Tuesday, July 17, 2007

The Tale of Nothing

So today a few of us were on what one would term a lad’s night out. Or if one were to be more precise, what one would term a lad’s night out if one were of the ilk that enjoyed being liberal with the truth. If the truth be told, it was one of those (many) nights where the women shied away from the pleasure of our company. This is, of course, nothing to surprise the discerning reader – who is well aware of the disdain, scorn, and general annoyance that I seem to provoke within the average woman (irrespective of race, creed and caste).

However, this is, indeed, a moot point. The last paragraph was – as experts in the field of literature (and miscellanous other twats) will testify – an attempt to set the mood. This has nothing whatsoever to do with the short tale that I shall now proceed to narrate.

So, as the four of us sat staring at women in shorts (and short skirts, for the sake of completeness) out of the window of a rather nice little pub in Aachen while contemplating the meaning of life (and the inevitability of spending a lifetime of nights out with the lads), one of the chaps decided to regale us with a little story he remembered from a TV show that is little known outside the British Isles; Little Britain.

Wishing to, like me, create an atmosphere, he began rather regally, ‘So there’s this bloke, yeah? He’s about thirty-five, fat, unemployed, and generally a slob…’

‘And he’s here’, interrupted another of our little coterie.

Each of us – whose eyes were fixed on a pair of pretty legs that was walking past our table – swiveled slowly over to the window, where we espied this fat, middle-aged slob (who was quite possibly unemployed) shuffle slowly past the window.

My friend, who obviously had a funny story to tell, was forgotten as we descended into hoots of laughter. After we’d settled down (and I’d got rid of my stomach cramps), my friend – a tenacious sort that could have been an empire builder somewhere in India three generations earlier – decided to go on.

‘So this bloke likes pissing on the walls, yeah?’

And we turn around to the window; wondering if the Good Lord (or His son, in this case) had decided to send another fat slob who liked pissing on walls.

Now, this was highly unlikely; considering this is Germany where people are forbidden to piss on the streets, while they can do something as morally reprehensible as kiss on the same streets where impressionable young Indian minds possibly walk. (Somebody ought to tell the Shiv Sena about this, they would put a stop to it. And then, us Indians who don’t get any either way wouldn’t feel as inclined to do it ourselves, or feel as depressed when our attempts at kissing popsies on the streets turn out to be completely bootless. Jai Hind; Jai Maharashtra!)

But, lo and behold, the same fat slob was facing the wall, apparently staring at the shop window, with both arms in front of him and his legs splayed wide.

Silence reigned for a second, and my friend contemplated heinous ways to either (a) do the fat man who had interrupted him twice in, or (b) do us listeners in. It was as he wondered if Homer had the same problems when he tried to get the natives to listen to whatever it was he’d written (Homer, I mean, not our 21st century raconteur) that the fourth bloke – silent thus far in this narrative – found voice.

‘Bloody ‘ell! He’s standing right in front of my cycle!!’

The guffaws erupted once more. Even the barmaid who had been extremely nice to us since about an hour ago when one of my friends let her take a dekko at his copy of Playboy glared at us.

The bicycle has since been wisely abandoned…

P.S: My friend still seems to find the Welsh hosepipe on the telly far more entertaining than the one that doused the fourth bloke’s bicycle liberally in the here and now.

P.P.S.: I find this story about as interesting as goat’s urine.

P.P.P.S.: Goat’s urine is reputed to get rid of kidney stones.

P.P.P.P.S.: This tale makes no promises of that nature.

Conclusion: This is probably the dullest blog post in the history of mankind; unless of course Al Gore has a blog of his own.

Friday, July 06, 2007

Thoughts of a monk, in a land far, far away...

I haven't forgotten the existence of this blog. It has always remained in a corner of my not-too-well-organised mind. But, the last two months have been unbelievably hectic, as I approach the end of two years in Europe (and hope to, God willing, finish at the end of this month, and graduate at the end of the next).

I have been, since the morning, listening to Tibetan/North east Indian hymns with a strong Buddhist/Hindu influence. This brought long-forgotten memories of a trip, years ago, to Sikkim, a little (former) kingdom hidden below the Kanchenjunga in the far north-east corner of India. My parents took me to this little monastery somewhere near the capital, Gangtok, where we watched mesmerised as shorn monks spun huge, beautiful prayer wheels around.

We got talking to a young, possibly 17 or 18 year old monk. My 7 year old self hung around awestruck in the background. The monk took a look at me, and began to hug me. With tears in his eyes, he told us,

'I have a little brother at home, just like him - the same age. I haven't seen him in years.'

If memory - a fickle mistress prone to altering perceptions of reality at the best of times - serves me right, my parents snapped a photo of him with me.

I didn't think much of it then, and hadn't thought of it afterwards, either. But today, as I listened to Oliver Shanti's eerie, mystic hymns, this memory came flooding back from the depths of my subconscious.

The monk should be about thirty five today. He has probably not seen his younger brother since. Maybe the years of self-imposed exile and isolation have erased the memory of the family he once had, in a small settlement on the border on the Sino-Indian border. Or maybe, just maybe, he still thinks of the little child he left behind when he was wrenched away from his childhood home to pursue a greater call; to attain Moksha. The little child is probably as old as me; he probably still tends to the sheep (or whatever else they tend to in these little villages in an oft-forgotten part of the country).

More importantly to me - and more selfishly, perhaps - I wonder if the young (or not-so-young, now) monk remembers the little seven year old from another corner of that vast landmass we insist on calling a single nation state - the little kid who so reminded him of his own brother. I wonder, if by some eerie, preternatural coincidence, he has thought of me as I sit in front of a computer in the lap of materialism; in a country miles away from his - both literally and metaphorically; listening to songs from his native land, and calling up memories of a young monk I met years ago.

A moot point, however, is if I ever lived in the same country as he. Which, of course, brings me to contemplate the cliche of India being not one, but many countries - of several, nay, infinite realities interposed one over the other! But that is not the point of this little tale; in fact, this little tale, come to think of it, has no point whatsoever.

Thanks for the music, Galiya, it's set me thinking. :)