May 31, 2008

Towards Promised Land

The guards outside the Chennai American Consulate office speak Tamil when they want to be friendly and English when they are waving their baton in your face.

- Move Forward
- One person a time
- Are there any sealed envelopes in your folder?

The documents counter was a novelty. For the first time, I found myself proving my human existence beyond a signature. Pressing my palms against the greenlight machine. The same way I had seen in a docu film sometime back, new cadets from Nepal and India were databased by the anthropological establishment of Empire.

We were herded (in way it was an equaliser of class/community/ethnicity divides- Tamil casual labourer, software engineer youth, newlywed mehendi women, despondent aged parents- we were all to America- the potential Immigrant) into the Interview Airconditioned space, and asked to sit here and sit there. The delays and Tamil asides spoken by the security guards and general air of chaos made it familiarly endearing. Like going to get you Driver's License in Bangalore. Somewhat.

The hooked-nosed, bespectacled, severe woman interviewer turned out warm and jovial to me. Like she was with the aged couple before me. Unlike that large, red-rimmed-spectacled lady in the next counter who sounded less merciful. And I hoped I would not be guided to her den.

In less than a minute, I was issued a five-year F1 and wished luck.

I felt like I came out of a Lion's Den, having shaken hands.

May 22, 2008

Capital Outskirts

This blog was begun in an effort to come to terms with my trysts with Cowbelt and Yuppy Activism.

I floated across the city, now and then, in a way that I now realise all floating people float. Doing the touristy things- tombs, purani dilli, second hand book places, obscure eating places, film screenings, talks after film screenings, plays, the odd social do. It's sort of an un-Lonely-Planet guided tour of the city. Unwritten. Passed on through whispering of cosmopolitan's fantasy folklore.

There are parts of the city that route the cosmopolitan's fantasy-sojourn. And there are parts that do not necessarily. I can't really say how the latter can be dug up in a two-year floating-population stint. The same way a fantasy-tourist in Calcutta goes to Coffee House and Olypub, but will probably hear of Para sexual traditions from a Calcutta native friend.

So I lived here. Mostly a romance-digging cosmopolitan. Sometimes snigerring, sometimes traumatised. Chatting the odd Bengali rickshaw-puller in the rain. Or the Bihar/UP idiosyncratic chai lady in the outskirts of the Defence Colony market. Shoving about amidst Jantar Mantar multitudes. Absorbing high culture up at the Attic. Looking for home in CR Park fish markets.

And hardly ever sensing the para stories of Delhi.

May 2, 2008

When Reality Bites

In Surrealtime

The Real Madrid

They play out of greed.

Pulp out some chemical

And preservatived fruit

You get mango juice-all Real.

And there are those of the

Real Estate Club,

That speak of the far left,

Uprisings of prices

And shoot up the shares of the Club.

The Real Madrid

They play out of greed.

Just as them artsies

Or armchair-angst aunties

And with them the funded bastards.

We have in our midst

The Realtime cliques.

With heartburns of Subalterns

And plastics of Exotics

They cross swords with them- the Pretenders.

The Real Madrid

They play out of greed.

But at least they pay their taxes.

Said Corporate gangsters

We work, we’re not Angsters.

Says the hard-news Journo

I’ve seen what you’ll never know.

The Real World- really not for you guys.

The Real World geeks

They speak out in greed.

In search of brown fundings

And deconstructed landings.

Speak not of them just in jest.

The Real World videos

Of cop-killing and weirdoes.

Of madness and civilised

Of pristine home left behind

This is art-culture-politics of the really Real kind.

The Real Madrid.

See, they play out of greed.
But we play for just bread n wine.