Short Films

Seven youngsters want to play their part in the national struggle for independence.
Will they succeed, or will their secret meeting be compromised?
Conversations often happen over coffee.
But this conversation over a cup of tea raises some thought-provoking questions.

Writing prompt #1

A cage went in search of a bird

A cage went in search of a bird
Trying to find stories unheard.
‘Why am I floating through this terrible city?
When all I see is dust and smoke and false pity.’

It met a pigeon on a ledge.
“I heard you were cursed to never sit on trees –
I refuse to believe that,
I think you have your own decrees.”
The pigeon tilted its head,
Mocked at the talking cage
And fled.

‘What did I do wrong?’
Thought the cage,
‘Maybe by thoughts were too deep,
I’ll try something shallow next time.’
It spotted a cuckoo ruffling the feathers on its right wing.
“I heard you’re gifted with a beautiful voice,
not to mention, you’re a gorgeous little thing!”
The cuckoo smiled, rolled its eyes and fled away.

‘What’s the matter with me?’
Why is everything flying away from me?’
It looked down at its rusted body,
the white paint chipping off.
‘Of course, I’m a damned cage.
Why would birds come near me?’

So it leaped from the branch on which it had met the cuckoo, and fell to the ground.
The shattering sound of metal was heard all around.
“Oww,” moaned the cage.
It lay there in despair,
losing hope in the salty, tepid air.

“Look, ma! A jungle gym!”
Screeched one voice quite faint.
“It’s not a jungle gym, they don’t have white paint.”
The cage realised it had broken into two pieces, it was no longer a whole.
It strained to see where the voices were coming from,
It was unable to roll.

A family of mice sniffed the grilled body.
The mother made it her nest,
And that’s the end of this story.

Government Offices

I had to go to a government office today. The very thought of it had made me cringe. Sometimes the freelance life isn’t so easy because one tends to have the luxury of not choosing to do something and blame it on laziness. It’s tough to make up one’s mind and really push hard to get out of that comfort zone. I knew I had to get this work done today itself, because the rest of the week was already tight. I took my own sweet time to get ready, because, after all, I knew I wouldn’t be surprised if I would get caught in a situation where the particular counter I had to go to was just closing for lunch break. I usually prepare for the worst while going to government offices (based on prior experience) so I made sure I took three photocopies of whichever possible document they might remotely think of asking me.

I remembered the times that I had to wait in line thrice at the RTO office because my Learners Licences had lapsed. My dad, at that time, felt I was “too young to drive a car”, so I’d stood in line like a jackass every six months and it wasn’t really my fondest memory. Also I hate the look which they give you. The look which obviously implies that they need something from you for ” teacoffee”. So I prepared for the worst and left home.

Brilliant. Parking full. Now where the hell was I supposed to find parking? All the connecting roads were one ways and I would really have to go all the way around half the vicinity to find a spot that wouldn’t fleece me for parking fees. I went a little ahead and parked in the next building, but the very alert guard followed me and said I couldn’t use the parking if I wasn’t going inside the building. I showed him the bank passbook and told him that I had an account there, and that I was the bank’s customer. To which he replied in Kannada, “I know that, sir, but the people sitting upstairs won’t understand. Please remove your bike and park it elsewhere, there are cameras here.” Parking is really becoming a new business.

I obliged, however. I took the vehicle out and found a space to park. The only problem was that it meant a longer walk to the government office. Just when I was about to cross the road, it started to rain and I started to think that the whole world was conspiring against me.

I entered the ground floor of a building which had that old school mosaic tile flooring; a typical government office look. I expected to see the unmistaken red betelnut stains in the corners where two walls intersected each other perpendicularly, but my attention went toward the sign which read: NETWORK TEMPORARILY DOWN. INCONVENIENCE REGRETTED. I was immediately convinced and also relieved to know that I had indeed come to the right place.

Now to figure out where the lines started and ended and which line meant what and where they led to. There was an LED board which had TOKEN written on it, so I started to look around for that inaccessible corner where they would usually install such things of prime import. When I could not locate it, I asked the person standing next to me and he said it’s on the other side of the line. This “other side” was beyond the maroon rope which was strung along the line as a median. When I reached the token machine, a sheet of paper was stuck to it which read: DO NOT TAKE TOKEN FOR FORM SUBMISSION. So I came back to side 1 to awkwardly smile at the same guy. I saw the helpline number for bribes at a notice board to my left. I took my phone out and checked if the number matched the one I had saved at an earlier occasion. It did. Now I felt armed and invincible.

I couldn’t believe my luck when there were only five to seven people before me for FORM SUBMISSION. When my turn came, I’d told the lady at the counter that I wasn’t able to do X action on the website. She asked me to go to the next room. That familiar feeling of pubhopping (with neither the alcohol, nor a friendly crowd) engulfed me and I made up my mind that it would take me another day to get this ordeal sorted.

But I went into the other room and came out in just five minutes.

What was happening? Why were things moving on so quickly all of a sudden? I was at a government office and I didn’t notice a single employee go on a lunch break. The staff were being nice too and even replying in Hindi to some souls who were beyond confused. I realised that my experiences at the RTO had prejudiced my opinion of all government offices.

And now to think of it, is a bad experience “directly proportional” to the corruption of the particular government office? What are your thoughts on this?

Public space

Note: This is the first time I’m blogging through a phone! Mostly because I’m feeling extremely lazy to switch on my laptop. Which I realise has been a constant way of putting off writing until later. So let’s see if touchscreen blogging is worth anything, and if it has any drastic effect on my *notification: battery low* style of writing. There’s the first hitch. Crap.

I went to a popular fast food burger joint this evening, after what seemed to be many years (though in actuality, it would’ve been just less than a year). I happened to be stranded there as it was raining and I thought I should probably eat a burger just so I could kill time waiting for the rain to stop.

I had a look at the menu and observed an ingenious marketing strategy which I fell for immediately. They give a burger of your choice with a soft drink of your choice (or iced tea). And you get fries worth 90 bucks absolutely free! And I thought a meal for around 250 bucks was absolutely worth it! (When the same thing was probably sold for 149 bucks just last year… Anyway…) You see, it’s this “free” thing we fall victim to. And boy do these people know how to capitalise on it!

I waited patiently for the boy (I would’ve said young man, but he looked no older than a boy who’s just old enough to be legally working) to register that he needs to come back to his register. But he seemed to be packing the delivery orders quite fervently, a job which I’m pretty sure was someone else’s. He only seemed to remember he should be taking orders when a young lady entered and went straight up to the counter, not even asking me if I was waiting to place an order myself. The boy came to the counter and smiled (though it looked more like a smirk) at the young woman, and I guessed that smirk meant he was ready to take her order. My guess was right, as she responded by giving a daft expression as if to say she still needs time to decide what to order. But this expression was so quickly and correctly decrypted by the boy and he shifted his gaze towards me (finally). I asked for a burger and iced tea (with the “Fries worth ₹90 absolutely free!”) and paid him by cash, taking the effort to search my wallet for three rupees. I had only two. I gave that anyway and having been in the fast food industry myself, I knew this shortchanging wasn’t a big deal.

I waited for more than five minutes to receive my order as they were still busy garrisoning the delivery orders. The Commander-in-general who wore a different coloured shirt and cap, came to the outpost, looked at the screen which had two orders (one of them being mine), decided for himself that that was not of prime import and commissioned himself to the delivery orders squadron. It was only after waving my bill at the counter like a flag denoting surrender (the surrender of my patience) did the manager with the different cap take out the tray, place on it the burger which was kept ready two whole minutes ago, scoop up some fries with that giant metal shovel-thing and proceed to fill cola into a satisfactorily-sized paper cup.

“Iced tea,” I told him. It was natural he had forgotten or had even noticed it, as my order had disappeared from the screen before they had even served it to me.

I picked up my tray and proceeded upstairs. Almost all the tables were cluttered with trays, empty soft drink cups, burger wrapping paper and plastic meal bowls; and some fries and crumbs of other foodstuff garnished the scene. I remembered the most exciting part of going to places like these when I was a kid was putting the trash into those wooden cabinets which had the upper half flapping like the ears of a cocker spaniel!

I found a clean table to sit on, and started wondering how the idea of a public space was changing, rather being disrespected. Won’t you look for a clean place to eat, so the least you can do is pick up your plates and trash and leave it aside? The people at these places are employed to wipe the tables in case your savage eating style had made a mess of it, not to pick up your trash after you leave. This doesn’t end here. This can be noticed in school and college cafeterias, where students just leave their plates and trash lying around because they think it’s not their job. They think it’s not their responsibility.

They are not wrong to think that way. They didn’t see us doing the right thing enough.

Because we didn’t approach other people to change their habits. We didn’t admonish people who would throw litter in front of our eyes. We thought it’s just a little trash, and today this little trash has transformed into the world’s biggest problem.

An employee came up to clean all the trash and I felt very sorry for her. Nearly fourteen to fifteen tables were covered with trash. She finished cleaning up just before I had finished eating and went back downstairs. I crushed and put my trash into the burger box and compacted it further by folding and refolding it. Now the size of the trash I was generating was reduced from a trayful (?) to a handful.

I walked up to the wooden cabinet and kept the empty tray on top of it – the way it was meant to – and pushed the top flap inwards. It must have been ages since people used it last, because, to my shock, there was no dustbin inside! My face smiled and my heart moaned at the irony as I stared into the emptiness within the relic. My ego was at stake too, as a couple seated in front of me had silently observed my ritualistic compacting of trash. Now if I were to just leave it back on the tray, my efforts would end up in vain!

Luckily enough, the woman came back up and was surprised to see me standing awkwardly with one hand inside the flap.

“There’s no dustbin…” I murmured the way a twelve-year-old would after losing a football match.

“It’s okay, sir, I’ll put it,” she smiled for the first time that evening. “Thanks.”

And suddenly, it felt like my efforts were not in vain, after all.

Parents: Unromanticised

A romantic poem about parents

Is something I don’t want you to see

As heaps of papers already exist,

Forgotten, like they will one day be.

I’m not going to write about the wonderful times they held our hands

While we walk away from them today, having our own plans.

 

We must in turn become better parents for our children,

For there are better choices to make than “engineering” alone.

 

Unfortunately, parenting is the handing down of tradition

Frequently silencing the voices that yearn to question.

We are structured to think inside a particular box

If we think otherwise, they force us back in and trap us with locks.

We need to get rid of the concept of “protecting the family name”

We are individuals: the world is our home, every street and every lane.

 

We must in turn become better parents for our children,

Teach them to throw biscuits at dogs, and not stones.

 

Most of us come from privileged backgrounds,

Not even for a moment do I ridicule our struggles.

But to carry this caste identity along with us,

Makes bringing friends home one of our troubles.

“What caste are you?” My grandmother asked my friend;

Have you faced this, too? It’s a disgusting trend!

Women belong to the kitchen, and not the men.

This crushes the dreams of a young wife, yet again.

 

We must in turn become better parents for our children,

For prejudices exist and biases are still borne.

 

We must teach them to love and not to hate

Exclusivity was the previous generation’s gravest mistake.

Have you noticed your daughter has grown to the next shoe size

While you slog at your job, treating money as the only prize?

 

My mother asked me to write a poem, I don’t know what she had in mind.

But these are the words I have written, see what answers you have to find.

The World of Paradox

While reading sentences written by foreign news channels on their websites, I brought myself to picture the local newspapers and the type of English they contained.

The type of English contained in our local newspapers: shitty.

I spoke about what a brilliant topic for a blogpost this would be to my friend. He said immediately that he’d been wanting to talk to a lot of English teachers like myself and ask questions such as these:

What is English itself?

Who makes the rules?

This immeditely started a huge conversation and on my bike ride home I thought if I would write about all that we spoke about in less than twenty minutes could be so great that it would lead me to “strike gold”. Anyway, I’ll worry about those ideas later and come back to what I intended to write about in the first place.

I’ve titled this article The World of Paradox because first, paradox is one of my favourite words in the English language because it is so complicated in itself. We don’t really know what the word means. Or how a particular situation would ideally be different from a paradoxical situation and would be termed as something “ironic”. Second, subconsciously I’m thinking about a project which I have in mind. Again, We’ll come to “second” later; probably if I’m done trying to explain completely what “first” is all about, according to me.

I like the word “paradox” because it just sounds nice to say out loud. “Pair-a-docks”. Okay, it doesn’t look so nice while typed out. Now suddenly I’m imagining one of the seven dwarfs. Now two, because I just realised I typed “pair”, also. Like I was asking another friend the other day, “How would you term this situation as? Irony or paradox.”

“What[‘s the] situation?”

“When the government encourages you to take public transport in order to reduce pollution, while the biggest polluters are the government buses themselves.”

“Irony, I suppose? It could be a paradox too.”

We still haven’t figured that out yet. But yes, that is what our world is. A paradox.

At the micro level, let’s start with English newspapers which we get in Bangalore. Bengaluru. This was the first line I had read in an article once:

“One of the reason why…”

(Let me not bore a layperson to explain what exactly is wrong with that; I’m sure a non-layperson would understand what’s wrong with it anyway)

I immediately thought about the workspace of that particular newspaper. What kind of people they are hiring. Do they even know how to write proper English anymore? The paradox that I found with regard to this was that:

People read the English newspaper written by people who do not write proper English to learn English.

(I’m not going to punctuate that thought. Enjoy its complexity if you didn’t get that.)

I said this to the friend who liked talking to English teachers. To which he countered me with those two questions at the beginning of this post. What is English? It’s a language alright, but what is it? What forms it? What are its norms? Now I really regret missing that class on structuralism. If I’m associating it right, I might be talking about things the non-laypeople actually already know. But it doesn’t matter. Sorry I keep digressing. Who makes the rules? How do I know what is English and what isn’t? Paradox number three, if you counted the one with the bus:

Language is defined by the people who want to define it.

I hope these paradoxes offshoot into standalone posts, as I feel my focus on writing an entire megapost deteriorating. Does Wren and Martin tell us what English is? Why are there so many rules to writing, or even speaking a language?

Isn’t this fascism? But how would I even know what fascism is without having learnt about it through language?

So instead of actually writing a megapost, my already distracted mind assures me that it’s going to be a better choice to write a stub of about 700 words and keep at writing everyday, so in the long-run it’s going to be beneficial to me. Seven hundred and ______ words exactly.

1UP (WIP)

That’s what would appear on your screen when you collect the green mushroom in a game of Super Mario Bros. In other words, your character gains an extra life. Oddly enough, in real life, we do not get an extra life. We have just the one.

Various people have tried to figure out what “life” is about. Moreover, there are even different schools of thought and philosophies to what life is. (I need to elaborate here). Out of all these disparate knowledge bases, I don’t know if anyone has defined life the way I’m about to. And if it already exists, apologies for my ignorance. This is how I think I would define life:

Life is a stream of schedules.

Yes, I’m using the word “stream” the same way William James used it to define Stream of consciousness. The schedules that we have made flow into one another perfectly and it seems like there is no beginning and no end. Life seems to be one big schedule.

It’s true. You know it. For your foreseeable future, you have already made up schedules. You’re living out your life in schedules, completing one task at a time. If you’re a person who doesn’t believe in making schedules, you’ve made a schedule right there. Ha!

So it all comes down to this. I know what my schedule is going to be tomorrow, and I try to make sure the people I want to meet are a part of it. More about this soon…

Write, write, and keep ranting!

Warning: Rant ahead.

So while I was eagerly waiting for a text from someone, I stumbled upon a listicle that screamed right at me. “6 harsh truths that will make you a better person.” That annoying inner-voice said but you ARE a good person, why read something like this? I didn’t listen to it anyway and fortunately have ended up writing again.

In case you’ve been wondering if I haven’t been doing ANY sort of writing at all since the last post here, you’re quite wrong. I put up a new blog, which you can see for yourself http://storiesforjcorbally.wordpress.com

…and now since I felt this particular post might not fit the contents of THAT blog, here I am, scrawling again.

From out of those things written down in the listicle, what really caught my attention were the words (paraphrased) “misery is comfortable, it takes some effort to be happy”. My mind instantly snapped to one of those motivational memes that said “success comes to a person who is ready to leave their comfort zone”. While right now, the last thing I want to think about is being politically or grammatically correct. As going by what George Carlin said, political correctness is the newest form of fascism. And he might actually be correct. You cannot restrict a person’s freedom of speech (oh, what a cliched thing to say, I know) as doing that would make the essential value of what is being said, completely lost.

While I was standing in class today, waiting for the students’ attention, I started wondering if my dream of creating a better tomorrow would actually be possible in a college that has a teacher:student ratio of 1:100. Shocking. And the brats don’t even care about English anyway. It’s not one of their core subjects.

Right, where were we before we took the exit to OffTangent? Comfort zones, I think. So I’ve been sitting here in my monotonous and often less-rewarding (other than the pay) job as a teacher and secretly waiting to “get famous”. Well, pal, you’re not going to get famous because this job is your misery. And you’re getting comfortable in it. For the first time, you actually hated your job today. And while you may think that this job is providing a steady income when you’re actually working your butt off and the management might have doubts if you’re leaving work early without signing the register when the truth is you’ve been OVERworking and quite often only leave after 5pm, what you have NOT started doing may be more beneficial to you. So if you want to get famous as a singer, make sure you keep singing, as success is the progress and not the result! You want to become a famous writer? Make sure you keep writing, or ranting, or whatever the hell that you’ve put this blog up for.

Two years ago today . . .

Screenshot_2016-06-21-20-20-22_com.facebook.lite[1]

. . . I registered on WordPress.com. That’s what this notification told me. These last two years, I’ve been so absorbed in going after different things (and people) that it has never occurred to me that I have made a commitment towards writing regularly; and I have failed to keep it up. Many times.

Before registering on WordPress, I had an account with Blogger. It consisted rants on particular topics that frustrated me that day or week. I had even drawn awkward doodles on Microsoft Paint (I’m so pro at it, you’ll be surprised I did this).

dpk

After some of my friends found the posts really witty and encouraged me to write more, I took the site down because someone had a problem with my mentioning the name of someone else on it. Now I’m glad both these people are not a part of my life anymore. I can’t believe SomeoneNumberOne actually drove me up the walls so much that I actually DELETED the whole blessed blogsite! Last week, I was frantically searching through my computer for any backup files I could find – but I ended up with one of the awkward doodles. Well, some salvage.

taRANTula

(Notice the intricate web design and the “shine” on the rubber ducky? Toldja, I’m pro.)

What’s more? The same person made me STOP DRAWING altogether, too! Apparently, a particular drawing was supposedly the image of that same someone else which was carved in my brain. “What a mound of ridiculous fishpaste,” is what I should have said, but I was way too ill-equipped to face yells and tears and I said, “I won’t draw anymore.” Two dumb decisions, all out of the blindness caused by my own rage. I had become blind and mute. Figuratively, of course.

Around a year later, I registered on WordPress.com when my class blog was put up. Hardly any activity there, too. I’d registered under a pseudonym and had somewhat successfully misled the class into thinking I was from the opposite sex. Then, one person proclaimed that “we shouldn’t have secret identities”. What a party pooper. I stopped writing. Again.

But I want to start recording all the things that have happened to me these last two years. Yes, it’s something worth writing about. And this is something that I will do consistently from now on. I’m done with rants, done with satire, done with theatre (Okay, maybe I’m not done with rants yet). I am there now, where I had imagined myself to be when I was in the eighth grade standard. I am with a piece of chalk in my hand, chalk-dust on the shirt-collars, and about a hundred pairs of curious (being hopeful) young eyes looking at me as I speak. If I had not drawn myself away from that toxic someone, I would have been reduced to fishpaste myself.

I would like to thank Amanda because it was after reading her brilliant post, that I bothered to sign in with my WordPress account to give it a WordPress “like”, and the notification that is responsible for this particular post of mine popped up. You could read her post here: https://tempestinatesttube.wordpress.com/2016/06/19/i-think-therefore-you-are/

Now, she owes me pista milk.