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!