Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Why I love Sir Terry

Vintage Terry Pratchett - the man has not lost his touch. Still giggling every time I think of this:

"There is a lot of folklore about equestrian statues, especially the ones with riders on. There is said to be a code in the number and placement of the horse’s hooves: if one of the horse’s hooves is in the air, the rider was wounded in battle; two legs in the air means that the rider was killed in battle; three legs in the air indicates that the rider got lost on the way to the battle; and four legs in the air means that the sculptor was very, very clever. Five legs in the air means that there’s probably at least one other horse standing behind the horse you’re looking at; and the rider lying on the ground with his horse lying on top of him with all four legs in the air means that the rider was either a very incompetent horseman or owned a very bad-tempered horse."

- Footnote from "I Shall Wear Midnight", Terry Pratchett's latest novel starring Tiffany Aching and the Nac Mac Feegles and, here and there and now and then, the city of Ankh Morpork.

Friday, September 24, 2010

Politicians and their games

While I’m embarrassed about the corruption and political machinations that have led to Delhi and India being humiliated in the world’s eyes, and unhappy about those poor workers who were injured in the bridge collapse, I somehow hold out the hope that the Commonwealth Games will still be held and maybe even be a success despite the dismal lead-up to them. I can’t help thinking that somehow India WILL come up with the goods, even though it doesn’t seem that way right now. Not logical, I know.

But even if things go swingingly well from this moment on, and the various teams all decide that they will not pull out of the Games, and the athletes’ quarters are made hygienic and clean, and the roads and bridges and buildings are safely rebuilt/completed, every politician and top bureaucrat who allowed the situation to get into the shocking state we see now should be called to account for it. Perhaps they could be fined heavily – hit ‘em where it hurts most – if not actually sent to prison. It’s the least that should happen.

I bet, though, that the politicians will deflect attention from this by using the Babri Masjid as an excuse, no matter what the Supreme Court’s verdict turns out to be. Its decision will disappoint the practitioners of one or the other religion, after all. Reason enough – or unreason enough, actually – to incite riots.

Perhaps there was indeed a temple at the spot in Ayodhya before Babar pulled it down, but shouldn’t it be enough that the masjid also has been pulled down? Isn’t that tit for tat? I wish the Supreme Court could decide that if anything should be built on that spot, it should be a building that is half-mosque, half-temple. Wouldn't that be the most perfect, the most elegant solution? But that's just a pipe-dream... so, in real terms, the only thing to do is provide justice for the families of all those who were killed in the riots that followed, and get all the known killers – of both faiths – punished.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

And a new era begins...

I would like to present a momentous moment of more than merely momentary mportance. (Note: I DO know how to spell the word right, but I wanted to continue the alliterative theme.) It’s taken nearly 6 years and much moaning and groaning interspersed with temper tantrums and unsolicited sarcasm to get here, but my blog and I are at that point at long last. It’s kind of a thrilling moment, so bear with me while I thrill away for a minute or two.


This, dear reader or two, is my 500th post – a more than usually significant milestone because I’ve not been the most consistent of bloggers. There are those who manage 1000 words in one post, or 1000 posts in a year, or 10000 posts in 5 years (kindly ignore any mathematical discrepancies) but I’ve not been among them, although I’d like to be. But I think that you (dear reader), and you (dear other reader) and I can be pretty certain that’s never going to happen. So if you’re happy to sing “For she’s a jolly good pom-pom*, for she’s a jolly good tum-ti-tum*, for she’s a jolly good blankety-blaaaaannnnnnnnk*, and so say both of us”, I’m happy to listen.

Thank you.

*pom-pom, tum-ti-tum, blankety-blaaaaannnnnnnnk = generic terms to replace “fellow” because I don’t know the female term for “fellow”. If you do, please to sub it.

Tuesday, September 07, 2010

Dear Diary...

I used to keep a daily diary when I was younger – I probably started the habit when I was in the 8th standard and continued, increasingly sporadically, over the next few years until it petered out completely by the time I was 25 or so. I still have those diaries, safely stored right at the bottom of a box full of books. I haven’t seen them in years; I think the last time I had a look at them was when I was unpacking the big box of my books that had been sent over from India.

The reason they’re at the bottom of the box and untouched in several years is that I’d really rather that nobody ever got to read them – me included. The entries were by turn embarrassing, pathetic, maudlin, overenthusiastic, usually happy, sometimes angsty, sometimes angry... but mostly they were mystifying. There were lots of references to people by their initials or by private nicknames that I’d coined. Who were JT and MS, among others, and who were the unfortunately named Fish Face and Aruvai Rani (Queen Bore)? Or Anju Paisa (Five Paise) or the 5H Guy?

You’d think I would at least remember Fish Face and Aruvai Rani given that their names were so evocative... but no. I didn’t have a clue as I re-read my diaries. I literally could not put a single name or face against those initials and references. And yet they featured so much in my life then – they must have, to crop up in my diary so regularly and cause me so much joy and heartache. I suppose I must have expected to remember them – possibly for ever - which is one reason why I didn’t feel the need to maintain a de-coder for those initials and nicknames. The other reason, of course, was the small matter of keeping the identities secret from any accidental reader. Secrecy is, after all, the hallmark of every teenager. But I really do wish I’d known that the 40-year-old me would desperately require a key to the shorthand devised by the 14-year-old me... I would have taken the trouble to write all names in full along with descriptions of who they were and why what they said or did had mattered so much.

The worst thing about re-reading my own diaries as a grown-up was how incredibly embarrassing I found the pre-teen and then the teenager that I had been - how practically every reaction I'd had seemed really quite over-the-top. About the only thing that I didn't embarrass myself with was my writing... although the emotions were all over the place, I still managed to write coherently and mostly with humour - no matter how angry or sad or happy I was. You'll just have to take my word for this, though, because nobody's EVER going to read my diaries while I draw breath. (Once I've stopped drawing breath, I'm pretty certain I won't care... but if I'm wrong, the curious diary reader had better be wary of some radical hauntings with me in the starring role.) You have been warned.

Monday, September 06, 2010

Sunday Scribblings – “Wait”

Of all my positive character traits – FAR too numerous to start listing, my pretties - the one that has caused me the most grief over the years is the compulsion to be on time for appointments. Usually I’m not just on time, I actually get to my appointments early. If I'm late it's usually for reasons beyond my control, not because I started out with no time to spare.

When I was younger and possessed of less patience, I would start getting antsy about 10 minutes before the agreed time, and get progressively hotter under the collar for every minute past that time - so that if the person I was meeting was late by just 5 minutes, I’d still be seething. (Eventually it struck me that getting mad at the other person for not being early was a pretty irrational thing to do.)
After many instances where I’d waited at least 15 minutes past the appointed time, and a few where I’d been kicking my heels for a good half an hour, I decided that I too would show up late and make THEM wait for a change. Which was a very good plan of tit-for-tat revenge – or would have been, if only I could have followed through on it.

The problem was that I found it absolutely impossible to force myself to be late. For one thing, I always worried that the other person would end up having to wait – and yes, I know how idiotic it sounds, considering that was the exact situation I wanted to engineer. For another, I was terminally optimistic, telling myself that perhaps on THIS occasion they would be there on time... despite having never experienced any such thing. It was a shining example of is called the triumph of hope over experience.

Finally, after one too many occasions of waiting endlessly, I decided that I would from then on only wait 10 minutes past the agreed time – for anybody, for anything – after which I would either go back or go on, whichever option took my fancy. That worked a lot better, because it gave both me and my friends/family/acquaintances a firm cutoff time... plus, in those far-off days of the dinosaurs, when there were no mobile phones for instant information exchange or real-time updates, at least they would know to ring home and see if I’d gone back there or not.

When I met Pete, I was all optimistic once again, hoping that my luck had changed with regard to the waiting game. Sadly, that was not to be. He is possibly the least time-conscious person I’ve met – I mean, not even in the heady days of first acquaintance did he manage to meet me on time. At first I was inclined to take it personally, accusing him of being late because he didn’t care. But later, when I met his friends, they all reassured me that Pete being late for anything was a given – he was an equal opportunities latecomer, not discriminating against anybody by arriving on time.

That pretty much set the seal on my fate - always a waiter, never a waitee.

Wednesday, September 01, 2010

Sunday Scribblings - "Faith"

Does anybody still like George Michael (formerly of Wham! fame, more latterly of driving-under-the-influence-of-drugs-and-crashing-into-a-shop fame)? He shot straight to the top of my Most Favourite Pop Stars list when I first saw him in the video for “Careless Whisper”, and has remained there pretty much since – as a singer/musician, that is.

I remember me and my cousin both sighing “HOW could she be so hard-hearted as to not forgive him?” when he begs her to “Please stay!” even as she rushes away to her waiting private aircraft – “she” being his girlfriend in the video who caught him cheating on her. (In our defence, it was his beautiful brown eyes, thick blond hair, slightly protruding teeth and the squeaky-clean image he had then, that made our pretensions to feminism vanish in a flurry of besotted heartbeats!)

Of course we were broken hearted when he outed himself as gay, because it meant that we stood no chance of ever capturing his heart – because naturally there would have been every chance of one of us (mainly me, natch) becoming Mrs George Michael if only he’d been straight. (What? I had ambitions, dammit!)

Anyway, over the years I have loved loads of his songs right from the Wham! days. His songs, but never Andrew Ridgeley's, not even in Wham!'s most popular period. I don’t really remember any of Andrew Ridgeley’s songs because he was a wishy-washy singer and also didn’t look as macho as ol’ George – in fact, he looked downright campy and gay. Yes yes, I know, the irony...

So, as I was saying about George Michael, songs like “Faith”, “Father Figure”, “Freedom” and many others (but NOT, EVER EVER EVER and let me say that again EVER EVER EVER EVER, “Last Christmas” - EVER!) are just as good to listen now as when I first heard them.

I’d been wanting to see George Michael live in concert, but that particular ambition was struck off my “wanna do” list after I watched a recording of his most recent concert on Sky (a while back). It was such a disappointment, with George Michael (I can’t seem to refer to him as just “George” or just “Michael” – it’s GOT to be “George Michael”) completely lacklustre and devoid of any kind of enthusiasm. He didn’t look like he wanted to involve the audience in the music or interact with them in any way. Frankly, it was like he was just going through the motions because he had to.

Had I paid good money to watch him sing live and got the sort of performance I saw, I would have been extremely pissed off – and heartbroken too. I guess I don’t have faith any more in him as a performer, although he was – and will always be – a fantastic musician and singer.