Skip to main content

Posts

Showing posts from October, 2007

The Waiting Game

You could just about make out the tiny, strawberry tip of her tongue sticking out as she concentrated on her movements. She knew that getting the combination right was all that mattered and her face was Mona Lisa-like; the ghost of a smile suggested itself at the corner of her mouth but her eyes betrayed the inner demons of fear. They were waiting there for that one slip of the foot, one suggestion of disruption in her focus before she completed the sequence of the ritual. It almost came. As she made her final leap, she noticed the bluish wisp out of the corner of her eye and it rattled the gates to her own personal hell. Her leg, so sure until that instant, landed awkwardly, wavered, shivered, but ultimately stayed put. “Too close”, she thought. It was done, for now. In illogical indignation, she turned toward what had almost caused her failure. Some distance away was the villain, a svelte spire in the shaded doorway, slowly rising toward inevitable dispersion. The cigarette was the …

His-tory of music

The room was a mess. The walls were lined with shelves of books, music and knickknacks, all arranged higgledy-piggledy, suggesting a long lost battle with organization or devotion. The table was in a worse state. Random ink blotches peppered the worn brown surface like Rorschach pictures beyond interpretation and a growing pile of crumpled paper balls threatened to do a Vesuvius on the Pompeii that spread itself on the rest of the table. The pale green lamp, bent over like a tired old crone, had not bothered to do its duty for many a year. Perhaps it had simply forgotten how. Perhaps it had not needed to bother. Who knew? Even the pen-holder, a beautifully crafted wooden piece, was empty; it, along with the other paraphernalia on the table mutely and gently implying that things here were past their prime. The table faced a window which opened onto bleak, gray skies and a plot of land that could no longer call itself a garden. ‘Scrub jungle’ was perhaps the right phrase. The whole set…

monkey see, monkey do

It is with incredulity that I've followed the newspapers from back home in the last few days, my increasing disbelief safely attributable to the charges of 'racist' that some idiotic cricket 'fans' have managed to tag themselves with.

I wonder which genius tried to spin the idea that the hooting and mimicry that went around the grounds had anything to do with misunderstood celebrations. If those sounds and actions are in a local language, then every evolutionist and linguist worth his\her salt needs to hotfoot it to India. Apparently, quite a few chaps in the country haven't bothered to make it onto the evolutionary ladder at all, forget qualifying for one of the numerous ancestral classifications, and getting these specimens under the microscope would be scientifically invaluable.

I suppose it's hard to get one's head around the idea that Indians, who are not the 'fairest of them all' by any stretch of the imagination, can be racist. People are, …

Gaining my religion

To say that religion is an important part of India is the ultimate understatement. The country is steeped in religious fervour, is the mother of all melting-pots when it comes to gods, goddesses, idol-worship, non-idol worship, sadhus in various stages of undress, intoxication and malnutrition and host to festivals right throughout the year. It permeates everything, and I mean everything and apart from cricket, is quite likely is the major fuel for the great joy, sadness, celebration and social crime that ignites India.

Very Jekyll & Hyde.
Very public, very personal.
Very tricky, very touchy

Think about it. The field trip lasts for 12 - 14 days. In this time, we have to introduce ourselves, get accepted by & worm some extremely private details out of a group of people who probably have never seen any real strangers and are therefore perfectly within their rights to be reluctant to let on, if not be downright hostile. And this just describes what we are up against for the census d…

Coming of age in the Department OR " Where's Ms. Mead when we need her ?"

Right throughout the 1st semester, we kept hearing about the field trip; an almost-mythical rite of passage that students of anthropology underwent after the final exams. Our curiousity being piqued, we naturally asked around and all we ever got were infuriatingly superior looks and sneers that suggested that those hapless missionaries who travelled through deepest Africa had been on a picnic compared to what awaited us. Left with no option we obliged, waiting and wondering.

Just before finals week, our professor handed us a list with a rather grim air (he had the grim air, not the list). Or maybe the fact that we were in the lab with the skeletons contributed to the atmosphere. Anyway, the list contained a number of things one would normally take on a camping trip and a few items I'd never seen on any sort of legitimate camping list before. Beedis, for example. Since finals were hovering, we didn't pay too much attention to the list and by the next Friday, exhausted and shaken…

Scars and Souvenirs

The plan was simple. Intrude upon the lives of a hapless group of villagers and get what we want.

This is not a story about some nameless corporation exploiting innocents for oil and mineral wealth but the tale of a field trip that certain students of Anthropology went for in December 2006. Which means that it was a regular potboiler. There was exploitation, selfishness, and intrigue. There was laughter, romance, the odd song and dance sequence and even a marriage. There was magic, ghosts & demonic possession, allegedly. People were seriously injured and some flirted with death. Somewhere in this jamboree, diaries and field books were written up & photographs taken.

One of those experiences that nerds like to think of as the most exciting time of their monotonous lives and the cool ones chalk up as another interesting interlude.

Either way, it was not easily forgotten.