Thursday, July 21, 2005

The Conqueror of the Tibetan palace

'Aaaaaaah...', screamed Andrew as the muddy brown river he had been happily swimming in began emptying itself into the void. Huge tombstones were visible in the distance, and in the middle of the blackness sat a gigantic blubbery pink whale. He had just reached adulthood, and he felt he was too young to die. Unfortunately, I disagreed with him, and I paid no heed to the poor bacterium's screams as I tipped the coffee into my mouth. The refreshing brew would keep me awake for another couple of hours. I could barely wait for the weekend and a couple of days of peace and quiet. Little did I know that at that very moment, a chain reaction had begun which would cause me to make a trip to hell itself.
The offending neutron had taken the shape of a postcard, which landed itself on my desk just before I left the office for the day. There was a picture of some flowers on one side, which looked so realistic that a bee humming over my head shook its sting in disgust and went in search of fresher pastures. But what mattered was the other side of the postcard, which had a cryptic poem, or so it seemed at that time.
Here's how it went:
Seek out the Conqueror of the Tibetan palace, the ‘Lama Tamer’
Be real serious about it, because she really despises humor.
Beautiful and terrible, and awe-inspiring and ruthless,
She draws victims much more easily than the Loch Ness.

East of the Blue Mountains and west of the great Green Sea,
Stands the Tower of ERECH, having not even a single tree.
Travel a little from there, to the holy haunted lake of ablution
Where the land has not been tainted by the evil called pollution.

But be warned, for though you have escaped her once before,
She has grown in power, and is still growing more and more.
Her prisoners she keeps forever in small cramped dark cells
Finding her would be like visiting the devil himself in hell.

Well, once I had read it through a couple of times, I started thinking about what it could possibly mean. I guess Tibet was the keyword here, and the word Lama next to it made me certain that this poem referred to some region in the Himalayas. Some Lama-Tamer, probably some kind of a demi-god, or maybe even a yeti who had killed some Lama. It was feminine, and probably had great beauty or was extremely attractive, which enabled her to draw her victims to herself. The second stanza could only refer to the Himalayas and the Tethys, though the reference was vague and no one knows what color the Tethys was. The tower was a little confusing, but could mean a mountain standing alone from the others. Possibly Nanga Parbat. Then the lake would be Mansarovar, where having a bath removes your sins. And of course there is no pollution there. The third stanza was a little psyching, but it brought in that element of danger which makes the journey and search that much more exciting. But I could not figure out when or how I had escaped from her.

I slept over it, and I had a dream. I dreamt that I was watching a movie which was showing my life in fast forward mode. My school life, then college… The reel slowed down during the college life… I was leaving college… and then I woke up… I had realized the terrible truth.

The poem referred to my college. The Tibetan palace is called Potala, and is a place of high spirituality. Our college had a lot of Pot, which kept the consumer in high spirits. Humor was usually shunned by the administration, which was always serious and restricted itself to PJ’s. The college has some kind of a reputation, which causes a large number of victims to join there every year. The Blue Mountains are of course the Nilgiris, and the sea is the Bay of Bengal. The tower of REC (running clue in ERECH) obviously has no trees. The haunted lake is the Lapis Lake, which is used by some (or many) to answer the call of Nature. Pollution is low because most of the campus denizens use bicycles. I have escaped (passed out from) college once before, and of course the college is growing day by day. Also, everyone knows that the college is one hell of a place to live in.
I then remembered the convocation, to be held tomorrow. It was a chance to go back to college, whose victims are forever ensnared as alumni. She never lets them go, for she is the Alma Mater – anagram of ‘Lama Tamer’.

Wednesday, July 06, 2005

Triangular Circle

“Fool!! Watch where you walk”, screamed the three rickshaw drivers as they braked abruptly in front of me. At least, that is what I suppose they said, because they spoke in Kannada, a language I am not acquainted with, except for the sentence which states to the listener your claim that you do not speak the language, but which causes him to wonder how you know that particular sentence if you do not speak the language. I was standing on a white strip, with black strips on either side of me. The vector showing my path of motion lay perpendicular to the strips. Alternate black and white strips stretched out on either side of me. I was tired, having just trudged 2.4 km, or 1.5 miles as the British would say, or (2.5379391*exp(-13)) light years as astronomers would say. One and a half phases of the moon spent at home only eating and sleeping had reduced my stamina like anything. My destination lay right in front of me, a towering structure that seemed to touch the sky. I was almost there. But right now, I was in suspended animation. The spot I was standing on was, well, not a spot but a strip, a white strip. I was at the center of a circle, but I was also at the circumcentre of a triangle with the three rickshaws as vertices.
‘How apt!!’ was the thought that crossed my mind, and this thought in return sparked off a chain reaction which resulted in the end of the Second World War.

The kamikaze pilots had destroyed Pearl Harbor. In retaliation, the US decided to use something which had never been used before, the A-bomb. Final tests were conducted on a lonely island in the middle of the Pacific Ocean, and the resulting output was dumped by Enola Gay onto Hiroshima. That effectively ended WWII.

Of course, the name of the island was Trinity Island, and I was standing in the middle of Trinity Circle, MG Road, Bangalore. That’s where my office is, on the 8th storey of a 13th storey (the constructors were definitely not superstitious, I guess) building where it is so windy that it is named ‘Vayudooth Chambers’.

Behind me was the famous Trinity Church, and in front of me the office building. I had escaped accident by the skin of my teeth. But that is life. And death leads to further life. And together they make up the circle of life. And the circle of life is watched over by the God, his Son and the Holy Ghost, who make up the Trinity. And the Trinity watches over the circle of life. So a circle is ruled by a triangle, speaking mathematically. And here I was in the middle of a circle, with my life in the hands of a Trinity of rickshaw drivers. So in both the short-term and long-term sense, my life was controlled by a Trinity. Incidentally, Trinity was the name of the lead actress Carrie-Ann Moss in my favorite movie ‘The Matrix’.

Thus did WWII end, and so did my train of thought .The black and white strips resolved themselves into a zebra crossing. I walked across to safety and to another day of work.