly 2 years of promises, my company has moved into a new office complex. It’s a swanky new office spread across the 10th floor of an office complex which has come up recently.

But my working space is cramped and there is lack of storage space. New rules have come up which prohibit eating and taking naps at your desk. These were integral parts of my office life before.

There is just a small pantry which is always crowded – making coffee, tea, and sandwiches just got a lot more painful. The pantry does not have a sink. On top of it all, the air-conditioning is uneven, and because of the carpentry work which is going on, the place is all dusty.

The most important of it all, however, is our inability to follow the same office culture as in the previous multi-gala office. Each gala had its own culture and we liked that a lot. That is no more.

I think I am being too negative about the new office at the present. I hope I will be able to find good things about the new office soon. Whether I like of dislike the office space, I still love my work and my colleagues!

Dec 5, 2010

Pride lost, experience gained

On Dec 5th, 2010, I realized a dream. I performed at Independence Rock XXV, the biggest and the most iconic rock festival India, which has been called the Woodstock of India. I played alongside rock icons of my generation, the biggest bands, and legends of the music scene. I performed in front of the biggest audience in my life – the final count is up to 6,000, I read somewhere.

There ends the good part of the story, however. I played with the new version of Pralay, founded in the 1990s, which had toured Russia of 6 months then, and which went on to get nominated for a Grammy award in 2003. The difference between the band then and the band now is that, in the past they had a full-time vocalist. After band-member departures, the lead guitarist of the band has taken up charge of the vocals, and as I had already written about, he’s no Dave Mustaine. And I must say, I don’t fancy the vocals of Dave Mustaine.

The audience at Independence Rock had a similar opinion. They booed at us, they threw bottles at us, and they made use leave the stage buried in shame. My friends, each and every one of them, thought that it was a pathetic performance. I had asked them to not judge me on the basis of this performance before hand, but some couldn’t just resist it and had to say “Fuck, why the hell do you play for this band?” I had my one answer – because I wanted to live the dream of playing at I-Rock. The critics didn’t spare us, neither did Twitter users.

From the band’s point of view, Farhad Wadia and Co., who had infamously pushed me out of stage last year when I was covering the event as a photojournalist, denied us a proper soundcheck before the gig, and gave us around 30 minutes to soundcheck and play after the first band Bhayanak Maut had performed. As ironic as it could get, he actually borrowed my acoustic guitar and rehearsed with it backstage. As expected, he didn’t thank me when I went to him to take back my guitar.

At the end of it all, albeit with a loss of pride and self-respect, I managed to perform at I-Rock. This picture will define this moment of my life forever.

*Picture courtesy Suvajeet Dattagupta.

Nov 29, 2010

The biggest gig of my life

As I sit near the jamming pad waiting for my band's turn to rehearse, I get time to breathe and look back at the last week or so. The schedule was/is back-breaking. A three-hour rehearsal everyday for two weeks. Yes, I'm preparing for the biggest gig of my career - not with Shor Bazaar or Cirkles, but with Pralay at Independence Rock XXV.

Pralay is a hard rock act that shot to fame with a nomination for a Grammy in 2004 in the world music category. Since then, the band has undergone many lineup changes. Their lead vocalist has left the band now the vocals are handled by the guitar player who's no Dave Mustaine. They have some of their songs in very Indian sounding scales and modes - D phrygian, for example.

I did a couple of freelancing gigs in 2009 with them. It was a strange experience because the music was unfamiliar and the band was not as tight as one should be. This time around, however, things are much better with a good combination at work in the drum/rhythm section.

We are sharing the stage with the behemoths of the rock/metal scene in Mumbai - Bhayanak Maut, Scribe, Demonic Resurrection, Indus Creed are the other bands. Throw in Axetortion featuring best guitarists from around the country and the rebranded Dinosaurs of Rock, the line-up is pretty intimidating. I hope that we can match up with the big guns and give a decent show.

The event happens this Sunday at Chirtrakoot grounds, just across the road from my apartment. I also happen to be playing alongside my heroes and drummers who have played with Shor Bazaar - Sidd Coutto and Jai Row Kavi - who are playing with the Dinosaurs of Rock and Indus Creed, respectively.

Wish me luck. Wish us luck.

Nov 25, 2010

Cousins now Know - part 2

Cousins now know - Part 2

My sister is not stopping anytime soon, I guess. Coming out on my behalf seems likes an ulterior motive on her mission to deliver the baby. She came out about me to the fifth cousin - one who's doing his masters in engineering in the States. She forwarded me a reply from this cousin to the mail that she had sent.

It started off something like this - 'It is neither a shock or a pleasant surprise to me.' Good, I thought! He went on to say that irrespective of my orientation I would remain to be his inspiration - I have always been an inspiration when it came to academics, and I guess he meant that. Despite being this positive, my cousin, who's in South Carolina, warned my sister of negative implications if she let other cousins know about my gayness. That, to me, is a little confusing. Why shouldn't my cousin, who has seen the world more than many others, have a positive attitude about others accepting me as I am?

Apart from my sexual orientation, my cousin went on in great depth about plans to help me come out of my familial hibernation. He seemed to even have sympathy at my apparently 'lost' path, and wanted my sister to take step my step approaches to winning my confidence back. Now, I'm not sure if I need this sympathy. I can see the intent underlying this feeling, but what comes out is probably unacceptable.

Since all of my cousins read my blog, I would like to let them know that I have always been family-phobic. Let me remain that way now. I appreciate their steps to get back in touch with me but I'm not sure that's what I need now. I need support in terms of understanding my neuroses and lack of efforts to restart communication via phone or in person. I don't mind e-mails or SMSes.

If you want to help me, please let me be me.

Nov 22, 2010

Engayging Lives on WSJ.com

"Engayging Lives," the documentary about four gay men (whose title is derived from this blog), one of which is yours truly, got featured in Wall Street Journal's blog! I am so happy to announce this!

Here is the link.

http://blogs.wsj.com/scene/2010/11/19/the-hong-kong-lesbian-and-gay-film-festival-kicks-off/

Heartfelt thanks to everyone involved in this project!

Nov 10, 2010

Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind

I watched this movie (only) about a month or so back. I had somehow forgotten to blog about it. I have no explanation for either of the preceding two statements.


Until I watched this movie, whenever I used to think about Jim Carrey, what came up in my mind is “The Mask” and the fact that I hated the movie. Stupid. That’s the word. I think I have also watched “23” sometime in the past. That revealed a darker shade of Jim Carrey. But still, the word remained the same—stupid. One word refer to an actor who portrayed such a fantastic character in Eternal Sunshine.

I had a very similar reaction to Kate Winslet and had slapped her (along with the fantastic Leonardo DiCaprio) as an eternal clichéd romantic, after having seen enough of footage from The Titanic without ever having watched the movie. That’s how commercial blockbusters can ruin the image of wonderfully talented actors. I have the habit of stereotyping—why, because my mind is not exactly spotless.

Anyway, I watched Eternal Sunshine, and I have one word to describe it. Whatay! Everything in this movie—the concept, the screenplay, the characters, and acting—is, unfortunately I have to use that word again, spotless! A technology to erase specific memories about people from your mind for a price? Priceless! How easy it would have been for us to deal with breakups and fall in love with the same person all over again without having any memories of past trauma!

This is sci-fi and drama combining at its best. Something close to Inception, I would say. I am rating it 4.5 stars! Bravo Jim and Kate! You have given me a new perspective to stereotype you with!

Nov 9, 2010

Saying "I Love You" ain't so hard

No it isn’t. It’s very simple. Just say “I love you!” I learned it when during my 3-year-relationship with Vinokur. Everyday, we would say “I love you” to each other several times. I agree that ours was a romantic relationship and it would necessitate such wordy confessions of amour. But you don’t always need romantic relationship to say it.

Before Vinokur, due to my Indianness, the word “love” itself was so heavy that I was scared of using it. I guess most Indians are in one way or the other scared of expressing their love toward others. I never used to say “I love you father” or “I love you mother” in my childhood. They never used to say that they love to me either. I grew up in an environment which promoted the notion that only couples on movies should say it.

However, things have changed for the better now. Now, I can easily utter the “dreaded” three words in almost all social contexts. It goes hand in hand with my tendency to complement others. I enjoy doing that to affirm my platonic relationships with my colleagues, all of whom I dearly love. Sometimes, it’s just for fun, and adds to the drama and “romance” at the office. But when I say it, I do mean it.

Every day, before I leave work, I make it a point to go to the desks of all my colleagues and say “I love you!” Most of them have even grown the habit of reciprocating to it with a “I love you too!” And every day, as I walk out of my office building, I leave with a smile of remembering how beautiful my colleagues are and acknowledging it right in front of them.

You should try it. Seriously, it works wonders!

Nov 8, 2010

The official birhtday treat

Everybody in my team at the office knows how much I hate celebrating birthdays. They also are acutely aware that I detest the idea of cutting a birthday cake—this is because I don’t like cakes in general, or must I say I have grown used to disliking cakes in general. I’m a fast aging man and I need to take care of what I eat. I guess that’s the reason why I avoid almost all forms of sweet things offered to me—chocolates, pastries, cakes, do’nuts and more.

Coming back to my birthday—as promised, or should I say “as threatened,” my office colleagues didn’t turn up at my apartment on 7th of November (Sunday, yesterday). They might have gotten a hint or two about my social phobia, I guess. Besides, I had lined up a couple of dates on that day. But both of them got canceled—one man turned out to be married and the other one, my last interesting date, who was treating me at his apartment with dinner, had some sudden emergency to attend to.

Either way, my otherwise disappointing birthday was followed by a surprise birthday treat at the office. Yes, considering all my neuroses and likings/dislikes, my lovely office colleagues, especially S, prepared a huge birthday sandwich for me, which included all kinds of things that I love to have in a sandwich: bread, lettuce, tomatoes, cucumber, eggs, bacon, chicken salami. Here’s a picture of the sandwich and another one with me trying to bite into it.
They didn’t stop it right there. Again being very thoughtful and considering, they gifted me a bagful of frozen meat items that I could use to make food at home. That was such a kind gesture from them! I thank all of them for executing this fantastic idea! The only unfortunate cog in this whole process is that my refrigerator’s freezer is not working properly—so, I had to let S take all the frozen stuff to her home and let her have them cooked for me. Here’s a picture of the handing over ceremony!

All in all, it was a fantastic post-birthday for me at the office! I love my office!

Nov 7, 2010

The 31st birthday

It is my first ‘single’ birthday in 4 years. Last year this time, I was drowned in depression. I still remember the 6th of November last year. It was Vinokur’s birthday, and I had a gig that night. Before leaving for work, I had manually changed by date of birth on all the social networking sites to May 7th to make sure that I don’t get flooded with the ‘happy birthdays’ — happy was a word that I was averse to then.

This year, I did the same thing to confuse everyone. I was partially succesful. Some of them still remembered and wished me. The others saw that some people are wishing me and joined in. Besides, I am at a much saner state of mind to respond to the word ‘happy’. Also, almost to give me a helping hand, FaceBook has allowed us to ‘like’ others wishes instead of reciprocating to them directly.

Last year at the gig, I remember wearing my b’day gift from Vinokur — the T-shirt that read ‘I my Weiner’. This year, I didn’t receive a gift from him. Instead, I received a Skype call on the 3rd of November. He wanted to wish me for by b’day earlier because he was going to be out of station for a week or so — he is celebrating this year driving up to upstate New York. On Skype video, he looked plump but still managed to retain that wonderful aura combining handsomeness, intelligence, and love.

The fact is that I still love my Weiner.

Nov 3, 2010

The US Federal Government destroyed my life

It’s coincidental that I am posting this around the time President Obama is visiting India for his 10-day South East Asia tour. This is just after the mid-term elections in the US during which the Republicans, helped by the Boston Tea Party, gained many seats to assume majority in the House. The failure of Obama, and the Democrats in general, is considered to be due to his failure to pull back the economy on right track, unemployment, and the medical policy.

I am not a citizen of the United States. Yet, I follow the various developments in the States scrupulously. Why? Because, in one way or the other, the Federal Government’s policies are responsible for the situation my life is in right now. I’m talking about its stand on immigration equality for same-sex partners. My life was turned upside down because I couldn’t be with Vinokur, a citizen of the United States. Despite us being partners for life and having being almost engaged to each other, I couldn’t be with him in the States in the first place, which forced him to consider visiting me during a time when his health was not at its best. Now having been separated, Vinokur has found a new partner and has moved on.

Why am I bringing this up now? Because I know of another beautiful couple who are facing separation because the Indian partner being denied a visa to stay in the States. My friend Danny from the state of California, which has illegalized same-sex marriages after a brief period of legalization, had met his Indian partner a few years back, when he was graduating at the University. In a year’s time, they met each other and moved in with each other in Danny’s home. Danny’s boyfriend later found a job and had started working there.

Three weeks back, the couple flew to Canada to visit the US embassy in Montreal to renew Danny’s boyfriend’s visa. They stayed there for a week but the embassy delayed proceedings by asking for more documentation. Danny flew back to California and sent his boyfriend’s laptop and the necessary documentation. Danny’s boyfriend waited in a rented hotel room in Toronto for a positive message from the embassy for a few more days. After seeing no signs of reply, he decided to fly back to India.

At this particular moment, Danny is not sure whether his boyfriend will ever be able to come back to the US. Danny is crushed and his life is shattered. Of course, the couple did not bring up the same-sex nature of the relationship to the embassy. But had there been an already existing law which allowed immigration rights to same-sex partners of US citizens, things could have been so different.

These are just two stories from thousands of other broken relationships and families. It’s time that Obama and the Federal Government took actions to grant equal rights to partners of same-sex couples. Even though I cannot directly help organizations like Immigration Equality, and Human Rights Campaign, I’m morally with them on these issues, and given the slightest chance, would help them in any way that I can.

Oct 31, 2010

Social unshackling thanks to a beautiful gay couple

A few months back, I met a friend on a personals website. He was an elderly man (well, middle-aged by my standards) from Mumbai who was in a long-term relationship with his boyfriend. He seemed genuine in his correspondence to me and tried to keep in touch with me regularly. I got to know from his communications that his boyfriend was much older to him—the boyfriend had undergone cardiac surgery and was recuperating from it.

The good thing about my friend is that he seemed to be interested in me as a friend and didn’t seem to have an ulterior dark side like my other older former friend. In the few months that we had known each other over messages and SMSes, he must have invited me at least three or four times to drop by his apartment, which is quite close to KEM, and visit him and his partner. Once, I had even considered visiting him during my visit to help May out with her apartment hunt.

This Monday, I received an SMS from him. He was inviting me over to his place for dinner. My knee-jerk social-phobic response was in action and I replied almost immediately—“Thanks for the invite, but I’m sorry. I don’t think I’m going to make it to the dinner. I have social phobia and I will definitely feel out of place there.” He replied saying it was alright and that he understood. I was relieved on one hand and was worried on the other hand whether my friend had misunderstood me.

On Tuesday, something happened to me. Something inspired me to break out of my social shackles that I had imposed on myself after traumatic social episodes like this. I sent my friend a message saying that I had reconsidered his invitation and had decided to attend his party. He expressed happiness at my change of mind and offered to host me earlier in an effort to decrease my discomfort levels being with strangers at his party. I agreed and things were all set for my first social adventure in months.

During the week, I learnt that I already knew most of the people that he had invited over to his party. One of them was a guy who I had a huge crush on a year or so back. For a change, things were looking bright. I decided to take a half-day off on Saturday to reach his apartment early and to get to know the couple well before the guests arrived.

My friend greeted me at the gate of this palatial residential complex a stone’s throw away from KEM hospital and ushered me through the sprawling complex into his apartment. On our way up to the sixth floor, I got to know that he was a flight person and had met his partner decades ago in a flight and then went out on a date during which, they would that they were neighbors. Soon they moved in together and have been partners ever since!

In the apartment, I met his wonderful partner—who I had mistakenly assumed for a firangi because of his first name was distinctly anglicized—and together we spent about an hour catching up and knowing each other. There were a few uncomfortable moments of silence here and there, mainly because I was struggling to get my rusted social skills to work in unison.

Eventually, as the guests started trickling in, I came to know more about the wonderful couple. They were freed to converse in the mode that they liked—the guests helped cull wonderful moments from their past and brought out a certain liveliness in the conversation. The older partner, who’s a ballet dancer, was a very jovial person with a unique narratorial style, especially when he described anecdotes.

Over whiskey, vodka, wine, salami, and salmon, we had a good time—at least, I did. Surprisingly enough, one of the guests was a person who I had a weird online acquaintance with. To add to the confusion, we failed to recognize each other initially because we were confused by the distorted images that Yahoo Messenger had provided us with. All in all, it was a fruitful experience—something that has reinvigorated my belief in controlled social partying and my search for a long-term relationship.

Oct 30, 2010

On my reading shelf

Salman Rushdie’s Midnight’s Children

If I remember correctly, this is my third effort to read this classic by Rushdie which has won the Booker of Bookers. I got a decent print from my favorite roadside bookseller a few months back and this time the reading is going on well. Many people have said that they could not get through more than a few pages a Rushdie book. To all of them, I suggest that they try this one.

Suketu Mehta’s Maximum City – Bombay Lost and Found

I got a copy of this from my office colleague from whom I got Persepolis. I just started it and I don’t have any distinct opinion about the book yet. But all I can say is that I can relate to it a lot, having been in Mumbai (or should I say Bombay) for five years!

Victor Wooten’s The Music Lesson

A lot of my friends mistook my messages on Twitter and FaceBook about me starting this Victor Wooten book thinking that I had downloaded a video lesson by him. For those who are unaware who Victor Wooten is, please check this amazing musician’s profile out on Wikipedia. This was gifted by a dear friend of mine, a fellow musician, with whom I have spent a few glorious months in Mumbai. I have gone through half of this book mostly during my daily travel up and down to office from my apartment. I’m about halfway through the book and I’m already bugged by the spirituality part of the book.

Oct 29, 2010

The official birthday threat

My colleagues at work, who I dearly love, to whom I express my love in a very obvious, literal manner on a daily basis, have decided to do something that would be the most unwelcome. They are planning to visit me on Sunday, November 7th, on my birthday—something that I really am not prepared for. In all honesty, this act is going to be very annoying if they eventually pull it off.

They want to do this because I don’t let them celebrate my birthday at work—last year’s birthday came on a Saturday when I had an off day and this years’ is of course on a Sunday. I think they are serious about this and they have given me a warning to clean my apartment up so that it is ‘habitable’ by their standards.

My apartment is never really unclean by any standard. Remember that I’m gay. Also, I have had a history of cleanliness and neatness wherever I have lived. Ask my mother and sister if you need some assurance about this fact. Plus, I have a maid who comes in and does whatever little there is to be taken care off.

Sometimes there are some clothes and guitars strewn around my primarily because there is not enough storage space to put them away. But the main problem with my apartment is that it is dusty and warm. Plus, there are cockroaches and lizards which I don’t really have a problem with because they give me company in my loneliness.

I must admit that I have lost some of the motivation to dust the apartment, take care of cobwebs, and make sure that my sub-mammalian comrades are not excessively proliferating. This coincides with a general lack of motivation that is seeping through my life, especially in all facets of my life other than work. This make me worry a lot—will my colleagues make fun of my apartment’s apparent ‘uncleanness’?

So, in the last two weeks leading up to my birthday, I’ll have to be scared and wary of this impending threat. This is not the right way to shower love to a social phobic, bipolar person like me. Would you you please understand and act accordingly?

Oct 27, 2010

Nightmares

I’m back in Kerala. I’m surrounded by friends who are puzzled at my decision to write an entrance examination again. I can’t seem to properly answer their questions. The setting is not at my parents’ new home, but in my old home, where we used to stay when I wrote the entrance examination to qualify for my MS Orthopedics in Mumbai’s KEM hospital.

I seem to be intent on giving an examination again and qualifying for another residency course. It seems the logical decision to me as the flow back to a surgical career would be smooth. I also am sure that the new degree/diploma would add to my already acquired MS degree. I even urge some of my friends who have established career paths to do the same.

Yes, such things could happen in dreams—more correctly, nightmares. Almost every night, in the last many months, I have had nightmares related to my fledgling surgical career. These nightmares vary in intensity, but leave a clear vision in the mornings, leaving with a burning desire to break away and get back to the hospital. They give me some faith that the difficulties that I will encounter can be faced as and when they come along.

But how can I throw away what precious little that I have acquired in my career in music and editing? My job in editing provides me with the financial stability that I require. It also allows me to do what I want when I want it—a controlled life that a surgical career would not allow. It also allows me to indulge in my music career, which unfortunately is just going nowhere.

How long can I survive these?

Oct 24, 2010

There is something about Ray...

Ray and I hadn’t spoken in months. We were getting into a messy situation of how to break the incommunicado. Every couple of weeks or so, an SMS would arrive from him (or for him from me) asking how things were. There would be a customary reply which would be reciprocated by “Isn’t our friendship fading away?” message. We’d mutually agree that we needed to break the deadlock and start afresh. But we were hesitant to do so.

This status-quo lasted until this Sunday, when in a reply to a customary SMS, I told him about my newly-manifested telephobia. He was surprised and asked me if I was being irregular with my medications. I said I was alright otherwise except for this intense telephobia, especially with my family and friends. I added that I didn’t think that telephobia would manifest with him. I didn’t know why, but I was sure that it wouldn’t be the case.

That was the impetus that we needed. I called him to check if my prophecy would be true. It turned out to be true after all. We had a decidedly healthy conversation lasting almost half an hour, where we chatted like old bum-buddies. But we were careful to avoid the topics that would cause trauma to either side. That’s our forté. And that’s what probably lacking in the conversations with other people that I’m telephobic for!

At the end of it all, we are as good we have ever been! Cheers to me and Ray and our friendship!

Oct 21, 2010

My cousins now know

My sister is currently nursing her baby girlchild. That's an enormous responsibility. She seems to want more. Why else would she shoulder the responsibility of coming out, albeit on my behalf, to my cousins. The ironic and funny thing about this fact is that my parents had forbidden me from doing so myself. So my sister breaks the shackles for me.

It apparently started with two of the closest cousins from my inglorious past. They were surprised, but apparently accepted the news rather graciously. They must have had questions and I don't know how far my rather frail (physically, of course) sister would have been able to handle those. I wish I can help her with the burden -- if only my telephobia would allow me.

Now, these two gentlemen couldn't hold the breaking news to themselves. They confided in their siblings -- a brother and a sister. The brother, the youngest of the four cousins involved in this little fiasco, has already browsed through this blog and read bits and pieces. The sister, however, is grappling to come to her senses having heard the news.

She must have been thinking - 'How could it have happened? He looks normal! He behaves normally. He's funny and intelligent. He's educated and talented. He's just like one of us. I don't believe it!'

Well, the heart of the matter is that, my dear cousin sister, I'm exactly what all you think about me - the positive and negative things. Just the fact that I'm gay. I like men just like the way you like men. I like to have an emotional relationship with a man of my choice. Yes, and have sex with him. Sometimes these things can be mutually exclusive. But the answer is yes.

So, take your time. Let it sink in. At the other end, you will still find me.

Oct 20, 2010

Telephobia

It’s a forgotten fact about my forgettable past. Yes, I used to be an introvert once. My tenure as a medical student and the responsibilities related to my sister’s marriage, which, in turn, was a result of the sheer ineptitude of my father in tact and intrafamilial affairs, had allowed my de-cocooning and metamorphosis into a social butterfly.

Most of my current friends haven’t a clue about this dark aspect of mine. Let me try to put it in a rather complex way: my past is not present in their past related to me because I was not present in their past at that stage. Anyway, my introversion remanifested around the time I had to deal with the mental trauma related to Vinokur’s illness/visit and the eventual separation; it has now established itself to be the primary trait in my present day life.

One of the characteristic features of this shade of my personality is my fear to have phone conversations. A Google search tells me that this is a prevalent, relatively well-known phobia and is referred to as phone phobia, telephone phobia, or telephobia. My telephobia is currently rooted in my fear to have conversations with people who I have a difficult job convincing my side of things in traumatic topics, which include my career choices, familial duties, and depressive tendencies.

Although my best friends (Chuck, Ray, and May) have the level of understanding with me that should enable a conversation, I still fear the trauma associated with the reestablishment of a torn umbilical cord — nature lets the umbilical cord atrophy, we try to put it back together. What I’m trying to say is that - it's that hard for me to speak to anyone, even my best friends.

My telephobia, which is an element of the broad umbrella of social phobia, is acute with my family, relatives, and friends from my past. Please note that the modifier ‘from my past’ was not initially meant for the former two items in my three-item list, but can encapsulate them as well, because of the obvious — I have honestly moved on from my family and relatives, haven’t I?

Thus I don’t take calls from my past and definitely don’t make calls to those associated with it. Simple. Avoid trauma — the reincarnations of the past that I have left behind for good, even though a very tiny part of I may still want that past to be a part of my present.

When not at its inglorious best, my telephobia manifests as rudeness or curtness. Sometimes my perplexity as to what necessitated a phone conversation in the first place, when we could have perfectly avoided it, seeps through, you see. I often forget to sugarcoat my words in the social context and I misunderstood as the consequence. People fail to understand that I’ve never had that part in my machinery to start with — so how can have the oil to lubricate it?

Maybe this post is not cogent and is rather disoriented. But the final message is this — for telephobic folks like me, SMSes, e-mails, and even face-to-face conversations work better. There it is for you; that little snippet of me is out.

Oct 19, 2010

Persepolis

Yesterday, after a long period of time, I finished a book. Not quite a book really - well, it was a graphic novel called Persepolis by Marjane Satrapi. It is a French-language autobiographical comic (translated to English, of course) by Marjane Satrapi depicting her childhood up to her early adult years in Iran during and after the Islamic revolution. It is an engrossing read and keeps you entertained and informed with tidbits of political commentary and humor sprinkled all over.
But the part that I related most to was the narrative about little Marjane's break-up with her high-school boyfriend Markus, who was found to have been cheating on her. I'll quote a little passage from the book which summarizes the way I felt and continually feel after my break-up with Vinokur.
My breakup with Markus represented more than a simple separation. I had just lost my one emotional support, the only person who cared for me, and to who I was also wholly attached.

I had no family or friends; I had counted on this relationship for everything. The world had just crumbled in front of my eyes.

“Leave me alone, please!”

Everything reminded me of Markus. This bedspread, it was his birthday present to me.

This posted, he bought for me at the Picasso show at the Museum of Modern Art.

His T-shirt. Oh, his T-shirt.

Aside from him, who else was sincerely interested in me during these four years in Vienna.

Where was my mother to stroke my hair?

Where was my grandmother to tell me that lover, I would have them by the dozen?

Where was my father to punish this boy who hurt his daughter? Where?

In this room, everything evoked Markus. I couldn’t stand it anymore.

I took my bag, my passport, the plane ticket my parents had given me to visit them at Christmas, and a little money.
Of course, I don't have close ties with my family and parents, nor do I have plane tickets to go back home -- I don't want to go back home, actually -- the life of Marjane resembles mine in a variety of aspects. The way she breaks down after her break-up, the way she considers herself to be a loser and goes into depression after having failed at being what her parents had hoped her to be, the way she isolated herself from her friends and family, and the way her first marriage breaks up -- all this represents what I am going through right now.

I think I have gotten way too emotional with this blog post already. The take home message is, folks, read the book. Or at least watch the movie.

Oct 13, 2010

I become an uncle

Half a year ago, I was all excited about the prospect of becoming an uncle. I was happy to share the news with everyone at my office and was generally looking forward to being an uncle. But things have changed for the worse, again.

Today, my sister delivered a baby girl. My sister sent me a message early in the morning saying that she's starting to get labor pains. She had called me later in the morning, when I was still asleep. From then on, I remained incommunicado with my family except through SMS. I didn't pick up calls from anyone - including those from my parents and brother-in-law informing me about the baby being born at around 6.14 pm (my Dad's SMS told me that -- he's an astrologer, you see).

It must have been the shame that made me do it. Shame of having let down my sister and my family, of not being there when she needed it. Shame of being a failure in life. Shame of having thrown away the best opportunities that I have had. This shame is parallel to my mental state which wreaks of negativity.

The drugs aren't so effective after all.

Oct 1, 2010

An unhealthy open relationship - part 2

I had a chat conversation with my friend whom I blogged about yesterday. Since the last time we talked -- we had met at his apartment -- he had met and broken the heart of the Bangladeshi boy who was visiting him. It was well over 10 days after this unlucky boy had arrived. I asked my friend...

"Hey, how are you?"

"I'm good. Thanks."

"Has he left?"

"Nope. He's still here. He's a nice boy."

"But wouldn't you have liked that he left?"

"Nope. Why? I would have liked him had he stayed."

"What about your boyfriend then?"

"He'll be there too!"

"What? What will they both go through then?"

"Nothing. This is part of life. They will get on with it... and there will be more boys like this!"

"Alright."

....

"Chalo, I'll say good night to you then. Bye."

"Bye."

I couldn't believe what I was hearing. It broke my heart. And now, I have decided to not actively get into a conversation with him again.

Sep 29, 2010

An unhealthy open relationship

I recently blogged about a newly acquired acquaintance whose life story is fascinating and worthy of being converted to a book. We had met each other in one of the networking sites a few months back and have become good friends. In the three months or so that I have known him, I have come to respect him and his lifestyle. He's an older man in an open relationship with a younger guy for around 7 years or so. But it's not just another open relationship.

My friend lives in his own relatively-luxurious apartment, has a regular office job, and has a secure lifestyle. His boyfriend, however, is married with two kids, lives separately in his relatively-poor household with his extended family, and does not have a regular job. My friend loves his younger partner in the same way a two lovers love each other, but his boyfriend probably, in my inference, loves him more like an elder brother. They meet each other over weekends, spend time with each other, and enjoy each other's company.

But that's not the end of the story. My friend is not totally honest to his boyfriend about the fact that he's sleeping around. According to him, it is inferred/implied and does not need to be talked about openly between the two partners. Not only does my friend sleep around (as he did with me a couple of times), he gets emotionally entangled in relationships with other men to whom he is not honest about the fact that he already has a boyfriend/lover.

In a conversation with him late last week, I was shocked to learn that he's currently in "love" with three other men. One of them is traveling all the way from a neighboring country to visit him for 10 days. This is the first time they are meeting. When I asked my friend if he thinks he's not being dishonest and unkind to all parties involved, he nonchalantly said: "It's fine as long as everyone is happy, at least temporarily. When the truth is eventually out, there is an element of pain to be endured, but that is compensated by the happiness gained during the time the relationship progresses until the revelation." He added that such things happen both in straight and gay circles and people take it in their stride.

I argued with him about this whole situation. He's not only "cheating" on his lover by getting into romantic relationship with others, but he's breaking the hearts of those people who's getting into new relationships with. Those people might be young men who might be having their first real emotional relationship, unfortunately however, with my friend. My friend holds all the cards here and he's virtually toying with the lives of others. As things stand now, his latest "lover" has a broken heart (after the revelation of course), which my friend is trying to mend! I am extremely sorry for this young man and I wish I could help him out some way.

But the real question is this -- what do I do with this friend. Do I try and reason with him? Do I try and accept the cruel person that he is and get along with life? Do I break up my ties with him?

Sep 26, 2010

How 'ungay' am I?

One of my good friends asked me in an SMS early this morning - 'Are you still gay?' He was joking of course, or so I believe. However, in the present state of my mind, I think that question carries more significance and relevance than it seems to. How many 'gay' qualities do I possess -- more importantly, how many that I don't. Let's see.

I'm not into socializing. I don't go well with parties anymore. This is well documented in a recent post about a party that I went to after being invited by the same friend who asked me the abovementioned existential question. Gay people thrive on parties. They meet people, crack jokes, bitch about people, fish for dates, and get laid eventually. There goes a major point.

More about gay people socializing. They meet friends with their friends and hang out at cafés and go out for dinners and cheesy movies where they laugh and make comments at slap-stick comedy and melodrama. They shed tears when hollywood/bollywood divas succeed in their quests to find love (on screen, of course). They enjoy doing all this as part of groups. I don't.

Gay men enjoy musicals (like Mama Mia, the Sound of Music), movies based on high fashion (SATC). They hate action movies like the Expendables , sci-fi movies like Predators, and cartoon movies like Up. They watch drama on television as if their lives depended on it. They love classic (read gentle) pop music and dance to Bollywood tunes like their lives depended on it.

Gay people take care of themselves. They groom and keep themselves physically attractive all the time. They wear fashionable clothes in line with the latest in fashion. They visit the gym religiously and have the term 'six-pack' listed under abs and not beer.

This list could go on and on. I find myself as the most 'ungay' gay man amongst the people I know. This has resulted in me confining myself to my apartment weekend after weekend, making me unable to find anybody to be with or have sex with, thus making me lead quite miserable 'social' life.

You could say that my 'ungayness' isn't helping me at all.

Sep 24, 2010

An uncomfortable phone conversation

My Mom called me midway through last week. I've been sort of avoiding talking with her because of what happened a week or so back.

'So how are you?'

'I'm fine.'

'Are you eating properly?'

'Yeah.'

'What did you have for breakfast?

'Sandwiches.'

'What are you going to have for lunch?'

'Something that my friends will bring me.'

'Okay, your sister's here. Do you want to talk to her?'

'Not really.'

Phone still gets handed over.

'Hi da, how are you?'

'I'm okay. Going on.'

'How is work and music?'

'Going on. Gigs now and then.'

'What else?'

'Nothing much really. How is the baby doing?'

'Nothing much. I've not put on weight. Just my belly is out.'

*Uncomfortable silence*

'So, are you coming down to Kerala for my delivery?'

'No.'

*Uncomfortable silence*

'I'm a little busy now at work. We'll talk later. Bye.'

'Bye.'

Sep 23, 2010

Gattaca

I found Gattaca on a list of the top 25 sci-fi movies of all time. I read the short write-up and I was intrigued by the concept. In this movie, the human race has advanced in genetic engineering to reach a stage where 'manufacturing' offspring with the best set of genes is the norm. Such persons are termed 'valids' (the others being referred to as 'invalids') and they get the best opportunities and training in almost all fields. The invalids are relegated to menial jobs like cleaning and housekeeping.

The story the the struggle of an invalid Vincent Freeman (Ethan Hawke) to 'fake' his identity into a group of valids training to become astronauts. He does so by adopting the persona of the handicapped valid Eugene Morrow (Jude Law). Gattaca complex where Vincent and a fellow valid trainee Irene Cassini (Uma Thurman) are being trained to become astronauts.

One of Gattaca's managing officers is murdered and Vincent becomes the main suspect but continues to evade the police. Sometime during this process, he falls in love with Irene, to whom he's forced to reveal his true identity. The film builds up to an exciting climax as Vincent prepares to board a 1-year mission to Jupiter.

Apart from the suspense and action of the movie, the most intriguing aspect is the class divide between valids and invalids, which mirrors the class divisions existing in our present society -- between the rich and the poor and between the upper castes and the lower castes.

To put things in perspective, this movie was made in 1997 and despite the genre of science fiction, it scarcely needs to use advanced graphics to keep the viewer engaged. I'd give this movie a 4*.

Sep 20, 2010

Emotional blackmail (Part 2)

Earlier, I had written about my Mom emotionally blackmailing me to try and make me give medical advice to my aunt/uncle who had helped me out financially in the past. I was furious and tried to explain to my Mom how difficult it was for me to initiate a conversation with virtual strangers with whom I hadn't had a conversation for years. She tried to reason with me but I didn't give up.

Well, she called me a couple of days later with the same proposition. After a bit of arguing, instead of hanging up, I offered her a solution. I said, I'll give the advice to you and you can relay to it. Initially, my Mom was hesitant, but eventually she gave in. Of course, there was bitterness written all over the conversation. And we hung up on each other without saying goodbye.

Later in the evening, my Mom called me up and said "I have told aunt/uncle what you told me. Now you don't have to call them." I said "Okay" and I hung up. Good riddance!

Sep 19, 2010

Parties are not my kinda thing anymore

There was a time, a couple or years or so back, when I had a good time at parties -- especially gay parties. Of course, after coming to Mumbai, I was initiated to GB parties by a friend -- who himself is a surgeon, but is closeted. I had some acquaintances to talk to and things to talk about -- about my career as a surgeon, about my aspirations as a musician, about my wonderful relationship with Vinokur etc.

Things have changed much since then. In the last few parties or so, I have had the worst experiences of my life. I would stumble in, usually with a heartful of expectations, and find no one interesting. Soon, I'd be drinking down drinks while checking out stuff on the internet on my mobile. There might even be good cricket/football matches that I had left at home, the scores of which I would be checking furiously. No one would come talk to me -- of course, I wouldn't find anybody interesting to talk to too.

Occassionally, there would be a familiar face in the crowd, someone that I knew but wasn't close enough to hold a conversation with. I would usually go up to them and greet them and whine about the boring party. If there people who I knew better, I'd want to strike up a conversation with them, but they would need to cater to his other friends sooner than later. Finally, I'd be all alone with my mobile phone.

People have asked on occasions whom I was messaging. Of course, when I was in a relationship with Vinokur, I'd have been communicating with him in one way or the other. But now, I have no specific person to communicate with. So I'd be spending time on Twitter and FaceBook.

So what has changed? I have grown old, I have thrown away my surgical career, I've put on weight and grown hair all over, I have fallen out of my 'unbreakable' relationship with Vinokur, I am cagey with my mind full of insecurities, and my social phobia. But more importantly, is it a case of me changing as a person? From being a converted extrovert back to an introvert?

I don't know, but parties aren't my kinda thing anymore! Give me loneliness, give me internet, give me sport on television. I'm happy that way. Oh, I'm game for one-on-one dates still.

Sep 17, 2010

Emotional blackmail

A couple of weeks back, my Mom called me up and requested me to do something crazy -- talk to my uncle/aunt in Bangalore and give advice to them regarding a medical condition that my uncle was harboring. I was hesitant and I tried to make that point clear to my Mom. I haven't talked to my uncle/aunt for over 2 years. It would be very uncomfortable for me to initiate a conversation, and to give medical advice on top of that.

My Mom couldn't understand how uncomfortable I am to talk to my relatives with whom I had no contact whatsoever. She tried to emotionally blackmail me by pointing out that this uncle/aunt combination have offered me financial help in the past and that it was my duty to talk to them. Yeah, she insisted that I neede to give them medical advice because I was 'indebted' to them.

This infuriated me. I guess it would infuriate anyone. Or would it? Monetary emotional blackmail -- this is exactly what my Mom had used in the past and that's why I decided to cut my monetary ties with my parents. Now, I'm thinking of repaying my the amount that I owe to my uncle/aunt to clear the air and be free to do what I want.

That means that I can't change my lifestyle/apartment next year as well. But I guess it better than facing emotional blackmail! Also, it ensures that I'm not going to Kerala anytime in the near future. Not even for my sister's delivery!

Sep 16, 2010

My relationship with photography

I have had a crazy up-and-down relationship with photography. In my childhood and adolescence, I was never familiar with the concept of photography because my family never had a camera. In medical college, I was averse to being photographed. I don't quite know the reason but I wanted myself to be out of every photo that was taken during holiday tours. Maybe it was the fact that I had protruberant teeth and was scared of looking at myself in a photograph.

Then came the era of digital cameras. Some of my friends had a camera that they allowed me to play with. I realized how much fun it was to compose frames and soon learnt that I was good at it. This made me long for a digital camera. Around the time that my folks allowed me to buy one, I lost Chuck’s camera. I had to buy him one for his marriage and I used up my allowance for the same.

For the next five years, my interest in composing photographs stayed put, and yet I couldn’t afford a proper camera. The first camera that I ever owned came in the form of an early camera-phone model from Nokia. I started clicking pictures for documentation—primarily x-rays and MRI scans of patients for making presentations.

Then, I fell in love with Vinokur, an expert photographer. He tried to motivate my photography by gifting me a very good digital camera. This is the first good camera that I have owned. I started taking pictures with it. Vinokur and I would spend hours online and going through the pictures, commenting on them, editing them, and finally posting them on forums like Facebook.

During this period, however, the commenting and editing process started to become tiresome as I didn’t quite understand the reason behind some photos being adjudged as ‘bad’ or ‘good’. Vinokur tried to help me out by showing me examples of photography by the greats which I couldn’t grasp. Soon, our ‘photography sessions’ started becoming annoying and irritating, especially to me. I guess he must have felt disappointed and annoyed too.

Since then, I fear taking the camera. Every time I click a picture, there is a hell lot of ‘baggage’ attached to that frame—about its quality, its cleverness, and its negativities. Taking pictures and editing have become a pain for me. Hence, I have stashed away my camera. I don’t even take pictures using my mobile camera anymore. Why initiate something painful when you have the choice to not?

Sep 14, 2010

Arranged marriage woes

When I tweeted about this topic, people mistook it as my reaction to a story of a gay man being forced to wed. Unfortunately, that’s not the case. It’s a straight woman’s story to be forced to wed against her preference, against her heart, and against her will. It’s a very sad story, which when I heard first, I couldn’t react to appropriately. I still don’t know if I have reacted appropriately to it and I don’t even know if it is appropriate to write about this on my blog.

The setting is 2010 in a fast-developing, modern India—the same India where tonnes of grains rot while the poor die starving, and where the khap panchayats decide the right or wrong of a person to marry another person. But those things could be blamed as not being set in a very modern metropolis. This story is set in two of the biggest metropoles (is that the right word?) in India.

A woman who’s forced to be engaged to a man without each of them knowing too much about each other. A couple of months into this ‘dread-lock’, they find out that differences overshadow similarities between each other. They soon start lying to themselves and to each other hoping that things could sort themselves out. Their families interfere in varying degrees of emotional blackmailing to keep the marriage on track.

Now, this woman is forced to forego of all her dreams because her father threatens to disrupt the peace of mind of her mother, whom she loves. During this crisis, a good friendship that she’s into develops into something more than just the friendship—something, if nurtured, could blossom into a wonderful relationship. Yet, she’s willing to sacrifice everything and her life—for her mother. I think it’s a very sad story.

This one example as to why arranged marriages should be illegalized. My sister and her life is a good example of why most of the times, arranged marriages end up being a torturous experience to the persons involved. Why can’t people choose to have relationships with people who they want to be with? It’s their right, is it not?

Sep 11, 2010

Tormenting Diarrhea

Precisely six days ago, I had come across this term in a document that I was editing. Use of such a descriptive, almost emotive, adjective to a physical phenomenon such as diarrhea is not unknown in the medical field—“explosive diarrhea” and “projectile vomiting” are common terms. But this was somehow funny.

Ironically enough, within a week, I had a bout of gastroenteritis, from which I’m recovering at the moment, which could be described as “tormenting diarrhea.” It started on the night of my gig Thursday night with Cirkles. I wasn’t feeling ill or anything, except for stomach cramps.

After reaching home from the gig, I must have visited the toilet at least a dozen times during the night, each time hoping that it would be the last. I couldn’t sleep the whole night and was running a mild fever. Unfortunately, I didn’t have the necessary medications at home. I finally managed to doze off after sunrise. By the time I woke up, I was exhausted and could barely drag myself out of my bed.

I managed to drink some apple juice from the refrigerator and went back to bed. I got up again early afternoon and decided that I had to have something solid to eat. I was craving for “kanji,” or the rice soup, the preferred dietary rehabilitative therapy for all maladies in Kerala. I made kanji and could only have a half bowl before collapsing into bed again.

Thus I broke my one and half months of a rice-free diet. By evening, I was slightly better and was able to go down to the chemist to buy me the necessary antibiotics to fight my gastroenteritis. Since then, I have been ordering out from the restaurant nearby—ordering all kind of rice dishes that I have been resisting in the last month and half.

I’m much better now, two days into the antibiotic course. I’m so glad that this happened during the one three-day weekend—Eid and Ganesh Chaturthi being celebrated here—that I get during the year. Although it wasn’t really festive for me, it was the first time that I had come down with a food-related ailment after setting afoot in Mumbai. Time to celebrate a first!

Sep 10, 2010

2001: A Space Odyssey

Nobody is going to believe that I had not watched this sci-fi Stanley Kubrick classic until now! I read the book when I was in school and I was fascinated by the monoliths and HAL. Well, I made amends over this weekend.

I don’t have too much to write about it. It is haunting, elegant, full of poise, but a little stretched out. I loved the concept and the fantastic photographic/directorial finish the movie had. But I have to say one thing: I was disappointed with the ending. I would have loved if the movie had ended with the ending that Arthur C. Clarke had proposed initially (which got scrapped). I am giving it a 4*.

I can’t finish without commenting on the amazing soundtrack of the movie. The Blue Danube waltz by Johann Strauss II and the famous symphonic poem Also sprach Zarathustra must be the most defining choices made for a soundtrack in a movie.

(PS: I thought I saw the silhouette of Anil Kapoor in the “Dawn of Man” sequence. Was he even alive in 1968?)

Sep 9, 2010

Contact

This was one of the movie that I watched after having read the original book (Carl Sagan) in childhood. I loved the way Jodie Foster plays the role of the maniacal SETI scientist Eleanor Arroway. At the same time, I hated the highly religious overtones in the message that is conveyed in the end. I would say 3.5*.

By the way, during the early 2000s, I used to dedicate my computer to the usage of the data analysis by SETI. I'm wondering, can we still help SETI out that way?

Sep 6, 2010

Planet of the Apes

Finally, I managed to track down the classic sci-fi pentology: Planet of the Apes. I’m not going to bore you with details about each movie. I have assigned the following ratings for the movies: Planet of the Apes (5*), Beneath the Planet of the Apes (3*), Escape from the Planet of the Apes (4*), Conquest of the Planet of the Apes (3*), Battle for the Planet of the Apes (3.5*).





Here are the most important points about the movies which I thought would make the series a must-watch for all movie fanatics.
  • I don’t want a spoiler here—The first movie’s ending is dramatic and depressing!
  • Time dilation, a phenomenon of the theory of relativity, is put majestically to use in this movie series.
  • The religious/scientific views of the ape society mirror the views of conservative theists.
  • The ethical/moral treatment of humans by apes (and by humans to the apes in the sequels) is classic commentary on what’s wrong with scientific research.
Here are my negative points about the series.
  • The social structure of the apes as assigned by different colors of clothing is boring.
  • The incredible way in which the apes evolved to learn language but not improve posture is disturbing.
I’m not even starting to mention about the plotholes, but there are many. But watch this series if you are sci-fi fan. Watch at the least the first movie!

Sep 2, 2010

The Terminator Series

When I watched Terminator Salvation, I realized what I had missed by not watching the first three installments of this wonderful movie franchise. Many of my friends have insisted that The Terminator, and Terminator 2: Judgment Day (T2) are movies that defined the genre of sci-fi movie-making. I, had somehow managed to evade these classics.



Not anymore! I watched the two James Cameron-directed classic Terminator of movies and Terminator: Rise of the Machines last week. And I must say, they are movies that I should have watched a long long time back. But there are a few points on which I differ from the usual public opinion about the Terminator franchise.

I'm giving The Terminator (T1) 4.5*, Terminator 2: Judgment Day (T2) 4*, and Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines (T3) 3*.
  • First of all, Terminator is the best movie of the lot. The action and the concept gets predictable as the franchise wears on.
  • Some people believe that alterations of the timeline and future by time travel-related complications in movies/television were first showcased in Terminator. That’s obviously not true. At the very least, X-men (in comics) and Planet of the Apes in movies have had it before Terminator. The one is X-men is so much more plausible and acceptable and without plot holes.
  • Terminator Salvation isn’t such a bad movie. Conceptually, it is better than T3 at the very least. The idea of a Cyberdyne reverse reverse-engineered (sic) android played by Sam Worthington is brilliant.
After watching the series, I have some puzzling timeline-related questions.
  • In Terminator, it is claimed that the time-traveling machine has been destroyed. How come Terminators are sent back in time for the second and third installments?
  • Also, in Terminator, it’s mentioned that nothing other than living tissue can be sent through the machine. The Terminators are far from just living tissue. In fact the model T-X is pure metal alloy? So how does that work?
This is why I still love my flawless time-travel storylines from X-men!

Aug 30, 2010

Househunting for May

A few weeks back, I had written about May coming back to Mumbai. This Thursday, she invited me to help her hunt down an apartment for herself and her husband. We decided to do it on Saturday. I had work on that day and I had promised her that I’d meet her by 6 pm.

May had started checking out the apartments herself starting early afternoon. As she was working at the Tata Memorial Hospital, which is right next door to the King Edward Memorial (KEM) Hospital where I graduated from, the apartments that she was looking were in around the same locality where I had spent 3 and a half years of my life in.

As I walked from the Elphinstone Road station toward KEM, memories started flooding back. I walked past the hospital to the tree-lined road behind, where I saw the various trees under which I had spent innumerable hours talking to Vinokur on the phone—this was the time before he came to Mumbai.

I was overwhelmed with nostalgia and it took some time for me to recover and help May in judging apartments. My experience choosing apartments came in handy as I was able to point out things good and bad about the three or four apartments that we saw together.

We narrowed the list down on two prospective apartments. The final decision will be taken by her and her husband. Afterward, we went to the Phoenix mills to have some dinner and a movie. Unfortunately, there was not even a single movie that was worth watching. We ended up having a delicious sandwich each at Subway and heading home.

Aug 25, 2010

Penning a queer-themed book

R. Raj Rao's latest book titled "Hostel Room 131" is a queer-themed book about a love affair between two boys (or young men as some people like to refer to them as) that occurs in a hostel in Pune in the winter of 1978. I came to know about it when I was invited for it's official launch at the Crossword bookstore in Bandra Linking Road and a book reading session at Aazad Bazaar, Mumbai's first queer-themed shop. The book launch is being chaired by Onir, the director of "My Brother Nikhil (Wikipedia)," the famous queer-themed Bollywood movie.


I didn't pay much attention -- either to the book or it's reading -- until I came stumbled on this review of the book posted at ibnlive.com. I thought the title of the article captured it all:"Hostel Room 131: the delight is in the detail." The graphic nature of the sexual content the book is further illustrated in the last couple of lines from the review:
"R. Raj Rao has a way with characters, and story telling getting it down to the delicious details. Even if means two male lovers basking in each other’s body fluids."
What sprang immediately in my mind was a very similar tale of a couple of young male lovers -- at story that shuttled between Missouri and New Delhi many decades back. I had heard it as an anecdote from one of the two (lovers) -- a recent acquaintance acquired after a near-one-night-stand. It was such a moving tale of lust, love, romance, and heart-break and was set in the background of the hostel of a strict Catholic college in the early '70s India. The "tenderloins" of the story was marinated by the spice of the necessity to remain under cover, were ravaged by the burden of forced straight marriage (on my acquaintance's lover's side), which eventually led to the couple's separation.

I sent my acquaintance an SMS asking him if he had heard about the book. He replied saying that he had seen the book at a local Crossword bookstore, had had not paid attention to it because he didn't think too highly of the author. I asked him whether he knew of the background of the book, and he replied saying that he didn't have a clue. I gave him a hint that the book was very similar to his past love affair. To this, I haven't received a reply yet.

I wonder -- I really do, having heard so many incredible tales of queer love affairs in the past from my fuck-buddies and acquaintances -- what will befall author like Rao if my friends sat down to write books based on their glorious pasts? I'm sure these books would be very interesting and non-cichéd. So would, perhaps, a book about my relationship with Vinokur or my early adulthood in Kerala be -- if I were to put it down that is. And maybe I should.

(Picture courtesy: Penguinbooksindia.com)

Aug 24, 2010

For those who aren't into Twitter -- yet!

This is going to be a really small blog post. Something that would keep up with the spirit of Twitter. A few months back, I really caught on to Twitter -- like a house on fire. There were many reasons. But the main reason was the need to employ impromptu, ingenious ways to frame concise text messages to pull in contexts from anything ranging from pop-culture to mathematics. This is amply demonstrated in this link to a Twitter search page which gives you the results for the hashtag #cgawkerissoedgy.

Now, you will need to understand a little bit of the background:
  • cgawker, or @cgawker in Twitter, is a funny guy on Twitter with an edgy sense of humor
  • Hashtags (#) are used to refer to a particular topic on Twitter. A hashtag is a way to unite global Tweets around some particular topic. Basically, these are tags that that help those who seek similar content discover your Tweets. Read more about it here, here, and here.
  • #cgawkerissoedgy was a hashtag invented by his followers on Twitter to refer to his humor. It reads "cgawker is so edgy."
Go through the list of entries in there. Decide for yourself. Isn't Twitter the coolest? More importantly, aren't @cgawker and his friends the coolest?

Aug 23, 2010

Happy Onam - or is it?

Four days back, I wasn't even aware of when Onam was. I wasn't even sure that it was this month. For those unaware, Onam (wiki) is the traditional harvest festival of Kerala. This is when Mallus from all around the world -- yeah, they are all around the world, some even on the moon -- come back to Kerala and celebrate the festival with their families with feasts and festivities. You are supposed to do it if you are true-core Mallu.

Not that I'm not one. But I haven't celebrated Onam in the last five years. Ever since I came to Mumbai in 2005 to start my residency in KEM hospital, Onam has been almost like an afterthought. In the first two years, I eagerly longed to have a feast at the least on Thiruvonam day, at some restaurant in Mumbai.

But look at me now. I don't want a feast. I don't want to celebrate. All I want is to be left alone. Technically, I could even have flown to Kerala and spent some time with my family. Yeah, right! The last of my priorities now is to spend time with my family -- my parents and sister are okay -- but everyone else, I would not want to spend even the tiniest nanosecond of my time with them.

Why? Because I would have start to explain as to why I lost my way from being a successful orthopedic surgeon, the best academician in the family, to a paltry KPO job which hardly pays for what I deserve. Also, I would have to explain to them why I have grown my hair long, why I have pimples, why I have a paunch, why I can't live without Internet or Twitter, why I can't be anything but funny, and why music is so important to me.

They wouldn't get it. And I don't want to try and get it to them either. It's a lost cause, I feel. This feeling is so deep rooted that I've almost made my mind up to skip my sister's delivery -- the time that I'll become an uncle, or the time that I'll come closest to my cherished parenthood -- yeah, I'm forfeiting all that. I'm probably not going to Kerala then.

About a couple of weeks back, I had a conversation with my sister about this. Obviously, she was shocked. I tried to explain that I can't handle the family -- I also mentioned my parents as a part of the family that I can't face -- and she couldn't believe it! Of course, she can't believe it. She doesn't want to believe it. She thinks that I'm selfish and an jackass of an asshole. Well, I might be, but that's what suits me and my living right now.

So, on this day when the rest of the Malludom is celebrating the festival of Onam, I'm brooding at the thought of how my ties with my family are disintegrating -- mostly due to my own insecurities and issues, but partly due to them as well. I guess, I will once and for all be the brother who never lived up to his promises the son who never lived up to his parents' expectations.

Aug 22, 2010

Movies that I have watched in the last month or so

I've been lazy as a couch over the last month or so. On most days, I would wake up late, reach office late, and then make up excuse to come home and catch the 9 'O Clock movie on the telly. On a couple of occasions, I ventured up to check out movies on the big screen. So here's a list of movies that I have watched -- the list is far from complete, but this is what I can remember.

Minority Report
: Loved the concept, but Tom Cruise left a lot to be desired. (3*)


Coraline: Fantastic, dark, horror movie. Cartoons can be dark too! (4*)

K-Pax: Kevin Spacey and the cast did a wonderful job. But I would have loved Prote (Spacey) to have been actually from K-Pax (3*)

Push: This has concepts ranging from Matrix to Inception. But somehow the plot and direction fails to deliver. Must watch for sci-fi addicts like me. (2.5*)

Preadators: I love the Aliens series but haven't watched Preadator 1 or 2. Yet, I loved this movie and its outlandish plot! (3.5*)

Despicable Me: The cream of the lot. This how animated movies should be made! (4.5*)

Death at a Funeral: There is something about British accents that make this movie funnier than it is. But hilarious nonetheless (3.5*)

PhoneBooth: Fantastic, fantastic drama. This is Colin Farrell at his best, I think, from what I have seen! (4*)
Eagle Eye: Fantastic concept, but too much of action and predictable ending. (3*)

Rumor Has It: What's a rom com doing here. Basically to prove that I can watch them. Yeah and one more thing, if I were Aniston, I would have lived happily ever after with Costner! (3.5*)
Surrogates: Interesting, implausible concept. Bruce Willis is hot though. (3*)

Terminator Salvation: For a guy who hasn't watched Terminator 1 and 2 completely, but knows the entire story line by heart, this movie still gives the kicks. I love the reverse-engineering concepts and the time-travel things (which I think have been copied from X-men: the animated series) (3*)
How To Lose Friends and Alienate People: I watched this movie in bits, and I think that's what it deserves. (2.5*)
Up: A Pixar classic. Nothing more to be said! (4.5*)