Tuesday, February 23, 2010

I was thinking...

...this Visions and Perceptions business has become too heavy duty. What if I move to a new blog?

A more frivolous, casual and totally insane new place.

"I can imagine," you must have said.

Well so can I.

I really like blogspot and all that, but the name I wanted just wasn't there. So well, it's not like too many people follow me here. But whoever few, "See ya there, Sunshine!"


Monday, December 21, 2009

Career Counselling

Bob: Morning, Sir.

Durai: Morning.... Mister.... Robert Chettilingam.

Robert Chettilingam: Bob, Sir. And that goes to you too (at me).

Me: Sorry.

Bob (changed from Robert Chettilingam): Well that's more like it.

Durai: So... Bob... What's your problem?

Bob: I appeared for a counselling conducted by your esteemed firm. I have gone through all the thorough examinations and procedures so meticulously researched by your dedicated team.

Durai: I see you have taken the special offer with which you have to endorse our services.

Bob: Oh, by gosh! Why would I have to endorse your service? It endorses itself with its quality.

Durai: Let's not oversell here Mr.Bob. Apparently, the observations made by our team, we don't advertising is the right profile for you.

Bob (sad): Oh... is it Fighter pilot, then?

Durai: No. Not a fighter pilot either. Unfortunately, a person who falls unconscious in the 12th floor of his office cannot be a fighter pilot.

Bob: I have survived 13th floor of a rather not-so-tall high rise, Sir.

Durai: Let's forget about becoming a fighter pilot Bob.

Bob: A cricketer.

Durai: No.

Bob: A ventriloquist.

Durai: No.

Bob: A cunnilinguist then.

Durai: First of all, that's pornographic. And second, no, that's not really your field.

Bob: Oh please, don't tell me. I know.

Durai: What are you hinting at, Bob?

Bob: I think you will deem me irrepressibly drab and boring and condemn me to the life of... a chartered accountant.

Durai: I see where that notion might be coming from. But well, it's not Chartered Accountancy either, Mister Bob.

Bob (sad): A Banker, then?

Durai: Nope. Not a banker, either.

Bob: Ok. I wave the flag of defeat. I lay down my weapons. I bow my head. I let out the pigeon. I drop my badges. I beat retreat. I fail to second guess you.

Durai: That was quite dramatic.

Bob (emphatically): An actor then! I don't want the big limelights. A day time serial or soap opera is fine for me.

Durai: Forget limelights or day time soaps. On the contrary, we think that you should be a serial killer.

Bob: A serial what?

Durai: Killer.

Bob: Is it like a butcher?

Durai: No. It's like a killer.

Bob: So I kill wild animals? Like a hunter?

Durai: No. You kill human beings.

Bob: Like an executioner.

Durai: Like a murderer, Bob.

Bob: What?!?!?!

Durai: Yes Mister Bob. I think you should murder people serially.

Bob: Serially?

Durai: Yes. You should find a pattern in the murders you commit. By that, we mean you cannot murder people based on random instincts, but your targets will be chosen in accordance to rules set logically, socially or politically. It is but a series that you assign to your murders. A line that connects one target to the next.

Bob: Seems like a lot of hard work.

Durai: Indeed. Indeed. But that's not the only way you can get the tag of a serial killer. You see, Mister Bob, serial killers are a notch above being ordinary murderers. It requires a careful observation of your prospective victim's behavioural patterns and an acute knowledge of socio-political schemes of the world. You will then have to choose your method of murdering.

Bob: So, it's not just hack and slash you mean.

Durai: Not at all. You have to device your specific way of putting someone to rest. It will be like your brand. Complete with trademarks and guidelines.

Bob: Hmm. This sounds quite interesting. It's almost like Marketing.

Durai: Yes. You see, you have to distinguish yourself from the rest of the killers out there. You have to carefully place enough hints on a crime scene to ensure that the investigating officers identify that the murderer is you.

Bob: But won't they catch me then?

Durai: No, Mister Bob. Your real identity will not be known to the authorities. You will have a pseudo moniker, like Stone Man or The Ripper.

Bob: Or.. or... THE CAMEL'S TAIL.

Durai: Well, it's up to your discretion really. But don't you think, the Camel's Tail is a little on the lighter side?

Bob: No. No. The Camel's Tail is exotique. It gives this very Persian hashashin kind of an air.

Durai: I see. I have to say, I do not disagree. But what will be your modus operandi?

Bob: You see, I will stab the victim initially with a pocket knife. I will ensure that they are dead and then proceed to gouge their eyes out and stuff it with camel's hair.

Durai: Great Mister Bob. I see that now you are on the right path to become a terrifying and cold serial killer. Now that the counselling has helped you, you mind presenting me the fees?

Bob: Yes. Of course, of course. But first you must take this.

Durai: Oh my God. I am your first vict.... Hey Bob. Look. A comet.

Bob: You don't fool me with that....


At about this point, life as we have known came to an end. Comet Copped struck a killer blow to Earth and wiped out all forms of life from this otherwise beautiful planet.

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Baraka - On blu-ray

A 700MB DVD RIP of this movie had moved me to some embarassingly moist eyes. For the uninformed, Baraka is an unscripted movie, non-acted by regular people, with no dialogues and no story. What it has, is some breathtaking music by Michael Stearns and some fantastic visuals thanks to a crew headed by Ron Fricke. And if I missed to say so, an unbelievable power to move you.

The blu-ray movie collection in India is rather embarrassing. The latest blockbusters come with few features to redeem its 2000 rupees price tag. And then you get movies like Spider Man 3 for 800 rupees. I have that movie with me, and it sucks.

So I had to order the blu-ray disc from US.

It came in a rather tacky cardboard case. But I knew it was what's inside that matters.

The blu-ray has been specially converted from the film original to great effect. The scenes are stunning. The colours, more vivid than I expected. The textures are breathtakingly gorgeous. The movie just takes the visual experience to another level.

Roger Ebert had apparently mentioned that Baraka is the reason you need blu-ray. And that is a bold statement. Because, Baraka is a movie that was released in 1992. We have come a long way since then. And for Baraka to be there in the forefront of HD, is an amazing feat.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

I. Am. The Villain.

I don't grow a socially unacceptable moustache. Neither do I give an evil look. My eyes don't squint at the sight of a prey. I do not clench my fist, gnarl my teeth or give sinister grins. Forget a maniacal laugh, I hardly laugh. But I am the bad guy. I am the villain.

There's a reason the heaven's light fall upon an angel. They shine only under that light. Bring an angel to the dark, and you watch him turn into another Lucifer. Plummeting into the depths of badness. No lights? No holds.

I am that angel. When the light shines on me. When the eyes track my every movement. I act. For civilization. For 'being' civil. Doing what a billion others would do. The grind. Milling it out on an assembly line of insipid lives. I glance at my watch. I look outside. There's still time to go. There's still time for me to become.

Till then it's paperworks. And then spreadsheets. Followed by meetings and conferences. All the feedback sessions, presentations, goals. All the work of the world, is but an excuse to exist for a world. A name on a business card. An exhibit of my existence. A lie I live.

The world is not black and white. It's not grey either. It's black. Black is reality. Evil is easy. Acting is tough. So is being good. Sins are classified. Beliefs enforced. Goodness an obligation. But instincts make us predators. And the predators, survive.

Being is easy. Consequences are tough. It's easy to be an asshole. It's tough when shit gets thrown at you. Work constipates. It blocks our urge for entropy. To go out and break stuff. Throw a stone at a neighbour's window. Kill someone. And guilt kills you back.

We are such feeble bastards. Not just physically. Emotionally. Surprising, that we lost in a mind game we started.

We are who we are at dark. If we cry in the dark, we are cowards. If we fuck in the dark, we are rapists. If we love in the dark, we are an act.

So welcome to the dark side of things. Here no one sees you. If they don't see you, they don't judge you. Who you are is just a mask. And here, the darkness is your mask. Your identity shall be left outside. Along with your wallet, your cellphone and other electronic devices.

When you come to my darbar you do things the way I want. The way no one wants. And that's the way everyone really wants it to be. Off with inhibitions. Everything you do is a step closer to inevitable death. This is a suicide mission. If it makes things easier; so is Life.

The angels are awaiting their bounty upstairs. Guarded by the lights. You will go to them. As sinners. As disgustful people who has been up to no good. You have done terrible deeds. Spiteful to the core. You are despised everywhere for the sole reason that you are.

Like I said. You don't have to twirl a moustache. Or alter your face. Wear that mask under the light. You don't have to do things bad. Things will become bad. And later, worse. And disturbingly hellish. You will be cast down.

But you will go down into the boils as you. As an honest expression. As a Villain.

Thursday, December 03, 2009

Purple Sweater, Pink Shorts and A Near Future

Purple Sweater

There she was. Walking down that same lane. Again. It must've been the fourth time I had seen her this week. She had the same glum look on her face. She wore the same white sneakers with bright orange inserts. And the same purple sweater. Hideous purple sweater. It wasn't even that cold out here anymore.

Should I muster up courage to go speak to her? Maybe politely ask her to perhaps change the dress she was wearing.

Maybe I should not. What if it has some emotional connection? Maybe it was her late Father's gift. Or worse. The memory of a boyfriend long ago. I am not foolish enough to believe that she must've been single throughout her life. She wasn't the conventional pretty, but she was the conventional cute. Even in that purple sweater.

What kind of guy would she have liked?

Her stride exudes a composure. Though she does not use an iPod, she might as well have. Her eyes seem so lost somewhere; I am sure, in some painful past. Burning calories, and burning memories. Lighting old birthday cards or photographs at one end. Watching the flame absolve her from guilt and misery. The smoke must've caused that glint in her eye. The ashes though, she kept in an urn inside her.

Wait! Did she just turn towards me? No. Probably not.

There is a glint in her eye. Maybe I am imagining it. But when the Sun peaks down at her from between the branches, he strikes her with a gleaming smile. And almost as if to prove my point, she brushed a strand of hair off her face. The glint was gone from her eyes.

I shivered under my loose t-shirt. Maybe I was wrong. It is a bit cold here these days. And on second thought, the sweater is not that bad, really. Purple is a nice colour. It kind of suited her. Her curls bounced off the knits of her sweater.

All of a sudden, I had this urge to hold the sweater close to me. To feel the warmth that she feels as she wears it. And to see the bits of her hair that's stuck to that sweater.

She started turning back for home now.

Pink Shorts

He was staring again. For the fourth time this week, he was there. On that park bench staring at me like it's the most natural thing to do.

Why does he do this? It's not as if I haven't gotten used to guys staring. They stare all the time. When you walk, run (especially) and even if you are sitting somewhere minding your own business.

But he was different. Maybe he was thinking of something else and just staring in my direction.

Nah. He's staring. And gosh! What's with that hideous pink shorts he is wearing? He seems to be one of the clumsy kind -- doesn't know purple from magenta.

But otherwise he was the okay looking guy. He must have looked nice if he's going to the office or something. Not much of an exerciser. Probably drinks a lot of beer. Look at that paunch. I am sure he's happily unaware of it. Sitting on that park bench ain't burning any calories, dear.

Did he think I just looked at him now? I saw the faintest flick of his face up at me. No. He's gone back to his thoughts.

The sun was really bright now. It must be late. I should be heading back home now. But I felt something over my face. I hated my curly hair. It was so messy it always kept falling over my face no matter how neatly I tied it up. And there was one of those pesky strands up to it again.

I felt it brushing against my lashes. Much irritating that is. I flicked my palm over it.

I turned around at the intersection.

Even he was getting up from the park bench.

A Near Future

He stirred the sugar in his coffee for the 50th time that evening.

She was sitting opposite to him. She took the cup to her lips. She probably just wetted her lips with it. He loved his coffee, but give her an ice cream any day.

She kept the mug down with a mild clang. He got the intimation. He looked up at her.

"What did you think of me the first time you saw me?" she asked in a straightforward tone.

"Why are you asking me that now?" He was confused.

"Don't answer a question with another question, Mister. Just answer me." she snapped back.

"Ok. The first thing I thought about you. Was the first thing that I noticed about you."

"And what was that. And don't be nasty now," she added hastily.

He leaned back, tipping the chair on to its hind legs.

"Oh..." he stated looking up dreamily. "That pair... just bouncing... as you..."

"SHUT UP!!!" she screamed.

He came forward. The chair back its fours. His eyes were wide with mock surprise. He looked around. No. No one was looking at them. There was a cute girl in pink at the corner.

He turned back to her again.

"Ok. Ok.. Don't scream now." he said.

"So are you gonna tell me?" she waited for him to respond.

"Actually. I was thinking about your sweater the first time I saw you."

"You thought it was bad, no?"

"Nooo," he shrugged.

His voice became earnest now. And he looked deep into her eyes.

"I thought if I could just hold them with me. To feel the same warmth you felt. To feel the same love with which you held it so close to you."

"Really?" she melted.

"Really," he replied.

Wednesday, November 04, 2009

Excuse me, I’m still a kid

“You are the eldest of three guys?!?! Unbelievable!!!”

That is the exclamation I get when I tell people that I am not a single child. “But you are not serious, or... responsible,” they continue. Well tough luck eldest ones -- the world seems to have a rather boring and dull view of us folks.

Reality, though, is that I have grown up as a single child. Confusing, I know, but stay with me. My brother was born a year after I crawled out. And his was a rather complicated delivery. So due to certain circumstances that I don’t really understand, I found myself staying with my Aunt and Grandma. Now, my Aunt was a widow and had no kids. And my Grandma was just old but had oodles of energy with nothing really to do.

So, amidst a room full of books, draws full of National Geographic magazines (dating from 1948), and the 14th cable connection in my locality, I grew up. Grandma was thankfully well-educated and even better read. I learnt poetry when I was all of 3. I never grew up to appreciate poetry is another case. But books really took up a lot of my time. Even the fun I had as a kid was to just play games helped with your imagination. My social skills obviously suffered. Having a 47 year old Anthony Chettan as my best friend didn’t help much either. But well, he taught me a lot of things; like how to repair a punctured tyre and everything to know about then about shock absorbers.

And plants. Oh, the plants! I still haven’t seen a more diverse garden than what my Grandma had then. It wasn’t one of those beautifully landscaped and pruned-to-perfection gardens. It was butt ugly, dirty and crawled with slimy worms and snakes. ‘Got space? Plant something,’ seemed to be my Grandma’s motto. It didn’t really rub on me, the horticulture; except for watering the plants. The delight when the sun is at just the right angle where a spray will form a rainbow. You tell me what else is more pleasantly surprising in life.

After five years or so, my parents came back from where they worked (Cherambadi, in the Nilgiri Hills; magical place that is, really). And we were back to a fully-functional, joined at the hips family. Not quite. I never got back to family. I was better off as a loner. And Achan had some differences with Grandma. He soon decided to shift into another house. He offered me the option of choosing who I want to stay with. And this is where realization dawned that I am never going to be good at maintaining relationships.

It was another 5 years or so that I stayed with Grandma and Aunt. The rift between my Dad and Grandma eased afterwards. But I was always scared of having to share my freedom with anyone. By freedom you have to know that I am talking about my Sega Genesis or cable channels or PlayStation; I was a sucker for material joys. Still am.

Once my social phobia was clearly defined, the closest connections I had to real life started wearing off. In a span of 3 years I was practically orphaned. First to go was my Grandma; which was a shock, really. She was, I think, 84 but in great physical shape. And it was a rather sudden exit; not those weary, tired and long-strained departures. “I am happy she (or he) died like this without suffering,” people say about deaths all the time. And I don’t believe it half the time. But with Grandma it was like removing the headphone jack of her life. Looking back, I was more ill on the day she died than she herself. Well, God’s a genius, isn’t he?

But the death of Aunt took away all that “Hey! I’m here, and now I’m gone!” feeling. She had cancer. I still heard people say on her funeral, ‘Oh, thank God she didn’t suffer much.’ They are lying, of course. She suffered -- for months. Which is why I hate cancer. Right from the start when you have a prognosis and not a diagnosis and the inevitable doom of it all. But, well, you’ve heard it all elsewhere. Many great human beings are doing their bit in this war against cancer.

So at the tender age of 22, I was reunited, wholly and in a legally binding way, with my parents. And it’s difficult; to have lived almost all your life as a loner and suddenly thrust into a fully-functional family. Unfortunately, but not surprisingly, I never made the cut.

Which is why I’m still a kid. I don’t know what to do in life. I have high ideals and even higher ambitions (risks, as I like to call it). I tend to shy away from any binding relationship, because I am not ready for it. Things are going to get tougher, because as much as I’d like not to, I am growing older. But then again, maybe existence is reason enough.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

The Final Fantasy

The first time I heard 'RPG', I had to look it up on the internet. And the first RPG I played was the only RPG I have completed.

It was the year 1997 (I think), I got this amazing video game console called Playstation. Behind the console packaging was a list of games along with its thumbnails. Final Fantasy VII was the first title in the list. It was listed as an exclusive or featured title. The thumbnail for Final Fantasy was this steel head of a woman. I realize now that it is the character Jenova from the game.

When I got the Playstation initially, it was from Malaysia and had some really terrible games coming with it. So it was when my Uncle came from USA that I asked him to get me Final Fantasy VII. He told me that it is more expensive than the other games and I might have to shorten my wish list if I wanted this game. Lucky I went for FF7.

When I finally got the game in my hand, I realized why it was so expensive. It was a monster of a game and I mean that quite literally -- 3 CDs of gaming goodness. I put it up and was stunned. It opened like a Hollywood blockbuster; with a cinematic video. And it just blows you away to see this pre-rendered graphics movie. And the first mission of the game happened on top of a moving train. What more would a 15 year old boy want? Bliss!

I was hooked to the game in no time and couldn't help but not give up even after losing all my save data halfway into the game. Any other game, I would've kept it aside and moved to the next title. But this one I started over from the start.

I so badly wanted to beat the game that I even had a game guide. Yes -- an actual game guide. I used to keep referring it to find everything about the game. I wouldn't have found half the stuff otherwise. You just have to compare the wear and tear on the Final Fantasy Walkthrough Guide against the other more academic guides to see which one was used more.

It was a very fulfilling game. To fight a boss battle and wait for the cinematic to happen afterward. To hear the wonderful conversations between the characters. To visit these new places and to meet these wonderfully quirky characters. I think the story and characters of Final Fantasy were what appealed to me the most. Especially the relation between Aeris and Cloud. Even the funny bits in between and all the goofing up (the parade rehearsals come to mind) eased the tension of the game. And honestly, I didn't cry when Aeris died, but it certainly moved me. It actually gave me the motivation to go ahead and finish the game. To take revenge.

And that's why I am writing this now. The last RPG I tried was FF8; which I felt was too tedious and uninteresting for my time and effort. Even in my PS3 I haven't come across a game that emotionally fulfills or drains you; you feel so disconnected with the events. Maybe it is because I have grown up. Maybe it's because I haven't played another decent RPG afterwards.

Final Fantasy VII has become part of nostalgia for me now. Part of what I used to enjoy during more innocent times. And I wish I could regain that feeling I had of playing FF7. As of now, my only consolation for all this is Nobuo Uematsu's brilliant soundtrack for the game. And it really takes me back to places -- right now to the church where Cloud falls down and meets Aeris the second time.