Wednesday, March 17, 2010

INVICTUS

I always loved this piece of work by William Henley and when a movie with the same title appeared, I had to watch it. And today, I am ever more inspired.

INVICTUS by William Ernest Henley
Out of the night that covers me,Black as the pit from pole to pole,I thank whatever gods may beFor my unconquerable soul.
In the fell clutch of circumstanceI have not winced nor cried aloudUnder the bludgeonings of chanceMy head is bloody, but unbowed.
Beyond this place of wrath and tearsLooms but the Horror of the shade,And yet the menace of the yearsFinds and shall find me unafraid.
It matters not how strait the gate,How charged with punishments the scroll,I am the master of my fate:I am the captain of my soul.

Friday, March 5, 2010

A day in a life

A phone call woke me up. I thought it did. But it was an alarm I had set the previous night. Oh it wasn't the previous night. It was a bunch of hours earlier. Still, I felt like I didn't sleep a wink.

I took a quick shower and accepted my flatmate's invitation to have a cup of coffee with him in the kitchen. As always, I went for black, without sugar.

We got dressed, walked a few yards and met our Bhutanese friends- a couple, who were heading back to Bhutan. I said my goodbye. My heart felt heavy as I boarded the bus that took me to my university. I suck at goodbyes.

I had a meeting with my course advisor, an angel in a professor's disguise. She loved the topic I proposed for my research. A friend waited for me outside. We were hungry. A Japanese restaurant we picked offered to convert one of their recepies into vegetarian. Or else I would have starved.

It rained hard. My flatmates had the dinner ready. I chose to give them company with a glass of wine before withdrawing into our respective rooms. I watched Julie and Julia, an impressive act by Merryl Streep.

It is almost 11:00 pm. Thus  I have lived another day of my life. We all do. Nobody acknowledges.

Friday, February 26, 2010

Riding the FUN

To my flatmates...the laughter we share

Back to being a student, that too in a place like Sydney where we hear more about people being bitten by sharks than dogs, is like obtaining a key to a whole new chapter in life. Only, this chapter gets better because of immeasurable opportunities that circle us.


But this phase of life gets one reason short of being called heaven. If only we could own a car.

We have nothing against the public transportation here. In fact, it is perfect. But when our movement becomes scheduled and pretty predictable, it gets unnerving after a while. The skimpy stipend we survive on and the flurry of cars wedged along traffics in the biggest city in Australia portraying a daunting task to drive through makes owning a car almost impossible. So on a fateful day, when one of my flatmates walked in with a car key flashing from his fingers, it was bound to turn memorable.

He walked in, flaunted a big smile and said, “I am going to take my two ladies out for a ride today”.
Aue Karma has his way of saying things and the two “ladies”, that’s me and Ana Sonam, rolled our eyes like he was talking sense for the first time in a year of our existence under the same roof.

Like I said, Aue Karma has a way of going about. Whoever met him would concede with me  in saying the PHD pursuant is a man with a brain bigger for his size. I am definitely not hinting at his height, oh no. One day I made this mistake of calling him shorter and he asserted on standing in front of people, back to back, to see who stood taller. The observers’ verdict came in his favour. To this day, I feel they said he was “slightly taller” having understood the magnitude of sensitivity regarding his height.

Minus the altitude, the man himself is not so bad looking. I landed in Sydney well aware that I will be putting up with a person named Karma Nidup. I hopped into a cab bearing an image of a sturdy guy with beer belly, wise wrinkles and a rough accent. As I walked towards the house, my luck, a Bhutanese version of Michael J Fox walked towards me. “Are you Kesang?” asked the slim, in-shape guy, his silky hair swaying down his eyes. I was impressed.

As for the ride he offered that day, he prided in having borrowed the car from a friend of his. Without slightest hesitation, the two ladies said yes.

In any case, Ana Sonam would never say no. Sometimes I feel Sister Sonam Choki, as people would know her, should be upheld as an epitome of cooperation. She appears diffident and calm, perfect quality for a nurse. But this is where the tranquility in her ends. Let the nurse down a couple of wine glasses and a display of entertainment unfolds. Aue Karma and I still applaud ourselves for hooking an awesome dancer in a flatmate. Talk about partners in crime and we are it.

Getting back to the momentous day, we were all set for the once-in-a-Sydney-life-time ride.

Led by the hero himself, we crossed the road and walked towards the parking lot. From a distance, I could spot a brand new Corolla. I was about to shower Aue Karma another round of praise for doing a great job when he suddenly walked past the car, towards the opposite direction. Round the corner, awaiting us, stood a century old Hyundai Scoupe. A glance was enough to conclude that the car was pleading to be taken to a grave yard- too ancient to be on the road. That was when the fun actually began.

Initially, Ana Sonam and I consoled ourselves by saying, “maybe the car simply appears weary from outside. It cannot be that bad”. Having enough sense of decency, I chose to take the back seat, offering my senior the front seat while obviously Aue Karma took the wheel.

It was a three-door car so no doubt I entered from the front door. What killed me was when Aue Karma followed through the same entrance. The driver’s door could not even be opened. What more, the door was tied with a rope to the roof of the car, like some cardboard cars fixed with tapes as a solution to keep the parts intact. Should you have seen our driver crawl towards his seat, you would have urinated in your pants.

After positioning ourselves in the car, having decided to surprise a friend by visiting him, the driver ignited the car. Nothing happened. Another attempt and still nothing. Then Aue Karma pulled a thin rod from the dashboard and stuck it in a hole near the gear box. He instructed Ana Sonam to poke an imaginary knob inside every time he turned the key. The idea was bewildering and I thought the poor car nearly ripped open as we burst into fits of laughter. The sight of Ana Sonam poking the hole religiously while Aue Karma desperately tried to start the engine got me doubling out of amusement at the back.

After over a thousand attempts, the magic worked and the car coughed to life. I was yet to recover from the hilarity of the event when suddenly we realised our driver needed reminder of traffic light indicators. He was too engaged trying to figure out the road direction. We could have got caught that day but the good news is we didn’t. I feel proud to declare that we made it successfully to the friend’s place and even cat-called a Bhutanese friend walking past.

We were getting out of the car, thinking the worst part was over. Ana Sonam was trying to close the window she had opened, an endeavor to invite fresh air inside the impoverished little car. Aue Karma stopped her immediately, pressed the window button on his side, and asked her to slide her palm against the window pane on her side, and gradually try and slide it up. It was a desperate measure to shut the window and Ana Sonam pathetically performed the act. We emerged out of the car and within seconds, we were rolling on the ground, teary eyed, laughing our lungs out.

Our friend was undoubtedly astonished by our visit but he was more flabbergasted to see our ride. After staying over for sometime, we headed back following the same procedure of entering the car and starting the engine, leaving our friend slumping outrageously at the  sidewalk, having witnessed the hilarity of it all.

We lost our way several times, hit sudden breaks at traffics that nearly brought me to the front row but finally made it to the car owner’s house. The owner-friend was generous and offered to drop us home (while we had decided to walk) in his second car, a posh black Mercedes this time. The aristocratic journey back home was worth all the trouble.

As we entered the house, we couldn’t help recounting and cackling over the event that manifested into a more than anticipated episode. The incident happened almost three months ago and still tops our dinner conversation list today. So much for a joy ride in Sydney!

Monday, February 8, 2010

To those who do not read


To those who do not read!


No matter how much I pride in being a journalist and crow about it, my passion drops down to futility when more than frequently I encounter certain breed of human species. These species are literate, employed, making a standard living and maintaining a reasonable responsibility. But these are also the species born with a phobia for reading. If you are reading this, there is no doubt you will be surprised to learn this and might even start doubting my senses for such a dissertation. I don’t blame you for you are learning about this here probably because you love to read. Those who do not, the very breed I am writing about, won’t even spare a glance to this page.




Believe me when I say I have friends who could not dare to traverse the first few pages of the book they laid their hands on during school days. In the first place, the book ended up in their rooms after much physical exertion. The only trip to the library in their life is impressively chronological. The big walls, cold stairs, the silence and the semi-spiritual ambience of the library governed their wit instantly. Faltering and nervously maneuvering their way through, tall shelves housing literatures and journals evaporate the moisture on their throat. Dry coughs help breath and regain posture. To save from being mortified, first book they come across is grabbed before speeding out of the library.


Empathetically speaking, a little appreciation should be offered for the laborious act they pulled to visit the library that day. Someone probably told them reading is the best of habits. Having found it easier to cross the Saharan Desert than flipping the pages of the book, our readers capitulated. Knowing them well and knowing them hard, I am convinced the day also marked the demise of their reading tendency for the rest of their lives.


I have to make a slight clarification here. I am not cloaking a robe of wisdom and preaching about reading and its gains. Neither do I claim I did more reading than anyone I know. I didn’t. But from what I have read until today, my relentless heart does not allow me to compromise with the fact that those who are not reading are missing out on world of pearls.


Will they ever know that Enid Blyton’s Famous Five, who solved the mysteries with their inexorable approach, were only a bunch of kids and a dog? Will they know Frankenstein challenged the concept of death and became prey to the same monster he animated, and that Mary Shelly wrote about it when she was only 18 years of age? Will they understand how nature and its beauty manifested as muse to churn poetry off Keats and Wordsworth? Do they not want to cry with Alcott’s family when their father returns from war, back to where his “Little Women” awaits him? Will they forgo laughing at JD Salinger’s rebellious character Holden and his liberal use of sexual connotations to point out absurdity of life? Will they ever marvel at Harry Potter and his wizardry world, the magic human imagination can create?


If not for the fictions and creative knacks, do they not want to understand the causes of World Wars, its complexities, an assumed weapon of mass destruction being sheltered in Iraq? Can they not spare a thought on how poverty and genocide took millions of lives in African countries or why religions that should have addressed the sufferings became the origin of it? Will they ever enjoy the theatre staged by politicians around the globe as they trick the innocents for their gain? Do they not want to applaud the researchers doing wonders with science or lament the failure of sattelite launches? Will they learn about media stripping Tiger Woods of his hard earned honour in the golf-dom because he slept with women besides his wife?


Having answers to all the above questions might not make you the best of the mankind, or not even close to being the wisest or the richest, but it serves as a vitamin that enhances understanding and valuing the essence of existence. Reading supplies a person with every possible adjective that help live life full of colours and vigours. As clich├ęd as it can get, the statement that reading opens window to the world of knowledge stands true even today. Only reading triggers human element in all its aspects.


I am not letting my hopes die so soon. Thus, I carry a small torch of anticipation that if not for more, at least one of those-who-do-not-read-breed will accidentally peer on to this page. It could happen. When it does, I aspire to let them know that it is always not late to start reading. You tried it once, you might have gotten better today. So read, for this is the only proper way to live.