Friday, July 18, 2014

Dance and the Indian Man

I am not exactly fond of the clubbing culture. I have been to a discotheque twice in my life and that too very recently,after 25 years of my life. I have been in Pune for the last 2 years and it's only here that I finally made my debut in the scene- Area 51 and MIAMI. Area51 is a disco on its own, unattached to any hotels as such while MIAMI resides in the basement of a JW Marriot Hotel. Area51 seems to have  a lot of the regular crowd coming in while MIAMI seems to be a bit of the uptown crowd. What I observed though, even though Area51 had actual songs playing while MIAMI just played EDM without a single word in between, people danced the same. And that, I found funny and interesting at the same time.

India is home to Bollywood. We are all brainwashed from childhood with a lot of good songs, nonsensical songs , fantastic dance steps and the weirdest of dance steps. Every movie has scenes personified and glorified through songs and dance. And they never seem to run out of dance steps and songs. So in a country like ours, you expect people who shake a leg or two to actually make heads turn. What I found is rather a contrasting view. Of course, heads would turn but not for the reasons mentioned before.

The Indian Man, when it comes to dance is a sight. Whether it is at a disco, a festival etc., the Indian Man has a few particular steps in mind to execute. I am strictly NOT talking about the formal dancers and the dance crews and the kind. The ones that are not part of such parameters; your friend, your friend's friend, the ones you meet up regularly who cant really dance to save themselves, those are the ones I have in mind. Whether he is uptown, not uptown, a billionaire's son, a non-billionaire's son; whether they are dancing on the streets, at college DJ Nights, discos, they all have the same steps to dance. It is actually interesting to observe this trend. I of course am part of it all too. Even the dancers will dance the same steps as the regular guys but you can tell them apart when they dance, that's the only difference. No one on a street festival, or in a disco starts B-boying or doing  a break dance in front of others. It actually sucks that in spite of being a child of Bollywood Land, you don't get to start doing all those steps you saw on TV.

And what's funny is that you an see a side of people when they dance. You get a mental picture of how they would dance in other situations(which wont be much different). At a disco like Area 51, where the DJ is playing a song like Baby Doll or a song like Shot Me Down, the guys are pretty much clueless about which direction to throw their arms and legs in. Take the same situation in MIAMI where the DJ is playing only EDM, just spurts of boom-boom-peow-peow-boom-peow, with not  a word in between, the guys are again clueless. It is just because you don't expect anyone to just break out in dance that will make heads turn and go whoa!! The whole scenario is pretty for some reason to me. The guys just seem helpless everywhere. The girls can do a variety of steps in a single position while the guys repeat their dance routine, mixing and matching steps from the pack they have in mind. This even happened at MIAMI while I was there: a group of people were dancing to the EDM being played. I suppose the 2 guys and the 2 girls got pretty bored with it(I mean, who wouldn't?) and they started singing songs in one of the South Indian languages(Apologies for not understanding which one) to the beat and dancing to it. The whole thing was so goddamn funny that I had to leave the dance floor to get some air.

I encourage Indian Men to dance their hearts out. With steps as varied as the Bollywod movies they are brainwashed with. No restrictions. No routine in the head to follow. Dance your hearts out. Be free. Otherwise, dance loses its meaning.

Friday, July 04, 2014

The Train Of Death

There have been hundreds of books that I have read in my lifetime. Some of them have left lasting impressions while some didn’t. There were some books which left impressions in parts and not as a whole. Gabriel Garcia Marquez’s One Hundred Years Of Solitude is one of them. The man writes brilliant no doubt. He did get a Nobel Prize for this too. But this book was very tenacious. I felt a hundred years old at the end of it. The story just wouldn’t end. What I discovered later on reading his other books is that they all have a similar theme and a similar sort of characters with similar afflictions, similar names, similar diseases, similar deaths, similar children and generations that wound about seamlessly through the books and made me feel restless as on a dry summer day, longing for an end. But of course, this is my opinion. As Literature, there’s no doubt that his pen painted rather than wrote. But as stories, they could have been more compact.

But I am digressing. This book, One Hundred Years of Solitude had a particular scene where one of the characters with a name that could be confused with a lot of other people in the book itself(but naming processes were such those days!), Jose Arcadio Segundo, is on a train. Even though the picture drawn in the words in the book is a disturbing one; somehow that picture got enhanced in my head to be officially disturbing and morbid to me. The following is the exact picture painted by the author:


“When José Arcadio Segundo came to he was lying face up in the darkness. He realized that he was riding on an endless and silent train and that his head was caked with dry blood and that all his bones ached. He felt an intolerable desire to sleep. Prepared to sleep for many hours, safe from the terror and the horror, he made himself comfortable on the side that pained him less, and only then did he discover that he was lying against dead people. There was no free space in the car except for an aisle in the middle. Several hours must have passed since the massacre because the corpses had the same temperature as plaster in autumn and the same consistency of petrified foam that it had. And those who had put them in the car had had time to pile them. He saw the man corpses, woman corpses, child corpses who would be thrown into the sea like rejected bananas.”


This exact scene has been embossed in my brain and can disturb me pretty much if it’s thought floats in. The level of detail in a few lines has had an impact that no other similar books could produce. But in my head, there are additions to it.

I imagine that the endless train is travelling on an endless track on an endless bridge over endless seas. The night is stormy and purple streaks of thunder ravage the clouds. The water rushes up to meet these streaks and collides in a fury. The water hits the train at intervals yet the train shrieks on through the purple night. Then comes the part written by the author in the picture.



Inside the train, there are dead bodies piled. All the dead bodies of the villagers massacred for no reason ,shoved and piled up without a hint of remorse. Every single villager is in the death heap. Their homes still stand strong and proud in remembrance of them, doors opened, waiting for their owners to return and flood it with humanity. An entire village wiped clean and heaped on a train to be dispersed off into a hungry sea. And in the midst of this foreboding picture there is man who is alive and breathing. I think this is the exact detail that makes my head reel. 


Imagine yourself, alive and breathing in the picture painted above. With not a live soul around you. With nowhere to go. With no place to move. And cadavers all around. Take a deep breath and think of happy things now.

Criminal

"I think I should commit an actual crime now". he said suddenly and we all agreed and even put forth suggestions for the nature of the crime.My friend wants to commit  a crime now. He is oscillating between a murder and a bank robbery. No no no, he isn't a criminal at all, but incidents lately brought this sentence out of him finally. He ascribes it two particular incidents that have recently happened to him.

Incident #1:

Our side of the story:

We were four of us, A,B,C,D. Now, D is the friend in question here. We are out walking and D is supposed to go out and get A's scooter from her apartment building. Me, B and A are waiting outside her building while D goes in to get the vehicle. Seconds later he starts calling us one by one and we keep disconnecting them for fun. We think he may be having problems starting up the scooter(it does that sometimes)so we let him have his share of the fun ;). And then we move away from the gate even so that he does not find us even if he comes out looking. Then he stops calling. After about 10 minutes, his calls start coming through again. I pick it up and he is on the other side yelling, "Guys come over here, these people think I am a thief, send A in here fast. We rush to the apartment building and find D surrounded by an intimidating crowd of men and women. A rushes to his side and explain the matter(that he had gone to get her scooter and there was some mistake) while me and B stand outside laughing our heads off. A and D explain and wave frantically and apologize even more profusely and finally they are let off after satisfactory reasons. We laugh the whole night at the incident later on.

Not our side of the story:(The real side):

D goes in to get A's scooter, tells the security guard he is going in for two minutes. The guard knows him and says ok and lets him in without an entry in the apartment register. He goes in, we stand outside. Her building is the 9th one, he forgets and goes to the 7th one where a similar looking scooter is parked. He tries the key and it doesn't work. Meanwhile the owner of this scooter comes along behind him and asks, " whose scooter is this?". He smartly replies, "this is my friend's scooter, I am taking it out". The owner says its her scooter and he gets stumped. Thats when he starts calling us and we unknowingly keep disconnecting his calls. Things get serious. He can't reach us and then his phone conks off. He asks her for her phone to make a call and she refuses that saying, "use the security guard's phone". The Security Guard is called and he says he does not have balance in his phone to make calls. So Mr. D is at a loss for what to do. People start gathering around  him, firing questions and then the President of the society joins the throng and reprimands him for his actions and says the security of the residents in the society is compromised if people like him are let in so easily. Everyone has something to say to him and then suddenly his phone comes to life and he is able to call us and that's when he calls us again and we pick up the call finally and he yells at us. What happens after that is there on the other side of the story. Even after A explains that she lives there in the society itself and D is her friend, they are not convinced. She is asked to point out her scooter and asked to turn on the ignition with the key D had to prove her point. After all such drama and a lot of nonsense, the crowd breaks and everyone starts minding their own business finally.

D gets branded as a thief. :D


Incident #2:

We have a movie to watch which starts at 8:55AM in the morning.10 of us. We are late for it already. Again we have D and this time there are three other people with him; P,Q,R. D and P on the same bike; D is driving. Q and R are on the same bike. 6 of us reach early. We receive news on the way D has been stopped on the road by the Traffic Police for rash driving. We don't worry much about it. they arrive late for the movie. Once the movie is over, the real story comes out:

At a certain point on the road, a Scorpio SUV is taking a U-Turn with indicators flashing. D is driving pretty fast and as the SUV makes the turn he doesn't stop and whizzes by in front of the SUV with centimeters to spare.The SUV makes the turn and follows him and sidelines him to a stop. Out gets a very senior Police Official and comes up and slaps D 2 3 times. Seeing this, P tries to stop him and gets slapped too. Q and R now come up on the rear and join the show. The police officer takes the bike keys and asks them to wheel over the bike to the nearest police station, threatening to put D in jail for rash driving and everything. He doesn't listen to a word anyone else has to say. So they wheel over the bike and they talk it out finally. D does not get put in jail but a ticket is issued and a heavy fine is imposed on him. D is shaken by the turn of events.

D gets branded a rash driver.
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D is now seriously considering a crime. All these incidents have motivated him and he wants to now actually be a part of the act and not get caught in false situations. If anyone has any suggestions or wants to help out, they are most welcome to do so. 

But yes, I am kidding about all of that. Not the incidents though. :D
We have been laughing like crazy at these incidents. They are too funny once you get past them finally. It makes for good times, good stories, strengthens friendships and brings us back to reality.
 

Arrival

I am sitting at the International Arrivals section of Dulles airport right now and watching people. Reunions are always special.Different ...