"If you come to California / be sure to wear a rubber / 'cause there's lots of nasty people down there."
The Bad Mintons, Snazzy Portland.

For a long time (what felt like forever) I stood on my soapbox and boldly addressed the world, every two cents feeling like a bold proclamation. Due to the electronic nature of my soapbox, naturally, what I considered to be "the world" amounted to the most privileged iceberg-tip cohort busy socially networking online instead of being otherwise occupied dealing with famine, floods and civil war. Largely, this amounted to Talking To Americans.

Over the past several years I haven't felt like I had a great deal to say, to Americans or otherwise. Mostly when I felt I had something to express I would sing it instead, typically in someone else's words.

But much to my surprise, this dual citizen (mother born in Palo Alto, hence aunts, uncles and cousins in Portland, Santa Barbara and Oakland) finds himself in a position, if not to talk to Americans, at least to sing to Californians... and to serenade them with an accordion. And so I thought I might try to rustle some up here (Californians, that is, not accordions), in case there might be some curiosity about what I've been up to since I put down my hard brackets.

For the next four days, if all goes according to plan, I should be performing five shows around the Bay Area with a stripped-down version of the Horace Phair house band which we shall here be referring to as the Slanted Floorboards. Our gimmick is that we play famous and unknown modern tunes on old-timey instruments, creatively re-interpreting the whole history of popular music and backing it up a century. I like to think that it can be pretty entertaining, and some noders here might be caught agreeing. (And, of course, if you want to exchange words (please no punches in the nose) with p_i, I can't envision a better opportunity this side of Horace Phair 2010 -- though my decaversary interview was pretty comprehensive. Was I ever anything less?)

You may not be located anywhere near the Bay Area of California; however, if you are online, there's a good chance that you're American -- and if you're an American, there's a good chance that you at least know someone who is nearby. (Odds are also excellent that you're a heterosexual middle-class white male, but I don't discriminate.) If you have any friends in The Everything People Registry : United States : California or on the NoCal /msg list, please consider drawing their attention to these dates:

  • Thursday, August 19th -- 8-10 pm at the Delta of Venus, 122 B Street, Davis 95616.
  • Friday, August 20th -- 9:30 pm 'til late at Toad In The Hole, 116 5th Street, Santa Rosa 95401... with Amber Lee and the Anomalies!
  • Saturday, August 21st -- 4:25-5:05 at the Cotati Accordion Festival in LaPlaza Park, 60 West Cotati Avenue, Cotati 94931. With, well, a glowing array of historical accordion stars and the new generation of alt-squeeze misfits.
  • Saturday night, August 21st -- 8:45 pm 'til half past midnight at the Revolution Cafe, 3248 22nd Street (btw Bartlett St & Mission St), San Francisco, 94110.
  • Sunday, August 22nd -- 9:30 pm 'til half past midnight at Peri's Silver Dollar Saloon, 29 Broadway Blvd, Fairfax 94930.
Thanks for your time! We now return you to your regularly scheduled database.

India in general is not just an odd piece of land with sweaty, brown-skinned people who talk in a funny accent. It also doesn't always have snake charmers lurking at all street-corners. Most people are unaware of how the major cities are placed. 

Nearly all families belonging to the middle-class tier within the social frame, end up going to public gardens on weekend afternoons so as to frolick about and chomp on home-made Indian dishes wrapped in foil. This is closely followed by a customary tea-drinking session where everyone admires the mighty vacuum flask for being able to bottle up their treasure ever so efficiently.

I watched, transfixed as YouTube loaded the movie, Chashme Buddoor. It is the 80's and these three young men in college, share a measly cigarette in their tiny apartment. Amusement swept across my face, while I observed Farooq Sheikh share a friendly banter with the local paan-wala in the grainy sequence.

There's a scene where Ravi Baswani parks his Enfield motorbike in the Lodhi Gardens' parking area when the girl who he gave a lift, promptly runs off to the arms of her waiting lover. I have lived, breathed and loitered around that area. It hit me vividly as I retraced mental steps back to the day-dreaming young ViKi, how the lush lawns washed with green captured my very fond childhood memories. I can still clearly relive the agony of watching an ice-cream melt into brittle fingers as I sat in the same parking lot, waiting for the heat wave of Delhi to vanish. I have frowned, squinted and lost myself in the green bushes of Lodhi Gardens as my favourite Aunt discussed the latest politics in family circles; while we all sat around on a patterned sheet and picnicked.

A sad ViKi has looked outside the small car's windows as a wonderful day out, came to a slow end.

Chashme Buddoor 

 

Thoughts And Memories From A Fairytale

Backstory warning

Thirty hours to a federal election.

I found out the good way what voting was all about some three weeks ago. I'm a student leader at my residential college at uni (Study Mentor - I encourage people to study and work hard), and throughout late July, every student leader was asked to vote for who they thought was the most outstanding student leader from across the College. I voted for the one person who is on two student leadership teams. He does good work for both teams, and he's not showing any signs of pressure. So for the rest of the week, I was wondering who out of the 37 of us would get the award. There were a few that I'd already written off, including myself. I figured that I didn't have a snowball's chance in Hell, with odds of 1 in 37. Besides, there were at least three other awesome leaders by my count.

Some two weeks ago - August 5, to be precise - I got a phone call from the head of the College: "Would you like to come to a wine tasting evening in ten minutes? We have a few slots open." "Yes, absolutely." "I'll tell you why I chose you when you get here." Yep. I got it. Somehow, that snowball lived in Hell. So I drank enough to get me to my limit, making me a happy, happy man for a few hours.

If you've missed the other half of the backstory (which you likely have, if you don't know me IRL) then you won't know that as a Study Mentor, the team I'm a part of has a leader, or Co-Ordinator as they are called. Since I was given the job of Mentor, I've been gunning for the job of Study Support Co-Ordinator. The girl who has it this year is lovely, and she's done the most fantastic job. We're reasonably close: she lived on my floor last year, and she's been my "boss" (as it were) for this year. I still recall late September when she took me aside and told me; a few minutes after I accepted, I told her "I'm hunting your job now".

A week ago, it was time to apply for that job. Information night told me pretty much nothing except that I didn't need a reference like I did last year, and the closing date for applications. So, come the date (Monday 16) I stumbitted my application. The head of the College said one thing: "Is that what I think it is?"

Competition was always going to be tough. Three people from my team applied for the role, along with two others from a different leadership team (which is quite acceptable). Shortly after, I was sent an email saying "Please come for an interview at 12:30p tomorrow." VERY nice. Let the game begin.

So, a couple of hours after the email, I made a speech for one of my classes. It was nothing particularly special, but I'm pretty sure I was given a high mark for it. Part of it was the fact that I willingly got up and spoke first, upon being volunteered by my tutor (with the reason being "You told me you'd prepared the most" - true, to an extent). I was told afterwards that my stance exuded confidence, I made the most of my slideshow to make a point, and that my voice filled the room. My comment was "Really? Because it felt like the exact opposite!"

The interview the next day was going to be a kicker. I hosted my mentor session, as is usual every second Monday night. The current Co-Ordinator was going around to all the sessions, taking photos. I shadowed her, basically saying "HELP ME!" She related some hints and tips, based on her experience from the previous year. I took one in particular on board: "memorise your application and use some of those answers in your interview". I thanked her, hugged her, and with a swift "I'm never worried about you", she headed off to take more photos.

Tuesday 17. 9:00a. I slept very well, mostly thanks to an 8:00a start on Monday and a bit of physical activity that evening. Woke up at 9:00a, groggy, and forcing myself to get ready for a lecture at 10 and a tutorial at 11. Thankfully, I finished all the work in my tutorial early, and left some 15 minutes before the class ended. 11:45a, and I had 45 minutes before the interview that could potentially end the world. Back in my room, I got some neat casual clothes ready, opened up my application on my computer, and...

put on some music, grabbed my cricket gear, and pretended I was playing a game.

This was a deliberate move. I think it made all the difference. I slightly channelled my thoughts from my speech the day before: what can I do to become more confident? Putting on my music not only relaxed me, but reminded me of my achievements (as I had put on a mix I made some six weeks beforehand). Putting on my cricket gear reminded me of things that I can consistently do well. As you might expect, my confidence redlined.

12:30p. I leaned forward slightly in my chair, to look bigger and more... (imposing isn't the right word here, but hell if I can think of what the word is at this stage). I answered the questions given to me with as much fluency as I could muster, but I probably messed up a question or two along the way, which is partially why I felt slightly less confident after the interview than before it. I met two friends on the way back to the College, both of whom had utmost confidence in me. That helped.

Afterwards, my Co-Ordinator phoned me, asking how I had gone (she was not present at the interview). I relayed her some of my answers. Her response was that she thought that my answers were exactly what they were looking for, and that she thought I had done a good job. My response: "Really? Because it felt like the exact opposite!"

Wednesday at 9:30p I got the call.

Knowing that this was judgement day, I walked quickly - although shaking - up to the meeting room. I was met by a solemn-looking head of College and a sombre-looking Co-Ordinator. "Professional," I thought. But still, there was always that nagging feeling that I had been beaten - the other four had given their all as well, particularly one of my best friends, who was gunning for the role just as much as I was, was showing no signs of giving in, was constantly saying "May the best person win"...

Fake-outs are cruel, but hell if I don't appreciate this one. "One of the hardest parts of the job is informing unsuccessful applicants." Good. He hasn't said anything explicit yet. I stuttered out an "I can imagine", before he continued: "Unfortunately..." Uh-oh, that's not a good word. "...we'd like to offer you the position of Co-Ordinator for 2011."

Yep. I got it.

The rest of that short meeting was a blur. I can remember shaking his hand and saying "Unfortunately, I'd like to accept it"; being told that although I made it, there's still room for improvement, and he'd like to subsidise a few classes for me; hugging my Co-Ordinator at the end; being told to keep it to myself until the announcement was official; thinking "how the hell did those two keep a straight face at the start?". I left, hardly containing my quite obvious euphoria. I saw nobody, I talked to nobody (except my girlfriend, who lives off campus anyway), and sat down and played video games to distract me.

So, how did everyone else react? Within an hour of getting the email, I was flooded with texts, emails, Facebook notifications saying "congratulations". They kept coming until Thursday evening. Within about ten minutes, the friend who had also been going for the role sent me a message saying "I want to give you a great big hug!" At a dinner tonight (which I was already invited to for being a Mentor), I was shaken by the hand, awarded the award that I had won two weeks ago, talked to (jovially) by the 2011 leaders of the two other student leadership teams, the head of College and my Co-Ordinator, I had discussed some of my ideas for next year (yes, I have ideas already), and I had not felt any of the euphoria lift... I didn't sleep well last night, I was so excited...

I haven't told my parents yet. I'm going to spring it on them when I visit tomorrow.


EDIT: August 17, 2011. One year on, and I applied for the same job. One year on, and my head of College did the exact same fake-out trick, and offered it to me for the second year in a row. I was "well-spoken and confident", but one year on, I still said "Really? Because it felt like the exact opposite!" I've obviously left a good impression with my work for the college this year, and I intend to keep it up.

There's been a lot of boys/guys/mens.. whatever you want to call them in my life. Always have been always will, but there's only been a very few select that during drunken nights will sober me up when ever I think about them. Mike Boyle was/is defiantly one of them. I met him in art class, this overly tall, pale boy with shiny, floppy hair. I thought nothing of him when he first said his name except "Man everyone named Mike is really tall". As the weeks went on during class, I noticed him sitting closer and closer to me. Until finally he was sitting right next to me and blowing in my ear when ever I was looking the other way. We became "friends" somehow, always chit chatting in class and giggling over nothing. But then again I was like that with everyone in class. Then one day he asked for my number,I gave it to him and he texted me later "Wanna make out?". Letting my pride get to me (and to this day I still do when ever he talks to me) I said no and that I would rather suck a pig's ass. Harsh but that's how the cookie crumbles I guess. But after as I was driving home, I knew I was falling for him and that sadly my heart would never be his and silently at night I would cry over the agony of it. That he would write songs to some amazingly beautiful girl,that would share her feeling with him and be everything that I never let myself be. Sometimes it really does suck being me and I think he actually thinks that I hate him. But oh well, all I'm left with now if just facebook stalking.

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