Thursday, December 31, 2009


The beautiful book

Did you know that a full 9 years before the Munich disaster, many players from Torino F.C. in Italy perished in the Superga air crash? Some of you might be aware that long before Korea produced an Asian footballing hero in Ji Sung Park, there was Paulino Alcantara Riestra from The Phillipines who scored 356 goals in 357 matches for Barca. And if you knew that the whole world should be grateful to 4 businessmen called James Taylor, J.H. Davies, J. Brown and W. Deakin for keeping a club called Newton Heath afloat and renaming it Manchester United, then you have my complete respect.

Don't be disheartened if you didn't know any of this. You're not the proud owner of 1001 Football Moments, are you? Glossy pages, awesome illustrations and 617 pages of tribute to the beautiful game.

Happy new year, little ones.

Wednesday, December 23, 2009


Solstice sans winter

The 22nd of December, my Geography books used to say, was the shortest day in the year. Winter solstice it was called. Counterpart to summer solstice, the longest day of the year, which occurred on the 21st of June, both solstices happen when the planet is at some angle to the sun or something. Then there are equinoxes which I always thought were a cross between horses and cows, but aren't. Over the years, I try to keep track of these important geographical dates, and try to see if the day feels any longer or shorter. Usually it doesn't. Today was slightly different. Caught in a slight breather between days of two submissions, pushed to my most patient limits by the never-functioning e-service IRCTC, and deprived of sleep for the most part, the day in hindsight seems to have been long. But it was short in the sense that I could not complete this Jeffery Archer book that I've managed to pick up, I could watch only 2 episodes of 24 and was not able to meet Kaptaan, who is back from his Euro Trip. A subtle reminder perhaps, that while life does invariably suck, things keep happening to cheer you up.

The 22nd of December, before climate change threatened to end the world, also marked winter, hence the first part of the term. By now, schools were usually closed, there was Christmas and New Year to look forward to and sweaters, fog, convector, quilts, socks etc were the buzzwords. Then why, I ask myself, am I not covered in layers of warm clothing, wrapped snugly in my favourite Nepali blanket with a feeling of contentment that only hours of sitting in front of the heater can give. The answer, dear reader, is not too difficult to fathom. The city of Joy is not just warm in the metaphorical sense. You don't sweat at this institute just because of the workload. Here, I might mention that I wouldn't be getting so heated up had my seasonal puns been able to include hot women in their ambit. But they don't. So blast the Bay of Bengal and its temperate effects. Winter in Calcutta is a joke, an insult, an excuse and a mighty poor one at that.

When I look back at the places I've lived in, I find that I've been moving, albeit in small degrees, to cooler and cooler places (pun totally intended). Till now that is. Winter is not my favourite season for nothing. Be it Patna, Delhi or Roorkee, how I miss the lazy mornings and afternoons spent with the newspaper, a book, or even the odd course-book in the delightful winter sun. The precious ritual- adjust your chair so that you're directly facing the sun, prop another chair for your feet and start off with a blanket and sweaters. As time wore on, the sweater would start becoming redundant. The blanket would follow suit. The newspaper was done by then. The eyes half-closed. Lazy conversation going on. People around me following their own sun-facing preferences- some with their backs to it, some with their faces in the shadows. This is what people should really have in mind when they say warm up.

The heater is another romance that tries to console the sun-deprived self. I always find it strange that people miss out on sitting in front of the heater when they talk about addiction. It's great fun to expose one foot to the heater after another, and keep switching between them as and when the heat gets to you in that biting manner that the heater provides. The palms take their turn in the moments when both feet are trying to cool off, so that they may regain their rightful place sooner than later.

The fog. The description of Amity's brick red building appearing out of nothingness can give any Hitchcock thriller a run for its money. Fog succeeds where laws fail, and makes cars adhere to the speed limit on the most awesome and deserted of roads. And sheer volumes could be written about long solitary walks in Roorkee, with the incandescent streetlamps providing a blurred glow somewhere in the distance, the white aura of nothingness providing a perfect setting.

Sleep. The enchantress becomes all the more captivating as the year begins to fade and the new one emerges. The seductress has me forever in her thrall with every dip that the mercury takes. The affair with the pillow, the mattress and that Nepali blanket is never more intimate. This is one of the rare moments that I wish I were, and now would be a good time to stifle your laughs, a polar bear so I could hibernate and not have to wake up because the stomach demanded it.

Winter is all this and more. Winter is one eternal side of the much loved perennial human activity cycle. Winter is packing away your T-shirts and making room for all the woolens stowed away at the end of last season, while anticipating what new arrivals the doting Grandmother would bestow. Winter is more dinners had while watching TV together, because no one wants to leave the comfortable heated room to go sit around the table. Winter is the fresh feeling of the outdoors suddenly refreshing you, gradually turning into an association with the invisible man thanks to your reddening nose tip. Winter is bonfires, with memories of litti parties and the farmhouse- Wall-E and the 31st of last year to name a few. Winter is deliberately setting the alarm for six even on a holiday, just to get that incomparable feeling of being able to afford more hours of blissful sleep and being aware of it. Winter is annoying your relative who is all nice and warm in a blanket by making contact with your cold glove-less hands. Winter is barely 3 months long, yet memories of it get you through the remaining nine. And winter, much to my chagrin, is hardly to be found in the eastern metropolis of India.

"I'm a Lefty, with a predominantly rightwards ideology, in the communist bastion with vestiges of burgeoning capitalism everywhere. But even the Cold War has ended."        - Me, on ending this post.

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