Saturday, January 26, 2008


I am not sure I enjoy being spoilt for choice. I bid for exchange universities tomorrow. The GPA based bidding order has put me in a position from where I can either go to Yale, or to some random German university. The dilemma arises because Random German University will also offer me a scholarship of 3000 Euros over the exchange period of three months, which provides enough monetary fuel to finance my travels across all of Europe Yale, on the other hand, will cost me a bomb, and I will in all probability be stuck in Connecticut all winter long.

I suspect that at the heart of the matter is an altogether more philosophical issue. I think it comes down to who I really am, deep down. The academician is me is desperately yearning for Yale, with its lengthy list of Nobel Laureates and its place in the American Ivy League pantheon. On the other hand, Germany, and the money that its government will so graciously provide me, will give me the opportunity to travel across the continent in true troubadour fashion. Backpacks. Eurorail passes. The works. The guy who went to Leipzig last year on the scholarship visited 16 countries. S-i-x-t-e-e-n.

But then again, it's Yale! Yale, which has produced Murray Gell-mann, and Sinclair Lewis, and Jodie Foster, and Camille Paglia, and Tom Wolfe, and Nick Carraway in the Great Gatsby ! (Lets pretend for now that George Bush didn't go there). The sheer weight of its history bears down on my soul. I simply can't turn down an opportunity to go there, can I ?


Thursday, January 24, 2008

Watching Juno

Much in the tradition of Lost in Translation, Sideways and Little Miss Sunshine, Juno will, in all probability, not win the Oscar for Best Picture. Strange as it is, that is perhaps the strongest vindication of its beauty.

I really can't say much more now. I'm quite speechless. Nothing like a comedy that brings you to tears.

Monday, January 21, 2008

what i feel like, these days

to convey one's mood
in seventeen syllables
is very diffic-

-- John Cooper Clark,

who is the second greatest man I know from Salford, after one Mr. Scholes. And no, that's not Myron. Though he's a bit special too.

Wednesday, January 09, 2008


Something's not right with this year. There is a sneaky feeling that Something Bad is just waiting to happen. A feeling that I'm unable to banish by watching movies that cover the entire spectrum of Hollywood's high school film offerings from the thoughtful, and sometimes even profound Rushmore(1994) to the inane yet strangely enjoyable Superbad(2007). Perking up, in true Phobe Cates fashion, next in this particular line is the Big Daddy of the genre, Fast Times at Ridgemont High(1982), which I will proceed to watch sometime today.

I have something of a penchant for digression. I can't really focus on anything, without letting my mind wander. Perhaps that explains why I cannot drive very well. The instructor tore his hair out trying to get me keep the damn thing going straight on an empty highway. Evidently, watching me 'play around' (and I mean this quite literally) with the steering wheel is not his idea of a good instructional session.

Anyway, I was trying to tell you about That Sinking Feeling that has accompanied the advent of the year. It's a bit like a dirty spot on your clothes that refuses to go away. No one else can see it, but it drives you nuts. And there's nothing you can do about it, except wait for it to go away, the way it came. Perhaps this feeling is borne from the fact that I spent New Year's day throwing up. Don't they say you spend the entire year doing what you were on New Year's? Ouch.

And by the way, apart from a glass of wine on Christmas Day and New Year's eve, I've kept to my word. I don't particularly feel de-toxed, or anything, though. In truth, my hitherto well-functioning digestive system, which has been entirely free of Intoxicant Substances for a month, has been killing me the last few days. I suppose this is what irony feels like, when it kicks you in the guts.

Sunday, January 06, 2008

Someone write me a cheque already

If I were to ever get down to actually writing a book, I suspect that it will turn out a little like Marisha Pessl's Special Topics in Calamity Physics. Nice cherry flavoured gum that you really dig into, until all that remains is the tasteless cud that you feel obliged to chew till the twisted end. But that's what I've always been - heavy on the style, and weak on the substance. Some nights, I like to think of myself as the David Lynch of the blogging world (okay, so I flatter myself occasionally), with works that are aesthetic masterpieces (see Mulholland Drive, 2001)but really don't mean anything. Unless you want to talk of psychogenic fugues or something (see The City of Absurdity: David Lynch).

Also, I've been wondering. How does one land a book contract with a six figure advance anyway?(see Viswanathan, Kaavya) I don't have an agent, or any connections in the right places. I haven't studied English Literature in a fancy Ivy League school. I have an undergraduate degree in Engineering Physics, for God's sake. I console myself saying that there has been a Great Writer who also had the same major (see Pynchon, Thomas. Though, admittedly, he dropped out of Cornell before he could graduate). It is also fair to say that I don't have a pretty face that can adorn the back flap (see Lahiri, Jhumpa) or a literary mother who can tell me what not to do so I can win the Booker prize that she couldn't (see Desai, Kiran). Perhaps I also have a serious shortage of Exotic and Adventurous Life Events (see Pierre, DBC or Roberts, Gregory David).

All I have is this blog. Now what do i do? And no, I will not convert this into a sex blog. Though that appears to be the quickest way to get noticed by some publisher type (see Belle de Jour). What's the male equivalent to chick-lit anyway? Metro-lit? Or do I have to invent a whole new genre now?

About Me

a recluse waiting for salvation