Friday, October 30, 2009

Life Under the New Regime - 3

Nanga Fakir has probably run out of clever, meaningful, witty, smart, funny or even interesting things to say. So he planned to put out a last, final, somewhat maudlin, self indulgent, morosey post announcing the quiet demise of this space. Procrastination intervened however. And a little later, NF decided to not take himself seriously after all.

The adventures of the book junkie continue well - even in the face of deadlines, crises of all shapes and sizes and just plain old routine work. For keeping up with this rather unfriendly and reclusion-inducing habit, (which most of his old friends who shared the same passion for reading in their younger, halcyon years at S'kal (AK, Pandu, Ra, Subbu...) or perhaps even earlier at school (Somnath, Man...) have rather readily shed) Nanga Fakir would like to formally pat himself on the back.

<*pat, pat, pat*>

Reading continues to be a source of delight. NF's eyes have got keener, more discerning. His playlists continue to grow in quantity and quality, in the girth of the volumes and the width of the subject matter, in fiction and in non-fiction, in style and in substance. Technical details at the sentence and the word level, the idiosyncrasies of form and content, the art's heart's purpose - speak to NF in low, hushed voices, laying bare the mechanics of communication, fueling the communion (albeit one sided) of ideas. And the benefits are not merely theoretical/abstract0.

Recent Lit Adventures:

The Road: Lit giant Cormac McCarthy's unanimously celebrated Pulitzer grabbing post-apocalyptic saga hailed by some to be the most depressing book ever. NF loved the book and its ultra minimal style. But the most depressing book ever? No fucking way. Just a very good read. Nothing earth-shatteringly saddening.

Nausea: NF had tried to read this so-called Jean Paul Sartre existential masterpiece three times previously but had failed spectacularly at each try. Then he read some random remark by David Foster Wallace in one of his non-fiction pieces saying it's a work of genius, clenched his fists and ground his teeth in grim determination and forced himself to read it. Verdict? It's a damn fine book. Only too reader-unfriendly - like some early version of Linux dreamed up by a sadist geek. If you're patient enough and have nothing better to do, go through the much hailed novel. (Spoiler?) There is an Aha! moment at the end of the book. And a real one at that.

Brief Interviews with Hideous Men: No-one writes fiction quite the way David Foster Wallace does - as ecstatically, with as much self consciousness, with as much breathlessness, with as much black humor, with as much style. His incredible attention to detail - in descriptions as much as in the style of writing, just plain brilliant subject matter and the insistence of addressing the important, universal and grabbing-you-by-the-balls-and-demanding-an-immediate-answer-type questions have made a lifelong fan out of Nanga Fakir.

The Depressed Person, Brief Interviews with Hideous Men #2, Octet, Suicide as a Sort of Present and Brief Interviews with Hideous Men #4 are just plain gems of short stories. NF plans to read this book again. And again. And maybe again.

When Infinite Jest had come out, a lot of people had compared David Foster Wallace's style of writing as similar to Nabokov's. Naturally, once NF was converted, his hunter instincts led him to Vladimir Nabokov's Lolita. A hundred pages into the book, Nanga Fakir can totally dig why such claims of similarity were made. It manifests in the attention to detail, the delightful wordplay, the abso-fucking-lutely delectable prose and the location of humor in the most unlikely places. The way Nabokov bends and commands the English language and makes an abject slave out of it is simply jaw dropping. Read it to experience this feeling first hand. And on top of this, the transformation of the adventures of such a borderline pedophilic protagonist as Humbert Humbert into a hilarious comedy is a truly non trivial achievement for a belletrist of any order.

And so Nanga Fakir trudges on, slowly, patiently, painstakingly - reading for half an hour, one and sometimes on good, easy, relaxed days, two-three-four (or more!) hours. It's lucky to be taken up so much by some overarching, engrossing activity that holds your attention and trusses you up in a warm, glowing blanket of self sufficient happiness.


0. Quote-Unquote:

<*the first floor lobby History Honors Society's book sale. NF with two books in hand - The Best American Short Stories 1986 (Edited by Raymond Carver and featuring stars of the lit firmament like Donald Barthelme, Ann Beattie, David Lipsky, Alice Munro and Tobias Wolff) and Alice Mary Hilton's Logic, Computing Machines and Automation*>

NF: I heard that there's some buy one get one free offer or something?
The (presumably) History Grad Student: <*eyes NF fixedly*> To himself: Who bargains at a book-for-a-buck sale? (Ans: Indian.)
Aloud: Not really. You get one free if you answer a history trivia.
NF: Shoot.
The (presumably) History Grad Student: Where was Josef Stalin born?
NF: <*sports a big grin*>
The (presumably) History Grad Student: <*notices the grin. grins back*>
NF: It's a rather trivial question.
The (presumably) History Grad Student: You think so? The answer might be tricky.
NF: He was born in Georgia.
The (presumably) History Grad Student: Whoa man! You're good.
NF: Can I answer another one and have both of them for free?
The (presumably) History Grad Student: No. You can't.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

खूनी खोपड़ी जाग उठी!

दो हफ्ते से सुशुप्त, मूर्छित खूनी खोपड़ी0 अंततोगत्वा आज जाग उठी. विकिपीडिया के विरह में लबालब भरी अश्रु-संचित बाल्टियों को नंगा फ़कीर ने उल्लासित चित्त से विदा किया.

निश्चय ही, भगवान् के घर देर है, अंधेर नहीं.


0. नंगा फ़कीर के लैपटॉप का नाम.

Saturday, October 24, 2009


There is no sight in the world as singularly heartbreaking, as incredibly saddening, as that of an obese girl in the Romance section of a bookstore.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Ninja Tips for Healthy Living

<*Nods to Garnet for the great gift!*>

  • Exercise is important but jogging is for wimps. Plenty of exercise can be had leaping bushes and kicking joggers in the head.
  • Laughter is medicine. Ninjas practice the art of inappropriate laughter. Laughing when hearing about cancer also shows the ninja's strength.
  • Ninjas occasionally, without warning, stab friends in their faces with dirty, blunt knives. Life is random. Ninjas embrace this fact of life.
  • Killing the wrong person happens. Ninjas know this. It's useless to live in the past.
  • Everyone knows yoga classes are filled with women. Ninjas prove their skill and impress women by killing off the yoga instructor.
  • Samurais are the source of much stress for ninjas. They think they're sooo cool with their armor and swords and awesome helmets. It is in a ninja's best interest to not think about such things.
  • When eating the still beating hearts of their enemies, ninjas eat it all. For every one such lucky ninja, there are ten in Africa who don't have any hearts to eat.
  • Cleanliness is important. If ninjas get ketchup stains on their outfit when eating out, they throw smoke pellets and teleport, only to appear outside their den where they burn their besmirched outfits.
  • Theoretical mind control is one of the most powerful ninja sciences. Applied mind control involves inducing small children to give you their money.
  • It's good for ninjas to treat themselves to occasional Western pleasures. That's why it's okay to put on a clean ninja outfit, light candles and watch "Ninja Vixens: Virgin Nightmares".

Saturday, October 10, 2009

Nuggets of (Questionable) Wisdom

<*Nanga Fakir makes a faux-sad face, buries his head in his hands, makes a show of being in terrible, agonising pain, whines and lets out a low moan*>

NF: This is not cool. Not cool.

The Horse: <*stares blankly*>

NF: I am hungry. I don't want to move. Not cool.

The Horse: <*stares blankly*>

NF: You know...there should be a machine, which when you snap your fingers and say "Me hungry...need food" should automatically make brilliant dishes come out of thin air.

The Horse: <*stares blankly; smiles*>

NF: Huh.

The Horse: That machine is called a girlfriend.