29 July 2008

New country, old story

Today is one of those days when I feel like giving up, for want of pity.

Lick, soak in self-pity, but get out before you drown.

23 July 2008

Post # 100

Many years back we used to wear ‘coloured clothes’ (we never considered the blue in our shorts to be a real colour) to school on our birthdays. We’d distribute chocolates with pride. It was the big day in school for every kid. The one day where the kid got everyone’s attention (at least once) no matter how ugly, how uncool.

On others’ birthdays, the mission was to score more than the one chocolate every kid in the class was owed. I’d plead that I promised never to eat a chocolate without giving one to my loving brother, who I hated. It was as untrue as a lie can be.

Later it became cool to get mad drunk on birthdays, thanks to sex-booze-smoke-guru Hari The Slapper. Rumor (initiated by Hari) has it that he has been taking two days off to drink since the year he stopped sucking to drink. Two days of both years at Indore, around the time of Hari’s birthday, were wiped off our slates. There was not a care in the world while we were on C-top at IIM Indore.

I miss Indore like I thought I would. But there are too many places in this world. I’m getting used to being alone, and life now is good and different.

The Child, at 24, is still curious and cribbing often.

22 July 2008

Vietnamese

I think the people who first spoke Vietnamese didn’t want outsiders to learn. They came up with 6 tones, which they denote by putting various marks on top of vowels. It’s also a sing-song language. No singing = no Vietnamese.


English: Tư commits suicide slowly.

Vietnamese: Tư T T T T


English: The size of the warehouse is small; hence drying is difficult and miserable.

Vietnamese: Kh nhà kho nh vì thế đ khô khó và kh


The language has many traps. Thieu means pepper, Dieu means cashew, and Thieu Dieu means disaster. Similarly, some word with a cap on the vowel could mean ‘God is great’, the same word with a question mark on the vowel could mean ‘you fucking bitch!’

21 July 2008

Letter

"...My Vietnamese is improving. I can speak a little. Your food (mostly) I cannot eat because I’m vegetarian (an chay). Initially it was because of religion, but even later, when I wasn’t religious anymore… I’m confused, so I don’t eat meat. I might start one of these days though.

I’m from a city called Madras in India. It’s a big city – a little smaller than Saigon maybe. We have the second longest beach in the world.

I lived in Madras for 22 years. Then I went to a city called Indore to study business. Life in the hostel in Indore is the best thing. I miss Indore and my friends in the hostel more than Madras.

Most of my friends from Madras are from a younger age, and I’ve changed a lot since, so it’s not the same anymore. They’re now scattered all over the world..."

4 July 2008

The Touchable Boy

Once there was a little boy from a village. He came to the city to work in a Juice Shop. Labour laws can’t apply to little boys working in juice shops. He lived with The Juice Shop Family, in their home. This was allowed because he was a touchable Brahmin. Fortunate boy, one might say. As the years rolled, we got used to having him around.

We played cricket with him, he joined us in festive meals and happy times… he even wore the sacred thread, which was like his swipe card to everything in my sizable Brahmin family.

Being a Brahmin didn’t solve all of the boy’s problems. The Boy had a Master, and the Master had Family and Friends, who, by association, became Masters in their own capacity. And there were Rules. The Rules were never broken, so nothing was ever said. The Boy volunteered to do any work he can before one of his Masters did. If there is a letter to be posted, if someone knocks on the door when everyone’s asleep, if the dishes demand work… The Boy will volunteer, out of instinct. He never needed to be told, never disagreed with anything. In every point of choice, he would naturally take the worst. The worst apple, the worst seat…

When I entered teenage, I’d steal five or ten rupees every now and then. The Boy would always give with a smile, like it amused him to give (in a round-about sense) my money back to me. The Boy stole some more for himself, and perhaps for others like me. The money, which was black to start with, got darker.

One day The Masters discovered the leak in their pockets. The Boy was beaten up and put in jail, where he confessed. Maybe my contribution to the leak was negligible, but The Boy never mentioned my name. In the Masters’ story, he was buried while still alive. Nobody speaks about him, like the episodes featuring the boy were lost in a fire. If they met him on the street in some impossible coincidence, they’d treat him like an irritating ghost from their past. An ungrateful dog, they might say in Tamil.

Indian food is an addiction that I'm struggling to kick out.

3 July 2008

Yesterday, the maid who helps run our home got tired of cooking Indian food. Learning Vietnamese has helped me empathise.

The little note read:

“Sorry. I will’nt come tomorrow. I not working for you.”

1 July 2008

Timber

Let’s say you’re in an exam where every kid cheats. The examiner cares, but there aren’t enough examiners to stop the kids from cheating. The powers that use the exam scores are blind. The just don’t know. If you’re an honest kid, you get fucked. What do you do?

A Vietnamese might say “Timber – same same!”