Category Archives: Phil0s0phy

Older and, hopefully, wiser

I’m not going to use any gimmicks in this post. No protracted sentences. No loquaciousness. No references only understandable to certain people. It will just be my attempt at simple, straight, hard facts.

I have often complained of how life throws shit in my face. Whined in wangst at fate and the tortures it puts me through. And I did nothing about it.

A mining analogy:

We are all digging for gold, diamonds and other gems (ideological and literal) to enrich our lives. And some of us happen to hit a drainage pipe and end up with a pile of shit in our beloved gold mines. I am one of these people. People try to assist you out of this (in this analogy, literal, but otherwise metaphorical) shithole. And I was no different. Except that I didn’t use them to get out. Rather, I almost pulled them in.

Now, I’m through.

If I whine again, shoot me.

It is time for action.

But first… A few words which I have to make known public.

The people I knew while I wrote this blog over the past 4 years have defined this era of my life. An era that is reaching its end. And they deserve my thanks. I will not hide any details, by the way. If anyone here would like me to; say so and I will give you my id and password for WordPress. Knock yourselves out.

First, and most important:

Monisha Vemavarapu: Venom, SuperMon and a million sobriquets. No one has influenced me as much as she. Currently in London on an exchange program, she is dating a large, oafish, somewhat paranoid, whiny, self-obsessed and neurotic nutbag. I feel that she perhaps deserves better; but she’s a wiser judge of such things than I am. No one I have ever known has ever evolved so much so quickly. When I first was re-acquainted with her, she was a wild, kranti-kari, ultra-modernist pseudo-hippie. She is now one of the most level-headed determined and pragmatically intelligent people I know. I will be frank: When I first met her, both online and in person, I felt I was the superior individual. But I must now concede this title to her. She has proven herself to be a most fascinating person and one who accepts a random destiny with an élan that I wish I possessed. Monisha is one of those people who you just know will not fade quietly into the night, and will leave a mark on the world. I find my vocabulary failing me in my attempts to describe how happy I am to have known, and know, this singularly unique individual. I sincerely hope that we will never become strangers through providence or (more likely) some ridiculous action of mine.

Nimish Batra: After working at Infosys Technologies in Bangalore, Nimish is now pursuing a Master’s degree at the University of Florida. Nimish’s jesting misanthropy was what really resulted in our ever becoming friends. We shared in our fandom for Douglas Adams, I introduced him to Radiohead, and he introduced me to Monty Python. But in our protracted one-downmanship contests, (held periodically over the internet, the telephone and in person) I believe I learnt a lot. And perhaps too much. I appreciate and respect him for a lot of things, but I must say that what applies to me in a large measure applies to you too… Stop whining. Shut up and live. The thing about Nimish that few people get is that he is a genuinely warm-hearted person. Try visiting his home in South Ex, and be amazed at the hospitality shown by him and his family. One part of his brain has the capacity to make him do what’s necessary and drag him across the finish line while the other part is kicking and screaming. As long as that former part dominates the latter, he has nothing to worry about. Genuinely.

Dinesh Kapur: Decay is currently working in Gurgaon for a sustainable ventures firm whose name I can never remember, but it starts with a W. (edit: WinRock! It’s WinRock!) His George Best old-school footballing skills are no longer useful to him in the modern game much like my Karl Marx old-school thinking skills are of no use to me in the modern world. As I’ve often said; this man is a kindred spirit. We’re almost alter-egos of each other. Decay is someone who I can trust to understand my point of view on a matter, usually because he’s been there before. Like Monisha, Dinesh is someone who I feel is destined for far bigger things in life than he can possibly see now. And like Monisha, is an individual in possession of far too many talents, such that it looks unfair to the rest of us.

Anupam Guha: After a successful stint at the Georgia Institute of Technology (where he completed a 2-year Master’s course in a year with a perfect 4.0 CGPA), Guha is currently in Ahmadabad, working for a company that pays him to essentially be their poster-boy. His relationship with Anupama (who I’ve never met properly) was much joked about (my contribution was the idea for “Anupam (1+a)” wedding cards) in college. Oddly enough, it appears to be highly likely that theirs’ will be the first marriage of a friend that I will be a guest of. The conversations on every topic under and beyond the sun were, and still remain, much appreciated. Even the ones where we vehemently disagree. And his conviction to “save” me and show me that humanity is worth saving might just pay off. The path of the wannabe Bushido-ist is fraught with many perils, I joked of him. Well it appears that he intends on making these words an eerie prophecy. Much like a Katana, he has forged his tamahagane worldviews by repeatedly putting it through fire, folding it and beating the shit of it. And that’s why Guha will probably end up as that rarest species of all: A happy, intelligent man who is satisfied with his life and the world he is living in. Or we’ll embark on our plan for revolution. He’ll be Trotsky, I’ll be Stalin… Minus the backstabbing, of course.

Ashwin Murali: After half a year of working 80-90 hour weeks at Citibank, he’s now at his palatial penthouse in Nasik preparing for a second MBA. Ashwin’s greatest trait as a friend has been his ability to listen to me constantly abuse, demote, shout at, vilify and generally insult him for over 3 years with a patient nod and that irritatingly reassuring stupid smile. He set me off on a tangential path in my worldview, for which I still hate him by the way, but it might perhaps lead to a better future. You better hope it does bro.

Akhil Garg: Working at Accenture in Hyderabad, his tryst with the Alagappa family continues as my sister was his HR rep as a trainee. We have both learnt, very late, that we weren’t as bad roommates to have as we thought. Perhaps immaturity came between what could’ve been a far more rewarding friendship for us.

Swati, Priya and Ankur: Swati is working with Wipro in Bangalore while Priya is doing her Master’s at the University of Sussex, I believe. Ankur is doing his Master’s at IIT Kharagpur. I drove you guys away from me in a fit of madness and have regretted that decision since. My yet unfinished college life would have been far better if I had not done that.

Nitesh Bhasin: The entrepreneur and fellow backlogger. We really dump on you more than you deserve. The fact remains that if you hadn’t taken the effort of befriending me in IP University that day, I wouldn’t have gotten to know a lot of the people mentioned here. You’ll either end up in jail or in Forbes. Have fun in Vegas.

M.V. Harish: Another man at Georgia Tech, here’s to perpetuating the “crazy Telugu mofo” image with me. Keep it real with the brothas in the hood in Atlanta. We’ll meet up in a gun shop or seedy beer bar someday.

Many others ought to feature in this list, but I feel it has become so sappy, your monitors might have started leaking already; so wait for another epiphany and moment of emo-ness.

Seriously, I have so many epiphanies; it’s hard to tell which ones are genuine.

Oh, and I almost to mention… This post formally ends this blog. There will be no more posting on Chaosverse any longer. Frankly, I would like some order. Unpredictability and randomness are, as always, welcome; but I’ve had it with the chaos.

I would like to delete this blog, but perhaps will save it. Someday, the people mentioned in this post will look back and this and other posts and laugh at the naivety, stupidity, folly, and immaturity on display.

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New Decade. Old Problems.

I guess it’s fascinating, looking at this blog. Apart from the obvious exercise in narcissism, it provides a unique insight into how much things have changed or have remained static over a considerable period of time. I started this blog in August 2005. It’s almost been 5 years now. I have gone from being a guy stuck in a KV, both fearful of his future and yet wildly optimistic at the same time to someone in a college he morbidly despises who seems to have ruined almost any chance he had of making a name for himself.

I cleared the written exam for the Tata Institute of Fundamental Research, Mumbai (hereafter referred to as TIFR). I shall abandon humility and say that I feel it’s a bloody noteworthy achievement. A guy who’s had as horrid a B.Tech experience as me isn’t expected to be the in 1 in 500 to clear a grueling entrance exam for India’s premier graduate school for Physics. TIFR offers the best Ph.D faculty, research options, library and stipend in India. That’s right, Ph.D. I beat people with Master’s degrees from the various IITs to get in here. Natansh might wonder why I’m blowing my own horn so much, but he’s already cleared a way more difficult national-level entrance exam. But it’ll probably amount to nothing. No way I can clear the interview. Not with all my baggage.

I qualified for the final round of the Young Sociologist of the Year Competition in Bangalore. In fact, I got my TIFR result barely a week after returning from Bangalore where I presented a Sociology paper. Met many interesting people. Virgil, who eventually won. Michael, who’s quip about how even the worst neighborhoods of San Diego are nowhere nearly as filthy as Koramangala (one of Bangalore’s more posh areas) and even the girls from Miranda House and Ferguson College who kept throwing wary glances at me as if they expected my to pounce on them at any moment. (Seriously, do I look like a rapist?)

I didn’t attend college for nearly 3 semesters in a row and in my last 2 years have missed more exams than I have given. Hence TIFR remains a dream that will not be realized. Not this year, at least.

2010 promises to be a defining year. It will be unforgettable, I can guarantee that. Whether I will want to relive these memories or erase them forever, they will haunt me.

This blog has really been an integral part of my identity throughout college. Be it my hormonally challenged posts that were evidently about Monisha (there! I said it!) or attempts at pseudo-intellectual candor, I always picked the worst time to write them. Which, I guess has been the defining trait of my life c.2005-2010. It has been a period of terrible decisions and bad timing. Thoughts that struggle to find meaning and ideas that come and go quicker than I can say, “Get me a pen and some paper!” The humor, the edge is gone because the confidence that is so necessary to drive it is n ruins. The arrogance you see is over-compensation for a feeling of inadequacy and it’s a vicious cycle. Confidence shatters, arrogant shell built. Arrogance causes problems, causes greater loss of confidence that breeds more arrogance. You get the rest.

Well, the decisions are no longer mine to take, are they? Perhaps my life follows a Seldon Plan. Or it’s just seldom planned. I wait and do nothing until I reach a crisis that affects my very existence and there exists only one course of action to take. So if my childhood was the Encyclopedia stage, perhaps the Salvor Hardin within me will soon find his services necessary. (To those who don’t get what I’m talking about here, I’m heavily referencing Isaac Asimov’s classic ‘Foundation’ saga).

And always remember, Don’t Panic.

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The …’s of the Decade

I expect publications will be indulging in their year-end exercise in scatology with greater vigour this year.  It is, after all, the end of the first decade of the second millennium in the rears of our lord. (Anus Domini)

So, be not surprised if Rolling Stone ranks Amy Winehouse as the Artist of the Decade and if Kate Moss tops Vogue’s list of Celebrities For Whom Children Should Give Up Reading Books Or Developing Any Semblance Of Intelligence To Ape Blindly And If They Die Of Forced Starvation, Hallelujah To The Gene Pool!… of the Decade. (The benefit of that last statement is that the only people it could possibly offend wouldn’t be able to read and/or understand it. Except Nimish, perhaps.)

But… Where was I? Ah, yes. Nowhere. Excellent.

So, since every blog and magazine that follows the Christian era calendar will probably have come out with this list or will be coming out with such a list in the very, very immediate (There’s one right behind you. Seriously, take a look) future; I thought I might use this as a good place to get back into the habit of filling up this blog, and thus entertaining my Brain-esque delusions of grandeur. Therefore, I give you:

HARISH’S LIST OF TOP 10 ALBUMS OF THE DECADE!

  1. Kid A ~ Radiohead (2000)
    Yes. The decade’s best album came out in October 2000. Listen to it. 50 times. 100 times. For every day between October 2000 to December 2009. And then hear it again. You’ll still find something new you’d never heard before, you’ll find another possible meaning behind a line you heard a 100 times, or realize that in the second song Thom Yorke doesn’t say “fssshaaaaddddmmaaaaeeee“, but rather: “falling in the shadows at the end of my bed…“. I still don’t know whether he says “Take the money and run” or “Take the money, Enron” in Idioteque. Album of the Decade and perhaps the 2nd or 3rd greatest of all-time.
  2. Get Behind Me Satan ~ The White Stripes (2005)
    I first heard the White Stripes in the year 2003, as almost everybody did, thanks the song ‘Seven Nation Army’. The reason they never became really popular in India after that song can be explained very easily. It’s this album. In 2005, the Delhi Times reported that the White Strobes'(sic.) album Get Behind Satan(sic.) has been nominated for the Album of the Year Grammy. It didn’t win, proving it truly was the Best Album of that Year. The complete abandonment of Jack White’s trademark guitar-work was just the start. The songs were more… complete. I can never explain why I think this album is pure genius. But it just is.
  3. A Rush Of Blood To The Head ~ Coldplay (2002) 
    Before Nimish and I started ripping Viva La Vida a new one, we (and many others) were massive Coldplay fans and had discussions about how Radiohead and Coldplay will be our generation’s equivalent of The Beatles and Led Zeppelin. This album was the reason. Every single song is amazing. Every. Last. One. The surprising thing is that the guy who wrote and sang these songs didn’t get laid till he was 23. Strange.
  4. Amnesiac ~ Radiohead (2001)
    If anyone tells you Kid A sounds sane and soothes them there can only be two reasons. They didn’t hear the album or… they’ve heard this one. A limitless source of twitter posts for your’s truly; Amnesiac takes the controlled Fuck-Rock experiment of Kid A and hands it over to Daffy Duck, Wile E. Coyote and Dr. Frankenstein. I can talk endlessly about how Pyramid Song is perhaps Radiohead’s finest hour or how You And Whose Army should be the background song to a bloody and brutal anime where Samurai Jack goes beserk, but I’ll quote Packt Like Sardines In A Crushd Tin  Box as a precursor to potential, but unlikely, flame wars in the comments thread… “I’m a reasonable man, get off my case
  5. Elephant ~ The White Stripes (2003)
    The best guitar-driven album since… Physical Graffiti? Easily the best guitar work in the 2000s. Listening to Jack White play the guitar is like what Helena Bonham Carter’s character of Marla must’ve felt like when getting fucked by Tyler Durden. It’s brutal and yet feels amazing. Seven Nation Army, Black Math, I Just Don’t Know What To Do With Myself, Ball and Biscuit, The Air Near My Fingers… The switches, the shifts in tempo, sudden riffs… Man’s a genius. And the album cover is layered and ends in a re-he-heaaally bad joke.
  6. Vampire Weekend ~ Vampire Weekend (2008)
    I feel a weird sense of superiority when I “discover” a band. Vampire Weekend was my most recent one. I first heard them cover ‘Exit Music (For A Film)’ on the OK Computer tribute album that Nimish was giving everyone on his blog. But it took songs like A-Punk, Cape Cod Kwassa Kwassa, One and Walcott for me to realize these Ivy League guys were a find I’ll be bragging about for years.
  7. The Marshall Mathers LP ~ Eminem (2000)
    Again, an album that came out a few months into the decade is in this list because… uh… Fuck You. This is when what Eminem said and did was still THE most controversial stuff in the history of western music. But it was also hilarious and quite cleverly written. The moment you realize a song by Dido (which is used to get girls wearing fluffy pink slippers into a good mood) is sampled only to be followed by the words, “Shut up bitch! I’m trying to talk! Hey Slim, that’s my girlfriend screamin in the trunk but I didn’t slit her throat, I just tied her up, see I ain’t like you cause if she suffocates she’ll suffer more, and then she’ll die too” is when you realize this cracka! has some skill.
  8. Alive 2007 ~ Daft Punk (2007)
    Even I dance when I hear this. Yes, it’s dancing; not a recreation of how someone with ALS looks like when he’s having an epileptic fit. Daft Punk live sounds like such an amazing experience, I wouldn’t mind being surrounded by tens and thousands of people who just think of the duo as people playing music for them to dance to. I’m stronger than that. Or, as these French Robots say, “‘Tronga!” than that.
  9. Toxicity ~ System Of A Down (2001)
    I think the frightening thing about this album is that it released exactly a week before 9/11.  And with lyrics about toxicity in our cities and disorder, disorder, disorder… Damn! But nevertheless, the album is the best metal album of this decade by a light-year. I mean, what’re you going to compare this with? St. Anger?

    Okay, I’m feeling quite hungry and am almost out of time at the cyber place. So I might put up some more comments for 10. Or not.

  10. Gorillaz ~ Gorillaz (2001)

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Resurrection

“And on the 42nd day, he shall rise again!”

Hello!

I cannot explain why I haven’t been writing. Maybe it’s because I no longer enjoy the honor and privilege of an internet connection, or maybe it’s because I’m so busy I can’t waste my time on a silly blog.

Or maybe it’s because blogging, like social networking websites, is merely a fad. And it’s time is up. It shall now be relegated to that hallowed graveyard of peculiar habits that the populace began to practice en masse, solemnly swearing to never stop; for THIS truly defines them, THIS is finally an opportunity for them to express themselves creatively; THIS is the moment they have been waiting for. However, THIS finally becomes THAT and THAT always has been and always will be… boring. (I used to fancy myself as a writer. I just tried to elucidate my views by the means of a series of sentences that hinged on demonstratives.)

The point is, it appears that blogging is now giving company to the Macarena, the Fonz’s jacket, Akshay Kumar’s blue jeans and movies with ‘Khiladi’ in the title and college basketball-playing “dewds”. It’s a pity, though. I used to like blogging. Until the pressure to write something extraordinary every single time kicked in. I guess I’ll resume this blog differently. It’s probably a fresh start.

2008 was a strange year. In the stats column, it started with Chaosverse enjoying 3,000 hits in the first month alone. In the last month of 2008, it dropped to 700. That further fell to 600 in January ’09. I guess that’s a good thing. There’s no more pressure. No more “Is Harish in form again?” I know I’ve lost my edge, but I’m going to stop trying to get it back. The best things come to you when you never expected them or even asked for them. That’s the one lesson I can say I learnt the easy way. Right, Venom?

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Is it the 3rd of November?

The title may confuse you. By you, I mean the person reading this. Except unless it is me, who is the most likely person to be the one reading this at any given point of time. Thus, it is more likely that the person reading this will not be confused by the title. Yet, I endeavor to throw a little lifeline to anyone drowning in the deluge of meaningless verbosity of the above paragraph and vagueness of the title.

The title may confuse you, but I assure you it is not random. It is a reference to a book written in 1877 by a man who was born on either October 30 or November 11, 1821. 

’tis a strange world we live in. If I could summarize all my thoughts into a single word, it would be quite an achievement or would indicate the lack of depth or complexity in my thinking. But surprisingly; as I sit here, typing, listening to the Badinerie from Bach’s Orchestral Suite No.2 in B-Minor for flute and strings (BWV 1067) – an ideal background theme for a madman, if you ask me – pardon my digression… But surprisingly I CAN compress the clamoring mass of thoughts in my head into a single word. And the word is: Malice. Indeed, all my thoughts are currently malicious in their nature.

Why? Why not. 

I am quite exasperated. Of fighting. Of battling. Of combating. Of fending off. If only I were nice person by nature, I could look at all the gifts nature has given me. But I am not a nice person. I am a vagrant (my father calls me that), a peripatetic thinker (which I shall prove as this rambled post continues), a loser (as many people are oft to refer to me as), a vindictive, pessimistic nitpicker of thoughts. But devoid of any actual mental facilities and more importantly devoid of any inclination to convert reserves of potential energy into work that will effectively put an end to the incessant questioning. And there is a lot of questioning going around, oh yes! I do not throw words like incessant about to exhibit my limited vocabulary. Whose limitations seem to be on an upward spiral. I have said the word “Cool” more times in the year 2008 than I did in the 15 years before that.

I can now hear the William Tell Overture by Rossini. How pleasant!

I am quite thoroughly annoyed. Of people. Individuals. Human beings. The whole lot of them can bugger off and boil their heads in hot oil, if they wish to please me, which of course they don’t. I am annoyed of my roommates. Of the people in my college. How every second I spend with them seems an opportunity lost. Of how intellectually hollow their company seems. I haven’t learned a thing in the time I have known them. I stand there, listening… words flow from their mouths like sewage into a gutter. Meaningless talk devoid of any shred of original thinking. All their “thoughts” have been subconsciously instilled. On occasion I want to start pointing out the sources of each and every statement they make. But if I interrupted them with “parents”, “movies”, “media”, “unfounded claim”, “peer circle”, “public perception”, “remnants of a phase of juvenile delinquency” and “neurons rotting” all the while; I would leave them with no recourse but to retaliate. And I do not take kindly to criticism. It is a flaw, I admit. I am quite arrogant. Extremely full of myself. I enjoy the philosophy of you-leave-me-alone and vice versa. It allows me to live in a little bubble of self-delusion and an exaggerated sense of my own importance. 

But the retaliations do disappoint. The usual attacks made against me concern my physical appearance, my atrocious academic record, my weak mind, my emotional instability, my judgmental attitude and lack of an open mind and a supposed tendency I possess whereby I degrade myself as part of a subtle ploy to garner sympathy. Everywhere I turn I see my attack on any issue, be it subjective or objective, being countered with an ad homenim derision. I am, strangely enough, not very good at attacking people. If anyone notices, I attack issues with greater ease. I call institutions, beliefs, actions and statements a multitude of names. When it comes to an individual, I find it hard to criticize. I cannot just start using what Nimish calls “my cutting wit” on anyone just sitting in one place doing nothing. It is from their actions that I draw inferences and those inferences are where I begin my attack. 

I believe it was Richard Dawkins who first succinctly explained my world view. He said, and this is one of my favorite quotes from now on: “By all means let’s be open-minded, but not so open-minded that our brains drop out.

Piano Concerto No.1 in B flat minor, Opus 23 Allegro ~ Tchaikovsky

(to be continued…)

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Either I’m really stupid or…

Stupidity is the new “IN” thing. Apparently there’s a war against the very values that have made the world the wonderful place it can be. (Reason, Logic, Rational thinking, Scientific analysis). Spent some time going through wikipedia articles about various religions, cults, sects and things that claim to be none of the above but are absolutely indistinguishable.

Now, I can imagine the flak I would’ve recieved about this post if anyone actually read my goddam blog. Which is another thing that pisses me off. Why can’t I tell the Emperor that he’s naked? Look at him! He’s not wearing anything!

What pisses me off is how I am expected to treat ALL ideas at par. Which, of course, is utterly impossible. What I fear is a day when a school exam paper will be marked not on the basis of whether or not you are right (which is how it should be…) or whether or not you memeorized and repeated, without understanding, the requisite syllabus (which is how it is now…) but, and this is worse than the current state of affairs, they will marked equally. In a nutshell, you should not thrust your right answer on people as they have their right to be wrong, but should not discriminated against because they are wrong. To summarize the summary: All answers are correct, you intolerant arrogant prick!

We expected the internet and cell phones and the “communications revolution” of the past decade or so would make the world a better place. All that’s happened is we have more than a million (more like a billion) monkeys banging away at keyboards, PDAs, GPRS-enabled cellphones and screaming hysterically into webcams and yet I cannot see anything that resembles: 

Whether ’tis nobler in the mind to suffer/The slings and arrows of outrageous fortune,/Or to take arms against a sea of troubles,/And by opposing end them? — To die, to sleep, —

What we do have are, people who say things like “There are 7 chakras in the soul which using the power of magnetism can be aligned to combine with the earth’s magnetic field and unleash hidden power in the soul of the individual”. Gee, wow! And we are to respect their views. Respect my authoritah to tell you this:

“We believe in equality for everybody and tolerance and all that gay stuff; but dude, fuck you” ~ Stan Marsh

The best bit is that the people I know who believe in this shit the most were guys who used scored above 90% in their 10th and 12th boards. It’s us late70s, early 80s (percentage marks, not the era) bastards who acknowledge that Science Works. Science is the answer.

There’s no point, really. Me expressing not a personal view, but something that has been verified either by the process of scientific testing or by the fact that it’s happened every pico-second (0.0000000000001 seconds) for the last 15 billion years (473040000000000000 seconds) is being on different degrees: intolerant, an asshole, a smartass, judgemental (…)

This rant will continue. Right now, I have the strange ineffable feeling that someone’s standing behind my right shoulder and that very bad things are going to happen to me.

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A Short, Meandering, Pointless and Badly Written Story

Gasp!

He was awake.

“What time is it?”

5 AM.

It was a torrid slumber. He had two styles of sleeping. Either he slept in a manner that could make a casual observer confuse him for someone dead or at least in a comatose state or it was a sleep punctured by sleepy, incoherent muttering peppered with the occasional swear or three and sudden awakenings where he would jump out of his bed with an unexplainable adrenaline rush that would rapidly dissipate as he struggled to decide what he should do now that he’s awake and fresh before he felt sleepy again. Sometimes he would wake up, sit in a corner and contemplate about absolutely nothing, but contemplate nevertheless.

He decided he wanted to take a bath.

It was cold; unseasonably cold for a mid-October morning. He didn’t know that he was shivering while asleep and even though the cooler in his room was switched off by his room-mate, who was watching ‘The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford’ on the nearby desktop, there was a discernable chill in his room. His feet would’ve felt the cold floor if they weren’t sheltered by the socks he had been wearing continuously for the past three and a half days. It should be “almost continuously”. He had been wearing them throughout with the exception of ten minutes a day, when he removed them to take a bath. The left sock was blue and a very good quality one he had got as a free gift when he bought a brand new pair of shoes from Reebok (He had two pairs of shoes, both bought from Reebok. He didn’t even like the company that much). The free socks were the least they could give him in exchange for his act of brand loyalty. The right one was white and had been bought two weeks ago at a department store which were selling them at 149 bucks for three pairs.

He headed for the bath room he shared with 4 other people. The space between bath and room is accurate, as it wasn’t a bathroom – the toilet was a separate room. A pedantic individual might’ve described it as a bath cell. A normal human being would feel claustrophobic inside it. At 6 feet 2 inches tall and 85 kilograms, he was larger than a normal human being and felt constricted having to bathe in a room where he couldn’t move in any direction without stubbing his elbow against the wall. The floor looked clean, but that was a misconception. He opened the tap and stared as the water filled the plastic bucket, making a racket which he believed would be sufficient to wake the person in the room nearby. He touched the boundary of the water with his fingertips, gauging its temperature.

“Cold.”

He went outside.

“Cold.”

“Redundant.”

He went downstairs to the kitchen and opened the fridge. In the freezer lay two plastic bottles, each filled to the brim with the regulation two-liter capacity. They had been there all night and were just beginning to freeze. He pulled both out and went back up to the bath cell. He emptied the bottles into the bucket and let it fill. He took of his clothes and stood there, waiting. He touched the water again. Better, he thought. He couldn’t imagine how, but there was a cold draft in the cell. He shivered just a bit. He continued to stare at the water, feeling it occasionally with his fingertips. He would’ve liked it to be even colder. He finally lifted a mug, dunked it so that it was three-quarters full and then lifted it to eye level. He took a few drops and rubbed them across his eyes. This, he thought, will sting. He took a deep breath and lifted the mug over his head. He breathed out, slowly and emptied it over himself.

As he felt the frigid water pour over his body, his closed eyes allowed him to see his biggest fear. He could never describe his biggest fear in the form of an abstract noun or even a proper noun; which is why he was perennially inconsistent with replies to any question whose gist was ‘what are you afraid of?’. The answers ranged from darkness, ignorance, failure, death, a life filled with mundane mediocrity and bees, wasps, hornets and any insect that could fly and sting. In reality, his biggest fear was a scene. It featured him in the middle of the Antarctic Ocean on a cold winter’s night, floating with the support of Athe-knows-what in waters you couldn’t see through because they were that cold and the night was that dark. All around him, all he can see are heaving waves that somehow never reach him. Then, he would see below his feet the form of the largest animal to have ever existed on this planet – a blue whale. Though he knew it subsides on plankton and poses him no predatory threat, he would feel an unnameable fear that was darkness, ignorance, death and insects with stings and wings multiplied and raised to the power of a googolplex. If the same creature were to turn and then break through the surface of the water to take a breath and release a mixture of air and sea-water from its snout, he would at that very moment die of sheer terror. He continued pouring the frigid water over himself and felt his thoughts shift from his fear to his memories. He felt a funny taste on his lips and instantly recognized it.

“You have to be kidding me.”

For someone who doesn’t eat a lot of fruit (unless you count mango shakes), she does taste very fruity. Like apples or strawberry ice-cream or the 3-rupee raspberry icicles you used to get at Bethany High.

Another mug of water over his body. This time, he thought of the drawing he saw somewhere, of how fashion was at the top and nature at the bottom. He then hoped that the “artist” meant nature in the way physicists talk about nature, as opposed to environmentalists. He thought about how nature encompasses everything. Right from him, a dung beetle, the planet Earth, the Andromeda Galaxy and vast tracts of general emptiness between our galaxy cluster and the next. He decided to try to always refer to the environmentalists’ interpretation of nature (trees, animals, clear lakes reflecting the snowy peak they’re situated next to…) with a more accurate word. Biosphere will do.

He was finished with his bath. He didn’t wipe himself off with his towel; instead he just wrapped it around himself and went outside to the balcony to feel the cool breeze against his wet body. This innuendous act complete, he retreated to his room and dried himself. He put on his socks, the blue Reebok on the right and the white local on the left. He wore his clothes, he can’t remember what. He rarely remembers what he wears. He lay down on his bed and went to sleep. He woke up three and a half hours later by shouting “What!” thrice in a row.

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