Sunday, 8 November 2015

Musings from my Facebook page

As you can see, I have not been posting much on my blog for a variety of reasons, mainly lack of time and general lethargy. I have been trying to get back into blog and review mode by writing on my Facebook page, where I'm more consistent. I pen my thoughts, and little stories, mostly on sentimental and nostalgic stuff almost every day. I steer clear of controversial topics, politics and religion, about which there is growing intolerance on social media and elsewhere. The forced refrain is: “You have a right to your opinion provided you agree with mine.” There is just too much negativity out there and it is pathetic. 

I'm on Facebook for a bit of fun.

I stick to the simple and ordinary things of life—memories of my childhood years, everyday observations, books I read, movies I'm watching, inner peace, food I love eating, places I visit, life in pictures, and that sort of thing. I write about things that make me feel good—as everything we do, should—and also resonate with others including family and friends.

You’ll get an idea from the following compilation of my most recent Facebook entries published over the past ten days. Some of my blog friends who are also my Facebook friends might have read these before. Others need not be compelled to read at all. It might be dreadfully boring and result in reader mortis. I have edited some of the posts for brevity, if brevity is, indeed, possible these days.

November 8: The PhantomThe Ghost Who Walks and Man Who Cannot Die—married in the mid-80s, a few years before I did. I "attended" his wedding in the Skull Cave. He tied the knot with the beautiful Diana Palmer of New York, in the presence of an odd bunch of guests—Diana's mother and Uncle Dave; Mandrake the Magician and Lothar; the pygmy Bandar led by best man Guran; his adopted son Rex; friend Thal, king of the Little People; Hero and Devil, his white stallion and wolf; and, Hzz, the prehistoric half man-half beast living on his isle of Eden, where all his other animals, including a stegosaurus, eat grass and live peacefully; where lions eat fish.

I thought the Phantom's attire was wholly inappropriate for such an important occasion. But then, he got married as the Phantom and not as Kit Walker, his secret urban identity. If Diana didn't mind, who the hell was I to object? I wore a suit at my wedding. The Guardian of the Eastern Dark didn't show up. Ever since, we haven't been on talking, or reading, terms.


November 6: My dad loved Kapi. He liked his coffee hot and strong with a spot of milk and very little sugar. Sometimes he used to skip dinner and have Kapi and buttered bread or toast, instead. He'd apply a good amount of butter on the bread slices and toast them on an open pan till they were golden brown. He'd then carefully slice each toast into four perfect squares, dip each bit in hot coffee, and pop it into his mouth. He made them for me, too. And was it delicious! The taste of salted buttered toast dunked in coffee or tea, if I may rightly exaggerate, is heavenly. Over the years I have tickled my palate by dipping crisp and crunchy Khara biscuits and Brun-maska in tea.

I'm not fond of coffee unless it is an authentic South Indian brew. Occasionally, I feel like having Kapi when I'm reading about detectives in crime fiction, gulping down mugs of steaming black coffee. I can almost smell it.

November 5: I love slapstick comedy and I'm extremely partial to Laurel and Hardy. They are the best. Such sweet innocence and so much fun. It's a pity there have been such few comedians in that laugh-out-loud category. I left Charles Chaplin out because, while I like him as an actor and have enjoyed many of his films, he is not funny. In fact, he can be quite depressing. When I think of slapstick, I think of mindless comedy. Comedy for the sake of comedy.

November 5: Last evening, I hit pay dirt at one of my secondhand book haunts: a used brand new 4-in-1 collection of Lucky Luke comics. Lucky Luke is a Belgian namesake comic-book series created and drawn by Morris (Maurice De Bevere) and written by Goscinny, who also wrote many of the earliest Asterix comics. I have been reading the adventures of Lucky Luke, the American cowboy known to "shoot faster than his shadow," since early teens. Good fun and absolute value for my Rs.50 (less than $1).

November 5: My reading room on wheels—where I read more Facebook and less book. The 7.45 am siren at the Khar railway yard, en route to work, just went off. A familiar sound back from my childhood. As long as it's not an air raid siren, all's well with our world.

© Prashant C. Trikannad

November 4: At the end of the day

I step out of my air-conditioned coffin.
Street boys hammer drums,
the devil knows why.
Roadside woofers, like black holes,
blast distorted music.
Fuckin' drivers leapfrog signals,
nearly knocking me down.
Crackers go off on my tail,
precursor to the advent of hell.
I rugby my way to the station,
past hawkers and jaywalkers.
I sweat it out in a crammed local.
I sweat it out in a snaky bus queue.
I sweat it out in drunken traffic.
Two hours too late,
I reach home, lose my head.
My pet wags her little tail.
I growl at her, sending her off.
“How was your day, darling?”
My face looks like burnt toast.
A hushed silence descends.
The air-conditioner comes on.
I set off again,
this time on a guilt trip.

November 4: I grew up with images of many iconic films. Of course, I realised they were iconic much later, after I started watching old movies on VCR & VCP and cable in mid-80s and early 90s. Two classics are etched in my mind: the scene where a crop-dusting plane is chasing Cary Grant in Hitchcock's North by Northwest, 1959, and the Burt Lancaster-Deborah Kerr steamy beach kiss in From Here to Eternity, 1953.

Elders in the family fondly recalled actors of their generation, who they grew up watching on the big screen. I'm glad they became actors of my generation too. When I look back on their era, I think of absolute class, style, and substance.

November 3: This Christmas-New Year I'm going on a tour of some of the most fascinating places in the world. My global stopovers will include Gotham City, Xanadu, Metropolis and The Daily Planet, Jaigarh, Gaul, the Skull Cave and Denkali, Asgard, Marlinspike Hall, Dwarka, Riverdale, Mongo, Bayport, Rich Mansion, Coast City, Pellucidar, Disney, Atlantis, and Sherwood Forest. S.H.I.E.L.D. is lending me their Quinjet.

Would you like to join me?

© Prashant C. Trikannad
November 3: Spare a thought for my pet...and me: Next week is Diwali, the festival of lights...and loud noise. The next few days are going to be traumatic for Stubs as deafening firecrackers cause her such fear as to make her lose her appetite and spend most of her time under the bed. She and her affectionate kind must curse humans, as I do. Request a reveller to desist from firing bombs, or light them elsewhere, and the smirky response will be, "Uncle, it's Diwali. No fun without crackers!" or it could be something like this, in crass Hindi, "What goes of your father?" effectively telling me to go to hell.

There is growing awareness about the harm firecrackers can cause to animals and people, but it's never going to be enough without a corresponding increase in compassion.

November 6: The World's Finest comic pictured below was one of 40 DC-Marvel comic-books my uncle from San Diego gifted us in the mid-70s. He inspired my dad, and his elder brother, to add to the lot every month. Before long, we had an impressive collection of Amar Chitra Katha, Indrajal, including Phantom, Mandrake, and Flash Gordon, the Harvey bunch, Archie and the Gang, Walt Disney, Tintin and Asterix, Dell, Whitman, and pocket Commando, and Western.

I took the comics baton from dad in the early 80s and widened the collection to include M.A.D., Maus, Classics Illustrated, and DC-Marvel annual editions. Forty years later, I can still smell those 40 brand-new comics. 

If you've read thin A4-size comics from that era, you'll know what I'm talking about. It felt like heaven to this kid.

November 1: Chess has been the single greatest learning experience of my life. This beautiful game beats school, college, and university education by a long mile. Chess is a seamless blend of passion, excitement, concentration, strategy, management, sacrifice, loyalty, patience, and ambition. I like to think of the 16 pieces as members of a close-knit family who look out for each other, like the mafia. They have their strengths and weaknesses but what holds them together on the 64-square board is blood kinship. 

Chess has taught me a lot in life; everything else I learnt on the job.

October 31: Barring Red Sonja, I have read the wild adventures of the other three superwomen—Axa and Modesty Blaise as comic strips and Xena as a comic book. I first read Axa—the forever-nude female Conan written by Donne Avenell and drawn by Romero—in the tabloid magazine, The Sun, known largely for its coverage of music. This was in the early 80s. I think, The Sun bought the rights for Axa from its British namesake where it was originally published. 

Axa bears a striking resemblance to Red Sonja who came before her. The origins of these two sword-sorcerers is interesting. Modesty Blaise was, of course, a three-unit black-and-white comic strip that many Indian newspapers published, alongside a similar James Bond strip. Sometimes, you didn't know which was which. I'm sure most Indians first heard of Xena the Warrior Princess through her television show. I didn't know she had a comic-book until much later.

Have you read any of these femme fatales of the comics world?

October 29: Every morning, a blind couple enters my coach in the 7.49 local and begs for alms. They sing lovely bhakti-geet, or devotional songs. They don't have much of a voice but together they sound good. I find it soothing, even if it is for a brief moment, till they get off at the next station and hop into another coach and start all over again. Singing blind during peak-hour rush can’t be easy.

I was raised on devotional songs, thanks to my dad who sang to my sister and me at bedtime, almost every night in our childhood and early teens. You can't go to sleep with a more secure and comforting feeling.

October 28: I'm seriously thinking of replacing my car with this single-wheel eco-friendly self-propeller. I could get around much faster. But I'm going to have to make sure I look like a formal guy and not a circus clown. Imagine, I could wheel myself right into my office and up to my desk. No pay and park. The more I think of my fuel-efficient idea, the more I'm convinced it'll work.

This weekend I'll hop over to the nearest stone quarry and place an order for a custom-built spoked wheel with a small headlight and a loud horn that I can control with my feet. I"m pretty excited. I must thank Johnny Hart whose B.C. comic strip was my inspiration. Next step: licence.

October 27: When we dogear the pages of our book, the book must feel like someone is twisting its ears. We know how painful that is. A book has life too. Every word on a page is like each breath we take.


That’s all the corniness for now. If you’re on Facebook, I’d be delighted to connect with you.

© Prashant C. Trikannad


22 comments:

  1. I avoid social media, for privacy and identity (as in avoid it's theft) reasons, so no Facebook, Twitter, or any of the rest. Honestly, I fail to see the attraction of it. I have my blog, and that's enough for me.

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    1. Richard, I joined Facebook early this year and that too after a lot of introspection. I don't write about my private life. I'm not on Twitter, though. Indians, both at the individual and corporate level, are taking to social media in a big way and especially using it to further their business interests. I'm hoping these digital public forums will be useful in promoting my fiction writing in near future.

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  2. Facebook gives you a much wider, if less interested, audience. As visitors to my blog shrink, I use it more. Five years ago I got hundreds of visitors some days. Now it's more like 75.

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    1. Patti, it has helped me to connect with a lot of people including many I'd forgotten about, and vice versa. However, unlike a blog post, an Fb post has very little shelf life, a few hours at best.

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  3. I take a look at Facebook maybe once or twice a month, can't keep up with it. Thanks for re-posting some articles, fun and interesting.

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    1. Oscar, thank you. I post original content on Facebook and I keep it light. A bit of fun is all I'm looking for.

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  4. Wow, that is a lot of information. It will take me awhile to take it all in. I agree with Richard, have no interest in Facebook, for many reasons. But I can see the need for it in some situations, such as authors who need to connect with as many people as possible.

    I used to read the phantom comics (used to read a lot of comics).

    I love your poem: at the end of the day. And the photo of your "reading room."

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    1. Tracy, thank you. I joined Facebook after much hesitation. I wasn't sure I was doing the right thing. Then I realised how important it is to have presence on social media, especially if one is promoting one's enterprise; authors and their books, as you rightly mentioned. I have found this to be true of clients of the PR agency I work for. I have set limits for my own posts on Facebook — I don't incriminate myself in any way! Besides, I like to keep myself abreast of digital technology in all its avatars.

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  5. One of my dogs can sympathise with yours. Fireworks have been going off all week - Guy Fawkes - 5th Nov and the younger one has been reduced to a shivering wreck - he's nearly turned himself inside out with shaking. The older one is indifferent to them.
    Nice photo of the reading room!

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    1. Thank you, Col. It's been my reading room for several years. My pet has parked herself under our bed since morning and she's going to remain there till Friday when Diwali is officially over. We are even forced to feed her in her hiding place. Out here firecrackers are lit throughout the day but mostly after 6 pm till midnight.

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  6. I see many of these first on facebook. It's nice to have them on the blog though. I've been expanding some facebook posts on my blog when I have time.

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    1. Charles, I thought you might have read most of them. I mostly post light stuff on Facebook and that works well for me. It's a sort of diversion, and a distraction too.

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  7. I really like your combination of reminiscence, writing and 'photos, Prashant. It is a creative way to use Facebook and to express yourself. You're right, too, about the growing intolerance on social media. It's one reason for which I don't discuss politics, religion or other very controversial issues. I don't want to start up a fiery argument where I'd simply intended a comment/question/etc.. I hope that sometime, social media will become a place for constructive, respectful debate rather than polemic.

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    1. Margot, thank you. I'm glad you enjoyed it. Writing on Facebook has helped me to find my way back to blogging. I hope to post some reviews of stories and novels I read in coming days. I'm extremely careful of what I post on Facebook. I never offer my views on controversial issues. I think a lot of people are using social media for "constructive" purposes and that's a good thing.

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  8. Well, of course I remember some of these from Facebook but one does get such a barrage of postings every day, so it is useful to get a compendium edition too! Love Phantom (and Mandrake) and Laurel and Hardy

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    1. Sergio, when I joined Facebook early this year I told myself I'd post only original content, however brief and banal, and that's what I have been doing. I'm quite enjoying myself, as you can see! Let's see how long my enthusiasm lasts.

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  9. Thanks for posting all these notes. And this won’t be much consolation for your dog, but my cat doesn’t like the Fourth of July for the same reason.

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    1. Elgin, my pet hasn't come out from under the bed for the past three days. Thankfully, Diwali is over but the coming wedding season, not to mention Christmas and New Year, will see more bursting of crackers in and around our place.

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    2. Prashant – You have a good ear for dialogue. In just two lines, ("Uncle, it's Diwali. No fun without crackers!") you created a vivid character.

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    3. Elgin, thank you for the kind words. It means much to me.

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  10. I always enjoy your posts on Facebook, and I enjoyed this roundup too.

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    1. Moira, I'm elated that you enjoyed it, though I need to post more serious reviews on my blog.

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