Monday, December 26, 2005

Scum and Lowlife

To (mis)quote Gandalf, "there are creatures other than Christopher Paolini who inhabit the deep places of this earth." This post then, seeks to classify into categories the various forms of highest-water first-order unfit-for-human-consumption scum who are burden upon this green earth.

Top four in ascending order of scumworthiness, then...

4. The Post RA Chelsea fan- Also known as the greater common glory-hunter, this strange creature supports Chelsea not for the football they play or for their (non-existent) tradition but because of the wealth bestowed upon them by patron Roman Abramovitch. The worst part is that even football the great leveller cannot humble him, because the moment Chelsea's fortunes take a downslide, he will desert like a rat upon a sinking ship and switch his loyalites.

3. The hoarse-voiced singer: Somebody who uses temptations of the flesh to good advantage while pretending to pursue the noble profession of music. Such a creature, almost always female, draws attention so much attention to attire, (or lack of it), that a bad, often pathetic voice is often overlooked.

2. The "Page Three" leech: A blot and a blight upon society. Someone who lives to eat, drink, sleep, dance and see his/her name upon the third page of newspaper supplements. It makes one quite froth at the mouth to see the attention given to the leech, when at the moment this country is suffering from severe problems which need to be highlighted by the media, but aren't because this "sells" better.

1. The common Eragon fan:
Q- What do you call one Eragon fan on the moon?
A- A problem

Q- What do you call a hundred Eragon fans on the moon?
A- A problem

Q- What do you call all the Eragon fans on the moon
A- Problem solved.

You see, to achieve universal peace, brotherhood and harmony on this earth, we just need to take the following course of action: round up all the Eragon fans, pile them up into a rocket and eject them into outer space.

There is one, however, who does not fit into this classification system because he belongs to such a high level that a different order of taxonomy is required. Yes, I am talking about that "Beowulf" of our times, that sinister high-priest of commercial writing, that arrogant delusional sonofagun, the grand high Christopher Paolini himself! *Applause!* Others abide questions, thou art free! Death by a combination of being hung, drowned, shot, probed, dismembered and decapitated is too good for CP.

Saturday, December 24, 2005

Fall of Fantasy: Canto I and II interpretation

What kind of strange beast ends up interpreting his own poem? The answer is, of course, the same strange beast who tries to be too clever by half and writes so obscurely that on returning to it after six months, he finds his own work confusing him. Very soon, I fear, I shall forget completely what I had in mind while writing this poem; and so before that happens, I need to put clear my mind regarding the meaning.

I remember writing to Erin something along the lines... "today in the newspaper I came across an article comparing JK Rowling to JRR Tolkien... that is the last straw for me, and I intend to write a long poem lamenting the fall of Fantasy." That was how FoF came to be begun. It took about twelve days to finish, in the midst of preparing for the July school exams. The end result is more of a journeyman-like job than anything else. I have experimented with all sorts of rhyme-schemes, changed moods and meters at will, and generally exercised "poetic license" to the hilt.

So without much ado, the first Canto:
Pretty much straightforward stuff, musings about Homer. Quite literal, no hidden meanings as far as I can tell. The rhyme-scheme is at first the Spenserian "nonet" and then simplifies to an elementart "abab" and "aabb." Nothing really stands out in this canto- it is decent, rhyming poetry much along the lines of "Storyteller's Prayer" and "Voyage of Icarus"- nothing spectacular. I do think, however, that this particular stanza rises above the rest:

Yet then the Horse entered the Gates
And the city fell to fire and blade
Lost was the game with the cruel Fates
As turned to ash the beauteous glade
And to cacophony the serenade
Then upon a silent, waveless sea
A weary Hero homeward made
Embarking upon perilous journey
Ulysses wrote his Odyssey…

Canto II:
Moving onto Canto II which deals exclusively with Arthurian legend. Fortunately, at the top I have written a brief note without with I would have been utterly lost:

"Note: The failed romance of Launcelot and Guinevere is purely symbolic as neither did it take place in Avalon nor was it a single, isolated occurrence.
Launcelot’s dream and the subject of Guinevere’s song both symbolize the degradation of the art of writing High Fantasy."

Otherwise, I think it has a bit more flow than the first canto- especially in the middle where it is primitice "abab." My favourite lines here belong to a stanza where I have imitated one of my favourite poems, "The Song of Eorl the Young." It goes:

Where now the splendour of the Kings of old?
Where is the chalice and the Horn?
Where is the shine of the goblet of gold?
Where is the jewelled corselet once worn?
Time’s scythe now is all they adorn…
Where lost the notes of the gold harpstring?
Where is the horse and the rider of morn?
Where is the meadow, and the bird on the wing?
Where is the sea, and the mountains tow’ring?

And this:

In Camelot, in Caerleone
Upon Albion’s golden sands
Excalibur, Sword in the Stone
Unconquered, glorious, defiant stands

And then finally, this:

So now the Quest we undertook
Perceval, Galahad, Bohort- and I
Camelot, our homeland, we forsook
And to Caerleone we said goodbye
To the Eastern lands we swift did hie
And vowed pleasure to ever spurn
Till the Sangreal lay ‘neath Albion’s sky
Till Albion possessed the holy urn
We vowed till then never to return…

Here I have shamelessly plagiarised Byron's rhyme-scheme for the Isles of Greece.

In the end, the"we will walk alone" bit corresponds to infighting within the round table, which led to the its ultimate dissolution.

Will complete cantos III, IV and V later.

Friday, December 23, 2005

A Challenge II: Explanations

Due to the rather complex nature of the previous post, I have decided to write out a full explanation here- as much for my own benefit as anything else, because of late it has begun to confuse me too.

The seven words appear in Caps:

Kinsmen apART, HURrying over the lands
While the dreamer’s sonG RAILs at the fates
Riding fire and oPEN DRAGONs’ hands
Riding, yet the dreaMER LINgers and dawning awaits
O’er the sea they CAME, LO, To the brimming plains
Up, flaming brand and iron LANCE
LO Thus ended eternity’s kingdom’s reign
Fleets nAVALON ON the sands were crimson stains
Ruined and fading dust, save a dreamer’s song and a dance

The words, again, are: Arthur, Grail, Pendragon, Merlin, Camelot, Lancelot, Avalon. The theme is, of course, very loosely based on Arthurian legend. The Iron Lance suggets christianity related quests, and "kinsmen hurrying..." and all themes of war refer to the Dover episode in Mallory's Morte d'Arthur. "Eternity's Kingdom" is of course Camelot/Caerleon.

Now for the message... I'm rather proud of this one, since it was darned difficult to accomplish without the poem descending into meaningless gibberish. The trick is to take the first letter of each line, and then increase by two each line, that is third letter of second line, fifth of third line and so on until the seventeenth letter of the ninth line. On reaching the bottom line, reverse direction. Now its seventeenth from the last, then travel up- fifteenth from the end, thirteenth and so on until you return to the first line where it is the last letter.

The message runnig through is:

Thursday, December 22, 2005

A Challenge: II

Much in the line of the previous challenge, here is another riddle in the form of a poem:

Kinsmen apart, hurrying over the lands
While the dreamer’s song rails at the fates
Riding fire and open dragons’ hands
Riding, yet the dreamer lingers and dawning awaits
O’er the sea they came, lo, to the brimming plains
Up, flaming brand and iron lance
Lo thus ended eternity’s kingdom’s reign
Fleets naval on the sands were crimson stains
Ruined and fading dust, save a dreamer’s song and a dance

Three questions here:
a) Identify the theme
b) Pick out seven words pertaining to the theme (Hint- you might want to do this first)
c) Find, like before, a running message.

The first two shouldn't be a problem for anyone with a decent knowledge of history/ mythological lore. The last one is tough- extremely tough- and I don't expect anyone to get it.

Wednesday, December 21, 2005

Dreams of Narnia

So the second book of CS Lewis' fantasy septet, The Chronicles of Narnia, will soon be coming to India. It seems fitting to me, since the book in question, The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe was my first Narnia book, and indeed my introduction to the world of Fantasy.

From shadowed portals of memory I can recall finding a tattered, hardbound copy of The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe in some obscure shelf of the junior school library. For the life of me, I cannot remember how old I was. It was certainly well before fourth grade, because that was when I read Prince Caspian. Let us estimate, then, that it was second grade- I was six or seven at the time.

I began reading it with my mother, but soon I grew too impatient for our bedtime sessions, and finished it on my own. Needless to say, the adventures of Peter, Susan, Edward and Lucy left me bewitched, enthralled and enchanted, and with an everlasting love of fantasy. I did not know what a faun was; I did not know who Bacchus and Silenus were; and of course, I did not sense the proselytising nature of the book. Here was sword and sorcery in its simplest form; here was good and evil clearly defined; and here was a style of writing that was humorous, witty, tragicomic, wistful (and somewhat didactic, but let that pass!) all at once. Unlike Susan and Lucy, I did not cry when Aslan was "killed"- but I felt completely cut up inside, and was quite unable to speak until he was resurrected in the next chapter. I loved the journeys, the battles, the crowning and the final return.

The next summer, my mother issued a number of books from the school library for Holiday reading. Among them was a certain "The Magician's Nephew." Imagine my pleasure and delight to learn that Narnia was more than just one book. The Magician's Nephew I read from cover to cover with my mother who was just as hooked.

The first two books both had a sense of the ethereal, the mystical, and left me with such a yearning thirst that I was almost brought to tears whenever I would think about them. I began to imagine myself in Narnia; I wrote fictional accounts of Earth vs Narnia cricket matches held at Cair Paravel and at Eden Gardens. And yes, once I did hide myself in a cupboard, desperate to find snow beneath my feet.

A few months on, I came across a number of the Narnia books in my favourite haunt, the Midland Bookshop. Peter, Susan, Lucy and Edmund were still my favourites- especially Peter- so when I saw their names on the blurb of Prince Caspian, I bought it without hesitation, and read it through the same night. Until quite recently, Prince Caspian was my favourite Narnia book. The "battle" storyline running through the book appealed to me immensely. And oh, the duel between Peter and Miraz! I bookmarked the page where it begins, and read it so many times that those dog-eared pages still inspire remark in those who see them.

After Prince Caspian came The Horse and His Boy, and the return of Susan, Edmund and Lucy but not, unfortunately, of Peter. The Horse and His Boy is now my least favourite of the Narnia books- for reasons that I shall explain later- but at that time it too possessed that "yearning" quality which had been somewhat missing from Prince Caspian- and also brought with it a sense of the exotic in the Tarkans of Tashbaan.

By that time I was aware that I should read the last three books sequentially. But try as I might, I could not lay my hands on The Voyage of the Dawn Treader- so the Silver Chair had to do. The Silver Chair is the most "peaceful" of the Narnia books, and for that it holds a special place in my heart- and also because of the indefatigable Marsh-Wiggle Puddleglum. Jill is certainly my favourite female character in the Narnia universe.

Following which came the Last Battle, the most unusual of the Narnia books in its "doom" threadline, the actual fall of Narnia before, of course, the portrayal of the Kingdom of Heaven. I was saved from descending into grief while reading it because I was dead sure throughout that Tirian would retake the throne- and by the time it became obvious that he wouldn't, Aslan was already in charge. It was also in the Last Battle that I was first introduced to a concept which since then has had a deep influence on me- Old Father Time with his scythe and his horn.

Finally, one day, I found The Voyage of the Dawn Treader, which is now firmly established as my favourite Narnia story. It is from there I have acquired an undying love for islands and archipelagoes, which I wrote into the plot of both The Golden Horn and City of Stone. (Incidentally, Earthsea also had a great effect regarding that). Apart from that, I was enthralled by the idea of a sea quest upon the emerald waters of an unending Ocean. Finally, in the Voyage of the Dawn Treader, the mysticism is at its brilliant best.

I was probably through with Narnia before entering my tenth year. And as I read more, I began to understand the Lewis' racist undertones- especially in The Horse and His Boy and The Last Battle- as well as his evangelical beliefs- which were brought to the hilt in The Magician's Nephew, and again, the Last Battle. For a while, it put me off him terribly, since that was the time I was getting introduced to concepts of equality, universal brotherhood et al through a plethora of writers. That phase passed however when I understood that Lewis was to be enjoyed merely as a writer- and not as a missionary- and I loved Narnia again.

I owe a great debt to Narnia. Narnia paved the way for my understanding and enjoying such books as The Lord of the Rings, Earthsea and His Dark Materials. I cannot be sure, but I think I acquired my great passion for writing from Narnia. And in the years to come, I am sure I will read diverse and varied literature- but one dream will always remain- the dream of a small boy huddled under the bedsheets reading by torchlight and with bated breath the adventures of Diggory and Polly, of Peter, Susan, Edward and Lucy, of Caspian, Eustace, Jill, Tirian, Jewel... the dream of Narnia.

The Fountainhead: Impressions

There are two parts into which I'd like to divide this post. Firstly, my opinion of Fountainhead purely as a work of literary merit, and secondly, the philosophy expounded by Ayn Rand.

1. A sentence has often been used to describe another book, and it is that which I now employ here. "... a story told with every kind of colour, movement and greatness." Fountainhead is magnificently written, brilliantly crafted and superbly paced. The complexity in structure is immense, and it exudes technical perfection. The characaters are of course paragons and extremes, but in no sense does that take away from the quality of the book. In the true sense of the words, it is a great and inspiring novel.

2. Philosophy: Unfortunately, I find myself almost completely at odds with "objectivism". When I asked my parents about Fountainhead, they independently described it in the same words: extreme philosophy for the right wing. It is, of course, far more than that, but in essence it does boil down to a sort of "capitalist manifesto." As I see it, Objectivism is based on the foundation of intellectual privacy, and that is where its two greatest weaknesses lie.
More on that later, however. First the part I do agree with: creators stand alone, stand against the current, work against public opinion. I know that to be true, both first hand and from myriad examples in history.
Where Objectivism, in my opinion, fails is that it does not recognize two important postulates:
- a large part of the six billion inhabitants of this planet simply are not capable of intellectual creativity
- a large part of the six billion inhabitants of this planet have been born and live in such circumstances that it is simply not possible for them to possess and use intellectual creativity.

Both these points, to me are self evident, and that is why Rand's elite "intellectuals" and "creators" cannot be laws unto themselves. They are too small a minority in the world, and unless homo sapiens are classified into "intellectual" and "non intellectual" species, they are as "important" and have as much voice as do the likes of Howard Roark, Steven Mallory et al. Rand demolishes the inherent idea of service and socialism, but does not realize that a huge number of people need service and socialism, and need it to survive. It is the duty of the human species to provide them those.

Secondly, the idea that the creator lives, breathes and work only for himself is something I disagree with. What is a composer without his captive audience? What is a writer without his readers? What is a playwright without his theatre? I believe that those few people actually blessed with the gift of intellectual creativity have a duty to use it in service of the countless millions who aren;t; and the same countless millions, in turn, have a right to expect it from them. Just like the composer has a right to eat the food grown in a farm, wear the clothes provided by a tailor and wear the shoes manufactured by a cobbler, the farmer, tailor and cobbler in turn have the right to hear his melody. To use the old cliche, "man is a social animal" - and that extends to both the physical and the mental realms. This is what Rand's "selfishness theory" fails to explain.

The antithesis to Objectivism is, in my opinion, the Gaian concept, and I have to say it attracts me far more. I have learnt about Gaia through Isaac Asimov's brilliant "Foundation's Edge", discussions with my father and the Macmillan Encyclopedia. The concept of a living, breathing, "collective" society- where the collectiveness extends to the rocks and stones, and even blades of grass is something which can be considered just as extreme, and just as logical a hypothesis as Objectivism.

I don't think I have made any sense whatsoever; I don't expect to, since I am no philosopher or critic. After my Pre-Boards I will read Atlas Shrugged; and in March Nietzche (sp?) who Rand says she strongly disagrees with. These are just random, spontaneous thoughts. I hope to have a clearer picture five years down the line.

Monday, December 19, 2005

Musings of a failed Quizzer

If there has been one thing in my life which has at times contended with writing for taking precedence as the activity I get most pleasure and joy from, it has been Quiz. My passion for, and association with Quiz began in a rather humble fashion back in First Grade in Modern School; Representing Arjun House in the Inter House Quiz as part of a team of four, we finished third out of four. Our class teacher was severely disappointed, but it was hardly are fault. All four of us were the "intellectuals" of the class, and the Quiz in large part consisted of TV serial related questions.

I stayed away next year, but came back in Third Grade when we came first. At the risk of sounding arrogant, I was the main performer that year. My best ever moment in Quiz, the moment I will cherish for all the years to come came in the same competition next year. The team consisted of two fourth graders and two fifth graders. Locked in a tie-break with Bharat hourse, we both answered the two questions, and went into sudden death. I even remember the question which came next, remember it as clearly as the cold light of day: "Who was India's first field marshall?" You might scoff, but remember we were fourth and fifth graders. I answered it, and the ecstacy and euphoria that followed were, again, memories that will stay with me for a long, long time. I still remember going back to class for recess, and then touchingly, movingly, fifth graders I had never seen before in my life came in to shake hands and tell me "We won because of you..." I was in tears then.

The first of the massive disappointments which were to dog me for the next seven years came the very next year when I wasn't picked for the house team. We finished last, and by some margin, and I took a brooding joy out of our discomfiture. Came Fr. Agnel's and my first taste of Inter-school, where we finished fifth. Then began the wilderness years.

I joined MIS in seventh grade, and was thrilled to find out that there was a Quiz Club. Without hesitation, I joined up. It was to be a monumental error of judgment, one that would bring me pain, grief, tears, frustration and desolation for the rest of my school life.

For I had joined one year too late. Nobody knew about me, nobody knew how much I was passionate about Quiz, and also of my reasonable proficiency. Back in Grade 5 I would watch BQC on Sundays and hug my knees and dream and dream of taking part in it one day. It remained a mere dream. Unknown, unnoticed, I wallowed in mediocrity for two years, wasted away, squandered the talent I had, and in ninth grade, left the Quiz Club in highly acrimonious circumstances with H.Bhalla. In between I had also managed to get on the wrong side of future Quiz team captain Aranyaka, a sadist par excellence and the most despicable human being I have ever met.

My good friend Sumeet rescued me from Quizzing oblivion in tenth grade when he, Sahil, Awadhesh and I went for the Columban Open Quiz, and reached the quarter-finals. Sahil's enthusiasm for Quiz matched my own; and being close friends, we tried to force our way into the high Quizzing echelons. We finally got our first real break with the Helpage Quiz later that year, when we won the city and state level, and came second at the national level. In truth the Quiz was a joke; but most importantly it impressed H. Bhalla, and that was what mattered. We were not nobodies anymore.

In the meantime, we were "initiated" into Morning Assemble quiz practice. It was there that Aranyaka, aided ably by Shivam Singh and Arjun Sinha, and spurred on by the appreciative silence of Shreyas and Nabankur, made my life a living hell. I was hounded, persecuted, victimised, laughed at, mocked, put down, teased, taunted and in other ways treated like a piece of trash, and made to understand that I was allowed into this exalted company merely because I served as an excellent butt of jokes.

Yet I still loved Quiz, still adored it, and was still passionate about it. I stuck it all out, hoping that a new day would dawn, counting the days until Aranyaka and his minions would pass out of school and I would be free. Joint number seven in the pecking order, I was sent for no Quizzes in eleventh grade except Columban Open- where again we fell at the Quarter Finals. A moment, however, was too come which would almost make the whole ordeal worthwhile: the evening before the Inter House Quiz, SKR told me on the phone how Aranyaka and co. were desperate that I should not win; the morning of the Quiz Aranyaka indulged in one of his regular doses of flaimbaiting. Fired up like never before for anything in my life, when I went into the Quiz with my head ringing and having difficulty speaking. When the dust had cleared, Sincerity had won, and I had answered three of the four questions. What a moment that was!

When my last year came, I thought that here at last was a chance for me to show my worth. But it would all go to waste, as the bludgeoning visciousness of Aranyaka was replaced by the subtle guile of SKR- and hell, I don't care if he reads this. SKR, under the pretence of not really caring if he went for any Quiz or not, nevertheless, made sure he went for all. Sahil and I were left with carrion, searching like vultures for pickings after the lion had eaten. We went for Columban- where we managed the semi-finals... we went for Carmel, where again we managed the semi-finals... and we went for Fr. Agnel's, which we screwed up completely. Six years of blood, sweat, toil and tears working and craving to get into the Quiz team, and this was all I was rewarded with.

And now, perhaps it has come full circle. The Limca Quiz, in which two teams were originally meant to go, was cut down to one team, and obviously, naturally, Sahil and I were guillotined. I don't suppose it ever occured to SKR that considering the number of Quizzes he had gone for in his school career, he could stand aside and let us try to make some of our effort worthwhile.

If I was Howard Roark, I would laugh. The Limca episode just sums up what Quiz has been for me in my school life. A cruel mistress to which I have been inextricably bound, for which I have suffered all manners of things, but which has at the end of the day has remained, with a tinkling, silvery laugh I can hear vividly, as far-away and unattainable as threads of gossamer which vanish at dawn.

I find myself remembering Salieri's words in "Amadeus." "I promise you... my chastity... my industry... my very deepest humanity." I did all that and, like Salieri, was repayed with grief.

The Limca episode was the final straw. I have crossed the line, I now find myself hating Quiz just as much as I loved it not too long ago. In a strange, twisted way, it is liberating. Wherever I go to college, I know for sure that I will never take up Quiz again. The bond is severed, the thread broken.

That was seven years of bitterness and frustration unleashed in one go. I feel relieved now, as if a great load has been lifted off my shoulders. Quiz is one thing which is never going to torture me again. In the words of Shakespeare, "Farewell... thou art too dear for me to possess."

Sunday, December 18, 2005

A Challenge

Identify the subject of this poem and state your reason(s). I take my hat off to all those who do this in under five minutes.

Journeys far, and journeys wide
Of myth and magic, power and pride
Have thy wanderings ever ceased?
Nomad, is your soul released?
Roving, roaming, ever far
Over old hills, beneath the stars
Nameless, magical, mystical lands
And buried now 'neath time's sands
Legends into oblivion faded
Death its welcome song serenaded
Roam you still at eventide?
Explorer bold, do you yet abide
Under starry sky borne of your mind?
Lost universe for us to find
To your soul then, immortality I consecrate
On I sing, and deplore the fate
Leastways which halted your journey
King of a golden Kingdom yet you be
In death, in our minds you ever live on
Ethereal gossamer, I see you in the dawn
Never forgotten, farewell 'til we meet anon...


Saturday, December 17, 2005

Favourite Poetry Lines

1. "Why so large a cost, when so short a lease,
Dost thou on thy fading mansion spend...?"
-Sonnet 146, Shakespeare

2. "From Xanadu did Kubla Khan
A stately pleasure dome decree
Where Alph the sacred river ran
Through caverns measureless to man
Down to a sunless sea..." - Kubla Khan, by S.T. Coleridge

3. "Oh East is East and West is West, and never the twain shall meet..."
- The Ballad of East and West, by Kipling

4. "Or like stout Cortez, when with eagle eyes
He star'd at the Pacific, and all his men
Gazed at each other with wild surmise
Silent upon a peak, in Darien..."
-On First Looking into Chapman's Homer, by John Keats

5. "The Isles of Greece, the Isles of Greece
Where grew the arts of war and peace..."
-The Isles of Greece, by Lord Byron

6. "Where now the horse and the rider, where is the Horn that was blowing?
Where is the helm and the hauberk, and the bright hair flowing...?"
The Song of Eorl the Young, by JRR Tolkien

7. "She walks in beauty, and the night..."
-She walks in Beauty, by Lord Byron

8. "I wandered lonely as a clod..."
-Daffodils, by...?

9. "If you can fill the unforgiving minute
With sixty seconds worth of distance run
Yours is the earth and everything in it
And what is more, you'll be a man, my son..."
-If, by Kipling

10. "In the room, the women come and go
Talking of Michelangelo..."
- The Love Song of J. Puffrock, by TS Elliot

Interpretations to follow...

Bring on the blue scum!

Carefree wherever we want to be
Chelski's got no history
Lampard's fat, the rest are queer
You've only won once in fifty years...

We are the Gunners, flying high
We are the Gunners, flying high
We are the Arsenal and we never die...
We never die
We never die
We are the Arsenal, and we never die...


Thursday, December 15, 2005

My Thoughts on Writing

There is nothing which gives me greater joy than working with words and fitting random threads of ideas into coherent patterns. Writing gives me a thrill and exuberance which no other activity has been able to provide. It is also an adventure as much as anything else to experiment with the great diversity of possible styles, to try one's hand at a wide variety of genres. This is especially true of poetry, where the somewhat loose term "poetic" license has allowed me to not only work within prescribed frameworks, but to also wander off into unchartered and thoroughly enjoyable territory by inventing my own meter and rhyme-scheme. While it is true that writing is on occasion painful and is accompanied by teeth-gnashing and hair-tearing, this only adds to the ultimate pleasure. I often think of writing as painting a beautiful picture, or composing a stirring piece. Beginning with merely a thought, one moves through the prelimnary sketch and brush-strokes, or the first chords of the piano; then slowly the outline becomes clearer, and the musicians tuned ears can make out the first sign of the flowering melody. Gradually the pattern grows more intricate, more complex until at last the finished product lies before us... and then, the sheer joy one gets from viewing one's own creation in its final form simply cannot be comprehended till experienced. In short, at the moment, writing is my life.

My Obsession: The degradation of High Fantasy...

Yes, well, that is something I am obsessed with. Morris, Spenser, Tolkien... where are they now? I think all my feelings are summed up through the means of this poem... five cantos dealing with different ages in the development of Fantasy right from Homer to Tolkien.

5000 words... now that's obsessive...

Wednesday, December 14, 2005

Can't take the tension anymore, waiting, waiting, so just repolished "A Farewell to Highbury."

---------------- A Farewell To Highbury-----------------------

Now when dusk upon North London fell
A lonely star did flicker in the sky
The end of an era seeming to tell
Watching below, fair destiny die
So I walked upon old Avnell Road
'Neath the light of that single star
And looked upon the past abode
Of a legacy rich, storied and far
For beside Highbury's walls that shone
I could never be alone...

Will you now come back with me?
To the hallowed turf of Highbury?
Walk back once more the sands of time
And hear again the Clock End chime...


For this was the turf of a thousand games
This was the soil 'neath Lambert's feet
This was the ground of Alex James
Upon this turf was Chapman's seat
This was the pitch of Hulme and Bastin
This was where Whittaker stood
Through shattering loss and glorious win
Through the years both bad and good
Upon this grass McLintock wept
His tears of joy in '71
Between those posts Bob Wilson kept
When the glorious double was won
This was the ground of Bertie Mee
And the field of "Stroller" Graham
This was where they came to see
Goals galore Charlie George slam
Upon this pitch were the Cup-Kings born
Who in the summer of '79
Went to Wembley one glorious morn
And filled the FA Cup with wine
This was the home of "loyal" O'Leary
Faithful and true until the end
This was the home of Liam Brady
When God did his gift to football send
This was the home of the Anfield heroes
Thomas, and Smith, and many more
This was the place where striking foes
Were vanquished by the Iron Back Four
Upon this ground did Wrighty's bootsTread,
and leave a golden halo
Upon this ground did the silver flutes
Tell of the coming of a Dutch maestro
So upon this pitch did Bergkamp play
With skills sublime the world amaze
And upon Highbury one fateful day
Did Arsene Wenger cast his gaze
So Adams, Vieira and the rest
Restored the glory days again
The double was won, but then the best
Was that season's unbeaten reign
And the final years Highbury to grace
Was one who came across the sea
Of astounding skill, breathtaking pace
Henry, Henry, Thierry Henry!


Will you now come back with me?
To the hallowed turf of Highbury?
Walk back once more the sands of time
And hear again the Clock End chime...

Farewell, sweet Avnell road
Our footsteps will always sound here
A hundred years you've born the load
And served that which we hold most dear
Farewell, those hallowed walls
And a greener turf there never was
Farewell, those marble halls
Highbury, Adieu, Farewell
Farewell to fields of gold
And a greener turf there never was
Thus ends the greatest story told
Thus onward the black night draws...


Will you now come back with me?
To the hallowed turf of Highbury?
Walk back once more the sands of time
And hear again the Clock End chime...

HIGHBURY- 1913-2006
Gone but never forgotten... always in our hearts.

Tuesday, December 13, 2005

14th Midnight onwards... a very long wait for nothing at all

Midnight, 14th. Any time in the next 30 hours, I shall know whether I have been accepted, deferred or rejected from Princeton University. No sleep tonight, no sleep tomorrow except maybe a couple of hours in the evening. It's at moments like these that your life starts to pass before your eyes, and you recall all that you've worked for so hard in the past three years and wonder if it is going to be enough. The rational part in me tells me to prepare for deferral as the most likely outcome and after that rejection, but of course another part refuses to accept that. I've been through this at least fifty times, but here's evaluating my stats one last time...

SAT I: 2300. Top 30% of those who are accepted.
SAT II: 2310. See above.
Essays: Verified as extraordinarily good by an independent jury of six people all of whose judgment I respect immensely.
Teacher Reccomendations: Two excellent ones.
Extra-curriculars: Normal for acceptances, I guess. Two prizes at the national level, one at the state level, a couple of tennis tournaments...
Academic Achievements: Top 30% again, I presume. JSTS, NTSE, RMO...
School report: Ouch! The rank shouldn't hurt me too bad, but made two huge, damaging and potentially fatal mistakes. Got Sharmila B. to write the counsellor report which in retrospect turned out to be rather bad, and sent in my school report cards instead of transcripts. In the ninth report card, I find myself staring at a C in Physical Education and a C in Music just because there was no tennis and no harmonium... but how are the Princeton adcoms going to know that?

Overall assessment: I want to believe I have as good a chance as anyone.

Thirty hours are going to pass oh so slowly...

1:45 AM

What if everything you hoped for...
prayed for...
dreamed for...
was gone?

3:15 AM

Mental preparation for deferral:
-Sending them writing material, especially "Crusader's Song" could still do the trick
-If Kersi could get into Yale, so can I
-There's always Dartmouth... isn't there...?
-DU can't be that bad, can it...?
-Since I'm going to write an epic poem in five years time anyway, how does it matter now which college I go to? ;-)
-Worst comes to worst, I'll get a job in a bookshop and write in my free time and at night

3:20 PM

Had a long discussion over the lunch table with my father over how deferral/rejection isn't the end of the world, and heard various encouraging anecdotes. :-)

5:35 PM
An atheist's prayer for redemption: ;-)

Dear God in Heaven, if You exist, then being all-merciful, please forgive my ever having doubted Your existence, and being all powerful, please make sure I get accepted into Princeton.

8:45 PM

Screw Princeton. Screw their bloody adcoms. Screw life. Screw everyone on this entire, stinking planet.

Friday, December 09, 2005

9th December, 11:15 PM- Song lines and Sumo jokes

I have compiled a list of favourite lines from various songs.
Key: (a): Lines which have a specific meaning/ pertain to various things/ pertain to my personal characteristics.
(b): Lines which appeal to my personal nature

1. (b) "Rover, wanderer, nomad, vagabond, call me what you will..." (Wherever I may Roam, Metallica).
2. (b) "There's a feeling I get, when I look to the West..." (Stairway to Heaven, Led Zep).
3. (a) "What I've felt/ What I've known/Never shined through in what I've shone..." (Unforgiven, Metallica)
4. (a) "Never cared for what they say/ Never cared for games they play/ Never cared for what they do/ Never cared for what they know..." (Nothing Else Matters, Metallica)
5. (a) In your life you may choose desolation/ And the shadows you build with your hands/ If you turn to the light/ That is burning in the night/ Then your Journeyman's day has begun..." (The Journeyman, Iron Maiden)
6. (b) Desert Rose- in its entirety
7. (a) I'm your truth, telling lies/ I'm your reasoned alibis/ I'm inside, open your eye/ I'm you... (Sad But True, Metallica)
8. (a) "Pain..." (In that long drawn out mystical Cobain voice... You Know You Are Right, Nirvana)
9. (b) From the coast of gold/ Across the seven seas/ I'm traveling on/ And now it seems/ I'm just a stranger to myself/ All those things I sometimes do/ It isn't me but someone else..." (Wasted Years, Iron Maiden)
10. (b) And it seems to me/ You lived your life/ Like a candle in the wind/ Never knowing who to cling to/ When the rain set in... (Candle in the Wind).

The complete set of Sumeet Singh jokes:
1. If Sumo was Chinese, what would he be called?
2. If Sumo was dark lord Sauron, what would be be called?
3. What is Sumo called on Diwali?
4. What would Sumo be called if he became a Sikh?
5. If Sumo became a singer, what would he be called?

1. Sumeet Ming
2. Sumeet Ring
3. Sudeep Singh
4. Gurmeet Singh
5. Surmeet Sing

More to follow...

Wednesday, December 07, 2005

8th December, 3 AM

Hold on Benfica...

7th-8th December, Midnight

Life- School was pathetic rubbish, as always. Learnt from SKR that Sahil, Krittika and I are going for the Limca Quiz- apart from that, the usual.

Fantasy- Crusader's Song is into its third canto. I am still undecided on the name- I can't use "Lament" because the fourth canto is going to be "Templar's Lament".

Football- Arsenal play Ajax, but ESPNSTAR aren't showing the game because it's inconsequential and features two weakened teams. On the other hand, I am relishing the prospect of ManUre going, going, going gone... out of Europe.

Sunday, December 04, 2005

5th December, 2 AM


First of all, Arsenal were absolutely pathetic yesterday, a complete disgrace. It isn't the defeat which hurts so much, but the manner in which it was inflicted. Freddie was anonymous, Bobby typically the doddering octagenarian, Van Persie out of his depth, Gilberto disgraceful and Cygoon, as always, pure crap. No creativity in the midfield, both the goals due to schoolboy errors. Somebody ought to make Gilberto write 10,000 times- "I will not try my stupid tricks at the byline." The only bright points were Cesc's typically mature performance and Titi hitting the post twice with two sublime efforts. But at the back of my mind is a rising terror of what Joe Cole, Damien Duff, Shaun Wright-Phillips and Arjen Robben are going to do to Pascal Cygan manning that critical left flank on December the 18th.

On to more pleasing things. Hleb is coming back on Tuesday and I'm sure he'll provide the creativity we so desperately lack. Please Wenger, just shunt Bobby out now and give Hleb the start he deserves. And let Gilberto know he isn't indispensable- bench him, and start with Song partnering Cesc.

Two hours spent today on the Stanford Application. I managed to fit two of the Princeton essays in, but two I had to write myself- and all those troublesome personal details took a long, long time. Why can't Stanford use the Common App. same as the rest of them?

That's football and that's life. Now for Fantasy. Christopher Paolini is an {expletive deleted}, a {expletive deleted} and a son of a {expletive deleted} {expletive deleted}.