November 26, 2007


Reigns supreme.

October 30, 2007

Wasp vs. Spider!

I've always been scared of wasps. We've had this little hate-hate thing going for a long long time, the wasps and I. Both of us have scored some pretty significant victories, though they drew first blood with an organised ambush in a dark, abandoned outhouse. Of course, with the advent of the electric mosquito bat, I managed to get in a few as well. So, we have history. Perhaps they sense the negative vibes, or perhaps I just get stuck in stupid situations with wasps, but they are the species responsible for the maximum number of physical attacks upon my person. Cows come second.
Having run out of imaginative ways to make my life miserable, I suppose the wasps decided to try the old classics out again and see how they worked out. I'm talking about Killer Wasp Attack at the Outhouse II. All I wanted was to sit comfortably in my loo, read a book and be left alone in peace. Suddenly, a familiar hideous buzzing noise assaults my ears. Memories of fiery burning pain and laughing schoolchildren assault my solace, as I look up and dive, just in time to miss a careening carrier of venomous malice. The little bastard must have flown in through the crack in the window. He settled on the mirror and proceeded to preen his antennae. The entire time, I watched him with bated breath, fingers slowly reaching for the matchbox and deodorant spray. Suddenly I realised that he had stopped preening, and a strange creeping, tingling feeling began to crawl up the base of my spine. I tried to identify the source of this feeling, and realised that it stemmed from the fact that the bastard was actually looking at me. I had the distinct impression that the beady little compound eyes were staring into mine, daring me to make a move. I dismissed the thought, and nonchalantly reached for the deodorant. Scarcely after my fingers closed over it, the horrible buzzing began anew and I was treated to the sight of a yellow buzzing blur hurtling in my general direction. At this point, I abandoned all propriety and wildly sprayed deodorant into the air, forgetting in my joyous abandon that this sort of thing only works if you have a match. Enfragranced and incensed, the yellow bastard circled around for a second run and froze in its tracks. Or at least that was how it looked at the time. Within a second, the wasp began to struggle furiously in what appeared to be the middle of the air against nothing. Nothing, on closer inspection, turned out to be the web of a daddy longlegs.
I must interrupt the narrative at this point to point out that spiders are one of my favourite creatures. Most people are repulsed by their freakishly fast, yet jerky movements but I have spent many an evening entranced by them, staring up at my cobwebbed ceiling, watching them build their webs, slowly but industriously, and ever so beautifully.
At any rate, the wasp was stuck, and stuck fast. It had landed itself in the web of one of the largest spiders that I had allowed to take up residence in my humble abode, and was going nowhere fast. The buzzing increased in volume and intensity, but resulted ultimately in the yellow bastard entwining itself deeper When I was sure that the yellow bastard was not, in fact, going to break through and continue to wreak havoc, I stepped up for a closer look. A spiderweb is constructed in such a manner that if any insect is trapped within it, no matter where our friend the spider is, (s)he feels the vibrations and comes running to investigate. My friend had already arrived by the time I stepped up, and was busy with the important work of securing her catch. This was a truly fascinating process, and by tilting my head at the right angle to the light, I was able to observe how she would squirt webbing out of the sac at the base of her abdomen, apply a rear leg to the webbing, and then stick it to the wasp, then proceeding by an intricate working of her legs, to wrap it further in its own doom. When the wasp continued to struggle, and by dint of its final efforts, strain at the very structure of the web itself, the spider calmly continued to attach webbing to the creature, and then crawl off up the web, mooring it to the walls of the bathroom. The wasp continued to struggle and the spider continued to build, always careful to avoid the vicious stinger that flickered in and out of view at the base of its abdomen. In the meantime, I managed to take some photographs. I felt faintly voyeuristic, somehow as if I were intruding on a ritual I had no part of. I continued anyway. The wasp finally ceased to struggle, as if in resignation to its fate. At this point, the spider attached itself to its defeated opponent and proceeded to consume it.

Now, in case you are wondering, many spiders do not actually eat their prey preferring instead to inject their venom into the innards of the unfortunate, wait for said innards to turn into a mass of mushy goo and then suck at said goo like a slurpee. I watched, fascinated, for some more time, then allowed the spider to feed in peace. The next morning, the wasp was little more than a dessicated husk. I decided to allow the spider to keep its trophy a little longer.

October 25, 2007

Something wicked this way comes.

The city is like a giant complex of smoke and facades, behind which a billion unspeakable things may happen in the course of a day. You may be living in an apartment block holding hundreds, but if your neighbours perform secret sacrifices to eldritch gods, you will never know. You will walk down a crowded street in the middle of the day, but if a hand should reach out and pluck the person walking next to you, you will never know. If all the members of your office are covertly engaging in organised mass sexual congress, you will never know. If you decide one night to go out into the dark and embrace your inner freak, whatever he may be, they need never know. In this sort of beautiful anarchic anonymity, strange things have the chance to lurk and grow. Strange, and perhaps even beautiful sometimes, but often merely macabre.
I love Delhi for its delicious urban legends. The flavour of the moment, for instance, is the Hammer Man. And before that, the even stranger story of the Monkey Man. This story is not about them. It is about the things you will never know about. Of course, if you're a sufficiently warped individual, there's nothing to prevent you from opening the manhole cover and taking a peek at what crawls beneath. And this is basically an effort in that direction. Witness:

I don't know what this is. In this crazy place, it could be anything, ranging from the mundane (some sort of MCD/DDA warning) to the misleading ( a bunch of students having fun) to the macabre (the symbol used to mark the spot where volunteers for blood sacrifices to Eldritch gods may assemble at precisely three fifty three in the morning, leaving no trace behind by three fifty six). It appears all over my part of South Delhi. On direction boards, on walls, on busstands. This particular specimen appeared on the wall of a flyover I was crossing. As you can see, its neither outrightly mundane or macabre. It's not your average skull and crossbones denoting danger. Rather, it is the sunken, emaciated image of someone's face, complete with eyes, a nose and a perfunctory sort of mouth. It's also not an overt image of threat or violence. The eyes hold no violence, instead, preferring to fix the observer with a baleful glance that seems to tread the line between bovineness and malevolence. There are bags under the eyes, perhaps to indicate some measure of malevolence, but more probably to convey suffering and depradation. The lines also seem to indicate that, while the person who created the stencil for this image (for I believe it is a stencil painted one, judging by the sharp, symmetrical outlines that accompany all the images, as well as the extra thick borders) inserted some of the features of a face, he clearly was aiming to portray a skull to the casual passerby. However, it is more than that. It is a portrait of a visage that is halfway between deteriorating from a human face into a vacant skull. Decay in its final stages before death. I would like to think of it as a message, but I am a little looney. I've asked my fellow Delhiites if they know what it is, but no one seems to have a clue. Very few others have even admitted to noticing it. Is it a desperate cry for help? A dire warning in the endtimes? A bloody marker for doings of unimaginable horror and depravity? You will never know.

September 28, 2007

Oh what a world it seems we live in

Ok, major update due...

First off, winter is here. Winter is back in Delhi. How do I know. Firstly, we've actually had great weather for the past three days. Secondly, and more importantly, an old, familiar smell has come back to me.The smell of the flowers that smell like cardamom.

The flowers that smell like cardamom have been with me for about three years now. When I had my first job, I used to drive back, or be driven back at 2 in the morining about once every alternate day. The flowers that smelt like cardamom were there. Of course, at the time, I used to think that the smell came from all the elaichi tea that all the night watchmen all over Delhi made in order to keep them warm in the freezing winter nights. Now I'm told the smell comes from a flower. It doesn't matter to me. It smells like winter. Like Rufus Wainwright and Neil Gaiman. Inextricably tied with winter.

Secondly, don't ever live on bread, jam and butter for a week. It weakens your bowels and kills your will to live. I've been writing lies about myself all week and subsisting on breadbutterjam to help me through the ordeal. Breadbutterjam for breakfast may be a good idea. After a week you begin to lose your humanity.

Thirdly, this must be my second month living in limbo. Living in limbo sucks. You don't know if you're going to hell or heaven. You just hang there, suspended in space, watching the stars above and the fires below, and wondering if you will fall or rise. The funny thing is, I think most people, whether they deserve to or not, believe in the fall. Somehow, I think limbo is worse than heaven or hell. Certainty flies out the window as you stare at the void around you. In hell, you know what awaits you, and if youre strong enough, you accept it and bare your chest to the flames. In heaven, you rest, peaceful and relieved. In limbo, you stare afraid, forever wondering whether you will fall or rise.

Fourthly, I've missed a bus. Or a train, or a plane. I've sat around at the stop, watching my carefully laid plans drive past, staring after the number plate and the passengers in the back window, friends all, crowding the back window, wondering if there's any way it will stop and let me get back on, hoping I'll catch the next. Plans and plans and plans... We always make the best plans in our heads. Real life fucks them up in unimaginable ways. Like my brother said, I should have had a backup.

Fifthly, I've begun obsessing about Rufus Wainwright. I've even begun imagining the conversations we would have if we ever met.

Me: Rufus Wainwright?
Rufus: Hey, yeah that's me, what can I do for you?
Me: Rufus
R: (a little worried) Yes?
Me: Can I ask you a question?
R: Sure man, as long as you're not asking the obvious ones.
Me: Do you really think that men reading fashion magazines is such a strange thing?
R: Oh what a world we live in.
Me: Blank eyed admiration.
R: Whatever happens, never forget Bolero.

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