Monday, May 4, 2009

Of a midnight trek

I discovered something in the wee hours of Saturday morning. I discovered I had leg muscles. They pulled me up a hill called Skandagiri about 60 km from Bangalore. Needless to say I am now writing this post from bed, agony running through my legs and unable to move.

But boy, do I feel alive.

Yeah ok, so Skandagiri is not a treacherous trek. Full time trekkers would probably scoff at my cribbing. But hey, when you’re living my life which consists of mostly living off the internet, smoking and drinking whenever I have free time, then a trek, however insignificant it might be, is true living. For one, it told me how much I’ve damaged my body and health over the years. And it gave me an experience I wont be forgetting in a long long time.

The plan to trek was hatched about a week ago. A couple of my friends decided they wanted to trek in the moonlight and Skandagiri was famous for that. I hadn't heard of the place (in all my years in Bangalore) and decided to ask around. The response I got was favorable. A colleague mentioned being there and the fact that it was a corporate favorite.

Wait a minute. Corporate favorite? You mean there might be girls there, I asked.

Yes, my colleague said. There’s a 100 percent chance there can be girls.

I was sold.

And so I decided to make the trek. Tell you guys the truth I had no idea what was coming to me. Come on, the most I’ve done in trekking is walking to bus stops or ATM’s and hell you cant call them treks. It should have rung in my mind that I would be encountering 90 degree inclines and steep descents. It should have rung in my mind that I have an intense fear of heights but noooo, the very fact that girls (and corporate girls for that) would be on the peak just blocked out all reason.

Oh well. Men will be men, I guess.

On Friday night I got to know that one of my friends had pulled out. Apparently he didn't like the idea of climbing a hill with only a torch to aid him. I considered that for a while. My family is not in the country at this point. How would they get to know if something were to happen to me. What about bandits ? Being robbed on a highway in the middle of the night in Bangalore almost always left one dead. Was I really going to take that chance ?

What the hell, I thought. I’m twenty-six, and fast looking at thirty. If not now, then when ?

Actually it was still the girls that kept me going.

It was decided then. No turning back. Armed with a white Marlboro drag racing helmet I decided to hop on one of the two bikes and set forth towards the unknown. The helmet was purely for health reasons, I didn't want all that dust accumulating in my already smoke filled lungs. I cant ride a bike. I cant ride it for shit. Somehow I just don't like bikes.

There were four in our trekking party. Armed with instructions downloaded from the net, a couple of water bottles and three torches we set out at approx eleven on Friday night. We took the National Highway via Devanahalli, snapped a couple of pics in the middle of that road, with cars zipping behind us. The ride was fine. My ass felt numb after about an hour but that was ok.

No prizes on guessing which one's me

One thing I distinctly remember is the stars. In Bangalore I could probably count the number of stars in the sky. By the time we crossed Devanahalli, the sky was filled with stars. I don't ever remember seeing so many stars before.

The route was simple. Go past Devanahalli, get to a village called Chikkubellapur. Take a right from the Viswesharya statue. A left, another right and straight on till you reach an ashram. Climb the darn hill from there.

Sounds easy don't it ? Problem was when we got the Chikkubellapur, we couldn't find any darn statue. We actually crossed the village trying to find it. And in the end we rode a good 5 km away from it.

What else to do but turn? So we turned. And asked directions from one of the most weirdest people ever.

I told you we were on a highway right ? Well as we turned we saw an Indica overturned, and I mean overturned as in on its roof right beside the road. Standing next to it were two men and by the looks of it, there was no one in the car. We stopped, unsure if we had a moral obligation to help as both men did not look injured. In fact one of them was drunk.

We asked him for directions and he gave it to us in that cool drunk who-the-hell-cares way. And we left. Simple as that. But thinking about it I cant help but wonder. What were they doing beside that car ? Had they just emerged from a crash ? Were they just passer-by’s trying to salvage what could have been forgotten in the car ? Or did they just stand there to reflect ?

Or maybe, we were the weird ones and were trying to make too much out of what could have been nothing.

Anyhoo, we went back to the village and found ourselves lost again. This time with the help of a few policemen who themselves were drunk. When asked for a landmark, their response was: Devika Bar. We had to smile. They were our kind of people.

But the landmark proved elusive. Chikkubellapur was certainly no Bangalore, and most of the buildings looked the same. What made matters worse was that most of the signs were in Kannada which none of us could read. Which was one of the reasons we found ourselves in the middle of a junction under a streetlight utterly confused. The silence and the absence of people was unnerving. We just weren't used to it. It was by then 12.45 and we’d always been used to being around people at that time.

We stood there for a couple of minutes trying to decide on what to do next when we heard a bike take a turn a couple of meters ahead of us. One of the bike riders zipped off behind it, keeping his finger glued to his horn. Imagine that. You’re on a bike and you hear someone honking his horn behind you. You look in the rear view mirror and you see a biker coming at you like crazy.

Man that must have been a scary image.

Fortunately for us the biker was a brave man. He decided not to flee but stopped and gave us the right directions. We were on our way.

Halfway towards the ashram we picked up a guide. It made sense since we’ve never been here before and it was already close to 2 in the morning. If we had to make it to the peak by sunrise we’d have to know the way up. We had a bit of price haggling but in the end we had a guide for INR 400.

The bike ride ended at the ashram which turned out to be located right at the foot of the hill. The trek started there. And right from the word go something extraordinary happened.

We were welcomed by a snake. Now I don't know if you guys know this, but I adore snakes. You’ll find them in abundance in my home town, but I’d never seen one in Bangalore. But here was one right there in front of us. I’m not exactly sure what kind it was but it was bright green and about a foot and a half. Experience tells us that the shorter the snake is, the more venomous it is. I think that's true. When I described the snake to another friend she said it was a viper. I’m not too sure about that.

Spot the snake - I'll give you a hint: its green

But what a welcome! It was just what I needed to get my blood running. Imagine it, standing under the moonlight in the middle of deadpan silence and training your torch on a beautiful snake. Yeah, I know. Fricking awesome !

Adrenaline pumping in our veins, we started up the hill. An hour later, reality crashed down on me.

I was not eighteen. Those days were long gone. And I’ve not really been the poster boy for Men’s Health magazine. The first thing that hit me was the panting and the loss of breath. Smoking does that to you. The second thing that hit me was the fact that my legs were killing me. Not exercising does that to you. With each and every step my body cursed me with the foulest words ever used. Not to mention that I was cursing under my breath too.

The more I turned the torch to the peak the farther away it felt. A quarter of the way up and we had our first break. And I was ready to call it quits.

But hark! I hear voices. Female voices! Somewhere from up in the distance. What ? A bunch of girls can get their asses up there and I’m struggling on a piece of rock ??? Unthinkable !!!

Needless to say I climbed up the hill and my body screamed at me: YOU FUCKING MORON !!!!

We overtook them and by then I was drenched head to toe in sweat and panting away like a dog who’d just chased a Ferrari. But as soon as I saw one of the girls sitting on a rock and looking at me I willed myself to shut up and converted my panting into manly grunts.

She kept looking at me as I passed her by undoubtedly thinking I was Bruce Banner.

And so it happened that we would continue this cycle for a while. They’d overtake us while we took a break and we’d overtake them while they took a break. I have to say it: that girl got me up that peak. The fact that she was able to climb that godforsaken hill so effortlessly bothered me so much that I resolved to scale that peak … even if it killed me.

Three hours. Three long hours. For three hours I pushed my body to extremes it had never crossed. At some point I’m sure that I broke the barrier of physical punishment. And all of it for some girl whom I hadn't even seen properly.

We reached the peak at around 4.30 in the morning. And relief filled my body as it started the slow and painful path to recovery. The organizers were serving food up there and I gobbled up two plates of noodles. The peak was fairly crowded with a couple of tents being raised and a few campfires lit. There was a group ahead of us who seemed very lively, singing and taking off shirts. There were girls among that group but alas, none of them were topless.

The view from the peak in the morning

We had sat down and were in no mood to get up. There was yet another group beside who were very annoying with their continuous use of the word “dude”. It was always: “dude look at that” or “dude pass me the water” or “dude I wish she was here with me” and worst of all: “dude love is so great.”

I know. Torture. Fucking torture.

But we were too tired to move. And even though I had in my mind a small sort of plan to get myself acquainted to the girl who had motivated me, I just couldn't move. I was more inclined to lying down and watching the stars. Which I did. And eventually I dozed.

By the time I woke up, it was close to six and the sky was beginning to light up. I blinked a couple of times and realized that I could very well miss the sunrise if I closed my eyes.

And then it hit me. That cold cold wind.

For some reason I didn't have a jacket. Or a sweater for that matter. All that I wore was a shirt ( and a thin one too ) and a pair of jeans. That was it. The peak would be freezing cold in the wee hours of the morning, that was a given. And yet I didn't feel the need to carry something to protect.

Cursing my stupidity and my body shivering in disbelief, I woke the others up. Hell if I was going to freeze I sure as hell wasn't going to do it with the others sleeping their way to glory.

So there we were, four guys shivering on a peak. And watching with wonder as the other groups just seemed to have a gala time.

Don't get me wrong, there was nothing wrong with the peak. It was beautiful. The view was stunning. Its just that we weren't prepared for all of this. I think at some point of time as we watched the others have fun we must have realized that our time was coming to an end. A couple of years earlier and we would have been just like them – screaming our lungs out. Now we just wanted to get back home.

The girl was forgotten. I never got to see her. And to tell you the truth. At the end of it all … I just didn't care anymore.

The sun rose

The sun rose. Tired as though we were it truly was a sight to behold. I was on the peak. And there were girls all around me. But i just didn't care. That final scene of watching the sun’s rays spreading across the carpet of fields below us was more than enough.

A couple of hours later we were on our way down. And boy … what a relief that was!

My Waterloo

Sunday, February 8, 2009

Of Luck By Chance

Luck By Chance is a 2009 Bollywood drama starring Farhan Akhtar , Konkona Sen Sharma and directed by Zoya Akhtar. Running at a little more than two hours the movie is about a newbie actor Vikram (Akhtar) who has just landed in Mumbai to start an acting career and Sona (Sen) an extra who's been at it for three years.

I'm not going to tell you the story. But hey, just read that second line. New actor, struggling actress, Bollywood. Surely you must have a plot by now.

Unfortunately that is the problem with Luck by Chance. In the very first scene Konkona Sen is being congratulated by Alyy Khan for bagging a role in his new project. Just looking at Khan, anyone can tell that he's going to ask her to sleep with him. And such is the case with the entire film. It's just too predictable and while watching it I had this feeling of deja vu inside me. It's just very cliche.

Which is actually extremely ironic. The movie parodies Bollywood of the yesteryear where Hindi movies were filled with over the top emotions, jokes that werent funny, love that was too pure to be true and directors who had no idea what they were doing. Luck By Chance, thankfully, is not one of those movies but it retains the predictability of them. You know how every character will turn out (well except for the end), you know what they will do and you know what they will say.

Its unfortunate really. Its a good movie. Very watchable with some really good performances. Akhtar and Sen carry their roles with ease, while Rishi Kapoor is just amazing as the yester-year producer who cant digest the fact that the industry has changed. Dimple Kapadia has another power packed performance as the controlling yester-year star trying to push her daughter into the field. Hrithik Roshan has a very very good cameo and I keep telling everyone that he is an extremely underrated actor. King Khan apparently can only act in one particular style even if he is acting as himself.

I'm sorry. I had to let the King Khan part in. See it for yourself, you'll understand.

But its the script and the story that fails. For one, the Bollywood it parodies does not exist anymore. No sensible producer would ever try to produce a movie like "Dil Ki Aag" the movie for which Akhtar's character is selected. And secondly, its nothing new. I guarantee you that by the end of the movie you will be thinking to yourself: ok, I knew all that.

Dont expect a Rock On!! This is an entirely different movie. It's not a breakthrough. But its a good watch.

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Of the pansification of the alpha male

Disclaimer : The following post is meant to be of a humorous nature but due to the sensitivity of the topic the author would like to address those who might be offended : BOG OFF! The author would also like to thank the delightful Claire for inspiring the comment.

Gather round boys, we have a situation that needs be discussing.

There is a conspiracy. A conspiracy that has been set in motion for decades. A conspiracy that strikes at the heart of us men. A conspiracy that if unchecked will change forever the role of the male in this world.

Have you noticed how ultra-uber feminists (and believe me there is only one kind) have over the years grown in power and almost everything they say is taken for as holy scripture ? You dont believe me ? OK, I'll prove it to you. Sexual harrasement in the corporate world does not just mean the occasional groping and inadequate comments (harmful as they are) ... no it also means that a look, a single look interpreted by a woman in a different way can be termed harrasement. Yes. You might be sitting at your desk having a good daydream about GTA 4 or the latest Call of Duty looking into vacant space but unknowing to you the women at the opposite cabin feels like you're staring at her and God forbid if you're gaze is aimed at few inches below her chin.

Exactly. And who do you suppose brought upon us this terror filled atmosphere in the office wherein you cant trust your own eyes ? Feminists. Thats who.

Ahh, the good old days. Roman gladiators no matter how hideous they might have looked would have girls thrown at them. Oh, the girls would scream and thrash but it would do them no good. Why ? Because there were no feminists to intrude upon the nature-given right of the male.

The real man

I see the look in your eyes but I am extremely sorry my brothers: we are no longer that noble race. We have let the feminists slowly and gradually infringe upon our freedom and rights. I say the first instance of such a travesty was Bram Stoker's Dracula when that old good-for-nothing weasel Van Helsing praised Mina Harker as a majestic woman with the brain power of three men. Traitor! I wish that man could see the women who drive on our once male-exclusive roads!

And more traitors gave in. And some more. Women had the right to vote. Equality they wanted! Bah, the worst of their creed came upon the weakest of us and they, being caught unawares, gave in to their every demand. Traitors. Every one of them.

No,no ... dont weep. History has long past gone us by. We have to do something about the present situation that threatens us now.

Hmm ? Arent things bad as it is, you ask ? Brother - its getting worse.

You see the feminists might have got their way by bullying themselves into matters like constitution and laws but they have realised that its not enough. You see, they want to be the dominant sex of our species. A natural travesty that could bring about Armageddon is what they want. And they have devised a plan that will bring about the intended result within the next sixty to seventy years - if not less.

That demonic and diabolical plan is called: The Pansification of the Alpha Male!

In almost every species in the animal kingdom there is the dominant, the ruling alpha male. The one to which the entire pack turns to. Wherever this majestic animal goes; so too goes the ever obedient pack. Not to mention that the alpha male gets his share of food and sex first. That is the equilibrium of the animal kingdom. That is how it should be.

Alpha female ?? Who said that ?? Blasphemy ! Traitor ! Brothers : strip him and make fun of his pecker!

(Hee hee ... he does have a small pecker)

(cough) Where were we ? Ahh yes, the alpha male.

Now, humans have never had an alpha male ever since democracy has entered our lives. And a load of crap that is. But we do have symbolic alpha males. People who we trun to ... people who we try to imitate ... people who lead our pack for every generation.

You still dont get it ? Man, I know I'm intelligent but do I have to tell you everything ???

Oh very well ... its the celebrity male. Yeah, now you nod your heads.

Yes, the celebrity male. Can we forget the manliness of some of those immortals like Bruce Lee, Chuck Norris and might I also add : Ron Jeremy ? (RTB - thanks!) These were men, the real men, the epitome of all that we should be. As an Indian I can pull up a couple of my own Bollywood manly heroes : Dharmendra, Suniel Shetty and Salman Khan (with his woman beating antics).

Ahh yes, true patriots - all of you.

But the vile enemy known as the feminist have set their eyes on them. The above patriots were not to be tempted but the next generation surely was. And what did we get for the next generation ? PANSIES! That's what we got!

Long hair, studs on their eyes, tongue, ears and nose ... oh the list goes on. There are no real action movies anymore. No, no we have action "heroes"who cry over the fact that they have to kill so much. We have "tormented" super-heroes "disturbed" over their choice of life. We have "kick-ass" soldiers who cannot bring themselves to pull the trigger! You call this a movie ??? I call this PANSY!

Oh but the critics love it. They love it. They give it four flowers out of four. I bet they're all pro-feminists. The traitors.

What effect does it have on us, you ask ? Brothers - look around us. The new generation model themselves on these false stars. The grow ridiculously long hair, they wear studs ... and they ... they ... have facials !!!

The Unthinkable

Please dont shed tears. Dont.

And in the end we are left with a generation that will idolize these pansies. The generation to come will become pansies. They will teach their children to be pansies. Hence in three generations the woman will have replaced men as the dominant in our species. We will not have the alpha male anymore.

Its depressing.

What can we do, you ask ?

Boycott the pansies as evil and immoral. Shave every kid's hair. Let them run bald. Encourage facial and chest hair. Lets pool some money and start a propoganda that will run through our childrens bloods. We can do it, damn it ... we are MEN ! (say that with a throaty rage call)

Go forth, brothers. Go forth and lets make this world masculine again.

Heil, mein Alpha Male !