Wednesday, November 16, 2011

The Golden Shower

To say that my interest was piqued when I read an office email that invited bloggers to compelete a scary story starting with "It was a dark and stormy night ...." would be an understatement. Since I had some time on my hands I decided to check out the details which was when I realised that the word limit was just 500 words. Give me 5000 words and I'll have you trembling in fear. With 500 though, I wasnt so sure. Clocking in at 499 words, this was the best I could do.

It was a dark and stormy night. The rain showed no signs of letting up and I was soaked to the bone. I looked around in despair but my eyes could only spot the flickering shadows that toyed with my imagination. My bike had a flat tyre and I was far away from any sort of human contact. I could push my bike down the dark village road bereft of any lighting except from the headlamp of my bike. Or I could wait for a good Samaritan to give me a lift to the next village. I hadn’t seen anyone in the last half an hour and didn’t fancy my chances. Exhaustion overcame me. I sat down by the road waiting for glimmer of hope.

I had difficulty opening my eyes. Groggily I lifted my head and found myself in a strange house. Bright sunlight was streaming in through the window and I lifted my hand to check the time but I realised that my watch was missing. I was suddenly aware of the excruciating pain that was tearing at me from my insides. I reached down and my fingers ran over unfamiliar stitches. My hands were trembling by now and I tried to get up on my feet but it was no use. My legs seemed to have a mind of their own and they refused to move forward. I collapsed once again onto the floor. Summoning all my strength I crawled towards the window and looked outside. I saw an Amaltass (also known as the Golden Shower) tree resplendent in its golden yellow flowers in the middle of a beautiful garden. My strength deserted me and I slowly fell again as my mind drifted away.

I woke up to a loud honk. I nearly jumped out of my skin and saw an old man in a car parked next to my bike. “You look like you could use some help. You need a lift, beta?” I regained my senses and realised I had dozed off leaning against my bike. I shuddered and jumped into his car as I apologised profusely for getting his seats wet but he laughed it off. Dr. Avinash explained that he once a pretty famous doctor in Bombay but had given up the big city life to become the local doctor in a small town in rural Karnataka. ‘Big fish in a small pond’ he explained.

The more he spoke the more I marveled at the sacrifice he had made to move to a small town but something kept gnawing away at the back of my mind. He looked familiar and I racked my brains while making polite conversation. Suddenly it struck me. Illegal organ transplants. A famous doctor who suddenly disappeared. I tried not to panic as he drove into his large compound. In the dark of the night I could make out an Amaltass tree in full bloom in the middle of a beautiful garden.

Monday, November 14, 2011

8 days a week

For 5 days every week, I try to balance the conflicting demands of oscillating work, ridiculous traffic, my reinvigorated reading habit, a season of a particular TV show (currently Season 4 of Spiderman: The Animated Series but shhhh don’t tell anyone) and God knows what else. Sometimes this gets extended to 6 days. If Im really unlucky it stretches across all 7 days. Which is why I like my weekends neither shaken nor stirred.

Come Saturday morning and my plan for the weekend is to have absolutely no plan at all. That way I can curl up with a book for as long as I want and not feel guilty about it. Or I can treat myself to endless episodes of my new found favourite – Dr Who. Or I can take an afternoon nap and put my phone on silent mode and sleep like I have never slept before. Or I can dig up an old Carry On movie and enjoy the campy humour. Basically a little bit of everything that doesn’t really amount to anything. This weekend however, was different.

Growing up in the 90s in Cochin meant that your comic reading was restricted to
a. Asterix & Obelix
b. The Adventures of Tintin
c. Archies series
d. DC and Marvel comics but that was only for a select lucky few

Now I’ve read the complete collection of both Asterix & Obelix and The Adventures of Tintin several times and to be honest I was always more of the A&O fan but the Tintin comics weren’t really that far behind. And now Tintin has made a rather dramatic entry into the movie world. I’m not one who enjoys too many movies these days but I did thoroughly enjoy watching Tintin & Captain Haddock (with the beloved Snowy of course) lay the foundation for what is going to be one very entertaining movie franchise. Of course Thomson & Thompson are as funny as ever. An added 100 bonus points to whoever added the Captain Haddock line – You two timing troglodyte (which is my favourite word of all time)!

Everyone who is a sports fan knows of Lance Armstrong’s incredible battle against testicular cancer and how he came back to win the gruelling Tour de France an incredible seven times in a row. However it was only after I started reading his book It’s Not About The Bike did I realize how easily life can turn upside down in an instant. Lance doesn’t deep dive into his struggle against cancer but he takes you along on his physical and emotional roller coaster ride that will make you question the way you live your own life. As he struggles and fails, you realise that he is after all human. And then he rises. From the deepest of lows Lance rebuilds his life and in turn inspires you. His battle makes you realise how inconsequential your life’s problems actually are.

Ive been a wrestling fan since 1992 and I’ve seen quite a bit of it to say the least. From mainstream wrestling that was the WWF / WWE and WCW on TNT (remember the days when Cartoon Network used to switch to the TNT movie channel at 9PM and once a week they used to air WCW on Indian television) to the underground cult phenomenon that was ECW (thanks to the internet). However my exposure to the hotbed that is Japanese wrestling has been limited to a few matches and it took a review of an event called All Together in Budokan to get me to revisit it. Now Japan has had a particularly tumultuous year and the main promotions got together for one night only to put together a wrestling card that would donate proceeds to the organizations helping in rebuilding the country. The Japanese wrestling industry is very competitive and hotly contested and the Indian equivalent of All Together in Budokan would be to have all of Bollywood’s actors and actresses coming together to act in one huge blockbuster.

And so I spent the weekend watching wrestlers who I don’t know putting up a stellar show that brought happiness to the fans in the sold out Budokan stadium (and those of us in front of our laptops) while listening to Japanese commentary (of which I could only identify the names of a few moves). It was enjoyable to hear the commentators go Shyyyning Wizardo (for the move Shining Wizard) and Byainbustaaaaah (Brainbuster) with the respectful Japanese crowd oohing and clapping in appreciation (a far cry from our rabid cricket fans in India) and soon enough I too was oohing along with them. Of course all of this would not mean a thing if it were not for the hard working Japanese wrestlers who work a very stiff (read realistic) style that made me cringe as I watched them tear into each other. I couldn’t understand one bit of the language, I didn’t know the wrestlers names but I most certainly enjoyed the storytelling.

Which was the story of this weekend now that I think about it. Now to get back to my 5 days of drudgery.

P.S - At the end of the show, the three biggest wrestlers in Japan (the champions of the corresponding organizations) stood outside the stadium after having worked their butts off with boxes in their hands to collect further donations from the people leaving the stadium. Will SRK, Aamir Khan & Salman Khan would do something like this for our country? Think about it.

Sigh! Some things never change