Saturday, May 30, 2009

The Road (Part Two)

Being bookless while traveling can be a harrowing experience. A real nightmare. Totally.

A walking distance away (which for NF is anything within a one/two mile radius) from his place in Evanston was Barnes and Noble. It is common knowledge among those who know him that Nanga Fakir is drawn to bookstores as pigs are drawn to feces. The analogy extends even further. Both NF and the pigs then like to drown themselves uninhibitedly into the arms of their objects of desire, squeaking with delight and producing the legendary "Oink, Oink" sound.

And so it was that a pig named Nanga Fakir was let loose in a cultured, sophisticated and well mannered reading establishment.

He wanted to treat himself to a good book. It became even more important because he'd forgotten about his own birthday a few days ago. And so he began his search, sifting through the pile of books that lay in a sort of majestic arrogance in front of him.

There were (are) many books on his list. Michael Chabon has been one of the writers on the list for quite some time now (especially his books The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier and Clay and The Yiddish Policeman's Union). Also on the list has been Thomas Pynchon and his magnum opus Gravity's Rainbow (legend (perhaps apocryphal) has it that Pynchon wrote the first draft of this book on an engineering blueprint after his application for graduate work in Mathematics was rejected by UC Berkeley). Truman Capote, Cormac McCarthy, William Gibson's Spook Country and Ernest Hemingway's The Sun Also Rises (which came with very high recommendations from AK) were also given serious consideration.

The list also consisted of other giants whose names NF drops casually in mundane day-to-day conversations (unfortunately) to people with no lit propensities thereby making a fool of himself with appreciable frequency.

The book he finally settled on however, was David Foster Wallace's Infinite Jest. The writer had come to his notice when the lit establishment was shaken by his suicide last year. Apparently the writer was afflicted with a particularly severe form of unipolar depression for a long time. However, the thing that intrigued NF most was the obvious awe with which lit giants wrote his obituary. Plus the description of Infinite Jest as a massive work on multiple, disparate themes set in the future with an underlying bizarre sense of humor that accompanies the narrative, decided the question. Currently however, Nanga Fakir is struggling with the difficult to read thousand plus page tome at the rate of twenty odd pages an hour.

Difficult books can sometimes end up a lot of fun he thinks (think of difficult children sometimes turning out to be brilliant adults or Kurosawa's boring period pieces turning out to be thought provoking experiences after a never ending couple of hours). The examples of Neuromancer and War and Peace come straight to mind. That is why Nanga Fakir hasn't given up on fat works and intends to complete Gravity's Rainbow and Dhalgren someday.

The sly dog NF also managed to filch the Pulitzer prize winner Guns, Germs and Steel by Jared Diamond and India: A Million Mutinies Now by V S Naipaul from his brother's rather modest book collection.

Being so heavily loaded on books, one might think Nanga Fakir decided to call it a day.

"Not really", he says.


To be followed by Part Three.

Thursday, May 28, 2009

The Road (Part One)

He was bored, down and confused. His birthday was coming up and his ass was about to be totally whipped. So Nanga Fakir decided to travel.

It's funny how despite the fact that he is more interested in books than in people, traveling always cheers him up and clears up his mind. It probably makes him think that something is happening. Other things remain the same however. He does the exact same things on the road as he does off of it (reads books and comics, checks email, sleeps for twelve hours, coordinates with governments for world peace etc etc).

In particular, walking around new places aimlessly excites him the most. Does he observe the beauty (or the lack of it) of the new surroundings he's walking through? Not really. He's so self engrossed that all he can pay attention to is the pleasure of thinking the same things over and over again in an area that has a different shade of background noise than his usual haunts'. So is it the destination that holds his interest? No, it's the clichéd journey.

I bet if you deprive him of books, he'll get bored to death even on the sets of The Jerry Springer Show (which by the way, he totally hearts); and so it only made sense to see him pack Inside Mr Enderby and The Road as he decided to visit Chicago for pointless rides in the subway, pleasant and shivery random walks around Evanston and most importantly - free beers (for the sake of which he had to endure the company of an old woman who leaked mustard farts in fifteen minute cycles on the airplane).

The city welcomed him with open arms in the guise of a black beast-of-a-woman twice his size and thrice his age who promised to show him "a good time" (NF has never been more frightened).

Soon enough, putting the aforementioned traumatic experience behind him, he decided to visit an old schoolfriend who he considers to be among the few select humans in the epsilon neighborhood of his own smartness (Nanga Fakir thinks he's awesome but we know better, don't we?). The promise of free beers and a sailing expedition in Lake Michigan removed remnant hardwired traces of laziness and set his focus straight. He didn't yet know (he'd totally forgotten) that it was his birthday that very day and would be reminded of this late in the night well into his nth beer. Very characteristically, it would come across as a dumb shock as he would realize that he'd wasted one more year having learned nothing from life (or as some would say, the lack of it). Had it not been for the beer and the company, it would've meant one more pointless bout of bitter introspection.

The biggest discovery of the trip however (which has obviously got nothing to do with the trip per se) was Julia Wertz and her Fart Party. Nanga Fakir is always taken by surprise when he finds autobiographical accounts of insignificant humans totally engrossing. It was not for the artwork that he read Julia's comic. She didn't claim to offer any deep insights into the nature of things either. She was her usual, bitchy, whiny self with no pretenses and no illusions about what she was setting out to do. It must take an enormous amount of presumptuousness to post details about your life and expect junta to take an interest in it. It must take an obscene amount of courage also.

Here's NF's favorite post from the Fart Party - a terrific piece about cravings for solitude. Go Julia!

Part Two to follow up shortly.

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Another Webcomic

A nice, cute webcomic by Julia Wertz - The Fart Party.

The subject matter centers mostly around little autobiographical details of a short, skinny, often foul-mouthed artist who cribs a lot. You'll sort of like her.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

In which he takes a Resolution

Nanga Fakir is going to drown himself in Mathematics, Philosophy, Films, Reading, Writing and Travel.

He will read like a madman, with the fury and mad intensity of one who is consumed by the burning fever of knowing everything about everything.

And yes, he will write. Oh yes, he will. I will make sure he does so.

"[N]othing is as surprising as life. Except for writing. Except for writing. Yes, of course, except for writing, the only consolation."

Orhan Pamuk (The Black Book)

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Babel Fish

Question: What is "Testicular Cancer" in Hindi?

Answer: आँडू कैंसर.

Friday, May 08, 2009


Sometimes life feels like a scene out of a bad sitcom. Sans the canned laughter.

Wednesday, May 06, 2009

Enforced Nostalghia

What S'kal gave me was the company of some absolutely brilliant people whom I love with all the testosterone that can be packed in a couple of (battle fatigued?) testicles. Some of them will rise up and be successful tomorrow. Some of them will give up and wallow in their laziness. But that doesn't matter. What matters is that whenever I will meet them over a cup of coffee or a mug of beer and listen to what they have to say, I will grin in approval, chuckle in satisfaction, think in earnest, bite with sarcasm, mock with a coldly calculated cynicism, even seethe with anger but never ever, oh thank god, never shrug with indifference or nod with boredom.

PS: To be taken with a pinch of salt (read composed while high).