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*)

Aug 21, 2010

Together, forever

Thanks to inspiration from Sidd Coutto and constant coaxing from Robin, I wrote a song tonight. These are the lyrics to the song. I have just recorded it as a scratch tune. Hope to record it sometime in the future.
Together Forever (2010)

We were meant to be deceived
We were meant to taste defeat
We were meant to share our lives together
We were meant to bare our souls forever

Together, forever
Together, forever

All it took was another of my kind
And it was something happening behind
All I knew was that I was kept blind
All those days, that I was slipping behind

Together, forever
Together, forever

Together, forever (4 times)

Aug 20, 2010

The negativities associated with depression and its therapy

You know how lazy depression makes you? To deprive you of all the buzz in your life. Everything looks and feels sordid. You make plans and try your very best to break them. If your friends insist on doing stuff with you, you find a myriad of ways to get out of them. Excuses are splurted by the hundreds and trust me -- each and every one of them feels as if it came from the bottom of your heart and you meant it as if your life depended on it.

The funniest thing however is that the therapy that you are prescribed to cure it also takes most of the zing out of your life too. It makes you feel lazy and tired. It makes you feel sleepier than ever, and you would end up wanting to spend every solitary moment you have on your bed or couch dozing away. Every day still feels like a chore -- funny that work doesn't -- but everything else still feels like a chore and you have to fight your way out to find some energy and motivation to achieve goals.

This makes me wonder -- is the therapy effective enough? Or is it simply something that just takes away the edge from your depression -- makes you feels less anhedonic, less suicidal, and overall blunts all your negativity. But it does the same to your positive energy -- at least, if you were to go by my experience. The ironic thing is that I feel shy to approach R who started the present course on me. Depression itself and the side effects of therapy had widened the already created divide and I don't feel like talking to her any more. I don't feel likie I can afford another shrink either.

I don't fucking know what I should do.

Aug 10, 2010

Two articles on gay marriage

So this article by Ross Douthat was first published in the New York Times . It's an article about the recently judge's decision to allow gay marriages in California. When I read it, I felt okay. Especially this part about why straight marriages are supposed to offer more:
"The point of this ideal is not that other relationships have no value, or that only nuclear families can rear children successfully. Rather, it’s that lifelong heterosexual monogamy at its best can offer something distinctive and remarkable — a microcosm of civilization, and an organic connection between human generations — that makes it worthy of distinctive recognition and support."
I also liked this part about the necessity of accepting gay marriages:
"If this newer order completely vanquishes the older marital ideal, then gay marriage will become not only acceptable but morally necessary. The lifelong commitment of a gay couple is more impressive than the serial monogamy of straights. And a culture in which weddings are optional celebrations of romantic love, only tangentially connected to procreation, has no business discriminating against the love of homosexuals."
Then a friend of mine linked me up to Andrew Sullivan's reply on the Atlantic. It was even more interesting and took down most of the arguments that Ross had.
"Sex for me has long been an intimation of the divine. Yes, we know that there are many ways human beings experience pleasure and transcendence - try magic mushrooms or a great Bordeaux or a rip-roaringly funny conversation or a quiet walk on a summer's afternoon. I see all these things, as Ross does, I think, as part of the glories of divine creation (okay, maybe not the shrooms in his case). But the extreme, compelling, irresistible nature of the orgasmic pleasure - I know of nothing more sublime or self-losing - and the linkage to creating new life does make it special."
And this sealed it. Along with the picture of the cutest of two bears (one being Andrew Sullivan himself) about to embrace.
And - this is my main point - Ross' argument simply ignores the existence and dignity and lives and testimony of gay people. This is strange because the only reason this question has arisen at all is because the visibility of gay family members has become now so unmissable that it cannot be ignored. Yes, marriage equality was an idea some of us innovated. But it was not an idea plucked out of the sky. It was an attempt to adapt to an already big social change: the end of the homosexual stigma, the emergence of gay communities of great size and influence and diversity, and collapse of the closet. It came from a pressing need as a society to do something about this, rather than consign gay people to oblivion or marginalization or invisibility. More to the point, it emerged after we saw what can happen when human beings are provided no structure, no ideal, and no support for responsibility and fidelity and love."


What can I say. I think Andrew Sullivan nailed it!

Aug 3, 2010

The beauty of gay long-term relationships

In my everlasting search for a suitable man, sometimes, perhaps more frequently than I should for my own sake, I stumble on gay men who are in beautiful long-term relationships. Instead of feeling disappointed or jealous, I feel happy to have chanced upon what I consider as true, rare gems of the world -- well-adjusted relationships.

I have seen such relationships in the diverse colors and varieties that life has to offer -- inter-generational, inter-racial, inter-national, intra-generational, open relationships -- each and every one in a seemingly impossible state of equilibrium and negative entropy.

I usually end up meeting the older partner among the couple in these relationships. On almost all such occasions, I have been able to form a strong bond of friendship with them. They tell me stories about how they met their partner, sometimes decades back, how they have established a niche of a live-in relationship together, and how happy they are in their present state of affairs. Some are open relationships where the sexual drive has often died and yet the emotional component is as strong as ever.

I often wonder what is it that drives such people. If being gay is often considered synonymous to promiscuity, and ergo frivolous and incapable of relationship sustenance or emotional depth, how can such beautiful relationships exist? To answer this question, we must ask another question. Maybe I'm not digging deep enough or I'm over-generalizing -- but why are such relationships so rare in the straight world?

The reason probably lies in the disassociation of sex from being anchored to a deep-rooted emotional or procreative component, thereby freeing it to be an activity of pleasure and happiness. Remember, the institution of straight marriage has generally castigated non-procreative sex between two consenting adults. Marriage -- I must re-iterate, straight marriage -- has been promoted as a necessity for a successful social life.

Had love between any two individuals (above legal age) been encouraged instead of marriage, and had sex just been left to the discretion of two individuals who express love toward each other in a variety of durations -- some being transient like a one-night stand and some being transcendent, lasting many decades -- there would have been more instances of such harmonious relationships, don't you think?

Aug 1, 2010

Oversleeping yet again

I fucked up. Yet again thanks to my alarm clock. Yesterday morning, I was supposed to get up at six thirty, take a shower, and head to my office where a bus would have been ready to take us all to a picnic. I was so looking forward to it -- to spend a couple of days with the fun-nest of colleagues that you can expect to find. I had neatly sorted out the different set of clothes and other thinkgs that I needed to bring on my bed and had gone to bed, albeit late in the night, on the couch watching a movie.

My friends must have called me to wake me up a dozen times or something. I didn't wake up. My alarm clock had given up on me once more. This time, more permanently -- the battery case had been broken and there is no possible way to fix it -- and I slept through until after 9 'O Clock, much later than the scheduled departure.

I was so friggin' ashamed that I didn't feel like answering their messages and calls. I went back to sleep. I don't know how I can face them tomorrow. I'm such a jerk! :-( The only good thing to have happened is that I got to spend close to 12 hours yesterday and today to sleep and I would be refreshed for work tomorrow.

But, what's wrong with me? Is it the pills that I'm taking? Is it the increased stress at work? Or am I growing lazier?