Jun 30, 2008

You've come a long way, baby...

(Caveat: Long back, I had published here, some chapters of the love story of a guy called Silo. The content was deemed inappropriate by some people. I realized my mistake and removed it soon thereafter, though it was already too late. Some bridges broke, and all attempts to re-build them have failed miserably. I'm not sure I should be doing this, but I'm now gonna write a lil more about Silo. Where he'd come from, and where all he's been since. Hence, the post title.

If anyone feels this post is inappropriate, please let me know)

Silo was the quintessential middle-class, non-metro guy. Growing up in a very disciplined environment, he developed a value system which nearly all would consider conservative/respectable. He'd NEVER had any female friends, let alone any flings or 'experiences'.

Then Silo went to college in a metro, and had his first relationship. His girlfriend and her friends were modern, outgoing, broad-minded and 'cool'. It was the first culture shock for Silo. These girls drank alcohol. Now, back where Silo came from - men drinking alcohol was 'not nice', and girls drinking alcohol would be a jaw-dropping shocker! In Silo's hostel, there were a couple of guys who had different female visitors every month, and didn't even bother closing doors/windows while they were 'doing stuff' with their visitors in their room. These guys were regarded as the 'studs around here'. Silo, till then, had thought being a stud was about Sports, Debates, Quizzes etc., apart from, of course, academic performance. However, seeing studs defined this way - at IIT Madras, of all places - shook the very foundation of his value system. It wasn't just him. Most of his pals came from smaller towns and even more conservative communities than he. By the time they finished college, most had done several things which they would neither have approved of, nor imagined themselves doing, when they'd joined. And they didn't regret a damn thing.

The next couple of years were spent in smaller cities, with smaller crowds, and few options available. So, nothing much happened. In fact, Silo began to 'settle down' and cook regularly.  He had almost gone back to where he'd come from, but he didn't want to. The 'metro' life seemed much more fun.

Then, the Big Bang(alore shift) happened. Life was going to take many, many twisted turns, and go where Silo had not possibly imagined...

A key player here was DaKatalyst. DK and Silo had both been the hard-working, education and career-focused types who'd never tried anything risque. But both had a spirit of adventure and egged each other on to live it up and try new, fun things. Both were in stressful jobs, and knew they only had about one year of such freedom and means, before marriage and other responsibilities entered the picture.

It all started with a sorta double-date. I say sorta, because none of the 4 actually considered it a 'date', though it was perilously close. 2 guys and 2 girls who were acquianted with each other, went to a lounge bar, and were soon the only 4 people dancing - nicely drunk! This was soon followed by a late-night home party. Now, where our fellas came from, late night parties with single guys and single girls in one house with no supervision was simply NOT done. People involved in such activities were considered to be people of questionable, if not loose, character. And it soon spiralled out of control. Not knowin what drinks could be mixed, and which ones should NOT, everyone got sloshed and started throwin up all over the place. The original plan was to have a few drinks, generally dance n enjoy a bit, and then the boys and girls were to sleep in separate rooms. That plan had gone out the 5th-floor window before any1 realized it. This freaked them out initially, but they realized there really was nothing wrong going on.

Not only did they survive, they thought they'd seen the worst and learnt. And so the party scene became regular. Soon, there were random guests who's names weren't known to the host. Soon, there were parties where truth & dare was played. Role plays happened, with each involving some awkward situations that had something to do with sex. And soon, people who shouldn't have kissed each other, did just that.

In the midst of all this, DK left town and got married. But Silo's journeys continued. He had some trips abroad, and saw things he hadn't imagined, up really close. Some other shit happened along the way, which will not be revealed here.

The problem is - Silo's confused where he stands morally. While he was living with his parents, and even a few years later, he would have frowned upon many things - including parties where people get hammered, or smoking. Even now, when he visits his home, he becomes that person. But lots has changed. In the City, just about anything goes. Everyone is cool with most of it. Silo enjoys being a part of it all, and can not find it in him to resent what goes on, or judge the people around him who do it. It's the way of the world. He knows it, accepts it, and even enjoys it.

Yet, deep down, sometimes... there are voices that say 'this is wrong'

Jun 29, 2008

The greatest city in the World

I've been to nearly all major, and several not-so-major cities in India. I've also been to Singapore, Hong Kong, Bangkok and Phuket, outside the country. But all that became irrelevant when I visited London. You can travel to hundreds of places - but you haven't truly 'seen the world' till you see it's greatest city - London, England!

You know you are in London when:

  • Your aircraft has to wait 20 min before one of the scores of 747's vacates one of the many boarding slots!
  • Even though many people are employed, and working at breakneck speed, it takes a whole hour to clear immigration!
  • The local train lines have names like 'Piccadilly' and 'Hammersmith' rather than 'Central ' or 'Eastern'!
  • A family on the train is eating carrot cake!
  • The ethnic mix of demography is by far the widest you've ever seen!
  • You overhear more Hindi and Punjabi on the street, than you'd hear English in most cities abroad!
  • The clock-tower has a name, and is famous!
  • Any building you see, has a history (something woulda happened there in the last 400 years)!
  • Any local passer-by would be nice enough to tell you about it!
  • A park in the city is 53 acres, and is one of the smaller ones!
  • On the bus, someone points to a building and says 'Will Smith and Charlize Theron will be here later today for a premiere', and it's not such a big deal!
  • Some soldiers still dress like this!
  • Some of them dont move a muscle, no matter how much of a commotion you create around them!
  • You can wear a business suit all day (outside the office) and feel entirely comfortable!
  • A 'gentleman's club' has gentlemen having a quiet drink, while being entertained by ladies on a stage, aided by a pole and Britney Spears' music!
  • While being entertained, you can strike up a conversation about football clubs with the next gentlemen at the 'gentlemen's club', and hear about his divorce and 5-year-old son very soon!

Some other random tips to my friends goin there for the first time (as tourists):

  • Plan a trip at least a week long, with at least 3-4 full days for leisure (if you are also planning business on your trip)
  • Be prepared to spend. Like big. DO NOT CONVERT CURRENCY IN YOUR HEAD
  • Don't go in a huge group. Preferably travel alone
  • Buy an Oyster card (pre-paid for local public travel) as soon as you land
  • Meet a good ol' friend asap. Let him/her explain how things work there, and your own dos and donts
  • If good-ol-friend is 'your type', try and coordinate your travel plans with his work schedule etc.
  • Read up before you go. Wikitravel is a good place to start (and not just for London)
  • Carry some food. Ready-to-eat, or microwave-able. (and I'm usually the one who insists on the local cuisine wherever I travel)
  • Carry plenty of formal or semi-formal clothing
  • Book the cheapest hotel, even if it's some distance away from downtown. Gettin around London is very easy, and is a lot of fun. And hotels, in general, are expensive.
  • Be mentally prepared to have the time of your life (else you might spoil it for yourself, and your companions)

I'm missing it already. Will visit again, as soon as I can :)

Jun 11, 2008

The List

Came across an interesting piece here. In the Dude's opinion,

List of things a MAN should finish by the age of 30:

  1. Be accomplished and known in his field - respected by his peers and have a career that gives financial stability.
  2. Learn to play one music instrument well. 'Well' - meaning - should be able to perform in a cafe or at a house function/party.
  3. Learn to speak one foreign language as fluently as English.
  4. Learn one form of self defense.
  5. Should measure his height - find his ideal weight - and maintain his weight within +/- 3 pounds of that weight.
  6. Learn one form of ballroom dance - salsa or swing etc.
  7. Should have formed a good taste in wines and alcohol and should own a small private collection that one can enjoy at appropriate times.
  8. Should excel in making love to a woman. Which means do satisfy more than mere physically. Learn one form of cuisine and should be able to make good dinner.
  9. Should have travelled and experienced the culture of at least 3 countries other than his hometown.
  10. Should be able to swim like a fish.
  11. Should play one sport competitively.
Definitely interesting. And also challenging. I'd think more than 90% of the men i know, wouldn't have done even half the list by 30!

As for me, I score 6/11 - item 1, and 7-11. And I still have 4 years to do the rest. 1 other language, 1 form of dance and BMI are surely on my radar, but I really dont get the need for the other 2 AT ALL.

Learning an instrument - i'd rather hear good music than create a cacophony. It's an art - would lose its charm if everyone could perform.

And - learning a form of self-defense? Well, wtf?! Seriously?