Tuesday, November 29, 2005

Run, Pentayya! Run!!

The Hyderabad 10K happened on Sunday. Discovered that it isn't such a great idea to suddenly get up and run 10 kilometres after months of inactivity, and years of not having run anything like that distance. Nevertheless, it was a pinkish Gatorade day in the annals of one's running.

In the crepuscular (and crenellated and crustaceous and many other cr. words besides!) light of dawn, we wended our dopey way across silent Begumpet, through a Brahmanwadi in the process of waking up, crossed the railway lines near Gussain Sagar Jn. to Neckless Road.

When we got to People's Plaza, the starting point, there was already a multitude there, waiting. For the Mahatma. Usha Uthup's voice (tinny over the PA system) was urging Hyderabad to "Ron! Ron!! Ron!!!" The urge did come over us to ron and torch the PA system. The feeling passed. Meanwhile, the (very annoying-ish) anchor was going on and on about sundry things. An Aerobics Lady came on stage and got everyone to jump around and warm up.

Busybodies were going through the crowd saying, "Cucumbers. Fresh cool cucumbers. Cucumbers for thirst..." [This is from a different book, innit?] Time passed, to the accompaniment of the flapping of wigeon pings. Some people dropped in on us, with flags. The Mahatma came and said, "Hey Hyderabad, how y'all doin'? S'great to see everyone so energetic. Peace out, man. Satyameva Jayate.", in his dopey voice. The Chief Minister came, and said things about being healthy, but no one paid any attention, because it was raining men. Hallel.

Shortly thereafter, we started plodding along at a sedate pace. Lake on left, Lakdi-ka-pul on right, lafangas all around. Into the Valley charged the Two. The cunning organizers had put up countdown signs all around 10k-9k-8k... Of course, didn't notice this. So come the 6k sign and the spirits soared in joy at the thought that only 4k remained. After 1k, when the 5k sign hove into sight, the airborne spirits lost power in their starboard engine, lost airspeed, stalled, and came crashing down with a sickening squelchy thud on some imaginary pigeons that had happened to be roosting near at hand.

The Hyderabadischer Tankischer Bund was commissioned by Emperor Fünf (the Fifth) of the Qutub Shahi dynasty. The grain had separated from the chaff at this point. The problem with being the grain though, is that one tends to get cooked in short order. This is precisely what proceeded to happen. In that arid stretch between the end of Tank Bund and the beginning of Necklace Road, where Reality packs Its bags and goes to Mallorca, where the delicate odours of bovine ordure mingle with the ether, the spirit faltered.

Newertheless, ve plodded on and on, until we were back at Eat Street. At this point, certain unnameable sandbaggers produced extra propulsion and scooted off into the waiting finish line. The rest of us sweated it out, finished, and died. Short funeral services were held, the corpses were held upright and finish line photos were taken.

And so it ended.

Thursday, November 24, 2005

Zug Poems

It is a well-known fact that we are train freaks. We have spent the endless hours at IRFCA, like others of our persuasion. We have taken trips that have left Others flabbergasted and flummoxed at our enthusiasm. And, some time back, we said we will attempt a post on railway poetry. And since the days between the posts are turning into trackless wastes, and we are too lazy to actually write something ourselves, we take the slimy way out, and post other peoples works. So, railway poems.

Turns out that the most unlikely people have written poems about the railroad. Knew about Eliot, Heaney, and Stevenson. But never knew that Nash and Dickinson were in the market. You Google and you learn, eh?

The Winged Ones
    - Ogden Nash

Nash's cribs are very valid, especially if you've ever taken a train on the US East Coast in a winter snowstorm, when the planes are grounded. You, of course, being train freak, did plan to take the train all along. These other aerodynamic slimeballs that ooze in from Logan or JFK are a bit much.

The Railway Train
    - Emily Dickinson

Dickinson lived in Amherst, MA. We were...ah...neighbours, so to speak. In fact she lived very close to the railway line that runs through Amherst. Maybe she saw the Vermonter thunder by, and was inspired.

From A Railway Carriage
    - Robert Louis Stevenson

Quintessential railway pome, a must in a railway pome list.

The Railway Children
    - Seamus Heaney

Quite possibly, the best railway poem ever. Even though, strangely enough, there is no mention of trains in the damn thing.

Skimbleshanks: The Railway Cat
    - T.S.Eliot

Utterly delightful, hummable, singable, danceable rhyme. The Broadway version is a totally enjoyable experience.

    - Anonymous

Piggy on the Railway, picking up stones,
Down came an Engine, and broke Piggy's bones.
"Ah!", said Piggy, "THAT'S NOT FAIR!!",
"Oh," said the Engine Driver, "I don't care!"

' "Ah!" said Piggy '? One suspects Piggy said a lot more than that when Piggy was plastered by a locomotive. This remarkable poem on non-violence and compassion towards our fellow beings is possibly the first railway poem we all learnt. When your education starts off like this, you don't have to seek far to find the reasons for the world being the state it is in!

TAILPIECE: India is a train-crazy country. Are there Indian poems or poems by Indians on trains? Surely, the Seths and the Ezekiels must have tried their hand at this. Wait...remembered a train poem...but will have to wait till the morrow (being Scherezade).

Monday, November 14, 2005

Weird Animals In Songs

An issue that has been bothersome for aeons. Many a <your choice of language goes here> film song involves the cunning use of some animal imagery/metaphor type thingies, for effect. Unfortunately, they don't work very well for all people. Yours truly, for example, has been trying to compile a list of well-meaning songs which have fauna references, that completely kill it (song, not fauna). Two contenders have emerged for the numero uno spot:
  • O hansinii - Doesn't anyone else find this song mildly disturbing? Do you really want the woman of your dreams to have a moderate wingspan, a sophisticated thermal regulation system, down ("Down down down!"), gajraa, kajraa, mujra and other such accoutrements? Take a minute, close your eyes, and try to visualize what this epitome of pulchritude looks like. Go and read some biology to find out what your average anthropomorhic type hansaa is capable of. Please stop writing songs like this?

  • Hawaa mein udtaa jaaye, mera lal dupatta mal-mal ka - If you do not understand Telugu, you will not get this one. So move on, and go back to whatever pointless thing you were doing before1. The kicker here is the udtaa. udtaa (something close, anyway), in Telugu, means squirrel. Coochiecoo. Commit this salient nugget of natural history and vocabulary to your undoubtedly capacious vaults of memory, and now think of the song once again. Hawaa mein udtaa jaaye...? Wotitis, airborne "Chip 'n Dale"?

    When the song plays, the image that comes to mind is not some red dupatta billowing in the winds, but rodent (1 nos.), mit mucho mucho i-can't-tell-you-how-mucho perplexed expression, locomoting sedately at cruising altitude of about oh 30 feet or so 2, windspeed 20 knots, sou' sou' westerly zephyr. Very strange, I know. But there it is. Of course, since squirrels can't fly, sooner or later, our perplexed furry friend will umm...rendezvous with terra firma, with what has been described in certain quarters as "a hideous plop".
Sorry, to foist these images on unsuspecting public, but hum apne dukh hameshaa mil baantke yada yadaa hi dharmasyah....

Public is invited to add to lists.

  • Telephone dhun main something waali - A person of superior quality, tender years, and human-eating proclivities reminds us of the reference to "Melbourne machli machalne waali" in said song. So now the damsel is like a fish? Not only an ordinary fish, but a machal-ing fish. Sounds like fish out of water. " 'O you Beauty, who are asphyxiating in a lively manner on the strand...', said the hero." Thanks, you person of superior quality, tender years, and human-eating proclivity.

THIS ALSO JUST IN (19 May 2007)

1. You must have been doing something completely pointless before, right? This post itself is monumentally pointless, so one assumes that since you're reading this, the alternatives were positively Taj Mahalish in their pointlessness.
2. Observations from recent flights taken: Why does the pilot insist on telling you the outside temperature when you're at 30,000 feet? "Ladeej and jantalmains, we are cruising at our assigned altitutde of 29,276 feet. The outside temperature is zero degrees kelvin, but for your comfort and convenience the cabin temperature is set to IDontCareHowMuchAsLongAsImNotFreezingToDeath degrees." Really haven't fathomed this one yet. Do they think they're doing us a favour by letting us live through the flight? So many conundrums in the world, so little time...

Friday, November 11, 2005

Dinner At Chez Ludwig

I come back to you now, at the turn of the tide.

Much travels and travails have happened. Perhaps those tales will end up here someday?
He, the first origin of this creation, whether he formed it all or did not form it,
Whose eye controls this world in highest heaven, he verily knows it, or perhaps he knows not.

Anyway... We move on to more pressing matters. Like dinner, for example. See what was served up last night.
  • Rice
  • Curd
  • Kerala fish curry
  • Tomato pappu(=daal)