Where We Are

Currently researching the smoking bans around the world for a little project for the evening. Surprisingly, I am fine with most of the bans. Except for the hospitality sector – the blanket ban on that is plain silly. Thank fuck we don’t have those here in India.

But seriously, why do people want to smoke in places where other people also want to be (for whatever demented reasons of their own)? You wouldn’t expect someone to be drunk in the middle of the street or drugged off their tits and it to be considered normal. So what fuckwits are these that think that because smokers don’t usually step in front of cars or wrap their knees around their heads out on the road and scream, “My face! My face! I am a new species of human and I have no face!”, they should be allowed to smoke everywhere?

But yes, there should be places where it’s allowed. And what better places might these be than the ones where you are already indulged in killing an exponentially increasing number of brain cells using fluid that is, in part, poison – i.e., bars? Not all of them. Some might be reserved for those who want to be smashed in one way but not another. Choice, damn it, choice.

***

I am currently sitting next to my window, in the sunshine, with a pair of jeans drying next to me, and I’m thinking it isn’t cold enough. (Paddy, you idiot, global warming!*) Just a few days ago, the temperature went down to five. And while we were frozen**, we just couldn’t resist getting out of the house at 1am, trudging out in the thick, crackling air and getting a hot coffee, y’know, to warm ourselves. And the next day, it wasn’t cold enough anymore.

* In-joke. Ignore.

** Five might not be that cold for some of you (especially one particular overly couth bastard sitting in Manchester), but here, where we are used to having our brains steadily simmering at a temperature slightly above that in a very warm arsecrack, it means it’s cold enough that we could pull our hair out in clumps and it won’t hurt.

We have a theory. Some of my friends (and me) take quite a few trips up and down from Mumbai to here. Every time someone arrives in Pune or leaves, the weather changes. We are like the guy in the fourth Hitchhiker’s book. Except we take it in turns. (I know someone who could turn that sentence into something very dirty. In fact, so could I. You can have your own ideas.)

So one chump from Mumbai went back there, and everything working perfectly dandy till then suddenly went balls-up.

How did I get onto the temperature? Oh yes, it’s 11am, and my pants are drying much faster than they should, and I can barely see the text on the monitor in the sunshine. I draw the curtains, but they blow inexorably and vengefully in my direction, thus forcing me to choose between a literally hot head and a very cluttered, tea-covered desk.

***

(Later the same day, as they say.)

These days, we (my little group of friends and I) are building a picture of the mental culture we inhabit together. We send each other what we find interesting and think the others will as well. We have an idea of the mindspace we share, after several years of feeling our way towards it. It is like a Venn diagram, except it’s a lot more misshapen and organic, which makes it fun. Violent disagreement*, after all, is what fuels discussion. And it is interesting in that the more someone disputes your supreme (as you see it) eligibility to expound on something, the more eligible you become. (This makes it sound somewhat pedestrian, but it’s a lot more sublime than just that. What I want to say is something in the order of: Someone might know better than you something that might fit your mental landscape and enrich it. You are unique, but not as unique as you think you are.)

* This is usually one particular chap, as another pointed out to me just now, but he disagrees violently enough for up to and including two to three average-sized people, so it’s all fine.

So we send each other articles (about culture or about entrepreneurship or something that can vaguely be classified as philosophy), or videos and other net-thingies. It is a little like recommending a song to someone. It never has the exact same effect on everyone (for example, I associate Tom Waits with billowing curtains with the evening sun shining through them – wanna bet you don’t?), but if, somehow, the reaction is as interesting as the one you had, you can compare. And like with recommending a song, it reveals something about you, whether you want it to or not. And we can generally recognise who recommended it by the recommendation itself. Each person’s taste has a pattern to it.

***

Finishing this up at around 1am. Going to Mumbai tomorrow. (Which is why the post is as half-baked as it is. I’m not waiting till next Monday to clean it up.) Will be meeting Samit Basu. Will be attending a concert on a friend’s birthday. Will be meeting family. Will be buying things. Will be roaming around the city aimlessly (there’s a companion, but that doesn’t make it any less void of aim). And then, will get back to lovely little Pune, where the streets have names and that, I assure you, does not magically make them better-paved.

Current Music: Blue States – ‘Metro Sound’ (This is right now. In the afternoon, it was … sigh … the Monkees.)

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