Thursday, November 30, 2006


A well-meaning reader, in response to my previous post, scolded me: "Hey...very soon you will lose your popularity...Is SEX the ultimate thing in your world?" My turn to respond.

To begin with, there is no question of losing my popularity because I am not popular. Technorati ranks me between 50,000 and 60,000; and the average number of unique hits by blog gets every day rarely exceeds 150.

Sex and popularity, by the way, are not inversely proportional. Some of the most popular blogs on this planet happen to be sex blogs. In fact if I steal pictures and stories from them these blogs, apart from writing about sex, the popularity of Ganga Mail is bound to soar. But my blog merely carries thoughts on sex, and does not intend to provide sexual gratification.

And what's wrong in having thoughts about sex? Having thoughts about sex is better than thinking about sex. And what is wrong in thinking about sex? If people didn't indulge in it, the world would have resembled the Sahara desert or the Amazon forests. But there is a school of thought, which includes preachers and saints, which believes sex is OK as long as it is limited to procreation. Then there is a school -- and most Indians belong there -- which equates sex to early morning ablutions: it's a function that has to be performed, but you should be as discreet as possible and also not talk about it. It's like having a glass of water: you feel thirsty, so you go to the kitchen, get a glass, open the tap, fill the glass and drink it. Similarly, when you feel lusty, you wait for the elders/kids to sleep, then switch off the lights, and quickly perform the act while being careful not to make any noise. The man turns around and goes to sleep, while the woman -- well, does she matter?

These two schools of thoughts get highly irritated whenever sex is treated as a source of pleasure. They want the act to be as brief as having water: they get scandalised when sex is treated as a full-course meal.

Actually most of the time, it is not even irritation -- just plain jealousy. Given a chance, they would wring sex by its spine to extract as much pleasure as possible, but, alas, they have certain obligations and -- at times -- limitations. Not that they don't try to find a way out. One episode is still vivid in my memory even though it is five years old. I had just come to Chennai, and one of my pastimes then was to look up the Hindu classified columns and hunt for shady massage parlours. It was the hunt and the atmosphere of those places that gave me the thrill, not that I sought anything from them. One such parlour happened to be in Spencer Plaza, which was right opposite my office. I hopped across. I wanted a facial. I walked in and was shown a chair. As the female attendant prepared for the facial, I noticed the occupants of the next two chairs through the mirror: I was stunned. They were two old men -- so old that you could've imagine them only in a hospital bed or coughing endlessly in a bed at home. But presently they had taken a short holiday to heaven. I felt sorry for them: at 80, you can seek sexual gratification only on the sly, at least in India.

But why should I feel sorry for those pot-bellied, middle-aged men, who keep their wives and daughters behind bars, curse channels like MTV, and hand out ostracisation threats to young women living in the same apartment who dare to entertain men in their homes? These are men who lech at women on the roads, stare at the curves of their women colleagues and, if out of town on official work, keep whore-hunting on top of their agenda for the evening.

On Minto Road in Delhi, there used to be a cabaret called Blue Star. Now they have shut the cabaret and turned it into a 'family restaurant', but each time I pass the place, I can see the ghosts dancing. The audience would mainly comprise middle-aged men, who would have the full course meal in the cabaret and drink the glass of water at home. They would insist on stuffing 10-rupee or 50-rupee notes into the panties of the dancers.

Talking of cabarets, there used to be one in Nagpur, called Lahori Deluxe. Wonder if it's still there. Once we all -- as in journalists covering the BJP -- went there, to witness the coronation of Bangaru Laxman as the party president. Can't recall the year exactly: I think it was 1999. We had taken the G T Express from Delhi and got down at Nagpur, where we spent three days. I had not seen Chennai till then and was very curious how the South looked like, so I was very upset that I had to detrain midway without the travelling the whole distance (that's when the desire to come to Chennai was born).

Now there are two varieties of journalists: one, the young and the not-so-experienced, and the other old or not-so-old but experienced. The categorisation, however, has no bearing on the quality of journalism or writing. Anyway, the BJP programmes got over in the evenings, and journalists like me -- the young and the not-so-experienced -- would wonder how to spend the nights. One night we went to Lahori Deluxe, bought tickets for the front row, and walked across to a bar to create the thirst for lust. Back in the cabaret theatre, we took out seats. Minutes later we saw a huge group trooping in -- the old and the not-so-old, who otherwise assumed a serious and business-like look. Sex seemed to be the leveller.

The point is, eveybody has sex on their minds -- and most often it is priority no. 1. Only that the no. 1 position is either masked or marked dormant for the sake of other considerations -- the primary among them being, "What will people say." The masking could also be the result of the years of conditioning: "Sex is a bad thing", "Sex is a bad thing", "Sex is a bad thing". Come on, even the Supreme Court has said that if you deny sex to your woman, it could become a ground for divorce.

The bottomline: sex is not a bad thing. It is a good thing. Don't gulp it down like a glass of water, but savour it like a three-course meal. I know my thoughts make me a "bad person", but I am never constrained by the thought: "What will people say." Because people say something, and do something else. They do something when people are watching, and something else when no one known is around. I invite such people to come out in the open and let go: life is too short to be lived in denial or to do things on the sly.

Monday, November 20, 2006

Sunday Musings, Written on Monday

You wear a ring given to you by someone very dear -- father, grandfather, girlfriend, etc. It brings you good luck and all that. Then one day you lose the ring. How would you feel?

Seven years later. The person who gave you the ring is no more, but one afternoon, you find the ring. It was hidden in one of the pouches of your suitcase. How would you feel?

You take the ring to the jeweller and ask him to polish it. The evening you go to collect it, the jeweller falls at your feet. "Sir, the ring got stolen!" How would you feel?

Life goes on, meanwhile. The same old whisky, Pancham, books and sex. Talking of sex reminds me: the other day I was chatting with a friend, a female. Except for food, almost all our interests match. But I did not know that sex was a common interest too, till the conversation that afternoon suddenly twisted towards it while we were discussing Casino Royale, the new Bond movie. That reminds me: if you haven't seen Casino Royale yet, go see it.

I am not much into new movies, that too English movies, for the simple reason that I don't follow the accent most of the time. I piece together the plot mostly through the body language. But for some movies I make an exception. Jhankar Beats and Mathew McConnaughey-starrer Sahara I have seen a couple of times in the theatre and subsequently bought their videos. And I am going to watch Casino Royale again and buy the DVD whenever it comes out. The stunts, especially in the first half, are breathtaking: it looks hair-raisingly real.

So back to the conversation I was having with this friend. No paraphrasing, no gist, no inferences -- I am just going to Ctrl C + Ctrl V (I am taking off her name though):

She: hey, how's your throat ya, havent asked you in ages

Me: throat is a lot better

She: new post wanted, new post wanted

Me: meaning?

She: on your blog baba

Me: oh

She: december is comingggggggggg ggggggggggggggg gg i will have sex again... a fucking YEAR's drought... can you believe that (her boyfriend is back in December)

Me: do u have sex only with certain men?

She: only with people I have relationships with

Me: i mean does it HAVE to be that guy?

She: oh y.e.s.! i dont do the casual sex thing

Me: can we have an interim relationship?

She: you are like my big brother... achha tell me something, what is tantric sex?

Me: dunno really.. but i guess it is about continence, as in when u do it without coming, etc. etc.

She: ohay... Sting once had tantric sex for 16 HOURS ya

Me: tantric sex cud be without sexual contact, when two people sit in front on each other

She: and do what? compose sonnets on each others beauty?

Me: have stimulation and orgasm by the sight

She: please!

Me: seriously

She: penetration is the be-all and end-all of all existence

Me: no, sex is everything but penetration... penetration is by the way

She: not for me

Me: u dont realise it, but is

She: but it HAS to end with it

Me: nooooo...

She: arrey for me it does

Me: the most important part is the moments/minutes after the penetration, followed by the post-coital smoke

She: penetration is the only climax. Period.

Period. December is coming.

Monday, November 06, 2006

Those Were The Days

Nice to be back. Not so nice, however, to read my previous post, I Am One. Few things I would never have written in normal course have found their way into it, and that's because I did not write the post. It was ghost-written by two gentlemen, Mr Impatience and Mr Director's Special. That night was my blog's first anniversary, and early next morning I had a plane to catch, so there was hardly any time to light cigarettes and ponder, month by month, about the year that was. But how can the mind work in a hurry without assistance from alcohol; so I hired the services of Mr Director's Special.

By the time I got a chance to reread my post, in my old office in Kanpur, a dozen comments were already in. Too late to make changes. Never mind. Even organisations don't make changes when it is too late. Such as my old office. Flashback: I am in college, studying journalism. A respectable but a decaying Lucknow-based newspaper called Pioneer is repackaged from Delhi under the stewardship of Vinod Mehta and it goes on to become the toast of the town (Delhi, that is). Doordarshan carries ads, showing its in-house cartoonist Sudhir Dar drawing a caricature of Rudyard Kipling, and the caricature coming alive! What a stylish paper, we think.

As a student of journalism, I start buying the paper, the Lucknow edition. My subscription begins on a bad note: "Babri Masjid demolished." Turmoil. Conflict. Debate. I write a letter to the editor. It gets published. I take the clipping to my classmates. They sneer: "See, how he is showing off!" A year later Pioneer launches an edition in Kanpur. I get a job. Trainee sub-editor. Salary Rs 1800.

Those were the days of typerwriters for the reporters. For sub-editors like us, there was the horse-shoe table. The chief-sub at the head of the table, and the juniors spread out in a semi-circle across the table. He would hand over the copies for editing, we would edit with pen, write the headline on a separate sheet of paper and attach it to the copy and return it to him.

The peon, Ram Ratan, would take the copies to the composing section, where someone would type it -- on the computer. Print-outs would be taken, according to prescribed sizes, and paste-up artists would paste them on specified positions on 51-inch sheets of paper. The prints of these sheets were finally fitted into the printing machine. By the time the paper went to bed, it would be about 2 o' clock: too late and too risky for me to go home.

For a while I would play games on the computer in which stories were typed, and after the operator shut it down and went home, I would return to the editorial room, make a pillow of newspapers and doze off. That was my routine, night after night, for one whole year. The sound of the printing machine is a good sleep-inducer, believe me. In contrast, the noise of the broom can be disturbing: the sweeper woke me up every morning at 7. Only once did I oversleep, when I woke up to the chief reporter's customary call to the peon: "Ek chai le aana (bring me some tea)."

Ram Ratan, the peon, was my best friend. I borrowed money from him when needed, and also shared his food. The money was to buy semi-porn magazines like Debonair or Fantasy, or to go out on dates. The money could have been borrowed from my father, but at the time, in the fresh flush of employment, the idea was not to borrow from home. Just as I did not want to carry food from home: what, then, would be the difference between me and those who brought home-made food, religiously took their day offs and rushed home as soon as their bit was done? I had wanted fire, and not home food-induced hunger, in my belly.

Within months, I found myself propelled to Delhi, where home-cooked food was not even an option. I was one of the hundreds of pilgrims, fighting it out in the Mecca of Indian journalism for a place under the sun. Kanpur was history.

But history is the starting line of every journey. To measure how far have you gone, and in which direction have you gone, you need to keep revisiting history. Ever since I left Kanpur, everything has changed at the Pioneer -- from the management to the number of staff (there are only two people in Kanpur now who are manning the local bureau). But never did I imagine, while playing 'bricks' on the black and white computer during after-work hours in 1993, that I would check my blog on the same terminal 13 years later!