Thursday, October 30, 2014

China's One Time For All

It's amazing how many visitors I get from China. Thank you. I wonder what exactly are they reading here that could excite them enough to come back and read some more. Maybe visitors here are from Hong Kong or Taiwan or maybe not. I've been to Hong Kong and even stared wistfully at the boat that would have taken me to China. Thank God, I was duly warned by friends of taking such a step: you'll never come back from there; they'll make mince meat out of you; they'll hang you by your toes. Well hanging by the toes is done in India and other places as well, so that would have hardly been unusual. From a distance, China seemed alright; everything does, even husbands, children, marriages!

Anyway, I've been checking about China's one solo uno time zone. Why, is all I ask? The country is as vast as the United States or maybe more, so why have one time zone only? It's got to do with that twerp Mao Zing Zing who made a mess of the country as any good old Communist is likely to do anyway. Beijing goes to work at 8 am and west China has to do the same before crack of dawn, somewhere around 3 am! Only the Hui and Uygurs ignore Beijing and maybe some obdurate travelers who are senile anyway. 

But apparently, Mao was the one who decided one-time-zone-one-united-country! Was that the reason? No economics here just pure political power, something China or rather its politicians are adept at, hardly different from Indian or Pakistanis or Americans or Iraqis or whoever. Just a little note here: not too many succeeded in killing millions and millions like Mao did. Exhausted with all the killing, Mao finally died only to have his wife or concubine and her gang of four get busy with more power. Commies and their penchant for ruthless power! Other than that, Mao Zing Zing didn't do anything; he didn't even brush his teeth! His teeth were black! If he liked bathing, he would have done it but Mao preferred farting! Such are the despicable ways of Dictators.

All said and done, Commies have stuck to their issue of unity for China through One Time Zone For All; people may rot and die for decades but they must remain united! Tiny little specks of countries like Hong Kong and Taiwan have been irritating big guns in China for a while but hopefully calls of freedom will wear the Chinese down. Once free, people find it hard to give it up. That is the most nasty thing about freedom. But the best thing is that people never tire trying to be free. They may not see the process winding its way around but stark reminders of what is possible - can never be ignored. The American Declaration of Independence declares loud and clear Life, Liberty and Pursuit of Happiness for all; what could be better than this.

Sunday, October 12, 2014

Traversing Blues Trail 61 to Clarksdale in Mississippi

A sleepy little town, bohemian as it can get without any unnecessary attachments, Clarksdale's corners and streets are full of graffiti. It was a place devoid of too many humans, businesses and other extras that cities carry. Many claim that Clarksdale, Mississippi is the birthplace of blues. Many Blues Musicians started here and traveled up north to Chicago etc to seek their fortunes. Since then it has been home to famous blues musicians like Muddy Waters and Son House and Blues festivals and gatherings for people from around the world.

Morgan Freeman's Ground Zero Blues Club

 Ground Zero Blues Club covered in Graffiti

Clarksdale's eating places and bars like one owned by Hollywood actor Morgan Freeman, have everything rich, fried and filling. Ground Zero Blues Club even had its ceiling full of graffiti and apparently Shaquillle O Neal's shoes were hiding from the heat of southern cooking. Clarksdale's blocks are dotted with plenty of Blues tucked in its rickety spaces; this is what Clarksdale is; it is one of those historic dots on the Blues Trail, the road that took many Blues artists from the south to the north where the music evolved from a blue hue to one of  burgeoning business. 

In Clarksdale, you'll find plenty stories from current generations descended from Blues artists and musicians. Riverside Hotel, somewhat a dark, sun-less place with its curtains down but nonetheless was full of life and beds where Bessie Smith and  Duke Ellington had slept while en route to other places. We found succor in hanging outside the hotel on metal benches with its owner Zee; here passing musicians like RazorBlade stopped, chatted and gave us their philosophy of life plus sold us some CDs; the CD-buying-business was repeated throughout the trip.

RazorBlade and Me
Barry, Zee, Me
Zee is perhaps the best of hosts a hotel can provide; we shared jokes and guffawed till it was time to leave. This is also the place where Herman the Hermit lived and took my husband for a visit to the great Mississippi River; we now have mud from the big river which we can easily pass off as exotic chocolate from some unknown lands. 

While in search of Blues, we found Clint Eastwood looming large on the wall of the city along with many others sans guns. 

Clint Eastwood and I in Clarksdale, Mississippi

Wall Paintings in Clarksdale
Wall Paintings in Clarksdale
I thought we had lost our minds and way when we arrived at a desolate area known as Shack Up Inn. With the darkness of the night, no lights and absolutely miserable looking conditions of the place, I was ready to entertain some ghosts. This was supposed to be sharecroppers' shacks during America's slave era. We were going to stay the night here, in shacks complete with sheets of tin as ceiling and black and white photographs of people from the 18th century, tissue paper stuck in holes in walls, other knick knacks stuck wherever prior visitors thought was good, and of course graffiti. We were kicked out after one night because a horde of Norwegians had booked the entire place for their Blues' Show the next day in Clarksdale.

Shack Up Inn in Clarksdale (we stayed in this shack)
With Lightnin' Malcolm, Musician, in Shack Up Inn
Thanks to Big Malcolm or Lightnin Malcolm, who jumped in our Jeep and thus became our first unofficial guide; big man brought us to Red's, a small dark and red place with some loud Blues. Big Malcolm is a Blues musician and we ended up buying his CD plus got some pictures and signatures with him. Stan Street, an artist and musician from NY did a performance while we drank beer and bought some art while hanging around his chic art gallery; Deaks played his harmonica while we bought his CD; Steve Kolbus, the effervescent Salesman, who seemed to be everywhere, talked us into buying some of his CDs as well! All in all, we from up North got thoroughly played into buying plenty of music, one way or another. 

An exhilarating performance was given by Watermelon Slim; this Blues artist clearly outdid all rock performers despite having a few teeth; we bought more CDs. From ones who didn't sell us anything were crazies like Herman, Custard Pie and beautiful Marge.

Clarksdale tricked us; it only looked sleepy!

Shack Up Inn in Clarksdale
Steve the Salesman/Musician
Private Session by Artist/Musician Stan Street, Gallery Ham Bone
OPEN sign is a joke: in search of food, exhausted
Iconic Crossroads of Highway 61 and 49
Crossroads of Highway 61 and 49
Iconic Crossroads sign of Highway 61 and 49, is what made my sis-in-law finally become overwhelmed with emotion. This is the site where allegedly Robert Johnson sold his soul to the devil! We got thoroughly sold ourselves and promised to return there, again, sometime in life, when the Aussies come back for another trip to America.

Thursday, September 11, 2014

Coalition of Willing, God Willing Or Not!

(Musings on Obama getting a coalition ready with Arab nations, to fight ISIS. It will work for a while and then it will be time for another coalition to fight another terrorist another day.)

Getting a coalition of a few Arab nations is perhaps the biggest achievement for Obama presidency and John Kerry; six Arab nations are on board! However, something doesn't smell right here. ISIS is merely the front for Sunni declaration of war on the world, willingly helped by no other than their Sunni brothers spread out in Arab land. Incidentally holy war has been declared on all groups practicing Islam under any other banner but Sunni. Is it possible to give with one hand and snatch with the other? And what exactly is holy about killing and beheading people? Apparently, this is a new definition of holy! Plus Obama just declared that ISIS was not really Islamic! What? ISIS said they were 100% Muslims! Just when the world had begun to believe ISIS! But then, what does ISIS know, they're barbarians; Obama should know; he just enjoyed a good round of golf!

Most probably, it will result in total confusion for ISIS. First there will be bombs falling on their heads and beards; secondly, they will wonder what's going on in those Saudi tents. Didn't those same Saudis send billions of petri-dollars along with plenty of blessings for taking over the infidel world with swords, sabers and scythes? Hasn't' ISIS given a stellar performance? Then what could have gone wrong? Why is Big Bro Saud so upset? What is driving them to take up arms against their own wayward brothers? Perhaps, big Sunni brothers are getting pissed off with ISIS for wandering off course, getting self-sufficient in funds from stealing, taxing, threatening and of course Iraqi oil. Arab nations do not like this, at all; no brother, this will not work!

Or maybe ISIS' sheer brutality is upsetting the delicate balance of zeal and religion. ISIS in Iraq being merely a camel's fart away from different kingdoms, is certainly making rest of Arabs very uneasy! Saudis like to pamper themselves; more than that, they don't want to be reminded they're pampering themselves; after all, they've made themselves upholders of all kinds of tenets like Wahhabism and what not and ISIS brand is not, strictly speaking, Wahhabism! ISIS has made its point and so Saudis and other fat cats from Qatar and Kuwait have decided, ISIS needs to scale back its activities; they are unreliable, have their own flag and are head-happy; no Saudi head can dream of getting itself separated; other heads can roll but not theirs. It's one thing to believe in the 7th century but it's totally different to actually behave as if it is the 7th century! What was ISIS thinking?

Saturday, August 30, 2014

My Sister-In-Law is Coming!

This has been in planning, not for days or months but years. Finally my Sis-in-Law has decided to take the plunge from the other side of the world to this side. This is not merely a lateral movement; it is a movement across hemispheres; not just East-West but North-South as well. Sis-In-Law will be traveling up North and West. Civilizations have been born, somewhere in north-south direction, upheavals have occurred and what not. She'll be bringing Vegemite with her! This is something that only Aussies understand and it's best left to them. Apparently it is well understood by my husband and hence a couple of jars will arrive as well. Aussie band, Men At Work must have loved it; they immortalized it in a song; trust those pesky artists to sing about Vegemites and chunder! Indian 'Karela' comes closest to the awful nature of Vegemite; for me, bitter the better. 

Men At Work: Down Under; You Tube

Sis-in-law's pending plans have made our quiet presence, fully known to authorities, Australian and American, the latter not very efficient at detecting anyone's entry, leave alone people operating as terrorists and their regular entries and exits; that has been left to the amount of bombs they explode and people they kill, just like Tsarnaev brothers who went back and forth between Boston and Chechnya. Not one American scratched his head; the Russians did but then who is going to listen to them; they seem to do things in the coldest way, not enough to excite American passion even about direct terrorist threats which were snuffed quickly under the weight of politically incorrect nonsense. Not the Russians; they don't suffer from PC illness and they do things because they can!

Anyway, my Sis-in-Law has given me sufficient assurances that they will pick up after them, knowing my angst for kids' penchant of leaving things as they are; if they are lying, leave them there to be picked up by mother, which would be me. As long as there is chaos, people remain occupied and bereft of trouble, something terrorists and sympathizers need to develop full time. Sis-In-Law is also ready to venture on the right side of the road after driving for decades on the left! A few hoots and horns might be heard on an otherwise fairly quiet system of driving on American roads; she and Australian friend are free to travel by themselves; I'll watch from the window! Moving on the right side is a welcome change politically, considering progression in age and wisdom; time to shove those ideals in the closet and get on with real world.

Sis-in-Law is coming with an Australian friend. I'm not sure if I can follow Australian accents too well; maybe I'll just put those men to work! Perhaps I will just pretend and smile and agree to everything, maybe do the quintessential Indian nod, saying yes and no and maybe, all at once. Who knows what those damn Indians are nodding about anyway? There will be a cacophony of sounds: Hindi, Urdu, Bengali, American English, Australian English and Hinglish. There will be partnering: Bengali with Bengali, Hindi with Hindi, English for all, whether understood or not. Some Australian cuisines will be brought to the kitchen and of course the notorious fish eating habits of Bengalis will be revived. My sis-in-law will also resuscitate sluggish American economy with her plans of shopping and all! Hola Sis!

Wednesday, August 6, 2014

Ding Ding Ding: We Have A Winner!

Some pesky teenagers
Party was in full swing; strobe lights were in place; alcohol had been lined up, weed was everywhere. Teenagers and 20 somethings had assembled; calls and texts had been placed for the venue. All ingredients for a successful outcome were in place or so it seems for all gatherings done by the youth of America and the world at large! Unfortunately, things for teenagers usually have a weird outcome or basically only one outcome: trouble. No matter what they do, where they go, young people always have a tail. Nonetheless, recklessness, and foolhardiness combined with a laissez faire attitude - is what drives the young to places and to depths that no one has been able to reach. It's the brain, it's the hormones, it's the age, it's immaturity, it's maddening. Deadly combination of an individualistic streak combined with group mentality, is what compels the young to complete distraction. 

At the party, things were just fine and everyone was slowly descending into the inevitable state of inebriation when honorable DJ of the party decided things were not loud enough simply because nothing was vibrating and nothing was falling. Besides there was too much visibility! Smoke machine and Fogger were brought out; no party could be compete without a thorough soaking in fog and smoke, whether from the machine or lungs (that would eventually burn out and start smoking). Well, smoke machine came on, spun its magic and loads of curly smoke and fog filled the room and house. Now the party could actually begin to feel like an authentic one.

Smoke Monsters
In the swirling lights, smoke monsters looked beautiful and kids were mesmerized not so much by the smoke but their own ability to pull off another successful coup, just out of reach of adults. Who knows where the adults were and who knows whether they knew the outcome of prolonged absences from their abodes. Let's just say, everything was under control, nothing was on fire and this was merely a case of smoke without fire.

Smoke Alarm doing its job
Assembled kids forgot about smoke alarms. As smoke reached every corner of the room, however fake, it still managed to excite the smoke alarms. They started off real loud and refused to stop; their batteries must have been changed recently. Anyway, the sound shattered the party and before the party-ers could have done anything, another light and sound show began to form outside the party house. Fire trucks and police cars had deposited themselves outside the party house. Some irate neighbor, probably a cranky old man or woman or just some party pooper, had called the cops. These damn kids. Cops were upset that fun could not be had with music and other good stuff,was a smoke machine really essential, they wondered aloud as they got ready to barge into the house.

Most main doorways and windows of the culprit house were blocked by burly policemen but other hidden doors and windows were discovered by kids. More than half escaped; in fact so many tumbled out of the house that they caused utter confusion among cops. When some brave police trudged upstairs, the young ones slipped by with such speed, there was not a blur remaining. Some girls screamed so loud and for so long, that it drowned genuine bawling from other heart broken kids; these ones just crumpled in various corners and moaned loudly. One policewoman silenced everyone as she went around with a breathalyzer. As numbers on the breathalyzer went crazy, the party was declared officially closed. The triumphant policewomen declared gleefully, Ding ding, ding, we have a winner! The lucky winner had opened his mouth wide and breathed out numbers of .15! Incidentally, the number also considered the unofficial pass out limit (legal limit of BAC hanging on dearly to .08). Phew, that was a substantial win indeed!


Saturday, July 26, 2014

My Father the Warrior: Remembering Him and His Battles With Ghosts!

Peace: Joyce Singha
For many years, my father suffered from a ‘ghost problem’. When he first told me about the nightly battles he'd been having with various creatures, I shuddered, laughed, and quickly shuddered again lest those creatures came upon me as well. Such is the fear of ghosts in the Indian culture! This is what my dad told me. He said those guys wanted to sit on top of his head and did so; he said they were pinching him, he said they were blowing air on him, he said they whistled at him, he also said they were pushing him from his bed. I was shocked that any creature could be so rude as to push a man from his own bed. My Dad threw different things at the creatures: shoes, slippers, pillows, spoons, sticks, mud, water, anything he could lay his hands on.
Nonetheless, it all amounted to a lot of activity so I asked my dad to be less dramatic and a little more reasonable. My Dad said that when they bared their teeth, he had enough and that is the time he whipped out his Bible and whacked the life out of them. Then he did his favorite thing, which is to let out choice curses in Hindi. Believe me, some of the curse words in Hindi can be very scary. On a side note, when my dad used profanity, it was not gentle at all; he could really grind it out good.
It seems with the Bible in one hand, a shoe in the other, and a mouth full of curses my father was successful in scaring those creatures, for a while. Most likely they retreated for a while. My Dad also saw a Maulvi (Muslim priest) who wrote few powerful stanzas on bits of paper, which my father stuck all over his house. Unfortunately, in the ensuing weeks, bits of paper and my father’s curses were not potent enough to keep wily creatures away; they were back to torment my father. I requested my father see his doctor before the situation got completely out of hand.
Dad duly headed for his PCP who happens to be a benign Jewish fellow complete with cap, keys, and threads; jingle-jangle of Doctor’s keys usually informed of his arrival. In the monthly or weekly meetings, my father and doctor usually discussed various political situations and rarely my father’s troubles, which fortunately had remained unchanged and hence no need of changing of the guard. Kind Doctor diagnosed my father’s battles with ghosts as sleep disorder/ anxiety/ depression, and recommended anti-depressants, which my dad refused to take just in case they interfered with his heart medicines. Then the doctor suggested maybe he should see a psychiatrist at which my dad went completely ballistic. When the doctor seemed exasperated, my dad came to his rescue and said he would get some priests to wipe out those night creatures! Medicine and juju somehow never went together.
As rescue-from-ghosts mission began, the group comprised of two priests, one designated priest and another one for added support, my Mum, my Mum's two friends, Dad, Dad's friend, and me. The idea was to present a very formidable group just in case any of those creatures were hiding under the carpet or in the walls or something. The priest soaked the house with holy water and read numerous Bible chapters to banish the creatures to depths of hell. The group lead by the priest made a few rounds of the house making sure all bases had been covered. My father was satisfied, slept peacefully for a few days till a few days later when his troubles started again.

I decided to take matters in my hand, fished out my Homeopathic books and read all the troubling symptoms. Voila I had the right remedy for Dad. He was given Stramonium. Dad became well, slept well and even gave advice to all and sundry about how to tackle ghosts! My Dad also told me about a certain distant relative who had regular sessions of boxing with some local nocturnal creatures as well! My mind began to whirr and I thought could this thing run in the family? Could God be so unkind as to allow generations to be troubled by these restless creatures? Should I get ready with some shoes and slippers? Or should I just keep some Stramonium nearby for myself? May my father rest in peace and those creatures as well; he was a true warrior, fought with ghosts and all.

Notes: Author is a Homeopath; Stramonium is a Homeopathic remedy to ease the mind among other things.

Sunday, June 22, 2014

Little Dress And Big Problems

I doubted we were ever going to get summer this year despite all the warnings about global warnings. It has been a litany of cold; long, drawn out winters, hardly any spring and barely a few days of simmering heat. What was I going to do with my short dresses and shorts? So far, my husband had not panicked about my short shorts (I don't know what else they could be if not short). He's used to that. What a husband! But he did become alarmed about a dress I was going to wear for a party. Basically, the length of the dress caused the alarm; it was not like the Duchess of England's knee high length dresses. Being petite, I cannot wear and should not wear long dresses. I would disappear completely so the only solution to this height problem would be to give the world an impression of height with a short dress. Yes, it's important the world sees women preferably with some added height.

Along with the dress, I had to contend with additional heels as well. I don't know if the dress was bought for the heels or heels were bought for the dress. Basically both had to go together, one without the other would not have done it. If I did not wear this dress on this particular day, an opportune moment would have slipped by, my friends would have left for Texas and I would have been left with a dress and heels still waiting to be outed. 

Anyway this is how it all played out between the little dress, little ol' me and husband:

Husband: Is that what you are going to wear?
Me: Yes, what's the problem?
Husband: Oh nothing, only ...
Me: Yes?
Husband: How will you sit?
Me: Primary reaction, no words - open mouth, wide eyes, hands on hips
        Secondary reaction, no words, mouth still open, hands holding head
Husband: You can't sit down!
Me: Should I just hang around the door?
Husband: Do whatever you want.

I don't know if my husband realized that this was going to be a small party where people sat, stood and sipped. I doubt any people would have been lying around on the floor with drinks or kabobs in their hands; it's not possible to interact in that state! Did my husband think that if I stood, everybody else would stand up and stare? Or did he expect that as soon as I sat down everybody else would go one step further and immediately fall to the ground and that's when the viewing would change! He was worried I might forget I had a dress and for no apparent reason would end up doing somersaults. He worried immensely about me in a little dress. So his solution: Do Not Sit!

But sit I did. Standing is the worst position for me. I invariably look for a place to settle in including the floor. With a dress on, floor was not a possibility. We are talking about eye level conversation here; we are talking about little dresses riding up a bit but hands being able to pull it down to a discreet level; we are talking about decent people sitting and having a conversation; we are talking about women having the freedom to wear shorts and dresses without having their throats slit and being accused of infidelity by the moral police; we are talking about husbands going cuckoo over sitting and standing in innocent-little-not-quite-white-dresses!