Saturday, October 14, 2006

The Hour is Now

Haven't updated forever. Doesn't mean that life hasn't been updating itself. Life is one of those strange things. I may sit and fret about my job (or lack of it), my body, my lifestyle, my hair. But time is indifferent to this. So life slowly trickles by, imperceptible but inevitable. That I will never ever get this day, hour, minute, second again sometimes fills me with a kind of hopeless trepidation.

The reality is life will pass by whether I am enjoying it, being depressed or plain miserable or otherwise. I have maintained a diary since I was 11 and today, if I were to flip through the all those years again, all that will surface will be how horribly angsty life was. But if I sit back and recall, some of my most wonderful times are also there, buried under the rubble.

This is starting to be one of those aimless rambling posts but indulge me will you?

Two important literary events have occurred in recent days and I feel compelled to record them. First, Kiran Desai's surprise Booker win. I haven't read the book and so must reserve judgement but I am glad that such a likeable person won. Would any other winner declare that 'the compromise' usually wins? Niceness hardly gets any points these days and Desai gets full points for that. Literary blogger cum diva, Jaiarjun has a good summary of taking these awards with buckets of salt. My only concern is that this annual Booker thing is tiring. I haven't even finished the books on last years list and now there's a whole load of new books to be read. Like Hisham Mater's much praised In the Country of Men. Groan.

I know it doesn't matter whether a book is on the list or not or whatever. One is to read whatever one fancies. But I hate to be unfashionable in the literary world. Isn't it enough that in the sartorial one, I am still in boot cut jeans because I can't wiggle into those skinny jeans?

And of course, Orhan Pamuk won the Nobel. My Turkish friend Maz will sneer. 'There are many other good writers, right here in Turkey. Orhan Pamuk rides on politics to make himself popular', he will say. While I am a Pamuk devotee, I do have to agree that the award is more for political reasons:

"The overriding question is how do the writer's politics factor into the
nomination and award? Is the prize for literature or for politics? More and
more, critics say, the prize "has gone to a person who has the correct sex,
geographical address, ethnic origin and political profile" - correct as
determined by the Swedish Academy. Swedish literary critic Mats Gellerfelt,
quoted in a New Yorker article in 1999, agreed: "The ideal candidate for the
Nobel Prize today," he said, "would be a lesbian from Asia"

I am of course delighted that the founder of the Grameen Bank won the prize for peace. That is a most deserving win. The lives that have been transformed through Grameen Bank initiatives has been nothing short of amazing.

That apart, on the personal front, work has been happening in crazy fashion (when does it not?). Its term time again and the department is swollen with undergrads. Every year, I plan (plan being the operative word) to burn all their essays, inevitably plagiarised from the standard text books. How stupid do these kids think I am?

We've got an explosion of postgrads this year for some strange reason. Fresh faced fools (FFFs), all charmed with the academia, thinking that their research is going to change the world and everyone will die to give them a job. Hah. Wait till I see them next year, when I would have submitted and they would still be stuck in their second year, all fat and pimply from the stress. I'm sorry but this maelstrom means that my Chapter is not working. It is stuck at page 5. How crap, crap, crap is that. It's been giving me migraine and gastritis. And goddamit, this bloody thesis has made FAT. What's with fat? It happens suddenly and dawns with a thud on your thighs and ass. Inside, I still feel thin and if I don't look at full length mirrors, I am still alright as I waddle along.

Ira, my Italian friend, has been so worked up with her chapters that she has been having heart palpitations. And Mari just stops shaving and takes on a cave-man style for months on end. I know other people get stressed. My investment banker friends have very stressed lives. But at least they get paid to be stressed. FFFs will take time to realise all this. The academic backbiting, publishing whores, the now-you-see-him-now-you-don't supervisor. And they are at the bottom of the food chain for god's sake.

The truth is I am bored. Bored. Bored. Bored. I have become a boorish bore (alliteration!) Excuse me for now. Even I can't stand my own company.