Tuesday, 28 August 2007


So i got waylaid by one of those Amway fuckers. I'm usually very wary of such traps, having seen a lot of not-so-bright cousins fall in the trap and end up losing money. I'm usually on guard against these types, but this particular guy slipped through the net, so to speak. He said he wanted me help with some business idea of his, told me that he's an entrepreneur starting out etc etc. He was apparently a friend of one of my acquaintances, and cited his reference. And I was given to believe that he required my services as a designer. Now most freelancers and aspiring freelancers know what its like to have work come to you. You have a better bargaining position since you were approached by them. Not to mention the huge ego boost that someone, especially a start up with a lot to lose, has placed his trust in you to get the job done good. I agreed to listen to this chap. A little extra money on the side never hurt anybody right?
Which is what he must have been thinking when he got into this business of conning people as well. I should have guessed it was one of these chain marketing fuckers from the eagerness he displayed to meet me. I put that down as the enthusiasm of a start up following his dream. I did figure it before it boiled down to him telling me he was from Amway, but i had already met him by then and not being in a mood to be impolite to random strangers, i decided to hear him out. Also because the meeting was at my place, and if anyone had to do any running away it would have had to be him.
I dunno if he was trained to do it, but he was trying very hard to make me identify with him. To sort of strike a common ground. He started off commenting on my Jim Morrison t-shirt. He asked me if i was a fan of The Doors. I said i was a big time fan of theirs. He said he liked them too, though somehow he didnt look like he did. There are subtle signs people give out about their intentions, and you can use these to read right through them if only you can spot them in time. For instance, the t-shirt I was wearing had the famous lizard king portrait of morrison up front while on the back it said "I'm the lizard king, I can do anything - The Doors". The front is definitely more striking than the back, and i dont ever remember the back of the t-shirt having attracted comment. But he asked me about my music only after i turned around the first time, thus revealing the name of the band - not morrison, mind - to him. Observant chap, yes, but then he said that he liked their music as well. I was half inclined to put him a favourite song / lyrics question which usually weeds out the fakers from the believers, but decided to let him be. After all at that point he was still a potential client to me.
He comes into my mess of a room, and even though i can sense the unease on his face, he proceeds to make himself comfortably seated on the mattress on the floor given that i own no chairs. The room is trademark dirty, and he pretends its the same sort of room as he had in college. His creaseless clothes even at the end of the day tells me his room and mine are poles apart. You could tell the state of my room by looking at me even on days i wear neatly pressed shirts to office; where you live and what sort of person you are is something that you cant erase off you.
Then he launched himself into an explanation on the franchising business with McDonalds as the example. Most of the times when i set an alarm for a certain time in the morning, i wake up one or two minutes before it on my own, and then lie in wait for the alarm. I had the same sort experience here. Just before he took out his pad of paper and his cheap plastic pen to explain the franchising concept to me, i figured this was heading towards Amway. I just sat back and waited for the alarm. Which came when he started explaining McDonalds. 'Cos thats the bloody same example all my cousins used when they started explaining too. And that was even before any of us had ever been to a McD's. These guys must have some sort of organised propaganda machine working for them, i guess. Thank god they're selling only carwash, mouthwash and hogwash, and not the thousand year reich which by the way was probably hogwash too.
I was really depressed by the way he made little drawings and wrote down memorized figures to explain all the bullshit he'd been taught. People are almost willingly manipulated, it seemed to me. I didn't betray my thoughts on my face, I let him continue instead. The figures never seemed to end, he even knew how much his mentors were making per month. A little into his lecture he probably figured that while i was patient with him, i wasn't at all buying into what he was trying to sell me. So he began renewed efforts in tyring to find common ground, and asked me about the last movie I had seen. Wrong question, since I'm a serious cinema buff almost to the point of being a snob, so i told him that the last film i saw was hable con ella by almodovar, instead of the Chak De India he was probably expecting. He made a half ditch attempt to still find that elusive bond, and told me its a beautiful movie. The way he told me told me the truth, and the expression on my face told him he should probably shut up, which he promptly did. Anyways, things went downhill for him from there. I was waiting for him to mention Amway to tell him in the politest possible manner to fuck off and dont bother me again, and he was doing his darnedest best to avoid mentioning them. Finally after about twenty minutes into the conversation, he mentioned them, I told him what i thought about them and the aforementioned fuck-off, and it was all over. Or so i thought. Tenacity is a quality i would credit him with. Now that he had failed to recruit me into his evil cult, he started trying to peddle me samples of their evil stuff and wanted me to inflict the same torture as i just underwent on my friends by giving him their numbers.
I had wondered how these people maintain a social life. I mean, your primary customers were your friends who were expected to recruit other friends and so on. Assuming half your friends are jackasses who would be easily conned into something like this and the other half aren't, you stand to reduce your social circle by half by doing something like this cos the intelligent ones amongst your friends would figure by this point that you are an idiot not worth counting for a friend. I wouldn't want to be friends with anyone using their spare time to peddle me car polish when i don't even own a car. Come to think of it, i cant imagine any of my friends wanting me telling them what toothpaste to use either. And since my circle of close friends was pretty much closed, something like Amway would mean all of us ending up not talking to each other. Amway might have imagined it different, but this is how it works for me. Yet there they are, a 6.4 billion dollar company, Infosys Wipro and TCS rolled into one according to the idiot i talked to. There must be too many lonely people in the world, methinks. An interesting spin off business from Amway could then be the social networking business. All those lonely people probably need dates.
Anyways, i managed not to lose my temper with him, for such interesting thoughts were going on in my mind. I did tell him however that i will not consider sacrificing my social circle for his advancement in the Amway chain. He begged me to reconsider and said he'd get back in touch in a month. I told him not to bother, but I have a feeling he probably will.
i realized later that i had nothing against the guy. my prejudice against his cause was the reason behind my hostility. Maybe he had financial problems severe enough to warrant getting into something like this as there werent too many other lucrative things he could do without leaving his job. But what i did hate about him was his inability to separate himself from the bullshit he was selling. One look at him when he was explaining his figures was all it took for me to figure that he actually believed in those numbers and doodles he was making for all those people he met. I hated that. Its when i see that people can believe any bull they're told that i remember that the nazi ideology was so easy to sell, and that people are selling similar stuff today and other people are buying. I hate that as well. Period.

end note : after i wrote this i kinda thought that equating them with nazi propaganda machines was a bit bit far-fetched, but when i read more about these guys i think i wasn't that far off the mark. they have faced multiple lawsuits in various countries for cult-like behaviour, apparently. read http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Amway for more on this.

Saturday, 11 August 2007


how do i explain my music to you? even better, why would i? what is in it for me to explain my kind of music to you, thus providing you with a window into what stirs my soul? i dunno, a desperate need to know that i'm not alone, maybe. to feel that there are people i may yet relate to on this planet, maybe. all this at the risk of sounding emo i agree, but some things need to be said with some passion. so i'll shed my usual high ground of dispassionate humour. and tell you all about devotchka while i'm at it. what do i feel when i listen to devotchka? i could wiggle outta that one by sayin its beyond words, but i wont be a total cunt. but i definitely will sound like one if i tell you i see heaven. risking that nonetheless, i will reaffirm it. what is music if not a rescue vehicle, something that takes you away from all thats bothering you and filling you with hatred? devotchka is the name of my escape ride. everyone has their own, and compared to real ones, mine might compare well with a Volga coupe. obvious russian connections aside, i'll try n explain that a little further. for one, like the car, the band is good. but that is a subjective notion, for the car like the band looks out of place from what you see when you take a glance at the rest of those respective worlds, automotive and music. Both are around today, little clearings in a forest of common-ness, so desperately needed by those seeking shelter from the mundane. and both exotic, both so different that you wonder what they are made of. both stick out like sore thumbs and you wonder why such things are even made today. yet to those who have discovered them, they touch the strings at the very bottom of their hearts, strings you never even suspected the existence of. its like finding someone or something you have been looking for your whole life, and you are beside yourself with relief more than joy, for the joy is only yet to begin. for each new track that i heard, for each new fact i found of the volga, i developed a love for each so great i doubted if anything could top it. could they possibly have made a better track? this one sounds like the best on earth. could there be more i didnt know about the volga? yet more joy when i find that they have indeed made a better track, and that the volga has more to it than i could imagine.
which is a good feeing, since that leaves me without worrying how long the vehicle is going to last. for it fosters in me the hope that there might be other clearings in the musical forest that will shelter me better, when this one finally gets taken over by the undergrowth.
theres more than just escape though. the feeling that u get when you hear music telling out loud the very things you've suspected you've always wanted to say is another level to my musical preferences. most have some poetry lying under the ice, just beneath your hardened mental casing that protects you against the world. just lying in wait to be stroked. it can only be stroked, brute force is not the way to reach there. devotchka for me is the lightest of feathers that can stroke that bit of poetry. it wont make me create more such feathers of poetry but it will make me happy for a few precious moments, allow me to reflect on what i truly am, what i stand for, before returning to reality and its associated maladies.

i feel like an emo crapfuck for havin written all that, but what the hell :)

Thursday, 2 August 2007

On Birthdays..

Birthdays are a diabolic invention, i tell you. Birthdays are wrong on so many levels I can't even count them all. Well, I can count a few though, and thats what i think I'm trying to do here. For a start, I just celebrated my birthday yesterday, and whatever I couldn't help but realize during the course of that crazy day is not going to make me refrain from celebrating in the future. Its the same sort of catch22 that happens in so many other walks of life. It usually goes like this : there is something or someone screwing you over, but because a certain part of that whole process of getting ripped is immensely and addictively pleasurable you do it over and over again. At some point if you are lucky you are enlightened to the fact that you are getting ripped off, but instead of sparking a revolution this more likely breeds submission. You continue to get yourself screwed, realize how good it is making you feel in the short term, and continue doing it in at attempt to make it last forever, make it longterm. The intellectually endowed might allow themselves a conversational wank over the whole thing once in a while because that makes them feel good too. Which is more pathetic since they have seen whatever it is screwing them over, seen that it is happening to the world in general, yet all those bastards ever do is sit around a bar table with drinks in hand and engage in intellectually masturbative activities involving the subject at hand. I must admit to my shame that i am an aspiring member of that group as well, and that i am not going to practice what i preach. But i will attempt to wank at a slightly higher level than them. So where do birthdays fit in?
well, my reflections and realizations stem from an analysis of my own birthday celebration. And thats precisely what I'm about wank over. I realized that birthday celebrations are very very wrong. and what did i do? what I've always been doing... hiding behind a curtain of celebrations, enjoying every minute while it lasted, knowing that the ordeal as well the curtain would last only as long as each other. Ordeal, you ask? Let me explain. what do greeting card companies do? they take a random day, dedicate it to something, and make money out of it. Birthdays similarly are a tool for the society in general to let the individual feel special, let everyone have his day in the sun and make him feel wanted, feel good.. the works. The sad part is that for the most part of the rest of the year, the very same society might not give a shit if the poor sod exists or not. His boss might be exploiting him, his wife might be cheating on him with the plumber of all people, his daughter might be a cheap whore but on his birthday they make him feel all different, that everything was perfect, that it was his entry to the world this day years ago that made it perfect et al.. They tell him what a great guy he is when the last week they humiliated him in public, tell him what a great family he has when its crumbling to pieces, let him take the day off when he was refused leave when his own mother had died, and the sad part is.. most of these guys who i am characterizing under 'poor sod' would believe everything is ok, that everyone likes him, and so forth.
The flat monotony of everyday life is a much better torture than lifting an individual out of that monotony, taking him high up where he doesn't belong, and then watching him fall back while you stand and watch from the relative comfort of that very same monotony. Thats exactly what a birthday does. I realized it at the peak of the day. There is a feeling of warmth in the morning, yet as the evening draws closer you are cold. You realize that it will be another year before this happens again, and you don't want to let this all go because you haven't had such a feel-good time in years. Its the return to normal that keeps this cycle together. No one wants to return to normal, and i suspect I'm not the only one who felt cold toward the end of the birthday. And got colder and colder till the distant glow of the next birthday starts becoming something to look forward to, sorta like the proverbial light at the end of the tunnel except there is no tunnel if only we would look more closely. This contrived tunnel seemed to be the root of all problems, yet i took a step further. For this was only one tunnel in a maze. I started realizing that there may be something to the Hindu concept of rebirths after all. I am not religious, but i suspect i do have a spiritual side somewhere below all the cynicism, or i would perhaps have not made this parallel. Though i have a slight alternative to offer. Instead of being stuck in a cycle of lives, i think we might be stuck in a million cycles all in one life. Cycles of joy, sorrow, fortune, hardship, birthdays, beliefs..you name it. Yet what pissed me off i think is the fact that there seem to be a few who have mastered the cycles, who are on top of things, who have the key and even though they themselves are stuck in cycles of their own yet have control over vast swathes of human life. And i also hated the ones who profess innocence.. who believe that things are essentially good even when faced with enormous evidence (albeit debatable) to the contrary. Those who believed that they don't manipulate people, that they are not being manipulated, when their very existence is a game and counter-game of manipulation. I mean, what are birthdays if not a huge manipulation of someones reality, a stretch of his personal time-space fabric? there is no real significance attached to the day for everyday millions like him were born, and millions like him are dying. is it a way for society to keep tabs on the progress of someone's life? a subliminal schedule that you are expected to keep? like starting to think about what you want to do in life when you turn sixteen or when to get married once you reach 26, for example? the expectations might not be collective or generic, because i don't believe that this manipulation is being carried forth by a massive central machinery. for he is being manipulated by what might be called as his social circle, which in turn is manipulated by the immediate community above it, and so forth all the way up to those few who are riding these cycles. which is why that the sort of a future vision shown in movies with a big brother watching over will be a failure in my opinion because there are people in this world who may have realized that this probably is a much better way to run the world. For in the eyes of the individual, it is the expectations of his loved ones and friends that he has to live up to. He does this as he is nothing without them, little realizing that these collective expectations can be manipulated and manufactured as well. and the common birthday is just one tool in a plethora. the game is dynamic due to the lack of a central force, it is chaos pulling in different directions yet somehow pulling the collective a little way in the direction that the masters of these cycles want.
These are all theories, realizations, opinions and thoughts. I am not raising questions, i am not starting a revolution or attempting to start one, i am not going to move a little finger against any of these things that i see, for i have submitted to it as well. i may have resigned myself to the fact that such is life. I could fight my way out of my cycles yet end up in further more. i may become the master of a few, maybe many if I'm lucky. but there will still be more cycles to conquer and i wont ever conquer them all even if i wanted to. any break out will lead me or anyone who attempts it into a never ending battle, which i believe may not be worth it. I may change later, but for now i am content in the illusions of temporary satisfaction that drive a cycle of permanent dissatisfaction. I am content constantly picking up nuggets of satisfaction in an attempt to build a castle that never will be done in my lifetime. yet what will happen if i try and break out? the same. the moment one breaks out of these thing, they are either done for, or they become the master of the particular cycle they broke out from. Yet due to the basic nature of humans to remain dissatisfied, he (or I) will go looking for more cycles to conquer and meet the same unsatisfied end on a different plane. like a matrix within the matrix.
so i will celebrate birthdays, give and get gifts, believe that the world loves me, love the world in return with all the effort i can muster, give the boss a high five near the water cooler, believe that the girl i love loves me as well, repeat the cycle till my body reaches the limits of its serviceability and die in a much simpler frame of life, content yet discontent.