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Lorem Ipsum 2011

Lorem Ipsum 2011

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Published by Harman Singh

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Published by: Harman Singh on May 23, 2012
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Sufjan Stevens strums his melancholy guitar and says words are futile devices. Perhaps he is right. Perhaps in the self constructed asylum for his ruminations and self-loathing he has hit upon something that could make literature seem much like an apple flavoured banana; thoroughly pointless, and very unnecessary. The Meat Puppets, on the other hand, part their frizzy hair, exhale marijuana smoke, and calmly pose the question 'who needs actions when you got words?'. From high above, where the airplanes fly, these people are just little dots, living and consorting with other little dots, you and me, and everyone around us. And we all have our theories. We all have our moments. We all have probably said things that could very well incite a moment's reflection or at least a pat on the back, if given a chance. In some moment of drunken sincerity or otherwise, we might as well have strung together words that could have gone down in history, quoted after our time by teenage junkies and dewy-eyed athletes selling shoes alike. So we bunch of rag-tag wannabe raconteurs have rolled up our sleeves, written down something, become utterly conscious of a possible unsatisfactory effort, reasoned that it doesn't really matter, and presented it to you, like sacrificial animals offered to hungry-err, I think that's pushing it. Lorem Ipsum. Dummy text. A placeholder in the everyday world. A substitute for when you don‟t ‡eally have anything to say, o‡ pe‡haps too much. Anyhow, we‟‡e filling in fo‡ now. So here goes nothing. -Arka Bhattacharyya Coordinator, The Literary & Debating Club



Being Indian
What is it like to be an Indian? This simple question has foxed intellectuals among intellectuals, those old, bearded (and hence wise) tea-drinking men (and just a couple of women perhaps) since time immemorial. Ever since the West craned their necks across the Atlantic to gaze upon a land of cows and half-starved men (with an equimolar mixture of curiosity and disgust), they have tried their best to classify us as an offshoot of some eastern race but have failed miserably. However, with such an overwhelming diversity, enough to make Linnaeus sweat to the skin, it‟s little wonde‡ then that anth‡opologists have baptized us not as Afro-Sino-Arabic brown people, but Indian. The modern Indian is a curious mix of the east and west – much like the exotic Indian masala right out of colourful cooking manuals. He has a large colonial influence, not only British but Mongol and Turk, right up to the Aryans. Having internalized globalization right down to the double helix, the average Indian has braved the wave of westernization much like a Hawaiian skateboarder – with a languid ease that welcomes Plasma TV with no more enthusiasm than some new and improved fertilizer. It is not surprising then that the Indian youth is as much comfortable with Eminem and Giorgio Armani as with believing superstitions of eclipses and black cats. The average Indian is also the most critical of his species, delivering scathing comments at the drop of a hat. This is epitomized by the now famous Indian media, which effectively melts facts into controversy like a scrupulous goldsmith and now possesses more viewers than any melodramatic Indian TV serial. Indian pride is almost as well known as the Holy Grail. We are fiercely protective of our kind, in spite of all the differences (which we have in no small number) among ourselves. Whethe‡ it‟s the Punjabi youth beaten up by Bohemian Aust‡alians o‡ Guj‡ati t‡aders detained in China, the silent call for crusades is sounded almost immediately and Indians all over the globe get to work texting their views online. The greatest hallmark of an Indian is his ability to endure, to endure the corrupt officials pocketing public money like fallen acorns, the murders and robberies occurring round every street and the prospect of getting cheated at every alternate shop in the market. These social evils are only as important as some distant relative getting divorced or the weather being too wet – issues that no doubt evoke momentary concern or sympathy but nothing more. This remarkable ability to brave changes has enabled the ubiquitous NRI to ...well, remain ubiquitous - from the suburbs of Leicestershire to markets of Ouagadougou (and every place else in between)! Little wonder then that Westerners are training their kids Nazi-style to outsmart their yellow-and-brown peers. It‟s is clea‡ then that the Indian man is a peculia‡ c‡eatu‡e indeed, a genetic ma‡vel sculpted with an ingenious capability to be mo‡e „human‟ than the ‡est. With this comfo‡ting thought, one can quite peacefully enjoy a cup of Indian coffee, not black or white coffee, but the good old brown version!

-Akshay Surendra



Jeans, ripped at the knees
I walk out in an old red t-shirt, at its faded best. The sun is ha‡sh, but I‟ve become used to it, such that I am awa‡e of it but it doesn‟t ‡eally bothe‡ me. We take the long winding ‡oute to the badminton cou‡ts. The‡e‟s a sho‡te‡ route, mind you, paved and all. Right through the heart of the college campus. But this winding route, even in the heat, has some sort of appeal to it. So we take it. She and I. I haven‟t known he‡ long. But long enough, I have. And as we walk, we talk of what we know of each other. Then we stop talking, and our thoughts drift to our respective worlds. And then the‡e‟s that comfo‡table silence. The one that, sometimes, feels like the best conversation you may have ever had. Why are some people so easy to be with, I wonder? Things click, they get you, and suddenly, you‟‡e not the only one. Anywhe‡e. Anytime. We enter the badminton courts. Now, in all honesty, badminton and I are like an eraser and an ink pen. We may as well be related, but we have issues, if you know what I mean. We get on the court and start playing. See, this is the beauty of it. As she makes me ‡un all ove‡ the cou‡t, with all he‡ „baddy expe‡tise‟, and I keep missing eve‡y shot, I g‡in at he‡ th‡ough the net. She grins back. And how. As if to say “Yes suga‡, you suck, but I love you.” We play a little. I tire soon and she moves on to another game. Wow, she does play well. Every game she wins, she shoots me a dazzler across the room. I shoot one back. Then I hop back onto the cou‡t with a bunch of th‡ee othe‡ gi‡ls. I‟ve seen them a‡ound fo‡ ove‡ a yea‡, yet I don‟t know a single one‟s name. Maybe it doesn‟t matte‡. We sta‡t playing. They‟‡e all bette‡, of cou‡se. I miss. Twice. Thrice. My ears turn red. Damn it! No one‟s g‡inning at me when I sc‡ew up now. While I‟m thinking about this, I see the shuttle moving towa‡ds me faste‡ than eve‡ befo‡e. AAAAAAH! And I slip. Great. Just great.



But I see the curly haired girl walking towards me, laughing her lungs out. And before I know it, I‟m laughing too. So a‡e the othe‡ two ac‡oss the net. And all of a sudden, it‟s so easy. Yes, the net is still finding the shuttle insanely attractive after every shot I hit. But I see mild smiles now. Ah, confidence. Now we‟‡e all ‡amming the shuttle into the net. This is fun! By the end of the hour, I know their names. I catch her outside, and we head back to the hostel. And I think of my hometown, my friends there, our conversations of boys and dresses and the latest fads, strutting around in our heels and shades, memorizing every nook and cranny of each mall. Ridiculous, really. We ‡each the hostel in silence, split to go to ou‡ ‡ooms. I know she‟s upstai‡s ‡ight now, bathing o‡ watching Sc‡ubs o‡ something. I don‟t miss he‡, no, but the‡e‟s a ce‡tain comfo‡t in her being around. There. Accessible. If the‡e‟s a thin line between f‡iends and family, I wouldn‟t know what side of it she lays. I look at my old red t-shirt, at its faded best, and think, Hell, it‟s good to be home. -Ayeesha



Subjective Matters

„Eskimos have no wo‡ds fo‡ humo‡‟ -Bing




In the dark I hobbled, And stumbled over even twigs, Pitch black surrounded me, As I walked over each step, And fell over another. Light never seemed to come, Darkness greeted me, As I worked my way across, In the void surrounding me. But a glimmer caught my eye, And as I walked up to it, I saw a lamp illuminating the space, The space that encompassed it. A person held the lamp, With a smile on his face he stood, He had been waiting for me, With calm and poise. He held my hand as I walked, Soon darkness seemed to fade, As I neared the end of nothingness, I realised that light finally came. My Guru stood beside me, The lamp in his hand, He smiled and walked back to the cave, To lend others a guiding hand. -Ronak



Humor & Mathematics
Many would opine that juxtaposing these two terms is like comparing apples and oranges. Or clowns and wranglers. Mathematics and humor, one might assert, are as different as chalk and cheese. Or are they? We are all familiar with those witty arithmetical conundrums which continue to delight children of all age groups – from toddlers to octogenarians. It is, also, safe to assume that most of us are also acquainted with problems that have knocked the living daylights out of some of the most skilled mathematicians. We speak of a comedian's sense of 'timing' – a term suggestive of the fact that the Creator calibrated his senses perfectly to come up with nonsense at the right time. (Touché, Aristotle). We also talk about jokes that 'click' – like notches falling into place, with arithmetically engineered precision, in a safe lock – that help the humorists to establish a good rapport with their audience. Like humor, mathematics is a blueprint for an alternative reality – a layout for a parallel universe. The world, as relayed to us by our senses – the phenomena of nature, the cycles of the celestial bodies, the very essence of our existence, as well – can be replicated in purely mathematical terms. Any shape you haven't seen, any aroma that you haven't smelt, any sound that you haven't heard – everything can be replicated routinely in mathematical formulae. The romance & alluring mystery of nature and her phenomena broken down and reconstructed in the form of prosaic equations. A mathematician is a poet, in a manner of speaking. A bard of a world, not of matter, but of number. An exponent of ideologies that have made the children of today number by the dozen. In modern science, Newton was the Tansen of all mathematicians. His Principia Mathematica defined the behavior of the motion of all bodies – from stars to ping-pong balls: the terpsichorean beauty of the cosmos choreographed in elegant equations. Then, along came a patent clerk – a German who went on to crack one of the shortest mathematical PJ s of the millennium: E=MC2. Einstein's theory of relativity caused Newton's Utopian universe to implode. It proved that reality, as it seemed, was unreal. Suddenly, the science based on proofs & rigorous deduction began to reek of mysticism. To add fuel to the fire, some geniuses like Gödel suggested that the 'reality' of numbers was itself suspect, mocking the very foundations of mathematical certitude that science was built on. Alright. So mathematics is 'funny' business. But how does it relate to humor? I'd say that the two trace their origins to a common matrix: they provide a view of things other than as they seem to be. The humorist creates alternative scenarios of real-life situations and tailors them to suit a humorous reference. Where the mathematician can play tricks with numbers, the humorist can convince us that, instead, numbers have been playing tricks with him. The make-believe world of magic is where the principles behind mathematics & humor meet. The magician saws in half the box containing his lady assistant. A panel on the box opens, showing, not one lady, but two. The child laughs. He knows that the magician is playing a trick on reality; proving that a 'reality' – one cannot survive after being sawed in half – is an 'illusion'. The 'magic' provides a medium to showcase anomalies and questions reality; thereby, invoking mirth. Humor & mathematics both give us an option to the stark reality that has dictatorship over our lives. Both are a progressive questioning of the 'real'. The child laughs at the naked emperor attired in his 'new' clothes. He sees that the snobbery of fashion is an illusion. Suppose a Grim Reaper was added walking behind the nude



emperor carrying an X-ray machine, showing that the monarch had a terminal disease. The philosopher would laugh, for the addition suggests that, not just our clothes, but also our mortal bodies were a joke. A clown, with his tongue sticking out at Death, would get a sage to join in the laughter, because he believes that even death is a joke. The question is: would a mathematician - who thinks that contradiction is, merely, an infinite argument questioning reality – join in the chuckle? Perhaps. But then, mathematicians aren't a humorous lot. -Varad



Me at college

„Minimalists in Kansas‟ -Bing



Cee and me
"I can't tell if he wanted to write stomach or stomach ache. He's written stomacahe." I looked at Cee from my corner of the small room. We were proofreading Manoj's latest strike at what he referred to as a 'literary goldmine' inside him. Yes, he was a dear friend. Cee looked lovely from where I was sitting. Dressed in an oversized and faded black Benetton sweater, matched with bright red Ronald McDonald pants and yellow socks, she was dressed to maim. But she had shampooed her hair today, and it fell over her face, and against the soft light bouncing off from the 40-watter incandescent burning away quietly in the auburn lampshade, it quashed all her efforts to keep up the renegade grunge chick look that she was so beholden to. "Read out the sentence" I said after a while of distracted regarding, reaching out for my bottle of Kores white-ink. "She looked at me with those feasty eyes and said eat some strawberries. I said no ya, i got bad stomacahe. i dint know she was trying to be seducing me lol." I took a deep breath from the white-ink brush, and leaned back on my couch. I was staring at the ceiling, trying to gather my thoughts. "Ok. Quite a sentence we have there. I guess he meant feisty, and the rest is fairly simple to untangle. Oh except the stomacahe. That one's a real bummer." "I'm going with stomach ache" she said, giving me that glance that I liked to believe was feigned nonchalance. A brief metallic spark from two sparring sabres. I think too much. We'd been at it for almost three hours now, trying to unravel the plot, if any, obscured behind layers and layers of bad grammar and spelling. The city hummed softly beneath us, cars and buses groaning their way through the cold and grime, going somewhere. For business or pleasure. Or proofreading, maybe. "Why don't we take a break? Let's watch T.V" She looked at me. I swear I saw her expression change a million times in two seconds. Like when you flip past a yearbook really fast while looking at the photos. But I guess it could have been my imagination. "There's nothing on T.V." I took another deep breath. The fumes rose up my nostrils rapidly, chafing against my moist cartilage before disappearing into my bloodstream. She sipped her coffee quietly, staring out of the window into the night. "I got the internship" she said after a while. "What internship?" "The one I told you about. The Rolling Stone one." "Oh yeah. The one in Delhi, yeah?" "Yeah" "Great. Now you can finally get laid." She smirked half-heartedly, gave me 'the look' again, and resumed her nocturnal watch on the brightly dotted cityscape. "Should I take it?" "Yeah, why not. I mean, yeah, it's in Delhi, but they have pepper sprays and alarms and what not these days. Besides, you got no business here" "What do you mean I got no business here?". She looked me in the eye, taking a long sip from her cup of lukewarm Espresso Romano, her favourite. "I mean there's nothing here that could bring you tangible profit, or contribute in any way



to a more wholesome life, or better libido." I said, with calculated indifference. We fell silent for quite a while. It could have been a few minutes, but certainly not more than an hour. The grandfather clock ticked away relentlessly, ushering in senescence and associated infirmities with irritating conscientiousness and precision. I regarded the bottle of white-ink in my hand. "Do you know how difficult it is to find this? All the new toluene-free and non-toxic shit out there has really made life hell. Must have been some concerned parent who wrote to some other concerned parent pleading for some action to be taken. 'Dear Mr. E, my son is an addict. If you're a parent then you'll understand blah blah blah', is what he surely said. Unless, of course, some activist is behind this. Little pricks. I hate parents and activists. They take the fun out of everything." Punctuated with silence yet again. "It's not an escape; it's the best I can do. It keeps me going. I promised my parents I wouldn't do anything illegal. I'm a man of my word, and alcohol makes me drowsy" I said absently. "Why do you tell me this every time?" "I don't know. You look nice in black. But that's off the record." I picked up the draft from the table, and opened to a random page. I started reading it aloud. "I saw her sitting at the bar again that night. is it god's miracle? i asked. she also noticed me, but quickly she looked away. I walked up to her and put on my cool dude style. i had gelled my hair and it was looking like salman khan. i was going to offer her a drink, when i saw she was with her boyfriend. she gave me a look that was like 'bachao yaar', but i wasn't 100% sure." Cee had put her coffee down now, and was sitting in a foetal position, looking at me quietly. "Mamihlapinatapei?" I mused. "What?" "Mamihlapinatapei. It†s a Yagan wo‡d, native of Tie‡‡a Del Fuego. It‟s the wo‡dless, yet meaningful look shared by two people who both desire to initiate something but are both reluctant to start." She looked at me, either unable to comprehend the situation, or unable to comprehend Manoj's prose. "It fits, but doesn't go with the rest of the word structure" she said, after a while. "Yeah. Maybe somewhere else". Maybe, in Tierra Del Fuego. I think too much. -Arka



Not the ninth kind
For something which ostentatiously proclaimed itself to be 'Microsoft certified', the workshop on cloud computing which I had the misfortune of attending, was, in fact, just certifiable. The instructor infused most of his sentences with an inappropriate number of mistimed 'Wohkay's ( Okay) . That in itself might have been excusable were it not for the millions of incomplete sentences which no small stretch of the imagination can complete. Consider for instance, the highlight of the evening, when he defined cloud computing in these words -" So, the cloud computing, wohkay, is... what the workshop is all about, wohkay". Homer Simpson couldn't have put it more aptly. The only respite for the evening was the occasional peek into the neighbouring computer to check on the score (courtesy cricinfo). As I sat there, lost in translation, I began to wonder why I was there in the first place. What force majeure could have possibly compelled me to sign up for this torture? And so it was that I remembered a conversation I had with a hostel mate around three months ago. What started off as a polite hello, eventually led to the poster in A-mess which announced registrations for the aforementioned workshop (which, frequent messgoers will notice, is still there). He told me of how this was the future of computing, the 'in' thing of the nerd world. That tête-à-tête followed by much research and asking around, led me to the conclusion that it was definitely worth it. At the time, it seemed like such a good decision. This got me thinking (A boring lecture often does that to me). Even an informed decision is a victim of chance. There is no precise way of knowing what you are signing up for, until you actually sign up for it. Quite often the outcome dictates whether you 'jumped to conclusions' or 'arrived' at them. So even the most meticulous of planners, can witness all of their creations turned to dust on a whim of lady luck. Indeed, there might be no such thing as a best decision. I was jolted back to reality on hearing the much anticipated "Wohkay, thank you." signalling the end of that monotonous discourse. As I rose to stretch, I realized that a group of people were murmuring with intense expressions in a corner. I quietly ventured toward them and found that the above hostel mate was part of the group. I pulled him aside and asked him what was going on. He explained how a group had been formed to unregister for the workshop and demand their money be returned. He went on to say that they were now collecting as many people as possible and asked me to join them in this respect. Optimist that I am, I decided to give the instructor another chance, and told him I'd think about it. Undeterred by my response he looked me in the eyes and said," Arrey, trust me. Right now getting our money back is the best thing to do..." -Dhruva



Der Blitz
She stared at the horizon, at the blood red hues of the sky as though splashed angrily across a vast canvas. Her gaze travelled downwards until a smile touched her lips at the sight of the little girl swinging from the new tyre swing in the front yard of the house. The rolling fields in the distance shined golden, a gentle breeze ruffling the grass into ripples. The happy sound of her pet German Shepherd barking mingled with the laughter of the child as the last rays of the sun warmed her skin. Much against her wishes her thoughts drifted away to the troubled times that were to come...the loss, desecration, death. At first it was just a distant drone, a slightly irritating buzz in the background. Furrows formed across her forehead as she tried to comprehend what was happening. Maybe all that thought about the war was driving her crazy. The sound got louder every second until the all too familiar roar of fighter jets filled her eardrums. She could feel the impending doom, like a part of her was being mercilessly snatched away. An anguished scream escaped the quivering lips. Could this really be happening? The numbing fear attacked her mind like a parasite. The child looked up at the sky clapping with joy, raising her hands to wave while the barking dog went berserk with excitement. Darkness seemed to be spreading everywhere as the monstrous silhouettes in the sky circled overhead and cast long, ominous shadows ac‡oss the g‡ound. The sound was almost unbea‡able now… The dust settled down rather quickly but the silence was deafening. She woke up to the salty taste of blood in her mouth. An eyelid slowly flickered open. Her heartbeat slowed down until each dull thud felt like it was resonating in her empty chest. The front yard looked vacant, almost pristine in its lifelessness. A single tear fell from the corner of her eye onto the dusty ground. There was no more laughter. -Shivi



Subjective Matters

„Da‡t Vade‡‟ -Bing



Rain refrain
Apparently it's the rule of the world that all things will be sunny and pleasant while you're inside; warm and with no intention of leaving the safety of your nest. And then you decide to leave and you get ready and pick up your bag and feel all happy that you're going to get out finally after so long...and it begins to pour like there's no tomorrow. Of course, what else? I adore the rains. Really. When I'm inside with a thick novel and some coffee, and maybe some oats (newest addiction, oats with honey and milk or milk powder and hot water) or hot corn or at least some nice whole wheat bread or something, the rains are charming and beautiful and poetic and all things nice. But when I'm in full jeans and with books in bag, and feet already prune-like from previous exposure to rainwater and the like, facing a full day ahead in sopping clothes, the rains are just sent by a sadistic higher authority to torture us poor beings and to laugh at the scurrying and running induced down below. It‟s times like this that I despai‡ that this count‡y is mainly ag‡a‡ian. I mean, fo‡ people who actually need it, rain is like the proverbial pot of gold at the end of the rainbow. Wait, you need rain for the rainbow too. And then the rains are perfect if you want to remember someone who isn't with you. The deafening downpour kind of sets the scene for the teary-eyes and sniffing nose syndrome (no, I do NOT mean a cold). But what happens when you're still sad, but all cried out? The rains seem to be mocking you. Maybe I'm reading too much into what is simply water evaporating from water bodies, rising high enough to cool and form clouds and then subsequently, releasing itself again on a whim. But then, it's what I've been told time and again over the past few days in my literature lecture. Always read deeply below the surface. Like the first paragraph of 'Animal Farm' is not what it seems. Apparently Mr. Jones is careless, a drunk, has problems with his wife, is untidy and callous regarding the safety of his farm. Yes, I got all that from the first paragraph. So even the rains are not simply a part of the cycle of seasons that need to be completed under all circumstances, they're something more. Much more. -Akshiv



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