Category Archives: Alcohol
In what could be the next biggest development in the history of football, ABSOLUT Vodka and UEFA have announced that the winners of the upcoming EURO ’12 and UEFA Champions League ’12-’13 tournaments will play ABSOLUT Football – a new brand of football that nobody has ever seen so far. This announcement was made on UEFA’s website and was confirmed by a spokesman of the Pernord Ricard group which owns the ABSOLUT brand.
UEFA’s official website carried a new posting outlining the rationale behind the new legislation:
After an executive committee meeting of UEFA, it has been decided that the winners of EURO ’12 and Champions League ’12-’13 will be based on the ability of teams to play the ABSOLUT brand of football. The objective behind this decision is to provide fans and spectators all across the world the opportunity to watch the most entertaining brand of football ever played.
The UEFA executives concluded that all teams must raise their games to include more entertainment aspects into it. And, as currently, the most entertaining and exciting brand of football is considered to be Total football – born in the Netherlands and currently played by the likes of FC Barcelona - it was decided that in order to be fair to all teams, even those playing total football had to raise their games.
However, after further investigation by this fearless reporter, new sh*t has come to light. It appears that the UEFA executives had a very controversial motive behind this decision.
Most of them were unhappy that Chelsea FC won the UEFA Champions League, for apparently deploying negative (read extremely effective) tactics to secure wins against the likes of FC Barcelona and FC Bayern Munchen. Sources revealed that the members refused to consider the inability – of either Barcelona or Bayern Munich – to finish even 5% of all the chances that they created as a sign of the weaker team. This, as compared to Chelsea’s almost 100% finishing record, appears to have had no bearing on the executives.
One of the executives, who wished to remain anonymous justified the motive in the following way:
How can you have entertainment when all you are getting from Chelsea’s tactics is a scenario when one team is constantly on the verge of scoring the decisive goal and the other team is defending for its life – suffocating and frustrating the attacking team- only to provide the most dramatic finishes in the history of the game? That Barcelona game might have given people heart attacks. But then since Chelsea had deployed negative tactics, this simply cannot be considered entertaining, right?
In a related development, Websters dictionary publishers have agreed to use the above executive’s quote to explain the words ‘retard’ and ‘hypocrite’.
Johan Cruyff, one of the most vocal protesters of Chelsea’s tactics – and himself an ex-Barcelona player who was also involved in the development of Total football – had a few thoughts of his own:
What is the point in having all these different styles of football - from different leagues in different countries all across Europe – competing against each other in one tournament? Teams playing widely different tactics pitted against each other in a game of football is completely pointless! There simply cannot be any value in doing this! Everybody should try to play the same type of football – the type that is played at Ajax or Barcelona.
I don’t know how this ABSOLUT football will work but right now, the only way to win a tournament and deserve it is by playing total football. Every other style of play is inferior to Total football. Even if other styles of football aim to exploit the opposition’s weaknesses, or even if they culminate in the most exciting games ever played, those styles are still invalid and do not deserve to be rewarded!
This reporter initially suspected that Mr. Cruyff could have been stoned when he made the above quotes. Turns out, this is how Mr. Cruyff is.
Meanwhile, a spokesperson for the Pernord Ricard group which owns the ABSOLUT brand shed more light on what this means to the company and also about how this is going to work.
ABSOLUT Vodka is proud to be associated with this new chapter in the history of football, where ABSOLUT Football makes Total football absolutely obsolete!
The methodology of playing ABSOLUT football, inevitably involves the consumption of copious amounts of ABSOLUT Vodka. Following this, the players take to the pitch and the game begins. However, once the game begins, this style of football will now require you to make use of the players of not only your own team, but also that of the opposition’s. The players will bounce the ball like a pin-ball machine and make it go towards goal.
We are absolutely confident that ABSOLUT football will provide the highest amount of entertainment in the game of football. Of course, the best way to enjoy a game of ABSOLUT football is to be absolutely drunk yourself with our Vodka! CHEERS!
“….or how I embraced Dudeism, unwound myself and became happy..”
Yeah. So I have now officially converted my religion to Dudeism. This merits a complete post to itself containing all my fundamental realizations and changes and thats what I aim to do now. Let me first state that I have never found more peace, contentment and happiness in whatever I may have been practicing so far. I have gone through different stages of believing and non-believing in my lifetime. From an ignorant kid ready to believe whatever my parents told me to an outright rebel atheist in high school to a gradual transformation back to belief eventually leading to 3 years of total cult-like worship and practice of ‘authentic spirituality’, saved only by the 80 page John Galt speech in Atlas Shrugged to become a skeptical believer and then finally to completely understand the inherent atheistic nature of this world and man’s own need for a God. Through all this, I never felt that satisfaction or happiness in being at peace with the world even once. I tried in all places, tried to convince myself that I was already happy, performed many diverse activities, looked for meaning in every school of thought I ever came across- but all to no avail.
Now, I just say, “Ah! Fuck it!” and get on with my life.
As the Dudeism website says:
Life is short and complicated and nobody knows what to do about it. So don’t do anything about it. Just take it easy, man. Stop worrying so much whether you’ll make it into the finals. Kick back with some friends and some oat soda and whether you roll strikes or gutters, do your best to be true to yourself and others – that is to say, abide.
There is more truth in that quote than what appears. There are simply so many schools of thought on this planet and all of them are equally convinced their explanation of the world is the correct one and all others can, NO make that NEED TO, eat shit. Earlier I used to sharply defend whatever I believed in at that time while painstakingly point out the flaws in their line of thinking.
Now, I just say, “Ah! Fuck it!” and get on with my life.
In all seriousness, life is indeed short. It is almost a crime to spend even the smallest amount of time worrying about which God is the authentic one while rendering the other Gods unauthentic by default. And as I learnt it the hard way some time back, you never know if you are going to wake up from your sleep tomorrow. So as it is said in my mother tongue Kannada..
So what does this mean apart from me deciding not to give a fuck about religion and everything associated with it? For one, I feel different. I spent a lot of time thinking about WHY I was feeling so different. Eventually I realized something very fundamental.
All my life, everytime I met somebody new, the first thing I did was to pass some judgment upon them and/or frame some kind of an opinion. As one of my ex-roomies put it,
Everyone’s a dick until proven otherwise.
Damn! Think of it. Thats pretty much how most of us look at others. Simply put, we look at everyone as a dick until they prove otherwise to us. Thats how fucked up we are. Well at least thats how fucked up I was. And thats really sad. And then the difference I was noticing in myself became evident.
I had simply stopped judging people. Suddenly every single person around me looked as a potential good friend to me. This could never have happened earlier. Earlier, I used to judge people on so many parameters and so easily conclude that one person is worth talking to while another isn’t. These ‘parameters’ used to include things such as taste in music, books, movies, sports, activities, age, views on religion, views on alcohol and drugs, liberal/conservative, food preference, where they studied and their level of ambition..You name it!
Now, I just say, “Hey man! Whats up?!?” and get on with the conversation.
And this has helped me make so many new friends here in a place which has been tried, tested and certified by many Indians to be the “…best place to start and raise families.” Point being I was finding it extremely difficult to make new friends of my age who I can talk freely to and get drunk with. And now I have an awesome group of friends around my age and I still get drunk with people a lot older than me.
The idea of judging is not restricted to just people. Even other things like music, books, movies and the like are not spared of our judgments. There is this issue of ‘taste’ and then there is this issue of ‘elitism’. I just dont get it. I was actually feeling ashamed and embarrassed that I liked some music, book or a movie when it was being considered as too ‘popular’, ‘cheesy’ or that it simply did not qualify for being explored because it was associated with somebody who didn’t make the cut.
Now, I just say, “Ah! Fuck it!” and go ahead to see what the book, music or movie is all about.
There is a word I recently came across. UPTIGHT. Go look it up. Dudeism simply helped me NOT to be that. It is so damn easy to just stay in your comfort zone and not explore whats out there. Again, life is indeed to short. You need to go out, see places and do things. And its not gonna happen if you are just too damn uptight! I was so damn uptight before, not willing to let go of some routines and lines of thinking. Now I realize I have only been imposing rules on myself- with no tangible reward.
For instance, my Saturdays and Sunday mornings were mandatorily filled with Premier League, Serie A and La Liga matches. Then one day I just said, “Ah! Fuck it!” and I found myself in Minneapolis eating an Octopus and feeling the cold air pierce my eyes while I was sliding down a snow slope in a tube at breakneck speed!
And I was like “FUCK YEAH!!”.
Simply put, I was just too damn uptight in my thinking. I needed to stop passing judgments on people and things. I needed to accept and acknowledge whatever I was feeling irrespective of how others viewed it. I feel some way about something? Well…Fuck it! I feel that way about that thing! End of story. I am not going to apologize for who I am and what I feel.
Dudeism has helped me get so damn relaxed and at peace with the world now. I don’t remember the last time I got upset about something. And knowing how I was before, that means I have come a long way.
And I am Happy…..
Its been a while since I wrote anything about my encounters with alcohol. Its definitely not been due to a lack of consumption on my part. (Lets just think of what the sloth has come to represent and go on further) Instead, I have had some really interesting experiences with quite a few exotic alcoholic beverages. Of late, most of them have been with alcohol, in the form of beer.
Beer has almost become synonymous with male bonding over time. And by over time, I mean ever since I came to America. This may have something to do with the fact that beer is cheaper than water. And so, beer became the most freely and most frequently consumed alcoholic beverage. (So much so, I had totally forgotten the taste of good Scotch). Having pretty much exhausted all the cheap beer that America had to offer- the list going from Steel Reserve (the Old Monk of American Beer) to Natty Lite to Budweiser- I set my sights on trying out some beer that was actually good.
And so my first tryst with good beer came about in the form of Corona and the inevitable piece of lime. And it was goooooooood! A refreshing change from the banalities of everyday cheap beer. Then I went on to try the other standard well known ‘good beer’ brands: Stella Artois, Blue Moon, Guinness, Samuel Adams, George Killian etc. And every one of them was rightly classified under the ‘good beer’ category. But then, I eventually realized that most of these ‘good beer’ brands tasted more or less the same. Most of them were Lagers (except Guinness and Killian) and they tasted a little less bitter and had the same amount of alcohol. And so the alcoholic gene in me began craving for some better beer.
And in time, I had the opportunity to visit this nearby small town by name of Floyd. This town warrants an entire post dedicated to itself. It signifies everything that I had imagined in a typical American small town- cozy book stores where you find some amazing titles at cheap prices, a house serving as a coffee shop, a bunch of antique stores, bars playing live music from the local scene, beer stores selling hundreds of only the totally unknown local beers and most significantly: bars serving locally brewed beer.
And it was in a place called Dogtown Roadhouse in Floyd, that I had my first experience of some totally mind blowing beer. It came in the form of Bourbon Barrel Beer. Yes. This stout is actually ‘aged’ in used bourbon caskets. And it was god-damn good! Then I tried another beer: Hopsecutioner. As the name suggests, it is a treat for hop-heads. Not knowing what ‘hops’ even stood for prior to that, I drank it without the least idea of what it contained. It was extra bitter – the good bitter kind that is. And I liked it.
I would eventually go back to Floyd and try out more awesome beer. Brooklyn Black Chocolate Stout and Allagash Belgian White Ale- each made with a plethora of very interesting ingredients such as cherries, coffee, spices, dark chocolate etc. Needless to say, these beers taste like nothing you have ever had before. It is a memorable experience really when you first drink beer which was made with the intention of tasting good.
I later found that the international grocery store in Blacksburg (Oasis), has this geographically diverse collection of awesome beer. I also realized that being geographically diverse inevitably meant that the beer itself was quite diverse. The store thus has all kinds of beer. So much so, everytime I go there to buy beer, I have a problem of choice. The first time I did buy beer, the beer expert in that store suggested a Latvian beer: Aldaris Porteris. It is a malt based Baltic Porter with a chocolate and burnt caramel taste to it. Next time I went, there was a beer tasting session going on. I ended up sampling a few Irish beers- Smithwick’s and Guinness. Smithwick’s is a beer that does not use hops at all and so is hardly bitter for a beer. I ended up buying Shooting Creek’s Farmhouse Stout, another Floyd brewery product. It tasted similar to Aldaris except for the fact that the hops were more significant and there was a hint of maple syrup in it.
And so as is quite evident from my above mentioned experiences, I suddenly found myself drinking beer for its taste! Which got me thinking- WTF has gone wrong with me? I am not drinking beer to get drunk? Also, I am paying attention to the kind of beer that I consume and to how much I like or dislike that particular type. Lagers, Ales, Stouts, Porters etc, I have realized, have their own specific taste, primarily arising out of the brewing ingredients and processes. So next time you have beer with me, I might have a tendency to spoil the entire occasion by describing the beer with words such as ‘notes, undertone, after taste, cloudiness etc.’
In all seriousness, I have gotten quite interested in exploring new beers- not just for their taste, but also for their historical, geographical and brewing aspects. I can already see myself developing this as a hobby of some kind. And fortunately, I am in the right continent to be able to do so.
Which got me thinking, why Indian breweries fail to make good tasting beer? I am pretty sure that they do not lack the resources or the equipment for it. My only guess is that the demand is so damn big that the breweries do not really need to think of good tasting beer for making profit.
Oh and one very important tip for those who plan to drink beer to enjoy its taste. Always, drink from a glass. Never drink from a bottle. Drinking from the bottle masks so many fine aspects of the beer. Drinking it from a glass instead is the complete experience.
Ever since I learnt that I would be missing out on Porcupine Tree coming to Mood-I in Mumbai in December, I began to feel frustrated with life. Seldom have I let something that has meant so much to me just pass by looking from the sidelines, unable to do anything but wish it wasn’t that way. And very conveniently, Porcupine Tree were giving me a chance to make amends by touring the US within a few months with dirt cheap ticket prices. Without giving a second thought, I booked my tickets for the Charlotte gig. But when I booked my tickets, I never had the slightest idea it would turn out to be so much more than just a Porcupine Tree concert. Through a series of totally unpredictable and unbelievable events, which culminated in an all-is-well-that-ends-well feeling, I found myself on a road trip to Charlotte to see Porcupine Tree on a sunny Wednesday afternoon.
Fast forward to concert arena- a PUB by name Amos’ Southend. It must have had a capacity of about 100-150 max. And one of the best living bands on the planet was going to be playing there in an hour! I almost considered that an insult! But I wasnt exactly complaining. But first up, the opening act was BIG ELF. This band, half from Finland and other half from LA (or something like that) has by far the most refreshingly new sound I have come across after I started listening to THE BLACK KEYS. This band should definitely go right at the top of your To-Listen playlist in not so sober conditions. Total psychedelic, progressive rock. I am already a big fan.
Ok, now getting right to the most relevant part. Porcupine Tree took stage at around 9:10 PM. And went straight into Occam’s Razor. Oh and before I go any further, it should perhaps be mentioned that I was approximately 8.385 feet away from Steven Wilson’s microphone, already buzzing with 1 bottle of Budlite + 1 bottle of Corona (with lime obviously), sipping from a glass of Jameson Irish Whiskey (on the rocks) and generally smiling and feeling happy.
So as PTree took stage with Occam’s Razor, the first thing I noticed was how lean Steven Wilson actually was! No kidding. I wonder how he manages to tour all over the world and stay fit and be so lean at the same time! Anyway, apart from Steven Wilson, the rest of the band was there too: Richard Barbieri on two big ass keyboards (and a Mac), Colin Edwin (with a fretless bass), Gavin Harrison on drums and touring guitarist John Wesley with other guitars and backing vocals. But make no mistake. It was Steven Wilson all the way who took centerstage. And with good reason too.
They went on to play Blindhouse after which Steven Wilson started talking to the crowd. He explained how the concert worked in two halves – but I guess every PTree fan there already knew that. Great Expectations, Kneel and Disconnect and Drawing the Line followed along with Steven playing the Mellotron for Kneel and Disconnect. That sound – and his voice- and that haunting tune (along with the Jameson in my hand) began my journey to a different dimension. Incident came after that with those keyboard percussions and that haunting voice again. But of course, everyone were waiting for the band to play Time Flies. I am not sure whats with that strumming pattern, but it can get anybody’s attention within 2 seconds for sure. He played that- and the complete song- all 11 mins of it. It is something to listen to that song full volume on your i-Pod, but it is something else to see Steven Wilson play that live right in front of you. You just tend to shut up and listen without being asked to do so.
They went on to play the rest of THE INCIDENT album winding up with Drive The Hearse (one of my personal favorites). They took a 10 min break after which they started their second part of the setlist- which basically included all their old stuff. They started off from DEADWING and one of my personal favorites- Start of Something Beautiful. It was indeed the start of something beautiful. There is something about that song, (the whole album actually) that one can never get tired listening to. The best part of the song was when the keyboards and the bass come together in perfect harmony and I was not disappointed. My journey to that different dimension was well underway.
Russia on Ice (first part) came up next with that eerie bassline followed by Taking the Pills part of Anesthetize. That was perhaps the heaviest the concert got the entire evening. Anybody having a fantasy of headbanging to PTree should have realized that by then. The whole crowd definitely did get fully pumped up for Anesthetize. That riff is definitely catchy and that other dimension was definitely in sight by then.
Now I have to tell you that before I went to the concert, I had done considerable research about the setlist that they were having for this tour. I had made sure I was not going to be caught off guard during the concert. But all that was thrown out of the window when Steven Wilson announced that the next song: STARS DIE. Fuck! It had been ages since I had listened to that song! That soft guitar intro and Steven’s melodious vocals were totally eclipsed by that mind blowing bass line! And as the song went into the middle part with that mesmerizing acoustic rhythm, followed by that sweet bass, I knew my transition to that different dimension was complete. Anything else they played was only going to be a bonus from then on. I had hoped they would play some of the songs which I was desperate to listen to. But looking back now, I dont think I would have traded this to anything else on their entire catalog.
They went on to play part of Strip the Soul and part of .3. Then came one more song I was really looking forward to: NORMAL. It is really surprising how one band can come up with such arresting melody for almost every single song they ever compose and yet not make them sound the same as something else. Playing heavy riffs followed immediately by a melody backed acoustic part and make the song sound better just because of that is something Porcupine Tree have mastered over the years. Normal is one perfect example- especially when you are listening to it being played LIVE by the very band that made it and when you are listening to it from a different dimension.
They then played Bonnie the Cat (one of the songs I had wished they would play something else instead of) and then went for an encore. It was quite predictable what they would play for encore. Started off with Sound of Muzak. Apart from the part wherein I say how awesome the song is, I would also like to say that I fully believe that if at least half the people on this planet know what the song is about, then the world is going to be a much better place. Porcupine Tree then wound up their show with TRAINS. That intro acoustic riff is sufficient to make me smile any time, any day and anywhere on this planet. So no points for guessing what the expression on my face was when Steven Wilson played that in front of me. I had imagined I would sing along throughout the song, but all I could do was just shut up and listen, joining the chorus only towards the end.
The band then got together on stage and waved at the crowd saying “We will be back” which actually had some meaning as this was their first time in Charlotte. But perhaps the only regret I have of the show was that I couldnt get a single pic of the concert. Photography was strictly banned and the one opportunity I had of taking the pic when the band got together at the end, I let it pass as I was busy clapping and screaming my lungs out. Photograph or no photograph, I was there. And nothing is going to change that!
But perhaps I should say a word or two about the performance as such. I have been to many many concerts. And in almost all of them, what the band plays on stage differs vastly from the original song. In the name of improvisations, many just end up playing a lead which bears no resemblance to the original or singing the song with some of the syllables having a different tune than the original. I believe that it comes more from a lack of effort in most cases rather than the popular perception that it stems from an attempt at improvisations. When somebody improvises, you will know it. In all other cases, it is just a lack of effort. But not Porcupine Tree. If there is one thing that will always seperate a Porcupine Tree concert with all the other dozen or so concerts that I have been to, it will have to be the effort that PTree put into making the concert so very memorable. All their songs had a note-to-note perfection. All the vocals were in the right key and in perfect harmony with the rest of the instruments. The co ordination was impeccable. If there is anything called a complete concert experience, this is it.
Like I have been saying over and over and over, concerts give me the only meaningful purpose to continue my existence. And I know for a fact I will be going to many more Porcupine Tree concerts.
PS: Thank You and due apologies to that someone because of which all of this was possible in the first place. Inconvenience prevents me from elaborating.
So finally here I am, writing this inevitable post, after I have got settled in my new home. It has been just over 2 weeks since I arrived here in Blacksburg, Virginia. Two weeks during which I came, I saw and I drank beer!
Leaving India for the first time, I somehow just didn’t go through any of the pre-departure blues that was so much drilled into my head. In fact, my last day in India was all a bit surreal. As I was done with most of my packing by then, I was never really in a rush. So went to visit a couple of my close friends and then I was all set to go to the airport. The flights-Bangalore to Mumbai, Mumbai to Atlanta, Atlanta to Roanoke- were quite uneventful in themselves, apart from of course the highly admirable Kingfisher Air Hostesses and the very very large collection of movies that was on offer in the 18 hour non-stop Delta flight. But I will probably remember the Delta flight more for the missed opportunity on my part to have free beer and wine on flight and get high-literally and figuratively! (HTF??!!??)
And since arrival, I have had much to see and do. Blacksburg, being a village by American Standards, made my transition into America much easier. Sure there are wide roads and the people are different and there is a lot more order around but it hasn’t taken me long to get to know this place well and feel at home in here. The excitement of meeting people from all over the planet never abated at any point of time. Attending the regular get togethers at the International Center has been one of the highlights over the past 2 weeks. And also due to the significant Indian contingent, I never really felt out of place or alienated.
The place as such is quite small and it took me all of 1 week to travel all around it. But at the same time, it is one of the most beautiful and picturesque places I have ever come across. Situated right at the heels of a mountain range, Blacksburg provides many breath taking views, many times right from the windows of the houses. A 45 minute drive to a nearby Claytor Dam lake was perhaps the best of it all. The weather here, is pretty much the same as it was in Bangalore, with the only difference that this place reserves the right to rain with absolutely no prior notice of any kind. And also of note, is the day timings what with the sun deciding to set only after 9 in the night!
There have been many changes that I have had to adapt myself to -inevitably. Some good, some not so good, and some bad. On the good side, there is the very useful law (and one that I have never got tired of exploiting to my own benefit) that requires vehicles to stop for pedestrians to cross. There is also this really really punctual Bus service that runs through the town where one has to actually “request” for a stop! (At this point, I am making an honest effort not to compare the aboriginal BMTC back home with its counterpart here). But perhaps, more significant than any other observation that I might have made, the friendly nature of the people here is definitely worth mentioning. Back home, we are never really used to being wished by complete strangers or being thanked for something that we are just supposed to be doing. There is a basic sense of courtesy around here that everybody respects and follows.
And now on the bad side, is the food! Where I used to eat dosa for breakfast, Americans eat beef. Whenever I had Samosa or Pani Puri, Americans prefer beef. Where I used to eat rice, Americans prefer beef. And sometimes they even eat random parts of the leftovers of the cow carcass which somehow magically metamorphoses into a conveniently edible form of a pizza. The name given to this – I think it is called Corn Dogs- is almost euphemistic in nature! And so you now see, where my troubles begin. My own cooking, I have to say, has already gone through various stages on the “edible” chart. Incessant experimenting led me to making Aloo Capsicum when I had set out to prepare a rice bath. A mixed vegetable gravy eventually traspired to be more of an Aloo Mash. Upma, the one dish that I had sworn I would never touch, suddenly became the staple food for a few days. Other staple food include eggs, bread, to an extent rice, and of course the Veggie Burger at Burger King. Also trust me when I say that the Apocalypse is indeed near. If you don’t believe me, then please look out for the mutated vegetables that one is bound to eat here. These include 1/4 kg capsicum ( and I am talking about 1 Capsicum), wax bananas, onions the size of a small watermelon and some really really long carrots! And so canned vegetables is now the new order of the house. Oh and BTW, TORTILLAS SUCK!!! For the uninitiated, Tortillas are supposed to be the Mexican equivalent of the Roti or the Chapathi-only they are NOT! It lies somewhere between a Dosa gone horribly wrong, stale bread, decayed cheese and some randomly chosen white or brown powder for flour. But thankfully, I discovered an Indian food store where I get the original roti and parathas and hence am now not in the process of asking my mom to courier food everyday.
But apart from all the food, lies the drinks. And in case you are not aware, Beer is ACTUALLY cheaper than water here!!! It is not a myth, but a solid fact. In fact, if there is one thing that you CAN convert into Indian rupees, it would only be BEER. And here is the best part: It is still going to be cheaper! And so, as a natural consequence, some extra-ordinary amounts of beer has been bought and devoured in the past couple of weeks. This included a 5 day nightly ritual of 3-4 cans of Budweiser and the consumption of a 1 liter bottle of JACK DANIEL’s by just me and my friend- with some totally delirious consequences (there are still traces of unclaimed food stains in the bathrooms!). And last night’s dance party at a nearby pub was also inevitably filled with loads of beer, and fun!
On the whole, I have to say that I am finding my feet here and am already feeling at home. Just a little more purchasing to do-including my mobile and laptop- and then I will be fully set. I have personally undergone many changes myself- in what I talk, in the way I dress and in the way I see things. It is almost that I am sensing a kind of a paradigm shift taking place. I am already looking forward for the classes to start. And of what I have been repeatedly told, “I WILL BE BUSY”. I just hope this doesn’t come too much in the way of my blogging. There will definitely be more that I will seek to write about in the near future as and when things happen.
It has been a very eventful few weeks I have to say. Maybe not so much on my blog as off it. And now I am finally all settled and ready to venture into some unknown territory (read continent). So in order not to disappoint my (continuously and inevitably) diminishing reader count, I have embarked upon this new post just to shed some light on all the various exciting stuff (and I am not talking about Michael Jackson) that I might at some point of time use as an excuse for my diminishing posting frequency. So in no particular order, here goes:
- After months together of internal and external debate and tearing myself apart and some subsequent coin tossing, I finally decided to shift continents-from Europe to North America. More specifically, from Imperial College London to Virginia Tech. There were a lot of pros and cons for each of them. VT was simply better in all aspects including finance, research exposure etc. But Imperial College had Stamford Bridge next door! (God Damn it!) But then, after talking for hours over the phone with Royan, who repeatedly drilled into me (and I have to say, in a biased manner) that USA is a better place etc etc, and then with some first hand info from a VT student, I finally made the call and I am now fully happy that I made the right one. But I guess, in the end, it all really boiled down to Royan’s tireless efforts to make me apply to VT in the first place. And for that (and of course the alcohol inspiration), I think he has more than made up for all the stabs in the hostel!
- Of course, the decision making was only the beginning of what was to be an extra-ordinarily painful ordeal of applying for a bank loan and getting all the visa documents readied. And after months together of effort, I finally got my visa a few days back and now I know for sure where I am going. And a word of suggestion about bank loans-and this stems solely from my own experience: I strongly recommend CANARA BANK for all your education loans. I have been extremely impressed by the speed and manner in which all my formalities were handled and am also indebted to all the people involved who made it possible for me to get my Loan approved before my Visa interview.
- Also worth mentioning, just a few weeks back, I almost got rammed into from behind by a speeding Indica late in the night. All thanks to a speed breaker built at a particularly inappropriate zone (and the subsequent marking of that zone as “dangerous”), I could have as well not lived to write this. Watching an Indica do a complete 180 topple some 3 feet behind you when you are in a lame 2 wheeler is not exactly exciting. More so when you realize that the driver did what he did just to avoid ramming into me! But miraculously, the driver escaped without as much as a scratch! And I ‘escaped’ from the accident scene soon after- for reasons Logik didn’t bother to reveal as well. Oh and BTW, it took me some 5 days to get out of my house with the same lame wheeler again.
- And so having found insane amounts of time at my disposal in recent months (apart from the harrowing visa process), I hit upon this idea of doing something more constructive and substantial. I realized that I could not really get into any job as such. So I turned my attention to my writing. Having been really impressed and inspired by some of the books and blogs that I have been reading lately, I started a new blog dedicated solely to the adventures and escapades of certain characters that I developed. The blog is here. It mainly consists (or will consist) of a series of short stories about the life of a 22 year old guy who finds himself in the middle of a lot of unusual situations. The stories are almost completely original, with only a very few instances based upon something that I have seen or experienced. Realizing the inevitability of basing a character on oneself, I have made a conscious effort not to base the main character Samir on myself. I have started this new blog with quite a bit of seriousness and hope to atleast write one post every week from now on. As of now, I have only written one post and it is about Samir losing his virginity. I wish I could say this one was based on my own experiences, but alas no. So please do follow the blog (you will find the link at the adjacent column always) and I hope to keep my end of the deal of updating it regularly as well.
- In celebration of my Visa arrival, there was a sizeable party at my house with an even more sizeable presence of alcohol. So much so, I still have leftovers. The party may be remembered for such things like me preparing the World’s worst cocktail (and my subsequent failure at that) consisting of Shark Tooth Vodka, Grappo Fizz, Godrej Xs KIWI juice, Coke and some Blue Riband Gin as well. Also of note, is how my cousin will always forever rue that night to be the one time his younger sister beat him to a certain feat, a fact that will hitherto remain secret from their mother.
- After what seemed like a virtual impossibility, I finally went to Wonderla with a couple of friends, one of whom is better known here in this blog for her involvement in a certain handbag hunting expedition. The trip, though initially threatening to make me feel worse, eventually exceeded my expectations and has definitely become something that I will remember for a long time.
- I am presently in the midst of a shopping and meeting people spree, largely due to the 17 days that I have left in this country. I will maybe have a few more drinking sessions before I leave and am presently in the process of learning the nuances of cooking at home. Any of you people ready to play guinea pig please feel free to drop by.
So there it is. Some of the things that define ‘exciting’ for me. I will be leaving to Virginia on August 2 with a Junior of mine from college and hope to be able to blog after going there as well. But till then, I hope to write as much as possible. In fact, I hope to write at least one post a day till I leave. Ok…Now I know what you are thinking and I fully agree- HOPE IS A GOOD THING….
Oh man! Even before I write anything, I know this is going to be my most satisfying post ever! The way I have got it all planned out to belt the shit out of something I detest so passionately has got me licking my lips! Ah! I can almost taste the bliss! So here goes….
Yesterday, at around 9 PM, my dad came home from work and thanks to the extra-ordinarily large number of banal choices available to watch on TV, my dad chose the most banal one-NEWS. He started shifting through a few news channels, suddenly getting confused whether he was hearing echoes or just some daily repetitive news. After he realized that it didn’t really make any difference (hehe….or so he thought!), he finally settled on this particular Indian news channel that has a close relationship to a certain Print media product which I particularly detest with all my heart and soul. (Oh common! Don’t we all???) The newsreader dude was looking like he had come fully prepared to tell the entire country some earth shattering news that was supposed to leave everyone spellbound! Or in other words, this dude just looked PLAIN STONED! Stoned not as in
but as in
But the STONED part shouldn’t really matter now should it?
Then suddenly there is this one moment when you know Stoned News Reader is going to shift to “DRAMATIZE” gear. And thus began the tantrums…about how MSD “lost his cool” and how Viru should have been “more transparent” about his injury and how, eventually (and inevitably I may add) the BCCI is to be blamed for all of this! Stoned (and Excited…Woah! Now how is that going to look like?) News Reader was doing his best to make the (lack of ) news sound so important and necessary for all the public to know about why a Professional Cricket player playing all year round all over the world should get injured. Ok. Didn’t they realize that the answer is in the question itself? Oh I am sorry. I forgot Stoned Newsreader has an IQ less than Doley (which further implies that his IQ is lesser than that of Timmy too!). My Bad. And so we hear Stoned Newsreader stressing (literally) and pausing (literally) at practically every syllable of every word in a practiced and moronic attempt to let the news sink in the minds of the news watcher. And the poor newswatchers! I mean common… For a majority of them, at the end of the day, all they need for a Delta increment in Self Esteem is to be part of a world where “important” stuff seems to be happening around them-”important” being defined by Stoned Newsreaders Inc.!
And so as the diatribes built up, Stoned Newsreader decided it was time to take the opinion of “experts” in this matter. Here “experts” take the meaning of 3 Guest Speculators who actually make a living out of Guest Speculating. Usually these Guest Speculators are out of favor/out of talent/retired or simply forgotten cricketers. But these 3 didn’t fall under any of the above 4 categories. Instead they fell under the Professional Guest Speculator category wherein one’s main profession is to Guest Speculate on TV shows such as the one I was watching. All Professional Guest Speculators usually adhere to a script, prepared much in advance by Stoned Newsreaders Inc. And so the “discussion” went on without a hitch, with all 3 GSs strictly adhering to the script by denouncing every possible thing and person related to Indian Cricket- including Indian Cricket itself! All this while Stoned Newsreader’s face bore the Stoned & Successful expression and continued to stick to his own script as the Guest Speculators stuck to theirs. There was even a still picture on the screen which showed a prominent Red Rectangular Box on Sehwag’s pic identifying that part of the body to be a shoulder. Beside that there was a fully labelled picture of a human shoulder and its various parts! The pictures seemed to be serving their sole purpose of helping the Stoned NewsReaders Inc to know what their script deals with. And so everything was going on fine. But then suddenly, out of nowhere and with no warning, GS3 decided to deviate from the script and began to talk sense! And so you could here GS3 make statements like “One cannot blame MSD for his actions. It was the media that provoked him. The media should have acted more maturely by not blowing this whole thing out of proportion. His reaction is completely justified!!” Stoned Newsreader suddenly found himself in this extremely rare situation of being in front of a camera on National News Channel WITHOUT a script! He panicked and just began to shake his head in total disbelief, trying to interrupt GS3 hoping to remind him to just stick to his script and not make irrelevant statements. But alas, much to the embarrassment of Stoned Newsreader and Stoned Newsreaders Inc., GS3 continued his tirade against the media for irresponsible handling of the affairs! So much so, Stoned Newsreader almost woke up from his stoned state with a “WTF am I doing in front of a National News Channel camera when I could be more stoned at home?” expression on his face and so he continued to shake his head-this time in complete resignation. But then suddenly, he underwent a spike in the activity (and UNstoned) part of his brain and quickly wound up the “discussion” and thanked the Guest Speculators for sticking to their scripts-well mostly. My guess is that fellow members of Stoned Newsreaders Inc. realized that he was not so high and so infused some invisible Marijuana smoke or Meth Vapors through strategically placed smoke inlets in order to give him the temporary power to wind up the discussion which was threatening to go out of control. Then they immediately went into a break-during which time Not-so-Stoned Newsreader had a couple of joints so that he can turn back to Stoned Newsreader and also so that he doesn’t feel the pain of his job. (Hey don’t these shit scavengers and funeral procession dudes also get high just before their job? Hmm….I am sensing a pattern here..)
And as if that wasn’t enough, the print sister of the news channel decided to go on a rampage of their own, what with they getting extra rights for having started this whole rumor in the first place!! So you had articles titled “Dhoni giving Viru a Cold Shoulder?” and “Dhoni and Sehwag at Loggerheads??” or some In House Senior Dude Blog Speculator making retarded statements like “Dhoni’s Men in Blue are not in pink of health”. But what is even more incredible is the way the content is presented. Sample these:
“… reports about simmering tensions between Indian captain MS Dhoni and vice-captain Virender Sehwag are fast threatening to undermine India’s defence of the ICC World Twenty20″
“Rumour mills are abuzz that the two had an ugly faceoff during a team meeting” –Excuse me… Doesnt RUMOR MILLS==MEDIA REPORTS==THE MORON WHO WROTE THIS ‘NEWS’ ARTICLE???
“Who is leaking the information about team fitness?” -some moron journo asks MSD. — WTF? I mean if MSD knew who was leaking the info, would there have been any leaked info in the first place?
“MSD gave cryptic answers to questions about his awareness of Viru’s injury like “Yes I am”!” —-WTF? In all my experience of Cryptic and Direct Crosswords, I am pretty much sure there is nothing more DIRECT than a “Yes I am” as a reply to ” Are you aware of the injury?”
“The sudden announcement that Virender Sehwag is returning home due to a shoulder injury and skipper MS Dhoni’s somewhat strange conduct at a press conference on Tuesday has generated strong speculation that the two players are at loggerheads.” — I mean common! With Professional Speculating replacing Journalism, these comments are bound to happen right??
Now this newspaper quoted Ravi Shastri as saying “It will be a miracle if India win this T20 World Cup” and then after Shastri clarified that he never said anything like that, the same newspaper puts up an article which says “Knowing how fiercely patriotic Shastri is, one could sense there was something wrong….His quotes make no mention of an miracle. Some people do have imagination!” —-Now correct me if I am wrong, but didnt the Newspaper mock itself???
And then as a spin-off in a related website, a discussion starts with the title “Is Dhoni becoming arrogant?” when the real discussion should have been “Should Guest Speculating be banned?” or “Should Stoned Newsreaders Inc. be banned as a terrorist organization?”
But what really got me laughing was a certain comment to the Blog retardedly titled “Dhoni’s Men in Blue are not in pink of health”. The article went on to portray every player in the Indian side to either be out of form or unfit to play in the T20 World Cup. Check out the following reply to that post:
“After reading this article…I’m wondering if India should be playing at all? We should leave the author and his merrymen (Read Stoned Newsreaders Inc) to carry the Indian flag – by the sounds of this article, they are the only fit 11 left.”
I would rather read FakeIPLplayer for more entertainment!
I am afraid I cannot give a link to that article or for that matter take up any names at all due to the fear of being sued. What with reading about a certain TV News Channel female journo, who specializes in Over-Dramatizations, suing an innocent blogger for his criticisms in the way she handled the 26/11 attacks. And also that time when a certain Indian Institute of Something and Something, which continues to occupy more space in newspapers than Manmohan Singh himself, suing another Blogger dude for stating some facts. And some other related nonsense.. And so I have not revealed any names. But that shouldn’t really matter now should it? All of you know exactly which newspaper and which News Channel I am referring to.
PS: By the way, the title of the post, thanking MSD is largely for inspiring me enough to get back to blogging after a brief hiatus. Thank you Mahendra Singh Dhoni and Good Luck.