Monday, 14 August 2017

The Great Indian Shit Problem

An Indian toilet (kunjila CC-BY-SA)

I am just back from the toilet. I had gone to pee. When i entered the toilet i realised that it had happened again. From the stench. I didn’t want to look there. It would ruin my day, sometimes weeks. It was the Great Indian Shit Problem.

My partner’s friend had come over. They chat about cinema. Sometimes i join in. But most of the time, when this friend of my partner whom i’ll call ‘Amt’ comes over, i am worried about just one thing. That like he had done the first time he visited, he would shit in my toilet and leave without flushing. It meant that if i was the one who went to toilet after him, i would have to pee/shit in the stench of his shit and see his shit.

Surprised? Don’t be. This is not an isolated incident or one of Amt’s idiosyncrasies. It is a problem that India has. As a country. We don’t know what to do with our shit. So much so that we entrust people — from a caste that we consider below others — with the job of cleaning it. If you have heard of India and not heard of the caste system, it means that you have only been reading brahminical news all this while.

India is a country where human beings were, as a tradition and as a profession, asked to carry the shit of other human beings. Manual scavenging in English. In Malayalam, my mothertongue, the word is derogatory ‘thotti’. This ‘job’ is reserved — oh the irony — only for Dalits. Would you believe it if i told you that manual scavenging was legally banned in India only in 2013? (Only the cleaning of ‘dry-toilets’ was banned in 1993)That is, just four years ago and 184 years after the ban on Sati. 148 years after the official ban on slavery in US, 52 years after the laws against dowry in India. Despite the law, manual scavenging continues unhindered, claiming lives of Dalits.

Amt’s habit is definitely not that of enforcing manual scavenging. Amt does not expect me or my partner to carry his shit on our head and dispose it. It is a habit that is common in India and only i seem to have a problem with. In here, the person who goes to the toilet after a practitioner of this ideology will have to see the colour and consistency of another person’s stool. With Amt, i have been that person and have flushed his shit down the toilet whenever it happened.

And it happens quite frequently. In hostels and even in strangers’ places. (As a matter of fact, we as a country are used to seeing a lot of human shit because we also practice open defecation. Here women get raped while they go to fields to defecate.) I am talking about manual scavenging and open defecation because i believe that the Great Indian Shit Problem has roots in it.

I thought about the problem a lot because for me, whenever it happens, it becomes a traumatic experience. I say traumatic, because like many incidents of abuse that i have faced, these shit-incidents flash before my eyes without warning. In my mind i get disgusted and get angry with the owner of the shit. For me, talking about shit is more awkward than talking about sex so it all happens in my head. The sight haunts me for weeks and it plays in my head when i talk to the perpetrators of the Great Indian Shit Problem. My thinking has resulted in the following conclusions.
  • In many parts of India, people don’t know how to use the Indian toilet.
  • They pretend they don’t know how to use the Indian toilet.
  • People in India, especially Brahmins, believe it is okay for others to see their shit in the toilet.
Everyone seems to know that in a Western toilet you have to flush the shit down by pressing the flush handle. Not everyone does it. Some ‘forget’ to flush. Some leave after they flush without waiting to see if all of the shit goes down or not. For them, it is not important. I don’t know if there are others like me who have panic attacks thinking they forgot to flush and rush back before someone else enters the toilet. Or wait to see if there is even a speck of shit left in the closet after flushing, fill a bucket with water and flush it down again.

Oh the bucket. I have seen people who are not aware or who pretend to be not aware that shit can be flushed down even when the flush is not functioning and when there is no water in the flush tank. You just have to fill a bucket with water and dump it in the closet. I have even taken mugs of water repeatedly to flush shit down when there was no bucket in sight. These are very common situations in India and if a person doesn’t know these, it means that they believe that cleaning their own shit is not their business. Like most men. (Literally and figuratively.)I have seen shit floating in many public Western toilets. Where else is this belief and the audacity to practise it coming, than from India’s ‘tradition’ of manual scavenging?

Now the Indian toilet.

Consider the time when i was at this professor’s place in Thrissur, Kerala to learn how to play chess. This professor was a champion and a few children, including myself, had camped at his place for a week for coaching. One day, a girl came back from the bathroom clasping her nose with her hand, indicating disgust. She told us not to go to the bathroom where she had just gone. When we asked what the matter was, she said that someone had ‘done number 2’ in there. I soon saw the ‘number 2’ because my mother asked me to stay there for one day more than the other students because she thought i would get special lessons that way. I didn’t. What i got was the sight of someone’s shit in an Indian toilet in the bathroom where i was sent to take bath. I had to take bath standing in the stink of the shit that was now days old. I even thought of picking up a toilet brush and cleaning it up. (i have a servitude gene that helps me get into abusive relationships so…) I couldn’t do it. I cried. I took bath. And waited to be released from that place, chess coaching or not.

What i gathered from that incident was that in some families, it was not uncommon to leave one’s shit for someone else — in most cases, a domestic help — to clean.

I faced another version of this attitude when i lived in a hostel while learning cinema in Kolkata. Hostel meant shared bathrooms. That is when i realised that there were students who thought that after shitting and pouring water to clean their ass as well as the accumulated shit in the ceramic part of the toilet, their job was done. But that is not true about Indian toilets. Even if you clean the shit from the ceramic area, it only accumulates in the pipe filled with water at the end of it. It is very visible, floating over there. It is also very ‘smellable’ if left there. You can see the area (the round opening that is filled with water) i am talking about in the picture below.

Indian toilet — people refuse to remove shit from the pit area in the picture by pouring water in a bucket with some force. As a result, other people end up seeing other people’s shit. And bearing with the stench. (Image — kunjila CC-BY-SA)

It amazes me that a person can grow up in India and still not know these basics about cleaning one’s own shit. The first time i called it out was in my final year of filmmaking. I had knocked on my neighbour’s door and told them that they hadn’t flushed the toilet. When i went back in, the shit was gone. This mean that they knew how to do it. Yet, it was repeated and i had to knock on their door once again. I have lost count of times when i have seen this ‘floating shit’ in Indian toilets. This was what had happened with Amt too.

Another friend had complained that her neighbour left shit floating in the common Western toilet in the hostel. She suspected that he was doing so because he was high on marijuana. When i told this to the neighbour, he accused her of the same. Both were Brahmins. My neighbour in my hostel was too.
When i moved in with my partner, i got to know that he was someone who thought that in an Indian closet it was okay for him to leave his shit floating in the water pipe for me to see and smell. After i confronted him, he too proved that he certainly knew what to do because the shit disappeared. So did his habit. (Did i just save a relationship?)

When I saw Amt’s shit floating in the toilet for the first time, i immediately told my partner that it had happened. I was hoping he would talk to Amt. Instead, he replied, “At least he has started washing the plate he ate in.”

I don’t know what Indian men, Indian Brahminical men and those who emulate them smoke. Whatever it is, it is a substance that generates the illusion that women, dalits or your fellow human beings exist to clean up after them. This sexist wall drawing from a local
train station here says it the best.

Sexist wall drawing at Goregaon station, Mumbai (kunjila CC-BY-SA)

My partner is not brahmin and i don’t know Amt’s caste but i do think that this is a brahminical behaviour with roots in casteism. I can’t be sure because i have not heard anyone else talk about it.
Epilogue: I questioned Amt before he left. He swore that he always flushed after he shit and used copious amount of water. He gets chided at home for it, he said. I continue getting flashes of his shit and don’t know if he will ever visit again. My partner is taking lessons on doing dishes and laundry from me. In other words, i am shoving it down his throat.

Films, July, 2017, Bombay

1.     Microcosmos

Documentary on the microcosmic world.
Wow! What was that!
I am still not out  of the effect  it had one me. The film is like a fiction feature in which the characters are all small beings. In the world of small beings such as ants, the cock comes in, just like in a thriller film, he peeps into the ant’s nest and we see it from inside the nest. Oh, what a big monster. The climber climbing up. The flower going to sleep with the bee inside it. We clearly see how the pollens stick to the bees and how the flower deliberately tries to touch the bees with its pollen grains part. Wow! And the music. Really liked the use of music.
The snails making out. It looked gross to me in the beginning with all that slime but that scene was so beautiful. The caresses and the love. God! [Vai Vow made a bad attempt at a pathetic joke by saying ‘It’s not like they have to try. They’re always wet anyway.’] The wasp going around with its egg, the spider trapping the moth within seconds with its web. This film is just too awesome and this is a human supremacist who thinks that our race is better than all others speaking. So…

2.     . Two Days One Night

Daredenne brothers. Actor is the same as in Inception, The Dark Knight. About the employment situation there. Learnt a word called ‘dole’. The unemployment benefit given to people by the government in Britain. [Doled out is distribute and it can also mean a person’s destiny. Like ‘death be their dole who worst maintains the strife’. So this film is about a woman fighting to get back her job. She was fired and the other workers were asked to vote on the decision. If people vote for her and she wins, they’ll all lose a bonus of 1000. She goes from co-worker to co-worker asking if they can vote for her because a second secret ballot is going to be held. Politics at work. In the end one of her co-workers who voted for her, she is made an offer that she’d be allowed to continue if that person’s contract is not renewed. That way. Nice film. Not great. Rosetta is the best Dardenne brothers I’ve watched till now.

3.       The Deer Hunter
About people during war. It’s a three hour long film. Robert DNiro and this other actor whom you’ve seen in Inception? Let me check him out. Want to know where I’ve seen him before. Annie Hall is a film I’ve watched. Now will have to watch again. Batman Returns. Pulp Fiction. Sleepy Hollow. Yeah these are the films that I’ve watched in his list but don’t remember any of the roles. I loved him in The Deer Hunter so would like to watch all of these again.
The film, I don’t know, why were they glorifying America? The ‘game’ – Russian Roulette, it is called – isn’t that something! What would the people who play that game be like. I’ve watched 13Tzameti and it was an unforgettable experience. Of course, who wouldn’t want to make a film on that but really, it amazes me that such a game existed. Is murder about power too, like how rape is? There was a scene in which everyone sang a song and it dawned upon them, the gravity of the situation. That was nice. But I can’t agree with any of the American thing. They should get out of that habit and start making films that condemn wars waged by their country. Wikipedia says it’s an anti-war film but I don’t see how. Yes, it destroyed people’s lives but in the end why are all of them singing America great again. Or it is how civilians work? Is that what the intention was?

4.      Taxidermia

Didn’t like the film one bit. First of all it shows a lot of erect dicks. I don’t like it. I believe there is a difference. Anyway, it starts with a man who plays with the flame of a candle, he is then seen emitting fire from his dick. I am so sick and tired of these men talking in length about body and its ‘need’ and then show sexual activities, jerking off to young girls etc as if it’s a natural outcome of that ‘need’. So sick of that. Stop making such films, please. You have the whole universe telling you that and we, a small group, saying it doesn’t mean shit. Anyway in the end there is a taxidermist in the generation of people who eat, like a pig or something. Lots of gross stuff done to elicit ‘yuck’ reactions from people. Body, blood, flesh, corpulence, sex, woman becomes pig, cunt, woman, pig, child is born with a tail etc. Some shit. Why do people consider this a great film again?

5.      Catch Me If You Can

Great script. Based on a true story. Read up on the true story. This con man who is a juvenile. Leonardo De Caprio. These things in commercial films. You need to have many such things in a great commercial film. The one that you will have to make to make people talk about the real things. De Caprio tears off the wrappers on champagne bottles and everything. That was put there so that later, in the wedding that was going to happen, Tom Hanks could see a bottle like that
How it all begins, from the father – played by the actor who played Nick in The Deer Hunter. [The reason why I downloaded this film.] The line do you know why the Yankees always win was put there so that it could be repeated later. So is the tale of the two mice (frog in mallu land) and remember that’s where we see that this boy tears the paper off the champagne bottles.
I liked the part where we think Tom Hanks is lying. He tries to lie. We, till the end don’t get to know if he is lying or not. About his broken family, his daughter, his daughter’s age etc.
Now I have to watch all films by Steven Speilberg. Yes.
Title sequence. Cut and upload for the world to see.
[Depiction of women in this picture is pathetic. The model who has become a sex worker – implying what ‘these women really do’ and many more female characters like that. It also says that it is easier to con women than to con men. In so many words. Bevy of women airhostesses he uses to get out of the airport. All police people look at the women and don’t see the guy at all. Also somewhere blaming the broken family. Don’t know if that detail was from the real story. Anyway, they never showed that the woman was feeling guilty or something like that. I liked that.]

A title card from Catch Me If You Can. Vlc snap

6.      Takeoff

What a pathetically Islamophobic film. ISIS malayali. The good Muslim. The terrorist Muslim. The mallu who holds powerful positions everywhere. Probably Nair. Check the names of all the Hindus in the film when you prepare the video for this. These oppressed suppressed women -

7.      Schindler’s List

Steven Speilberg film. Sethuvamma said she and papaji had watched it together and that she remembered a scene where the Jews were taken to a gas chamber. I don’t know why the people who did what they could, to help Jews during Hitler’s reign should be celebrated this way. They are even called the Schindler’s Jews. Is that right? He was in SS and he did what he could because he knew what humanity was or love was. I don’t know. But that’s the least a person can do. The film itself is not that well made. Catch me if you can was much better. It is long for no reason.
The film is not entirely black and white. Look up what they did. The sight of a little girl wearing a red cloak. Later we see a deadbody with the same red cloak. Lighting of candles in the beginning – these were in colour.

Saturday, 12 August 2017

'More Adjectives' Someone Told me for the First Time: Mental Health, Therapy, Trying to Live

In my third appointment with my therapist Ish, i had tried to differentiate between my thoughts and my feelings. It still wasn't enough, she told me. For the first time, someone asked me to use more adjectives. I hope to indulge.

I told Vai Vow that he didn't have to come. I knew that he didn't want to come and was offering to come so that i wouldn't feel bad. I felt i was spending too much when i took an auto instead of the train. The guilt of the middle class should be a book and i should write it.

During the therapy, i revisted some of the abusive relationships i was in. I felt cold. Didn't feel like crying but that what happens to me when i am excited or scared or a mix of emotions i can't  name, happened. My teeth were chattering when i spoke about what N had done.

At the computer repair shop, they behaved exactly how i thought they would behave. Felt rage inside me. I imagined slapping the man. When he started explaining the reason why he couldn't take payment by card, during his long fucking rant i just kept staring at him. I thought i saw an expression that amounted to confusion. He was not able to decipher that form of response, it seemed. Whenever the two men said a sentence that was insulting or arrogant or was a lie, i felt like slapping them. Back in the road, i felt like holding the man's face with my fist and repeatedly slapping him.

What i did, is cry. I analyzed the reasons why they treated me the way they treated me. I knew it was my clothes, my complexion, my class that they had guessed to be something below them, my caste that they had guessed to be something below them. I did not speak in English purposely, there. Even when he tried to mansplain in English, thinking that would shut me up. I continued in Hindi, thinking of the larger picture. I was imagining a situation where the girl didn't know English. How they would've treated her. 

This exercise makes me remind of Inji Pennu. She had once told me that whenever i got such violent thoughts i should jot it down. She told me that she had had the same problem once. She would've laughed if she saw me now doing this after being instructed by my therapist. 'I knew it all along, you never understood my greatness,' she would've said.

After Vai Vow got pissed and decided to go back and shout at them and i dissuaded him, i felt guilty. Sunk deeper into the sadness pit thinking i always brought this on people who loved me or came with me. Wrote a mail to Lenovo. During the time i was mailing and trying to find out where i could complain, i once kept clicking on a button, relentlessly.

The week ended with a new problem of sexual harassment cropping up. I got news that Director, Debamitra Mitra is spreading a lie that sexual harassment activist students broke the surveillance cameras at the main gate. Then started strategies, calls and all the usual things. Felt dejected. When is this all going to end!

Here is the poster i made for WASH sensitization programme. Too much to do. Too little time.

Sunday, 30 July 2017

Lesson: Thoughts are Different From Feelings; Therapy, Mental Health

The session started with Ish asking me to read out the 'aftermath'. That's what she calls notes on how i felt during and after the previous session with her. I read out relevant portions from the note i'd written.

She told me that treatment for mental illnesses was available in all government hospitals by law and that it was affordable too. I don't know. I think Ish is really good at what she does and i am not too sure if the same kind of treatment will be available at affordable rates in hospitals. In Calicut, 7 years ago, a sitting with the psychologist cost Rs. 300. In Kolkata, it was Rs. 600. Here, it is Rs. 1500.

Ish told me that i was right about her questions regarding my suicide attempts. It was required of her to assess how close to death every attempt was. I forgot what she told me about the reason why.

She then told me that the rest of it were my thoughts and not my feelings. It was only then that it struck me that thoughts and feelings were different. Whenever i thought that someone i love very dearly was going to die, it was just my thought. What i was feeling, was perhaps anxiety. Don't know.

I tried jotting down how i was feeling before, during and after therapy like she had asked me to do.

Before going, i was eager. To know the methods of therapy. For the kind of questions she would ask. I was hopeful that i'd be able to figure myself out answering these questions.

She didn't ask me too many questions. Just asked me to speak about how i ended up in SRFTI. During the session, i felt it was all going to be pointless. That i would just end up repeating everything like how i had to, to reporters who called without doing their homework, to write about sexual harassment in SRFTI. When i looked back at myself when i was in college, where my filmmaking began, i felt sad. I remembered the abusive relationship i was in, before my first suicide attempt, deciding to make a film while in a bed in PVS hospital, Calicut. I didn't narrate these but i remembered all of that. I remembered how that man had come to the studio where i was editing my film and had pronounced that it wasn't a short film. 'You don't even know what it is called. It is a telefilm. Not a short film,' he had said. In the auto, he had asked me repeatedly if i wanted a bigger dick, if that was why i was sleeping with a lot of people behind his back. Ish noted that this man was paranoid. Yes, i said, in complete agreement.

When i was talking about how i hopped from one relationship to another, and when i mentioned a sexual interaction i had, she asked me if it was a one-time thing. I immediately thought that i was being judged. I was scared i would be judged and that the judgement would affect the way Ish looked at my case altogether. I felt like saying that i was not someone who even believed in a sex-only relationship or one-off things or having multiple sexual partners. All these would have to wait. It was all going back to the time when i was 17 and when everything started going wrong. I don't know how many sessions it's going to take for me to cover all of these.

After the session, the week that followed, wasn't that great. I was worried. Wanted to cry a lot many times but hardly did. When Sethuvamma whatsapped me about having ordered 'Ministry of Utmost Happiness' to me, i cried. Thinking of how much i have made her go through. I felt guilty most of the time i spoke to her. 

Sethuvamma gifted me this and i didn't thank her enough. Felt sad about that.

In office, i mingled more but was again scared that it would end up being like SRFTI. I knew that most of the people there were like folks in SRFTI. Only yesterday did a co-worker say that someone 'raped' a cake to say that he cut it in a haphazard manner. 'Gay jokes' are cracked, constantly. Boss's relationship with an employee is made fun of. So i am constantly scared, when i open up even a bit. That one day, i will say what i think and they will all turn against me. 

Felt helpless and anxious throughout the week. Thinking of filmmaking career. Anxiety about not getting a script or a story to write and not being able to do anything with the novel. Helplessness when i went to look for broadband connection and they said that they couldn't provide service in my flat. Helplessness when cigarette was being charged more by the shopkeepers. I tried calling consumer care and ITC. They didn't respond. As a result of this, when Sethuvamma called i couldn't sound happy. I felt bad that i didn't call her to say that i'd received the book. Victimising self. Felt that i was a victim when i tried to repair the laptop, spent Rs.1400 and came back to see that the problem persisted. I would have to go back there on Monday. Suspect swindling.  

It was lined with sadness, the whole week.

[Highlights on my feelings for me to read out when i go for therapy tomorrow.]

Monday, 24 July 2017

Help Vaishnavi Sundar Make a Film on Sexual Harassment at Workplace

Hi folks,

Vaishnavi Sundar and her all-woman team is trying to make a feature length documentary film about the nightmares of workplace sexual harassment. An important topic that has for so long been swept under the rug is finally materialising into a full-blown film, with emphasis on almost all the fields of work. (Corporate/unorganised sectors/freelancers/filmmakers/women of STEM/sportspersons & more)

But she won't be able to make the film without the help of the many donors, thanks to whom she has raised 27% of the needed funds so far. She is crowdfunding the project and any little that you can contribute would take her team one step closer to the making of this film. The amount doesn't matter as much as your intent. In the past many films have been made due to the sheer number of many small contributions - her own two films stand testimony to that. (

So please click on this link to contribute whatever you can. And please share the link to your friends and acquaintances outside too. Please help her finish this film. She has been working on this since December last year, and she has until the coming December to finish it. Support her. It is about time the elephant in the room gets addressed.


Help Vaishnavi Sundar make a film about sexual harassment at workplace

Trying to Live: Mental Illness and Cure

It is so difficult. I don't want to do or say anything on Facebook because i got a lot of friend requests after i attempted suicide. On the one hand there are people who say that I attempted suicide to invite attention to myself. On the other hand is me, trying to manage the attention and failing. Nobody seems to understand how horrible it feels. I can't share my stupid thoughts, the ones that make me laugh. I don't like posts anymore. I don't share them. I feel i am being observed, all the time. 'See what the girl who attempted suicide is doing.'

Here, in Bombay, in my building, on another floor live a couple who were my seniors in film school. A lot of film school seniors visit them. Most of them hated me when i was in SRFTI. I am scared that they'll see me laugh. I shudder. My smile or laughter stops midway. I stagger a bit. If they see me laugh, that would be enough for them to spread the word that i was making everything up. Some have been doing that already.

It's a good thing that modern medicine is here. We have anti-depressants. I am amazed at the power of these. Before, i would get crying spells. Everything seemed negative to me. My work, my relationship, my love - everything. Now i am positive about everything. A bit more than normal, i sometimes suspect. There is nothing in my life to feel happy about and yet i am never sad.

Today, 23rd July, 2017, i went to a psycho therapist. I was referred there by my psychiatrist. Yes, it's all going to start once again, blogging about my sessions with the shrink, being called 'mentally ill' and therefore not to be taken seriously. I still remember these words from a fellow student's complaint against me.

'Also the complainant Kunjila Mascillamani is mentally unfit. She has tried committing suicide, is under psychiatric treatment and is self destructive. She has written so herself in her blog posts. Yet her statements are being taken. And she is free to roam about. She is writing complaints and lodging FIRs on a daily basis. This shows how mentally unstable she is.'

So, the mentally unstable I went to my psycho therapist, Ish, to find some stability. I went with Vai Vow, with whom i now live in Bombay. When my psychiatrist referred me to Ish, i smiled a bit because the name was Bengali. I like anything and everything that reminds me of Kolkata. I also hoped she wouldn't be expensive. I am trying hard to save money because people told me that that's what one did when one had a job. That's not going to happen any time soon because the therapy is expensive.

The first session, usually longer than others to follow, cost me Rs. 2300. The sessions to come would cost me Rs. 1500 each. It is a huge amount for me. I got really worried when i heard the charges and am still in two minds if i should continue the treatment. More than that, i am deeply worried about the state in our country where treatment for problems like mine come at such a huge price. This ensures that only a certain class and to a large extent, caste of people get good treatment. I am a privileged one even though i am trying to make both ends meet. I can at least consider getting help. The majority in this country can't.

Workplace: why is medical help so expensive in this nation? For the work i do, i have been told by experienced people that i earn the best in the industry. Still, with visits to the psychiatrist and therapist, it would be difficult for me. 

When i spoke to Ish, i felt calm. There was no crying, like the last time. I recounted some of the episodes in my life surrounding suicide attempts and abuse. When i mentioned my attempts at life, Ish asked me when i had attempted it. At what time of the day. She asked me if i was alone in my house when i did it and also when my mother would have returned. These questions made me feel that she was trying to find out if my suicide attempts were genuine or just techniques to make people listen to me. 'Attention seeking,' as SRFTIans called it.

I told her that Kunju Thalona and I weren't speaking anymore. I told her that the reason was that i had told her that she was abusive. When i explained how she was abusive, i felt that Ish did not consider it abuse.

When she asked me what i sought from therapy, i drew a blank. I was expecting Ish to tell me what she was going to do with me. When she said that she was going to try and understand or make me understand why i had this long chain of abusive relationships, i was relieved. I felt grateful to her. A problem i had analyzed by myself over and over again. Found no answer except that i was addicted to abuse in some way and that i had to keep falling back to it. I had stashed it in a anteroom in my head. It did not need probing for now, i had told myself. This was only because my relationship with Vai Vow was not abusive. It was a miracle as far as my history was concerned.

But when i heard how much it was going to cost, i immediately fell back into self pity. Mind went back and forth several times. The thoughts kept recurring throughout the week. I sometimes felt like asking for an appointment at the earliest, excited about solving my problem with abuse. Then i would think of my dentist's appointment that never happens. About my middle class worries. How i wasn't even able to buy Vai Vow a new phone.

How did Sethuvamma manage money. I have no clue.

I might ask for the nearest appointment. But Rs. 1500 is around 16 cigarette packets.

Friday, 14 July 2017

The Best of Saki

The Best of SakiThe Best of Saki by Saki
My rating: 2 of 5 stars

Appachan had tried to make me read Saki. I just listened to some stories narrated by Appachan and never the author himself. This meant that i would know the answer to that question in all quizzes: 'What is Saki's real name' without having read a single story by him. Then in one of our English textbooks was the first story in this collection - 'The Open Window'. One thing that i learned reading Saki is that he did not want women to vote. He mocks the suffragette at least twice in this collection itself.
In 'The East Wing,' when fire breaks out:
'I suppose it is another case of suffragette militancy,' said the Canon. 'I'm in favour of women having the vote myself, even if, as some theologians assert, they have no soul. That, indeed, would furnish an additional argument for including them in the electorate, so that all sections of the community, the soulless and he souled, might be represented.'
Yeah right.
In 'The Open Window,' I felt that he should have omitted the last line of the story. 'Romance at short notice was her speciality'. I liked another story called 'The Dusk', in which a man gets conned. Saki is light reading.
In 'The East Wing', i liked this sentence.
'The house is on fire,' said the Canon, with the air of one who lends dignity to a fact by according it gracious recognition'
This is how upper caste people talk. Also men while mansplaining and in general.
Then in 'The Lumber Room' there is a boy who hides in the lumber room to piss his aunt off. 'It was probably the first time for twenty years that anyone had smiled in that lumber room.'
How sweet! The lumber room must have been so lonely, never seeing a smile for so many years.
I liked the last line in ‘The Philanthropist and the Happy Cat’, which is a story about a woman who wants to do charity. The cat is mentioned in the beginning and in the end like this,
‘But then he had killed his sparrow.’
In ‘The Image of the Lost Soul,’ the one in which a bird takes shelter under the image of the lost soul, there is a line which made me smile.
‘…the brighteyed bird would return, twitter a few sleepy notes,’
It must have been the first time in a long time that I heard twitter being used to mention what it means and not the site.
The phrase, ‘catch-as-catchcan’ or ‘catch-as-catch-can.’
In ‘The Interlopers,’ is again an ending which I liked. I don’t remember what the story was anymore and too lazy to turn the pages back and see. Anyway it’s these two men, who are stuck in a position from which they can’t move, waiting for help to come. It ends like this.
‘Who are they?’ asked Georg quickly, straining his eyes to see what the other would gladly not have seen.
A nice way of putting it in ‘Fate:’
‘For a few months he had been assistant editor and business manager of a paper devoted to fancy mice,…’
Ah, an idea for a picture series in ‘On Approval.’ Someone must have done it already.
‘His pictures always represented some well-known street or public place in London, fallen into decay and denuded of its human population, in the place of which there roamed a wild fauna, which, from its wealth of exotic species, must have originally escaped from zoological gardens and travelling beast shows. ‘Giraffes drinking at the fountain pools, Trafalgar Square,’ was one of the most notable and characteristic of his studies, while even more sensational was the gruesome picture of ‘vultures attacking dying camel in Upper Berkeley Street.’

The Best of Saki: Cover



I think the only reason why people have sex is for the cigarette after.

Wednesday, 12 July 2017

Being Stared At While Smoking In Bombay

Bombay, where i live now, is supposed to be the most important city in india. She was all praises for it. She wanted me to come here. I would've had to anyway. I just accepted the first offer which came my way. I needed a steady source of income. The job was in Bombay. She calls it Bombay and not Mumbai. So i do the same. I moved here.

It's time to break it to people. Bombay is not what it is believed to be. It is a far cry from 'progressive'. I face all kinds of discrimination here. Owing to my looks, clothes i wear, complexion, language, my South Indian identity and on one occasion, laughter.

Bombay doesn't make me want to blog like how Kolkata did. Whenever i tell people that i don't like this place they tell me that i will, eventually. Yes, it had happened in Kolkata. I had hated the place when i went there to give my interview at Satyajit Ray Film and Television Institute [SRFTI]. But it grew on me and made me a moth in its dusty, dull landscape of buildings and people.

With Bombay came depression, job, house, money but never love.

It's okay. Maybe i'll find it.

Came here to note down a fact. More number of people stare at me when i smoke in Bombay than in Kolkata. Once a man clicked my picture when i was smoking. When i smoke in the parking space in office, people gather in corridors to stare at me.

Much progressive. This.

'Commute': On my way to work, one day