Wednesday, October 25, 2006


It's been a hectic last ten days (or ... whatever. I've lost track of whenever it was I began this cycle of junketing ... no, hang on: it was the 13th of this month. Strange. Feels like at least one year ago last week) -- I left for Bombay on Friday 13th morning, spent the weekend there, left for Madras Monday 16th morning, spent four days there, arrived back in Delhirium Friday 20th evening, and then on the morning of the 21st, E, E's friend J and I left for a hillstation called Chail, in the Himalayan foot hills, (7000 Km up) spent 3 days there, returned to Delhicose on 24th evening and tomorrow, 26th morning, I'm off to the UK for five days, followed by the US for six weeks! And I won't even begin to get into what I'll be doing while I'm away ... or anyway, NOT TONIGHT, Josephine.

There's much of interest to report upon from my trip, but I'll confine myself to just two items: in Bombay, at my friends Jayant and Gulan Kripalani's home, I listened to a reading of monologues written by me, in rehearsal for a performance later in November, at the annual Prithvi Festival. Three of the monos were from HIDDEN FIRES (look to the column on the right of this page, there'll be a link to the SEAGULL website where you can read more about the book) but one was new, written specifically for Jayant, called THE WISH. It was a very good rehearsal, and I can only hope the performance will match it -- you can find out more about the festival at the Prithvi site (too sleepy to dig up the link right now. Maybe later somewhen. Maybe after I've finished packing for tomorrow's flight).

The other item concerns the successful sale of my picture book "I AM DIFFERENT!" by the well-known children's book publisher, Tulika, based in Madras to the German publishing giant, Fischer Verlaag (I hope I've spelt that correctly coz I'm not going to look it up just yet. Maybe after packing). For the first time in recorded history, I feel I actually made a bit of money on a book and that too, of illustrations. It's a picture-cum-puzzle item, concept and illustrations by me. Value-added touch? It's in 16 languages (16 pages, 16 languages). Kind of fun. I worked on it for most of January, in collage and 3D paint. The result looks very different to my usual stuff -- sort of chunky and knobbly. It was fun to produce -- and I'm hoping it'll be fun when it's out in the world too.


Wednesday, October 18, 2006

Laws of Life Learnt Outside Class

Got this list from my niece!

1) Lorenz's Law of Mechanical Repair
After your hands become coated with grease, your nose will begin to itch.

2) Anthony's Law of the Workshop:
Any tool, when dropped, will roll to the least accessible corner.

3) Kovac's Conundrum:
When you dial a wrong number, you never get an engaged tone.

4) Cannon's Karmic Law:
If you tell the boss you were late for work because you had a flat tire, the
next morning you will have a flat tire.

5) O'brien's Variation Law:
If you change queues, the one you have left will start to move faster than
the one you are in now.

6) Bell 's Theorem:
When the body is immersed in water, the telephone rings.

7) Ruby's Principle Of Close Encounters:
The probability of meeting someone you know increases when you are with
someone you don't want to be seen with.

8) Willoughby 's Law:
When you try to prove to someone that a machine won't work, it will.

9) Zadra's Law Of Biomechanics:
The severity of the
itch is inversely proportional to the reach.

10) Breda 's Rule:
At any event, the people whose seats are furthest from the aisle arrive

11) Owen's Law:
As soon as you sit down to a cup of hot coffee, your boss will ask you to do
something which will last until the coffee is cold.

Tuesday, October 03, 2006

A Joke -- and Some Questions

The Joke
An American gets on a plane and finds himself seated next to an Indian. He immediately turns to the Indian.

"You know," he says, "I've heard that flights will go quicker if you strike up a conversation with your fellow passenger. So, hey, let's talk!"

The Indian, who had just opened his book, closes it slowly and says, "OK, so what would you like to talk about?"

"Oh, I don't know," says the American, grinning. "How about nuclear power?"

"OK," says the Indian. "That could be an interesting topic. But let me ask you a question first. A horse, a cow, and a deer all eat the same stuff -- grass. Yet the deer excretes little pellets, the cow turns out a flat patty, and the horse produces muffins of dried poop. Why do you suppose that is?"

The American guy is dumbfounded. Finally he replies, "I haven't the slightest idea."

"So tell me," says the Indian slowly, "How is it that you feel qualified to discuss nuclear power when you don't know shit?"

The Questions
I think it's fairly obvious that this joke has been re-ethnicized to reflect current political realities. However, I don't believe it suits stereotypes of either Americans or Indians in today's world! The typical international traveller never wants to talk to his/her fellow-passenger, in part because the flights are so long and the prospect of being stuck with an 8-10 hour conversation is too nightmarish to contemplate, in part because neither passenger may want to talk to a foreigner. My guess is that this joke started out about two passengers of the same nationality but belonging to different social groups/classes.

So my questions are: which nationalities (or infra-national ethnicities) are most likely to have been the subjects of the original joke? Which ones might better suit the current situation? Which Indo-ethnic flavours might be substituted for "American" and "Indian"? Your move.

Sunday, October 01, 2006


This would've been more effective if I had continuted posting messages for every lesson I had but ... I've been too pre-occupied! Just the effort of waking up in time every morning, in order to get my day together before arriving at the 'tute has been enough to keep my energy fully engaged. Most days the classes have been from 10 a.m. to 11 or 12 depending on whether they've been "practicals" (inside a car) or "theory" (inside a classroom). The simulator (what one friend unconsciously malapropped as "stimulator classes") sessions are for only half-hours at a go -- a great shame, coz they're certainly more fun than being out on the road!

Which is where I went today.

Between my last post and this one, I've had a total of seven practicals, five simulations and three theory classes. The instructors have ranged between good and very good -- thorough, patient and good-humoured. The seven "practicals" prior to the Real Life Session have taken place within the Institute's track, which isn't all that long (around 700 m, I was told) but does include such features as a steep rise and various dodgy curves and bends plus a choice of parking options.

Of course it's easy enough to putter about on a course where the only other moving vehicles are being driven by other students, with their instructors beside them. Theory classes are endearingly earnest -- yes, of course (we're told), 90% of other drivers won't understand your hand-signals but we've STILL gotta teach them to you! They emphasize defensive driving, try and inculcate safe-driving practises and have drilled us at length with the "MSM" and "PSL" methods -- Mirror/Signal/Manouevre and Position/Speed/Look for those of you who have haven't been to an institute.

So ... how was it out on the Open Road? Keeping in mind that I've already BTDT (been-there-done-that) with the Seven Star Acad., I'd say today's was an entirely more grown-up experience. To begin with, it was in the middle of the day, on the Ring Road, (going towards ISBT, then onto the road alongside Prag. Maidan -- the one that links up with Mathura Rd) and even though it was a Sunday, there were buses, trucks and other lumbering entities zooming around. Not to mention assorted three- and two- bugs meandering about heedless of learner drivers sweating behind their steering wheels.

The car seemed to be more under my control than the instructor's and we didn't pretend to drive while he(in today's case, she) held the steering wheel. What was VERY interesting was that it really did feel a lot like the simulator! Except that there were no irritating messages appearing in my field of vision every time I crossed lanes, to remind me to turn on my indicator. Of course this COULD be coz I did turn on my indicator every time and I didn't forget to signal when I wanted to u-turn and I didn't get flustered or even mildly depressed by the amount honking and parping that went on around me.

We got back to the Institute without mishap and I felt quite encouraged. It will be months before I'll want to be out there on my own of course ... but that is another story. One step at a time.

Two more practicals to go, then a final theory class and then two exams, one practical, one theory. But no license -- for that I'll need to go to the RTO again. For today, PHEW! And three rousing huzzahs for the IDTR.