Off Again

July 30, 2007

It’s that time where I focus on work and the W-file more than this blog again. Once again, rest assured that I am coming back, with posts on:

  1. TDC poets and theoretical lesbianism
  2. More quarterlife crisis blogging
  3. Facebook and its role in teenage angst and schadenfreude
  4. Harry Potter 7
  5. Iyengar men (subject to censor board approval)
  6. and possibly Pratibha Patil, though I can’t promise this for sure

Eldritch McGonagall Evangelism

July 26, 2007

The ability of quizzes to bring about the dawn of an age of horror and eternal insanity has already been commented upon.

In an awful moment of coherence and utter illumination, I saw the execrable truth: not content to wait for the stars, in their aeons-long drift, to come into alignment, these quizzers seek to recreate the abnormal, non-Euclidean incubus that is R’lyeh in the minds of men. The strange angles, the alternate topography ne’er imagined, will become a stronger and stronger vision, a message of power that will penetrate Cthulhu’s endless sleep and resurrect It upon this earth. To the winners of the league will go the honour of being eaten first, while the rest of humanity plunges into shrieking torment for an age and an age.

And yet, all is not well. As quizzers, we strive relentlessly to raise the Great Old One into this world. But there is only so much we can do. A quiz comes only once a month. It has limited questions. Indeed, without a continuous supply of fresh initiates, the ability of the Master of the Cult to recreate horror and madness dies out. We need a fresh tactic to being about The Tentacularity.

It is here that the poetry of William McGonagall comes to our aid. As Wikipedia informs us,

McGonagall has been widely acclaimed as the worst poet in British history. The chief criticisms of his poetry are that he is deaf to poetic metaphor and unable to scan correctly.

I shall demonstrate the point of the incorrect scanning with examples:

And as she approached his body the hissing fuse burst upon her ears,
But still the noble girl no danger fears;
While the hissing of the fuse was like an engine grinding upon her brain,
Still she resolved to save Jack while life in her body did remain.


And when the day of his trial draws near,
No doubt for the murdering of his wife he drops a tear,
And he exclaims, “Oh, thou demon Drink, through thee I must die,”
And on the scaffold he warns the people from drink to fly,

Not to mention:

Then Shere Sing fled in great dismay,
But Lord Gough pursued him without delay,
And captured him a few miles away;
And now the Sikhs are our best soldiers of the present day,
Because India is annexed to the British Dominions, and they must obey.

And, one last before I get carried away:

In my opinion, what a man pays for he certainly should get;
And if he does not, he will certainly fret;
And why wouldn’t women do the very same?
Therefore, to demand the parliamentary Franchise they are not to blame.

Right. Enough examples.

With their bizarre and unconventional structure, the poems of McGonagall clearly follow Non-Euclidean metre. The odd turns of grammar are reminiscent of the unnatural and profane rantings of the Cthulhu cultists, while the way in which words are piled up over each other is a literary parallel to Cyclopean architecture. Clearly, a century and more before the Bombay Quiz Club began its pitiful efforts, McGonagall was attempting to rouse the Dread One.

The Bombay Quiz Club has stagnated. It remains unable to attract more than forty or fifty at a time. No matter what horrors the Master may attempt to summon, there is not enough fresh blood being brought in1. It is time to change tactics. Quizzing is no longer enough. To bring about the Age of Horror, we must move from quizzing to public recitals of McGonagall’s poetry. Schoolchildren must be exposed to its eldritch rhythms in morning assembly, and FM stations must play it during peak commuter hours. Broadcast to the masses, it will induce collective agony and spasmodic writhing in those who hear its unimaginable cadences. Those who endure the agony of reciting it themselves shall discover release in Being Eaten First, while the rest of the world shall find itself plunged into a madness far greater.

It’s a very pleasing thought.

1: Even after the infant sacrifices.

Education is Evil

July 23, 2007

The most important question in the world is whether God exists or not. Once you’ve decided that he doesn’t – or that even if he does, it hardly makes a difference one way or the other – the most important question in the world reduces to ‘What should I do with my life?’

The thing about education (the formal sort) is that while you’re being educated you don’t really bother about this question. The more education you have, the longer it takes you to ask this question. In other words all education is a perverted conspiracy to keep you from getting at what really matters.

Aym Gramdian visions require education to be cut short and curtailed.

Arising Out of Radio Indigo

July 23, 2007
  1. I’m suffering from an RJ Malavika overdose. She had taken over on The Big Breakfast last week because Sindhu was on vacation. So Malavika on my drive to work, and Malavika on the drive back home. I don’t know if she picks the music or the producer does, but if she does, then maybe the extra hours made the music suffer. There was nothing on either The Big Breakfast or The Big Couch I enjoyed since Monday.
  2. I wonder if Oasis wrote Champagne Supernova just to be one up on Tequila Sunrise.
  3. Faith Hill’s This Kiss contains the lyrics ‘It’s centrifugal motion/ It’s perpetual bliss’. Geek that I am, I couldn’t help wishing that it had been flipped about to ‘It’s perpetual motion/ It’s centrifugal bliss.’ I wonder what centrifugal bliss would be like.
  4. Radio Indigo has this show on Saturdays for louw songs only, and one hour of which is given over purely to requests. People kept calling in with messages for their exes like ‘Baby, I’m sorry. Come back and I’ll never break your heart again.’ Blech.
    I wonder if they have a commitment to run every request or message that comes in. It would be hilarious to dedicate Bring Your Daughter to the Slaughter to someone on that. Or even better, break up with someone over the radio instead of asking them to come back.
    Oh, and Prarthna, who’s the RJ for that show, sounds – well, nowhere in the same class as Malavika to put it charitably. In facts she sounds like Geeli Giselle (a reference which only junta from my batch will understand, but then that’s probably the majority of the readership).
  5. The ads for the Pantaloons End-of-Season Sale are bad, bad, bad.

Ambivalence on Self Expression

July 21, 2007

It isn’t just self-awareness that’s overrated. Self-expression is just as bad. When you combine the two it becomes an inferno.

You are self-aware. Thus you know your own insecurities. You self-express. Thus you talk about them. Everyone around you does not. You then wonder why everyone else seems to be so much less insecure than you are. You feel even more insecure.

However, when people leave comments on your post about self-awareness expressing approval, you get the feeling that perhaps they are as insecure as you. Schadenfreude happens and insecurity reduces.

The moral: self-expression is only good to the extent that it leads to schadenfreude.


July 21, 2007

I am absolutely fine with people looking at me strangely because I carry pens of four different colours at all times, or take my camera everywhere.

I am terrified of possibly irritating customers by asking them for referrals.

This is most mystifying.

Self-Awareness, Yada, Yada

July 18, 2007

Quarterlife Crisis: the ongoing struggle between ‘I could probably be good if I tried’ and ‘Who am I kidding here?’.

This is why self-awareness is overrated. All it means is that you become even more aware of your insecurities and even more paralyzed by them. In the meantime, the people around you who are unaware of themselves are able to delude themselves into thinking that they’re hot shit, and on that basis go out and rock the market.

This also dooms any attempt to break out of a funk through self-examination and attempting to discover my strengths, because all that does is lead you to discover even more weaknesses.

Ravi Subramanian Must Be Annihilated

July 16, 2007

When Chetan Bhagat writes a bad book, it is regrettable. It casts all MBAs in a negative light. People with an appreciation for literature- heck, for any good writing- will sneer at us and say ‘Oh, you’re an MBA. Like Chetan Bhagat.’ It’s hard, I tell you. Hard.

Still, there are mitigants. At least the brunt will be borne by people from IIMA and IITD. Also, TDCs and I-bankers. And those buggers deserve all the sneering they can get. So as an IIMB alumnus, my position is a little more secure.

Until now, thanks to Ravi Subramanian, batch of 1993, who has written a steaming pile of manure entitled If God Was a Banker.

If God Was a Banker is not a book to be thrown away lightly. It is not even a book to be hurled away with great force. It is a book whose copies must be seized from all bookshops, burnt in enclosed environments, and have the ashes buried under granite and basalt mountains. And after that the bookshops must be purified with Gangajal. Ravi Subramanian has accomplished the impossible and written a worse book than Chetan Bhagat.

When the very first page contains the phrases ‘The sun was yet to leave its heavenly abode’, ‘he knew the entire topography of the Greco-Roman chandelier’, and ‘his wife of nineteen years’, it dawns on you that Rupa has been on a cost cutting drive and sacked all its editors, and that the rest of the book promises untold horrors. But the true scale of these horrors is unimaginable until you actually encounter them.

The depth of these horrors is indescribable, and the range is almost infinite. There is anachronism – email in India in 1987, among other things. There is bad sex described using corporate jargon. There is a Gujew in Calcutta who speaks Punjabi. There is a shameless plug for The Hindu (okay, to be fair, the N Ram era probably hadn’t begun in 1987). There is a wholesale substitution of plot with morality play. There are – and this is surprising considering Subramanian is Tam – not enough commas.

You know, although Subramanian tries to project the moral as being about the importance of living an ethical and ascetic life, the real moral is that Iyengar men should not write1, and instead leave the writing to the more intelligent Iyers. In fact, Iyengar men should not do anything at all, except stick to their core competence of having daughters of unsurpassed beauty and dazzling charm2.

If you spot this book in your local bookshop, I urge you to do your civic duty, buy it and destroy it before some unsuspecting soul picks it up and is driven into shrieking insanity. Think of the children!

1: RK Narayan is the exception that proves the rule.
2: And let’s not forget the curly hair.

Update: As has been repeatedly pointed out in the comments, Ravi Subramanian is an Iyer and not an Iyengar. I apologise for the mistake, and urge readers not to let this detract from the rest of the post. However, I just want to point out that:

  1. This actually reinforces the case for annihilating Ravi Subramanian. He has brought shame and disgrace to not only IIMB alumni, but also to Iyers.
  2. The point about Iyengar men not being good for anything except producing daughters still holds good.
  3. Of course, Iyer men are good for producing daughters also, along with everything else. Though in the case of Iyer daughters, the beauty is dazzling (though surpassed by Iyengars) and the charm is unsurpassed.

I also mistakenly ascribed Iyengarness to R K Narayan. Apologies for that as well. So please include him in the list of Iyers who should write, and incorporate davenchit as the exception that proves the rule.

Don’t Braise Your Eye

July 16, 2007

I don’t know if what I’m going through right now is a quarter-life crisis1 or simply pent-up teenage angst finally being released now that I no longer have to suppress it in favour of things like board exams and computer symposiums and entrance exams.

According to Madhav there isn’t really a difference.

1: As Skimpy points out, it should really be called a one-third life crisis. But Quarterlife crisis sounds snappier and requires less explanation.

Avril Lavigne and Vedic Cosmology

July 15, 2007

When I wrote about Avril Lavigne’s Girlfriend two months ago, I commented that this was a marketing maneuver gone wrong, where Avril Lavigne (or her producer) lost her core and niche market in hopes of appealing to the masses.

I was in error. In fact I almost committed blasphemy. Only now do I realise that Girlfriend – especially the video – is not about marketing or popularity or music audiences. It is in fact a modern exploration of the great themes of Hindu mythology. Avril Lavigne deserves to be praised for bringing the concepts of our glorious culture to the western world.

In the video (which, tragically, is not embeddable), we observe Avril Lavigne in a triple role – the musician with blonde hair (with multicoloured highlights), the saintly girlfriend with red hair and glasses, and the black haired interloper who attempts to capture malesexobject1. On superficial analysis, this appears to be yet another example of decadent Western culture. Yet when we examine deeply we discover that the video is in fact a discourse on one of the fundamental pillars of Hindu culture: the trinity of feminine energies, or त्रिशक्ती. Analysing further, we will see that the video also points out the obligation of man to seek out the balance between the competing forces of purity (सत्त्व), dynamism (रजस्) and destruction (तमस). This shall be explained in detail below.

Clearly, blonde Avril is a modern-day representation of Saraswati. As we see at 00:23, the guitar has substituted the Veena, yet the symbolism remains clear as ever. The blonde hair simulates Saraswati’s yellow skin, while the multicoloured highlights in the hair represent the subjects under her domain. The rainbow colours stand for the seven notes of music, the multiple strands of learning that form education, and the seven chakras of Ayurveda. Furthermore, the ‘A’ visible on her shirt sleeve at 00:25 drives in the connection with education and learning even further. The climactic scene of the video, where blonde Avril and her attendants are depicted dancing in a toilet emphasise her stature as a goddess of the waters and rivers.

Simultaneously, redhead Avril represents Lakshmi. The inference is drawn more subtly here, but it is still evident. The bread eating scene beginning at 1:24 establishes her as the giver of bounty and prosperity, while the pink sweater she wears throughout the video demonstrates her connection with material things and wealth. The thick rimmed glasses she wears can be interpreted in a multitude of ways: as symbolising the owl, the vehicle of Lakshmi, or the intense scrutiny that wealth must undergo. The recursive nature of these interpretations is a subject best left to more qualified professionals in the field, such as Dr. Acharya Somuchidononanda Pandey.

Finally, we turn our attention to brunette Avril, who signifies Kali. This is perhaps the most startlingly explicit of the parallels drawn. Just as blonde Avril wears an ‘A’ on her sleeve, brunette Avril wears a skull and crossbones (most clearly visible at 3:47). It is not a garland of fifty one heads, yet it makes the point simply and starkly. Her black hair and clothing are startlingly literal – yet even these are not as direct as the protruding tongue seen at 1:14. After a reference as explicit as this, the metaphor of gold club as sword beginning at 2:02 seems obscure and contrived in comparison.

And what of malesexobject? We obtain insight into his role at the very beginning of the video, when we see him entering Golf and Stuff – Family Fun Courts (emphasis mine). Clearly, he represents the householding (ग्रहस्थ्य ) stage of evolution, where he must move through life amassing wealth, protecting his dependents and shattering his obstacles.

Yet, as the video shows, ग्रहस्थ्य is not without its risks and temptations. Righteous as he may be, the man may fall into the temptation of amassing wealth for its own sake – shown in the video as redhead Avril being the original girlfriend. Yet, Lakshmi is illusion and maya, and Lakshmi for her own sake will lead to man straying off the path of dharma and being swayed over by tamasic forces. At this point we see the entrance of Kali, who through violence, destruction and misfortune, shows man the ephemeral and illusory nature of wealth. It is only when wealth has been completely and utterly subjugated by destruction and renewal – depicted in the video as brunette Avril despatching redhead Avril with a golf ball (the underlying metaphor of success choking on its own trappings is obvious) – that man can renounce the material world and move to spiritual awareness.

Yet, at the end of the video it is not brunette Avril who walks away with malesexobject, but blonde Avril. It is the triumph of Saraswati, not Kali. Showing us that Kali is only an intermediate step on the journey of man – for only once the illusory trappings of wealth are destroyed can man attain the enlightenment that comes from true knowledge of the workings of the Universe- and thus he attains the feet of Saraswati.

How foolish I was to mock this song! ‘She’s like so whatever‘ – only now do I understand the inherent wisdom in this line – that whatever one may look at, it is merely an aspect or manifestation of the three-feminine-energies-in-one. ‘I think we should get together now‘ – what is this but a call to achieve a higher spiritual plane and union with the Divine?

This music video must go out far and wide. The spiritual awakening of the nation’s youth depends upon it.

1: I am indebted to Aishwarya for introducing me to the descriptor malesexobject. No other term fits the male lead quite as well.