Day #15

This is a part of a mini-series of independent posts, starting here

With worry in her eyes,

‘I haven’t given you permission to leave..’

With duty in his voice,

‘With respect, Your Grace, I don’t need your permission. I am a king (silence). And I came here, knowing that you could have your men behead me or your dragons burn me alive. I put my trust in you – a stranger. Because I knew it was the best chance for my people; for all our people. Now I’m asking you, to trust in a stranger. Because it’s our best chance’

Is this one of the finest love letters of medieval times, or what? (*.*)

Day #14

This is a part of a mini-series of independent posts, starting here

I am prone to strange and fleeting obsessions (oxymoron spotted!) On a trip to Kenya a while back while in a boat safari in Lake Naivasha, I encountered an unlikely one. This big guy:

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Unlikely, indeed. But I was fascinated by the fact our guide whipped out about the hippo being the deadliest killer of humans in Africa; something which I was woefully unaware of. As we neared the hippo harem, our captain looked genuinely concerned. And why not, the hippo does happen to have a bad(ass) rep. What with them carving out humans who disrespectfully cross into their territory. (I wonder what other high-functioning mammalian species tends to do that a lot.) As we crossed the bloat of hippos, the alpha opened up his huge mouth baring his teeth; there was something just awe-inspiring about it! So today, I set out to do some PR on behalf of the not-at-all-gentle giant who most likely doesn’t care about some puny human out to improve the way he is perceived (And that’s what makes him all the more admirable IMO)

Let me start off with their “cute” side: First off, have you ever seen the hippo swim? Probably not, else you wouldn’t be alive & kicking to see this. Of course, you don’t want him chasing you around while he does his daily bit of cardio. Or, have you seen them eating? Or, wiggle-waggle as he runs (better a spectator, than a competitor) Or, seen a baby chase around a full-grown crocodile? Or, just observed a baby sleep?

Makes you wanna go kidnap a baby hippo, doesn’t it? Don’t. Coz a) it’s illegal, b) it will shred you one day, and c) the logistics just don’t work! I’ll explain C in a bit more detail. See, I have thought it through. First, you’ll have to get a huge bathtub, where the hippo would sit in all day peering out like an iceberg. And I mean huge. POTUS knows best.

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Let’s say you are fine with the tub thing, you need to get some grass, man. Like a-few-tonnes-a-day kind of grass. Need to make sure the big guy stays a herbivore eh? Plus, imagine him getting out of his tub and spraying it around every now and then. Ugh. One puppy, please.

Anyways, the guy is still the king of kings. I leave you with proof

Day #13

This is a part of a mini-series of independent posts, starting here

The dusk is visible in the leaping splashes of what used to be still water, but which I am now involved with in a dog-eat-dog race, as I put forth one arm after the other pushing back my enemy. Talk about savoring my first foray into a swimming pool in Hong Kong! I am going to squeeze a few paragraphs out of this –
yes, I am that happy about the whole deal.

Let me start with the pre-swim prep. After doing (unnecessary/obsessive) online research mining reviews on Hong Kong pools, I was a bit skeptical. Most forums would go on about public pools being crowded and so on. I feared a scenario like this:

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But hey, I am really geared up for the whole deal and how bad can the crowd really be? I am a veteran of the Dadar battlefield and have the scars to prove it. Plus, I mean its been almost 2 weeks since I last tasted chlorine; I rather miss it. All I really wanna do now is suit up and jump in. YOLO. (Well technically, not jump in. Since the pool is just 1.4 metres deep…)

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Anywho, desperation and good sense win over, but as I swipe my Octopus and enter the fairly large Kennedy Town Swimming Pool facility, my steps falter, unsure, as if testing the waters. I become conscious of the fact that I am probably the only Indian guy in the whole place at the moment. I begin consciously trying to be as invisible as possible, hoping to blend in, for some reason, with my predominantly Chinese brothers and sisters.

At the gates of the changing rooms, there is an odd sign which says, roughly, “Anyone above the height of 1.35 metres or older than 8 years old won’t be allowed in the changing room of the opposite sex”. It is one of those things which you know, deep down, that there is some backstory to it. One of the two conditions was surely an addendum and my bet is on the latter. There is absolutely no way, after all, that some tiny dude did _not_ misuse it at some point in the past, and prompted the law-makers to rethink things! ūüėÄ

Well, as I enter the men’s locker room, my efforts to “blend in” are rendered futile as I come across my first culture-shock. For the sake of civility, I shall not venture into details, but samajhdaar ko ishaara kaafi hai (A gesture is more than enough to the wise). Takes some time for my eyes to adjust to this new darkness. No one on any forum cared to mention this phenomenon, of course. Thanks, internet!

The first couple of laps are nice and slow, as I stop to smell the roses; not really counting the laps anymore, free/frog-styling, soaking in the warm water and the cool breeze, sighing with content after every lap. Boy, have I missed this. The pool is mildly warm and a little crowded, but reality is way better than expectation. After a few relaxing rounds, I get a little competitive with random strangers, setting arbitrary goals for beating them to the finish (always fun!).

I notice something peculiar after some time in the pool. There is a general lack of body hair on everyone! They have as much hair as would a skinned potato (Nothing wrong with it, of course) I feel like Anil Kapoor from the 90’s swimming among the people.

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Yeah, I know – Disturbing. Now you feel my exact mental state for the next few seconds after becoming conscious of the fact!

As my swimming session draws to an end, I have the pleasure to view the sunset from the quiet, open-air pool deck. As the Sun takes in a deep breath for its long dip in the far off depths of the ocean, it brings down the shutters on an almost perfect day…

A Saturday night in Barcelona (‘s airport)

(Based on true events. Hour 00:00 represents the Start of the ordeal, not the actual time)

Hour 00:00

Arrive at airport to leave for Mumbai. Spent past few hours vasooling some really fast prepaid 3G data pack with rihana videos, sound engineering tutorials and whatsapp calls. Battery ~9%, but shan’t be a problem. Have a priority-pass-obeying-lounge coming. Free wifi, free food, free electricity dischargers. Life’s good.

Hour 00:30 –

Realized that check-in with luggage won’t be possible till 3 hours before flight. Have to wait for ~7 hours outside. And no lounge till check-in… Try the information centre regarding the good-life facilities, but it is fruitless.

Hour 00:45 –

Thought strikes that we can check-in with all bags classified as handbags. Sadly, doesn’t work out due to *cough* liquid contents. The solution for the objective function is not pretty. We weigh the risk-rewards. Decision taken. We stay the outsiders’ course.

Hour 01:15 –

Battery at 5% A search for charging points doesn’t yield much results. We are advised by locals to scan the bottom of all the airport walls to find them. 20 creepy minutes follow, no results yielded. Barcelona airport officially has less charging points in its huge departures lobby than it has terminals as a whole. The search leads to a fourth and final (albeit futile) attempt at the informaci√≥ centre to extract some help, where the cute girl behind the counter surely suspects by now flirtatious intentions on our side. We move on to other places being decent people, looking for far off lands with modern-day electric dischargers.

Hour 02:00 –

Time is not flying. Nor are we. After another 20 minutes (in the arrivals lobby this time) my phone is trying its best to break-even. Still no clues, still no help; still no power. We keep going around in circles, having lost our compass, as the creatures on the airport sense our presence. Eyes dart towards us time and again, scanning the two brown guys walking with suspicious looking wires in our hands. Meanwhile, we have found our solution.

Hour 02:15 –

The toilet. More charging points in one tiny room than the number of f**ks the airport’s designers gave about them. Anywho, the undignified place has become a mini-inn (funny how that sounds like minion) for the moment as my battery inches upwards and I type away furiously lest I forget the tidbits and taint history with the curse of hindsight. The smell isn’t something to take back home as a souvenir, but it will have to do for now.

Hour 02:30 –

We have encamped ourselves outside this place. Arnav (my companion) lounges leisurely on the hard cold floor whiling away time as much as possible. Being a little more paranoid, I stand inside, as a permanent piece of furniture in the (lavish) washroom, as I notice people come, stare and go. Fun.

As I venture out for some fresh air, I realize something I had overlooked. Arnav, in his leisure, by mere accident or calculated brilliance, has found a vantage point. I look into the array of mirrors from outside, a relatively respectable distance as compared to a few moments ago, and after a few trials-and-error, find myself staring at my pale-colored lifeline. And Now, His Watch Begins.

Hour 03:00 –

Have spent the last half hour trying to not look suspicious as I stare into a mirror in the male washroom from far off. Not an easy task, mind you. Parked squarely outside the general washroom area for all genders, it’s quite a balancing act between not looking like a creep and not looking homeless.

Deciding that trying to tiptoe around, maintaining a clear line-of-sight can’t work for too long. Need to switch things up a bit, need to decrease my paranoia. With that in mind, I start profiling the male crowd entering to better gauge whether I should keep an eye. Male, age 45-55 (yeah, first time profiling, not too good with differentiating among that age group), in a hurry, ring on finger. He’s good. Male, unknown descent, age 16-18, messy sports jacket, tattoo on neck, a Messi hairdo. All systems on high alert.

Yes, this could work.

Hour 03:15 –

Battery in green finally. Phone has finally achieved terminal velocity.

Hour 05:00 –

Long, fun, insightful chat with travel companion. Great many thoughts laid bare. Meanwhile, we got lucky. A couple unplugged their charger a few shops away and my ears shot up. They were quickly replaced and the resulting space well utilized. Status update on the battery – 92%

Tummies partially full, bodies aching from all the travails, semi sleepy, we sit at a table in another sleepy 24×7 airport caf√© with another apple pie and sandwich consumed.

Signing off for now. It’s been a long day.

When do _you_ wanna die?

The following post is inspired as a response to yet another brilliant blog by the brilliant duo at waitbutwhy. The link is down below. If you are still here, do go check it out first. Worth the click and the 10 minute read!

http://waitbutwhy.com/table/how-long-would-you-live-if-you-could-choose-any-number-of-years

TL;DR –¬†Self-preservation is not my strongest instinct.

I say choose a mortal life. Good enough for me to have to live a normal one, to have to fall in abnormal love, and to have kids and to explore the super-normal world. Plus, since superpowers are not hashed out in the dealio, there is not much to look forward to¬†in those extended life spans. Also, no kids is not quite ideal. And who would¬†want to see everyone around them die? It’d be like that cool guy from “The Man from Earth”. I came off feeling a little sad for him.¬†Dunno if sad would be the right word though. Guy had some adventures!¬†Anywho, I digress; From all the morbidity and all those deaths. . . . I mean, most of the people I know that I really care about (parents, most family, most friends) will not choose to live forever. A life without people I care about right now and those that I won’t be allowed to bring to existence anytime in the future seems drab and, quite¬†like Professor Oldman, lonely.

Frankly, a lifespan longer than our current average¬†seems.. sub-optimal. If we aren’t already lazy bums who won’t even enjoy a sunny day to sleep in so that we can enjoy the starry night getting drunk indoors, is there even a point to giving us the free time to waste away more of it?¬†Personally, a longer life span would make me lazier. If a college group project deadline extension can cause a complete loss of self-respect through a night of self-indulgence in front of a laptop screen (Ah, innuendos) with a groggy hangover the morning after and a helping of self-hate, one can only imagine the carnage if I enter an infinite number on that calci. *shudders*

I think I’d rather enjoy & learn things as much as I can, keeping in mind that there’s an expiry date on my head. It might just keep all that excess lethargy at bay.

Plus, the no-kids is a deal breaker. I didn’t know this till some time back, but I am very fond of kids related to me. The “you-won’t-be-able-to-commit-suicide” is a problem that a good friend pointed out in one of his opinions (quite conspicuously using “you” instead of “I”….) but the “you-won’t-have-kids-ever” seems much more severe. Not being close enough to either of those thoughts in my head at the moment, I guess my opinion is molded by me having thought much more often about the latter in the past than the former. Upon my showing my friends pictures of my adorable, bubbly niece, they took no time in pointing out the¬†“paternal instincts” I apparently have to my blinded self.¬†I do want to have kids of my own someday. I would definitely like to be a father, and part some wisdom and gain some. If I choose to enter in an age, I could adopt, but that poor child is not very likely to have been given the choice of a calculator, is he? I’d have to see my own kid die in front of me and as Murph rightly tells Cooper “No parent should¬†have to watch their child die”. Nope; mortality has its charms.

It does seem a little selfish too. All living and no death makes Jack a resource-guzzling vampire! He sucks the blood out of the life force of the earth. Think about it this way – If everyone in the world were to choose “infinity” as the age they want to live to, they’d be continuing the human species through themselves. They would be the frontier of our race. They would be bored as hell too, of course. Not the best representatives (or would they be?) of our glorious humankind.

This is,¬†surely,¬†an extremely extreme scenario. Look at another milder one. If, say, everyone does choose an age (other than infinity) it would imply they will live upto a certain age and die off. No procreation, no kids. No more humans. It would be the end of a species who has fought tooth and nail and has become (no matter however destructively) the apex of the food chain. We have as a species done some shit, no doubt. But, we have also done some good things to slightly redeem ourselves in the eyes of our future generations. Bereaving ourselves of the opportunity to earn some more forgiveness and, for once, to give back, seems unfair to everyone. We would be the last generation. We would be the last ones of our species to ever walk this earth. Period…

Then again, these are scenarios when everyone has been made to choose that calculator to make themselves live. But, how about the case where some do and some do not fix a date with death? In my view, it’s a trade-off at the end of the day. You either live through yourself or you live through the generations you will spawn after you. It’s a simple choice, i guess. Personally, I am more inclined towards¬†the latter.¬†A life that nature has provided generously enough, and one that it shall take away when my time’s up. Some things are better left out of one’s control, I say.

Do leave your response to the question posed on the brilliant link. Doesn’t matter if it’s in the comments below, in the comments on their page, in your own personal blogs. If it has made you think, it was more than worth it.

The Royal Ramble

How strange it is to look at two people and feel bad. You have nothing to go on, but the illusion of happiness on their part. No underlying asset, just an inflated bubble based solely on the biased, hopeful expectations of the only two investors involved in the seemingly happy illusion.

And how strange to look at this happiness and feel bad, to feel guilt and in times of desperation and momentary lapses of holding it all together – regret and remorse. It is no crime really to be single, yet why do i feel like a criminal? Why do i feel like i am being treated unjustly by society at large and my facebook feed in particular?

Why isn’t it that singledom receive as much adulation as the opposite? Why not pat someone on the back when they explore themselves by looking inside rather than through projecting themselves onto a person and making him/her responsible for helping them out? Why can’t we just form pacts that say “Well, we are sorted. At least sorted enough. I’m willing to work on my issues on my own; could use a hand though. Hope yours is steady and strong. Would you like mine?” and just ……

And why is this so difficult? Why does being in a relationship require so much effort and energy and passion and compassion and love and trust and honesty and courtesy and mannerisms and pretenses and secrets and hatred and tension and fights….. And love….

And yet the moment you are out of one and are convinced that an autogamous relationship is the one for you, the thoughts pop right back up? Aren’t babies smarter than us then? Granted they won’t listen to you when you “tell” them the stove is hot, but once they have had egos shot down by the scalding burns, they learn and they remember; they evolve. So if we still don’t “learn”, and yet somehow we have managed to evolve as a species – despite this clear lack of knowledge transference from HR downstairs to the big guy up top – must there be an answer?

Could it be then that –
a) we are not evolving &
b) we “are” learning.
Examples for (a) abound of course. You see them daily – in offices you work in, in music videos, on TV,¬† in the streets where you drive, in cars while you cross the road, in your head. Let’s just put that aside for a second and attribute the above tirade to personal experiences and a general bias and superiority complex that a certain someone might have. *ahem*

Assuming, we are *cough* evolving *cough*, we are left with option (b). So what do we really learn then? We learn that we are not compatible with a certain type of person. We learn that it won’t work out with them. We learn (or convince ourselves) that there are many many different varieties out there. “One of them must be my size after all! Lemme try a few.”

And of course, while such go getters go ahead and, well, get (?), lazy rambling writers get nowhere with their philosophies seeing that they are lazy, rambling, pathologically curious, philosophical, mind numbingly recalcitrant, grandiloquently pompous show-offs. Condemned to be extinct – Save a writer, you know what to do.