Saturday, March 25, 2006

Strangers in a strange land

I imagine this midnight moment's forest:
Something else is alive
Besides the clock's loneliness
And this blank page where my fingers move.

Opening lines of 'The Thought Fox'. Replace blank page by keyboard and you're in my position. I have this habit of waking up at weird hours. Too early for a movie, too unsettling for a book, too strange to go watch the NZ-Windies test match alone in the lounge. So I try and keep my eyes closed, hoping that somehow I might fall asleep. Until then, there is a chain reaction of thoughts that casacades into the mind, joined together by the slightest of links. But, I guess, that's how the thought fox moves. So I put down a few links of the chain, hoping that it would speed up my journey to the dreamworld. It could make anyone reading drowsy too, but that's a risk I'm prepared to take.

I wake and see the time--4.15 AM. Why do I always have to wake up at such weird hours? What do I do now? Weird, wait that rings a bell. Today in the tumtum (for the uninitiated, it's an internal minibus type transport service) there was this foreign exchange student taking photographs. That is the busiest time and the tumtum is jampacked by students with some hanging on the doors just to get to lectures on time. I guess he found this image really amusing, like all foreigners do when they see the local train or the BEST bus for the first time. I couldn't restrain myself from starting a conversation

'Photographic evidence, eh?'
'Yeah, this is my last month here, so I'm trying to take back all the weird things I see.' (Weird yeah. For you.)
'You know I just caught somehow publicly picking his nose, that's a gold shot'

I couldn't stop laughing. I would have told him that nose picking is a national pastime here, but then so is hanging on the edge of buses a national necessity. The tumtum stopped to pick up some more, until 4-5 people had adjusted themselves by the door and no more could be taken. I made an observation--

'Just gets better'
'Yeah, you took words out of my mouth'

And then he took 2-3 more snaps. That was the end of conversation as it was the end of journey. It got me thinking about the things these foreigners find weird.

Just yesterday during the halftime of our main GC football match, a similar incident had occured. Naturally tired of running around for 25 minutes and having more than my fair share of being pushed around, I reached for the Glucon-D pack for the 'instant energy' it promises. It was with one of the two Frenchmen in our team. He was pouring out the powder rather conservatively, taking great care not spill out anything or take more than what's warranted. I, with my increased energy requirements, took the pack and poured a heap of powder in my hand. He looked and me, dropped his jaw, like I had deprived half the Indian population of the staple diet they should get. I couldn't help laughing, and laugh is one thing you should not do when you have any powder close to your mouth. I ended up blowing half thing away, on my face and jersey. I wanted to quip, 'Hey look I'm a white man too', but my better senses prevailed.

Somehow I can't get past nose picking though. What's with it that makes it so repulsive. Even that episode in Seinfeld, which has covered every such thing in the world, Jerry loses his girl when she catches him picking his nose at a traffic light. He tries to convince that it's not a crime with a typical Seinfeld quote like--

"I guarantee you that Moses was a picker. You wander through the desert for forty years with that dry air. You telling me you're not going to have occasion to clean house a little bit."
After all his attempts fail, he ends with a speech near an elevator for all to hear--

An' what if I did do it? Even though I admit to nothing, and never will. What does that make me? And I'm not here just defending myself but all those pickers out there who've been caught. (Elevator doors open) Each an' every one of them, who has to suffer the shame and humiliation because of people like you..(Everyone but Jerry is now in the elevator. Jerry's still addressing them) Are we not human?! If we pick, do we not bleed?! (Elevator doors shut. A few people in the hallway are looking at him, he turns and addresses them) I am not an animal!

I wonder if the person photographed would defend himslef so convincingly. Moses was a do these people come up with logic like this. There are so many times such convincing random logic is used. Like this one when Susan is about to break up with George and a conversation takes place (amazingly in the same episode as The pick)--

GEORGE: It'll be different this time.
SUSAN: I need someone a little more stable.
GEORGE: I'm not stable? I'm like a rock. I take these glasses off, you can't tell the difference between me and a rock. I put these glasses on a rock. You know what jumps into most people's minds? Costanza!

SUSAN: People don't change.
GEORGE: I change I change. Two weeks ago I tried a soft boiled egg. Never liked it before. Now I'm dunkin a piece of toast in there and I'm loving it.
SUSAN: I'm not a soft boiled egg.
GEORGE: And I am not a piece of toast.

SUSAN: I just don't think we have anything in common.
GEORGE: That's okay. That's good. You think Louie Pasteur and his wife had anything in common? He was in the fields all day with the cows, you know with the milk, examining the milk, delving into milk, consummed with milk. Pasteurization, Homogenization, She was in the kitchen killing cockroaches with a boot on each hand.

SUSAN: Why were there so many cockroaches?
GEORGE: Because. There was a lot of cake lying around the house. Just sitting there going with all the excess milk from all the experiments [grins]
SUSAN: And they got along?
GEORGE: Yes! Yes. You know. She didn't know about Pasteurization. He didn't know anout Fumigation. But they made it work!

Now who would have thought of that! This works, I'm feeling sleepy again.

Till, with sudden sharp hot stink of fox

It enters the dark hole of the head.
The window is starless still; the clock ticks,
The page is printed.


Phoenix said...

Great lines throughout.

And, I lik ur new template.

Sunil Kundal said...

nice words really .. was LMAO !!
made my day !! :P

saint nothing! said...

haha.. seinfeld rocks.. so do ya! :)

Nikhil said...

[phoenix] thanks, and glad you liked it, better late than never :)

[kundal] thanks be

[mallu] *takes a bow* on my behalf that is..

thedq said...

Youre not the only one that wakes up at 4 am.. i woke up at 3 am today. then i started cooking. choke on that!

You could have tried the 'im a white guy' joke. Some 'foreigners' take it well. Donno abt the french though, my experience with them is mixed. Engineers however are universally cool and less egoistic compared to the MBA students ive met.