My first smoocherooney

I have written of just about anything in this blog, except my first kiss which happened with a girl named Rashmi Bhagwat.

It was 1967, in a small town called Durgapur, in the Indian province of West Bengal. I was 12 then and I am 63 now, but listen, you’ll never ever forget your first smoocherooney, trust me.

I still remember that day vividly. The rest of the school was out at the stadium race-track for the annual parade march-past dress rehearsal.

The morning had gone by playing the fool, leaving corny notes on each other’s desks, hiding our compass boxes from each other and generally poking good-natured fun at one another.

This thing between Rashmi and me had been going on for a while and we were beginning ta feel like it  was all sort of building up to something but we didn’t realize what that was.

In fact my lips had brushed against her ear on an occasion that week and I had managed to say, “Surprise attack!” and grinned. She had expressed mock shock and given me a playful slap and run off to the other girls.

That day, the bell rang for the parade rehearsal and everyone began trooping down to the stadium – except Rashmi, who had been loitering behind. Instead of following the crowd, she gave me a glance to ensure she had my attention and she slipped away and disappeared inside the chemistry lab.

I followed her in. The Spanish conquistador, Hernán Cortés, would have been proud of me.

I found her at the far corner, behind a cupboard filled with the burettes and pipettes. She wasn’t doing any chemistry experiments or anything – she just stood there. The moment I swung into her field of vision, her hands flew to her face and covered her eyes, her middle and forefingers parting a crack to see if i was making any progress toward her.

In a few strides I was on her and as I held her tight, she kept trying to wriggle free, though not with any genuine conviction. She kept real quiet though and that should have told me something but it didn’t. In fact I kinda lost my balance holding her and she thought I was stepping back. Her hands snaked up my back and yanked me back to her tight.

Now that should definitely have told me something, no? This time it did. It emboldened me. I stared at her beautiful lips and said,“What would you do if I kissed you right now?” Her beautiful face took on a devilish twist. She seemed like she wanted nothing else.

“I would kiss you right back,” she whispered and before her palms could fly right back up to her face, I had them in mine.

Rashmi was a head shorter and had her face buried in my chest so I wouldn’t be able to reach her lips with mine. Still, I tried. I crouched low, not letting go of my grip on her shoulders for even a moment, as I tried to reach down with my lips, but they barely came till her pretty nose.

About to give up, I sighed and gently gave the tip of her nose a peck and started to move away, when she stopped struggling and went slack in my arms. She brought her face up to mine, her bright beautiful eyes an inch away from mine, so close that I had only her eyes in my vision. Suddenly their texture changed, the pupils widened and the corners crinkled. Though I couldn’t see her full face from up that close, I knew she was smiling.

Taking this as a cue, I plunged my lips down but instead, I felt her knee come up and connect with my adolescent testicles with a crunch and I let go with a yelp. She sprang free and ran, coming to a stop a few yards away.

Then she did a funny thing. She stopped and turned. It wasn’t over yet, I rejoiced silently. Pretending to be really seriously hurt, I fell on the floor and gasped, my face screwed up in mock agony. Taking hesitant steps, she inched back toward me, the devilishly naughty look replaced by one that was puckered in genuine concern – the look that had bowled me over in the first place.

I lay curled up in a ball, gasping for breath and I let her come within reach until she stooped to take a closer look. That is when she noticed the look in my eyes but it was too late by then. I uncoiled in a speedy blurr, reached out and grabbed her as she let out a high-pitched squeal, more in excitement mixed with delight, than fright.

“They’ll look for us!” said Rashmi and shivered,” Hurry!”

Now, dear readers, please – take it easy. Between the 1967 ‘hurry’, and the 2018 ‘hurry’, there have been genuine advances. Bras and panties became passé, folks have streaked naked over open ground and the word ‘f–k’ entered the lexicons of the world. The 1967 ‘hurry’ meant just a kiss, not even a French kiss.

I took her soft hands in mine and my lips skimmed over her forehead, her eyes, her ears and her nose just grazing against each while her breath clouded my specs. Finally I found her lips and remained there a while. It was the first time my lips had been on a girl’s and I explored the tiny ridges that run vertically along lips that are maiden and form when the weather is dry. I didn’t know it was dry out there, Jeeze, I was sweating like crazy. For a brief instant, I felt those ridges with my tongue but she recoiled in horror, so I hurriedly put my tongue back in. I have always been quite an explorer. If Capt. James Cook was hiring, he would have offered me a signing bonus.

We remained that way, giving each other tiny pecks and kisses, for what seemed like an eternity. Nothing was said, the words pouring out through our lips, google-translated into kisses. The Almighty created lips for communication  but I am sure even He didn’t figure how well kisses can articulate.

In the middle of our kiss, her lips stretched, her teeth made contact with mine and her eyes crinkled and  a sweet baby breath with an Amul butter tinge in it, lingered out and engaged my nostrils and I knew she was smiling again. If she had demanded that I walk off a cliff then, I woulda.

That’s when we heard the kids coming back in. She pushed me back against the burette/pipette shelf, making it jangle and almost tipping over some the pipettes that were near the edge.

And then she ran away, blowing a kiss at me as she turned the corner and disappeared.

After that first time, the back of the chemistry lab served us well on our canoodling, being empty most of the time. Our chemistry teacher sucked and no one liked chemistry. There we would crouch – not speaking, just kissing interminably long kisses. 1967 kisses were just kisses and didn’t come with any feeling up or squeezing you-know-whats.

About a year later, Rashmi moved away with her family, to Asansol, another small town like Durgapur where nothing really went on. Rashmi had lovely feet and wore nupurs that jingled just a wee bit and drove me nuts. The day before she left we had one last marathon canoodle behind a rack of bunsen burners. She cried a little and knowing how much her nupurs turned me on, she left me a pair of faux silver ones.

Actually I am not sure how much of this anecdote really happened – all those years and all, y’know – things get a bit hazy. Did I find her behind the cupboard in the chemistry lab or was it in the library? Did we have a chemistry lab at all, or was the lab from my memories of my next school, La Martiniere, where a few years later, I ….. oh, forget it, you won’t believe what happened in La Marts anyway.

But, listen, if you haven’t yet kissed anyone and want ta, prepare yourself for a very surreal roller-coaster ride. As your lips meet, every nerve ending shall twang, every hair stand on it’s end. Your eyes shall swim, finding it nigh impossible ta focus. It isn’t a sexual thing. Guys, you won’t even get a hard-on even if you are old enough to have one, but the excitement shall be so intense as to make you feel faint. At that moment you’ll be ready ta do anything for this girl. If her lips are slightly parted and she uses a breath freshener, the sensation of slipping your lower lip in will simply blow your mind.

Those days, Indian girls were very passive and demure. They made no moves, but just sat back and loved being kissed all over. I would say Rashmi was a bit more precocious than most other girls of that era. Rashmi’s face would take on a flushed glow when we kissed, I swear to ya.

And me – I was flushed too but suffice it to say that those days I was innocent. I believed that a stiff dick was just another term for an obstinate 12th century English King with a backache and a lion heart and baobabs were really African fruits that just enjoyed existing in pairs.

I know I shall never be able to go back and stand there in that school in that tiny town in India, without feeling the taste of Amul butter in my lips.

 

Comeuppance

The old woman with the walking stick had a weathered look. She and I had been the only two passengers on the 354, all the way from St. Anne. At 4:30am an empty bus is not unusual. That’s when I leave for work. I am a regular but I hadn’t seen her before.

I wondered what compelled her to make the trip so early in the morning. “Must be a nanny, catching an early shift,” I surmised. She’s a Phillipino. QED – stereotyped with the flick of an eyelid. For all I knew she might have been a McGill Professor, early because she was going to chair a seminar on space medicine that afternoon.

At the Atwater Terminus, she waited for the bus to come to a complete stop, before she clutched the stick with both hands for leverage and rose unsteadily. At the doorway, the gap between the edge of the running board and the sidewalk was wide, filled with a dirty grunge of slush and melting snow. She hesitated. I glanced at the driver who recognized the problem and activated the hydraulic platform that extended and slid onto the sidewalk. The hydraulic platform is used for folks on wheel chairs.

The woman turned to the driver and smiled a wan smile, forming the word “Mèrci” on her lips, before she stepped off.

This early in the morning, downtown Montreal bears the haunted look of a weary drunk. The ground zero of bustle – Atwater – is totally deserted, the bars having closed at 3:30, the homeless having found their bus stops and their shopping mall awnings to find some space where the chill -6C wind can’t get at them.

When I stepped off the bus, I peered into the darkness. She had disappeared. There’s a neighbourhood for rich folks nearby – Westmount. Her nanny job probably takes her there, I thought.

I made my way to the massive Alexis Nihon Mall, which stays open because it has a McDonalds inside and McDonalds are 24-hour joints. I usually park my ass on a bench there because the mall has a direct access to the Atwater Metro Station and I can sit there with a cappuccino and wait for the Metro Station doors to open.

The 5:42 to Berri Uqam was on time. I got on. Usually I don’t sit down. I always prefer to stand because I have my back pack on – it has my lunch, my Bose headphone case, my Nikon, my pills, kleenex and paperback. I usually get on the train, hook my arm round one of those vertical shiny stainless steel rods, stand facing the door inches away and tune into morning NYT “The Daily” podcast.

Metro doors have a fail safe system that ensures a passenger doesn’t get stuck between closing doors. It allows someone inside to step up and bar the doors from closing. The doors say “Oops” and spring back open. And as long as the doors are open, the failsafe system prevents the train from moving. This ensures that you don’t get accidentally stuck half in and half out and the train starts rolling.

The clinging chimes signal sounds 10 seconds before the doors start closing and it had already gone off when there she was – the nanny with the stick. She had stepped off the escalator and was desperately trying to bridge that gap before the doors closed, infirmity preventing her from running the few yards in.

She didn’t make it. The doors closed with a hydraulic sigh and the high-torque Siemens electric motors propelled the carriage forward with a swoosh.

My last glimpse of her as she flashed by remains till this day – the same wan resigned smile, accepting what life has dealt her, unquestioningly. I could have stepped up and prevented the doors from closing so she could get on. The next train was 45 minutes away and a Metro station so early isn’t the safest place for an old woman.

But I didn’t. I stood there rooted, inches away from that door, oblivious to everything as I listened to BBC Analysis blaring through my headphones, on the Syrian refugee crisis, only a fraction of my consciousness noting that the woman couldn’t get in.

I believe in comeuppance. I hope that I get mine while I am still alive.

Spring arriveth

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That’s as close ta spring as I can get.

See how the ice has broken up into little bobbing floes. And the trees, still gaspin’ ta get back into shape. Yonder, a few ring-billed gulls are sun bathin’.

This foto is from last spring. I figured you won’t know the difference, so overwhelmed you’ll be, at my fotografic brilliance.

I mean, if you take a second look at the janam patri (horoscope) that your mom had prepared upon your birth, there’s a tiny section there that says you’d meet this amazing guy on social media by the name of Spunkybong and he’d sweep you off yore feet.

It’s there, find that paper with all those weird circles and the Sanskrit mumbo jumbo and I’ll be there in the cawnah that’s reserved for miracles.

To my non-Indian friends who are reading this, a ‘janam patri’ is a stiff sheet of what is made to look and feel like ancient parchment. It is prepared in the immediate aftermath of your birth by your friendly neighborhood Hindu sage, once your mom feeds him with the date and exact time of your birth and pays him a hundred smackeroos.

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An example of a simpler janam patri. Janam patris are usually way more complicated than this one. You should see mine. It screams at you. Looks like this one was prepared for a hill billy who would have very little to look forward to, in life.

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You and I wouldn’t be able to read the janam patri, since it is all in the ancient Indian language, Sanskrit. It is very colorful, with tightly packed circles, arrows, criss-crossing lines and script, the characters written in ochre, laying out in minute detail the course your life will take, whether you’ll turn out to be a shit-face jerk or you’ll be a world famous movie star.

If you’re a follower of one of the abrahamic faiths, I was the 11th Commandment, on the bottom right hand corner of the stone tablet. It said, “Thou shall let Spunky covet anything he wants ta covet.” Unfortunately old Moe tried ta grab it right after the good Lord had carved it out with his bolts of lightning, when it was still smouldering and sizzling hot. Add to that his arthritis and all and Moe dropped the tablet and that corner got chipped off, so nobody got ta read it.

Listen, you’ll just have ta trust me on this. Have I ever lied to ya?

Stop the Drama

Have you ever watched those YouTube video compilations of American soldiers coming home and surprising their family?

I accidentally clicked on a compilation video. At one level, it was heartwarming. The bride at a wedding and her brother walks in from Iraq. The daughter at her high school graduation and her fighter pilot father steps out from behind all those robes and turns out to be the one handing her the diploma. The middle-aged primary school teacher mom, helping the kids prepare cards to give their moms since its Mother’s Day and in walks her Navy Seal son, back from Afghanistan, holding a bunch of flowers in his hand. The German shepherd moping around the backyard, bored and suddenly he goes berserk when he hears his army medic ‘daddy’ say, “Hey, Brutus, cumere you!” And he leaps into his arms with a series of loud whining barks and yelps of ecstasy.

I haven’t seen one from other countries or groups. Maybe there just aren’t that many going off to fight wars in distant lands, trying to “make the world a safer place”.

Or maybe there aren’t that many coming out alive. Perhaps the concept of family is a different one in places other than America. Or maybe serving in the military just isn’t such a big deal in other nations. I know for a fact it isn’t, in my country of birth, India. And yet, Indian soldiers are among the fiercest and most dedicated. Have you seen any similar videos of Israeli soldiers? I haven’t.

Do only American soldiers have family or does the American military actually stage these as “surprise homecomings” and then flood YouTube with the videos, as a PR exercise? Don’t believe me? Just enter “American soldier surprises family…” on the search box and you’ll have hours and hours of those tear-jerkers, non-stop, every last one of them an American soldier.

Of all of them only the German shepherd would freak out with exactly the same intensity, even if it was only the corner store that you were coming home from. He won’t give a flying eff if you were a soldier or you were not.

Stop the drama, America.

The Library Beyond Our Time

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Once upon a time, in the northern American state of Vermont, there lived this rich land owning family – the Haskells. Now, there were many rich white guys in America then but this one family kinda stood out and let me explain why….

The Haskells were really really rich. They owned farm land on both sides of the border with Canada that had been theirs since long before the border even existed. The scion, Col. Horace Stewart Haskell had a bright idea for a legacy to leave behind when he passed, one that has never been repeated hence. It would be meant to stand out as a symbol of brotherhood and amity between Canada and America.

Thus, in 1901 Horace Haskell began building a library on his land and chose an interesting spot to build it on – the border. Yes, the Haskells built the library and an opera house deliberately on the border so folks from both nations could stroll in and use it with equal access.

The library has two different addresses, one American (93 Caswell Avenue, Derby Line, Vermont, USA 05830) and the other Canadian (1 rue Church (Church Street), Stanstead, Quebec, Canada J0B 3E2). It even has two different telephone codes (+1-802-873-3022 and +1-819-876-2471).

The library collection and the opera stage are located in Stanstead, but the main entrance and the opera seats are located in Derby Line. Due to this, the Haskell Library is known as the only library in America that has no books and the opera is called the only opera house in Canada that has no seats. Painted on the floor, through the middle of everything, is a thick black line that designates the border.

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The Canada-US international border – the thick black line – in the middle of reading room of the Haskell Library and Opera

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There’s no entrance on the Canadian side, just an emergency exit. All patrons must use the main entrance on the American side, in order to access the building. The American customs hut is situated further along Main Street, beyond the turning at Caswell Street and therefore folks from Canada can enter through the US door without needing to report to US Customs. Immediately upon crossing the border, they have to hang a left on Caswell Avenue and drive the short distance to the library entrance. And they have to return to Canada immediately upon leaving the building, without turning left on Main Street.

The customs guys on both sides are the sweetest I have ever known. I didn’t take the turning at Caswell Ave because I was listening to Garth Brooks on the car stereo and you know Garth can have your undivided attention. I carried on a short distance, up Main Street and began feeling this strange tingle up my spine that happens when you fuck up big time.

Already on the edge because I was crossing the border, I was driving at crawl speed, when this Ford150 with flashing lights overtook me and signalled me to pull over. It had U.S. Border Patrol emblazoned on it. The color of my skin is brown and I have a funny name. Both attributes conjured up the image of a dank dark cell in a joint with a funny Spanish name somewhere in eastern Cuba and me dying of old age in it.

But like I said, those border agents were courteous and sweet. “We have this happen almost every day”, they said to me,” Canadians take a wrong turn and blunder in, no big deal.”

They went through my passport (which I had had the foresight to bring along). Working for a large US Defense Contractor helped. In their minds, if I was building engines for the F35 Lightning, surely I was up and up. They let me turn around and go back without even stamping my passport, like it never happened. Double Wow!

Since I had overshot the turning, I had to go through Canadian customs. Two agents checked the car with a fine-toothed comb. One of them said, “We have to do this because of the sudden increase in the refugee influx, gun running and opioid smuggling. We have a crisis on our hands.”

Gun running through the Haskell border came into the glare of the spotlight in 2010. Over a couple of years, this Canadian – guy named Vlachos – smuggled in thousands of handguns using a novel means. His American partners in crime would legally purchase the guns on their side and leave them in back packs, inside the toilet in the Haskell Library. Vlachos would walk in from the Canadian side, pick up the backpack and walk back into Canada.

It was when video surveillance of the foot traffic across the border began that agents started noticing this Canadian guy visiting the library a bit too frequently, walking in empty-handed and walking out with a backpack on his shoulders. They nabbed him on his next sortie. Dumb bastard.

In the aftermath, both the American as well as the Canadian border services, attempted to shut down free access to the library, the only thing that had put the two towns on the tourist maps. But the Derby Line and Stanstead townsfolk would have none of it. The warmth and friendliness in there is incredible. Thus, so far the Haskell Library has remained freely accessible to Canadians.

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The Haskell Library is not all that is novel about this joint. Two kilometers to the west there’s a 500-meter stretch of Canusa Street that is actually on the border, ie: the median road divider is the international border. Oh yeah, if you are driving west, you’re in Canada and if you’re driving back east, you are in the US. The thing to remember if you are Canadian is that when you are on the US side of the road driving east, you must drive on and not get out of the car under any circumstances.

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Canusa Street, Stanstead

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Wait, I’m not done yet. I forgot my passport at the Canadian customs hut and blissfully drove away. It was around twennie minutes later – I was on the 55, already 30kms from Stanstead making my way back to Montreal, when I noticed a car with lights flashing signalling me to pull over. Behind him was a larger truck, also with flashing lights. Both vehicles were unmarked.

“You forgot your passport at customs, Sir. Follow me,” the cop said. She was gorgeous, a cross between Amy Adams and Emma Watson. I followed her back to the Stanstead police station where they took a look at my ID and handed me back my passport, no questions asked.

I apologized profusely and thanked ‘Amy Watson’ for the trouble she took, though inwardly I wished she had slammed me in a cell instead and beaten me blue with a birch branch.

Must all my posts end with sex?

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Sniff! Bawwwwl!

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It’s a chilly Saturday night in February 2013 and the people are crammed into the small conference room at a mental-health center in northern Tokyo. They have all gathered there for an evening of communal rui-katsu – “tear seeking.”

The event organizer, Hidefumi Yoshida says to the 20 men and women who range from college students to middle-aged office workers, “Whether you’ve had a tough time at work, your business is bankrupt, you lost your spouse or you have crippling health issues or your partner left you for another person, crying does a much-needed reset on your emotional well-being”.

Yoshida then switches on the video player and a series of videos are flashed on a screen. One is a Thai TV commercial titled, “The silence of love”. Watching it, the people in the room begin to sob quietly.

At the end of the screening, there is a group discussion and Yoshida can feel as if a veil has lifted. The members are visibly cheered up.

Rui-katsu is growing in popularity in Japan, not because the Japanese are big criers, but precisely because they aren’t. The International Study on Adult Crying polled 37 nationalities and found that the Japanese in fact are among the least likely to cry. (Americans, by contrast, are among the most likely.) The Japanese are a stoic people and consider hiding one’s sorrow a virtue.

In the five years since the first rui-katsu session, crying clubs have popped up all over Japan and even spread overseas into Europe. Websites have sprung up that post books, movies, poems and music that enhance the desire to cry.

Since most members really don’t have any problems in their lives that would cause a meltdown, most sessions of rui-katsu are not expressions of genuine sorrow, but hey, it makes members feel better afterward and that’s all that matters.

I found an instance of sham sorrow in fiction – Herman Wouk’s City Boy, which is about a lovably plump, very intelligent, Jewish eleven year old boy named Herbie Bookbinder who lives in Bronx. The delightfully funny story is centered around events that happen during his summer camp, in the summer of 1928.

I’ll read you a part where camp is over and Herbie and the rest of the kids are leaving for home. Herbie is grief stricken…….

“….Herbie was enjoying his grief so much that he was disappointed when it started to wane, like the tingle from an ice-cream soda, after only a few minutes. He began using devices to work it up and keep it alive, such as humming, “Bulldog, Bulldog” and tapping dismally to himself, and reviewing every detail of his final hours at camp.

True sorrow is painful. Sham sorrow compares to it like riding down a roller coaster does to falling off a roof. The thrill is there, but not the cost……”

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Have you ever enjoyed crying and not wanting to stop? I know I have. I used to make myself watch Schindler’s List whenever I wanted to cry. And I felt so good – virtuous even – after that. (Having sex did that too, but don’t get me going on that now).

I overdid Schindler’s List and I’m now sick of reading or watching anything about the Holocaust and I need some fresh stuff to make me cry. Since this blog has been free enlightenment for you all these years, dear reader, the least you can do to show your gratefulness is to suggest a book or movie I could bawl over. I miss bursting into tears.

Crying – even sham tears – is good. Medical experts say that crying is healthy. It rids the body of harmful toxins and reduces stress and even the risk of cardio-vascular disease.

Crying is great for your mental health too. Displaying your emotions openly – wearing your heart on your sleeve – tells others you are not a phoney shit-faced jerk, but a genuine and vulnerable person. It draws others closer to you. Crying in fact is a sign of inner strength, that tells the world that you don’t care about what others think.

When you cry in front of others, you are showing us all that it’s a perfectly normal and natural emotion. You are setting a trend. Haven’t you felt like crying at a funeral, after watching others cry, even though you had never known the dead dude?

Crying is infectious. Crying could even indicate that you are great at sex, but like I said, I won’t get into that. I shall however say this to all my male readers – try bursting into tears in front of a broad you have the hots for. You’ll be surprised when she gets turned on seeing your vulnerability and draws your head into her ample bosom and rocks you and says, “There, there, my koochie woochie woo, come here you.”

Ooops, I gotta go. My eyes just fell on Sathyajit Ray’s Pather Panchali. I can feel a good cry coming up. Toodle-oo!

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Post scrotum:

In case you want to try having a nice big bawl, here’s the link to that Thai TV commercial I spoke about in para-3……..

https://youtu.be/qZMX6H6YY1M

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Musings of a God-Whisperer (Part-1)

Every religion has it’s myths. Christianity swears by a Jesus who walked on water, brought a dead dude to life and turned water into wine. (Jesus chose the wrong profession. He should have taken out a lease on a bistro instead).

Likewise, every religion has it’s accompanying myths. Myths seem fantastical but they are meant to create symbolisms.

Take Hanuman, the half-ape, half-man demi-God in the Hindu epic “Ramayana” who was known for his blind loyalty to the capo-di-tutti-capi of Gods, Rama. Rama is an exiled God king.

Oh yeah, Hinduism likes it’s messiahs and Gods to be members of the elite, unlike those of the Abrahamic faiths which have strictly blue collar messiahs who fit the narrative – fighting oppression. Jesus was a carpenter, Mohammad a camel washer in a caravan and old Moe – just a dumb bearded nut with a stick who wandered around the wilderness for forty years, mumbling to himself over and over…”Where the fuck am I?”

In this little anecdote, Rama, the exiled heir to the throne at the kingdom of Ayodhya, returns to claim his crown after 14 years in the wilderness. If you are not a Hindu, you’d want to know why Rama took off on his decade long camping trip, but it is a wierd Harry Potter meets Lord of the Rings story. You’re better off not knowing why, trust me.

Rama’s triumphant return from the hills and coronation is a grand affair. On a certain level, it bears some similarity to the marriage of Connie Corleone in ‘The Godfather’. Custom dictates that the bride and groom have to award gifts and boons to the help. So, Rama’s wife, Sita, gifts her priceless sapphire ring to Hanuman as a reward for his blind loyalty to Rama.

Hanuman takes the ring, pops the sapphire from it’s setting and scrutinizes it as if he was looking for something in it. When he sees nothing but a dumb sapphire, he chucks the ring into the dumpster. This annoys Sita. Understandable. If you gift someone a priceless jewel and he destroys it in front of your eyes, you’d be pissed too.

Rama is perplexed too. He asks Hanuman what the eff he was trying to find in the ring. Why did he pop the precious stone and throw it away? Hanuman replies, “I am trying to find my Rama in the ring. Anything that does not have Rama in it, is of no use to me.” (I have to say, Hanuman sounded a bit like Mike Pence there).

You’d think Hanuman is bonkers but there’s a symbolism in his words. In our race for material comforts and luxuries we have forgotten God. We have begun believing that there is happiness and peace without Him. Life and it’s pleasures and desires is the sapphire ring that Sita gave Hanuman.

But in spite of it’s priceless value, the ring failed to attract Hanuman because he didn’t see Rama in it, meaning thereby that whatever may be our possessions and attainments, we shall never be able to attain the ultimate nirvana if we are not devoted to the Supreme.

What puzzles me though, is the fact that it was the divine Sita who tempted Hanuman with the ring. Had Rama orchestrated the whole thing? Did he make Sita give Hanuman the ring to test his devotion to him? One never can tell. Trust me, Gods can be nuts too.

There are parallels to that inexplicably petty act on part of the divine, in other faiths as well. The Christian/Jewish/Islamic God’s ‘test’ of Abraham’s faith comes readily to mind, when an egocentric and insecure God forcibly orders Abraham to sacrifice his son, Isaac, not bothering to tell him why the kid has to die. Of course, God – through his own version of Sarah Huckabee Sanders – tells Abraham to stop at the last split-second, when Abraham’s arms are raised and about to strike. What a display of vicarious, macabre cheap thrill seeking!

Let me tell you something. If someone I am devoted to asks me to kill my son, I’ll tell him to go fuck himself and if I see him again I’ll kill him with my own bare hands, plain and simple, God or no God.

Is it small wonder that I am an atheist?

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The divine Sita, presenting Hanuman with the sapphire ring. I have no idea who that black broad (right foreground) is.

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Wolf

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Canadian timber wolves at Parc Omega, Quebec

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Alternative facts – the beast we all have to face down today.

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Patriarchy today is a wounded beast. And wounded beasts are dangerous.

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Roller blading is a different beast than ice skating.

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I had a beast of a headache.

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There, one word, used in different ways, but we usually say ‘beast’ for something that we perceive as dangerous and associate with evil – like wolves, for instances.

I have wanted so much to come face to face with a wolf in the wild. Should have been easy, given that I find myself on a tree stand with my Sapua Magnum and a thermos in the woods off La Tuque most autumns, during deer and moose season.

But I have not seen a wolf in the wild yet. (The timber wolves in these photos live in comfort inside a wildlife preserve an hour’s drive outside Montreal that I drove to last weekend – Parc Omega.)

Wolves hate us, oh yeah. They look cute as hell – with all that fur and all – but make no mistake, they have it in for you and here’s why….

Before the early 1600s, native North Americans had co-existed for centuries with wolves – timber wolves, grey wolves, arctic wolves, black wolves – all kinds of wolves. They had learned to hunt in teams by watching wolf packs hunt. Unless wolves killed their livestock, they left them alone.

Europeans landed in North America with a kinda blood lust tinged with paranoia. 17th Century European culture saw wolves as evil – reps of the Satan – to be exterminated on sight. That’s how wolves have learned to loath us – for indiscriminately decimating their numbers. Today, if a she-wolf found Romulus and Remus abandoned, suckling them would be very far from her mind, trust me. She would throw a fookin baby rib roast party.

Over the centuries, wolves have taught themselves to recognize our smell and developed so keen a sense that they can detect our presence from two miles. So, unless you have found a way to mask your smell, there’s very little chance you are ever going to catch sight of a wolf in the wild.

There are of course all kinds of products in the market that promise hunters complete concealment but I haven’t found one that works. Of course if you are lucky to be downwind a wolf won’t detect your presence, but then the wind is a fickle beast and keeps shifting direction without notice.

My hunting partner, Michel, noticed that he could go undetected if he followed the trails that were frequented by ATV enthusiasts who bump around the countryside in those All-Terrain Quads. Quads leak oil and gas along the trail, besides belching exhaust. He surmised that the lingering gas smell masks the human smell. He got a majestic six-foot specimen last winter. Weighed in at 100lb, he did.

I probably never will see a wolf in the wild, as I have decided to give up hunting. It’s physically too demanding at my age and I don’t wish to injure my back at this late stage in life. A slipped disc could ruin my bounding sex life, y’know. (I am yet to try out all them positions in the Kama Sutra). Hauling the carcass of a 300lb elk through the brush and then bending over and skinning and cleaning it, cutting it into four massive chunks and then hefting them onto the back of your pick-up truck – it is back breaking work, even with the help of a hunting partner.

I did hear a wolf wail once, though. I was camped in Michel’s shack on the banks of the Lac Memphremegog. It was one long howl and his voice kinda cracked after a while – somewhat like a yodel. Eerie, gave me the heebies. I was snuggled up inside my sleeping bag when I heard the wail and I missed catching his silhouette on a knoll, against the moon’s Sea of Tranquility. We were zapped on some sterling shiraz cabarnet and dozing off, listening to Dire Straits’ “On Every Street”. You wouldn’t get me out of that sleeping bag even if it was your Scarlett Bowdi (Scarlett Johanssen) in flesh, wailing.

Just as well. You don’t walk out of your shack in the Canadian wild, in the dead of the night, under any circumstances. There are more black bears than wolves in the wild and if you thought wolves were crazy, you have no idea how kooky bears are.

Anyway, I was enlightening you on the history when you waylaid my thoughts…..

The decimation of wolves had been going on unchecked when, around the 1930s, Canadian conservationists began to see a worrying pattern emerge. With the wolves gone, the population of rabbits, deer, elk, moose, whitetail and wild boar exploded. Perpetually hungry, they had one single mantra – “When do we eat? When do we eat? When do we eat?”

The bastards threatened to defoliate our farmlands with their grazing and lay the countryside bare and the Canadian government realized that the wolves had been serving a purpose after all – conservation. A decision was taken to reintroduce them into the wild. The sprawling Parc Omega – with it’s surrounding countryside and rolling hills – is one of those establishments that is involved in the process of maintaining the balance.

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Wolves really are wild. They are a wholly different beast from most other predators. You can get a bear or a cougar to stand on a stool or ride a tiny three-wheeled bike in a circus, but try that with a wolf and he’ll tell you to go fuck yourself (ie: if you have a richard that is long enough).

And don’t assume that wolves won’t eat human flesh. Given a choice maybe they would prefer something else – maybe venison or boar or rabbit or something – but if they’re hungry, human flesh will do just fine, thank you. And wolves are hungry all the fookin time.

God forbid, but if you find yourself surrounded by a wolf pack for the first time, I swear you have no idea what you’re getting into. Picture this………..

The day had been dull, with no game in sight and you’re cramped, crouched on the tree stand. You’re tired. You need to take a leak. You also need to check why the fucking motion-sensing Spypoint you had installed in a wedge on the poplar 50 yards away isn’t transmitting. It’s still in warranty, thank God.

You leave your 7.62mm Nosler M48 leaning against the tree stand railing and you climb down to the ground. Very soon you are 50 yards from your tree stand and your Nosler and the light is failing. The voice inside is telling you, “ars–le, you shouldn’t be here”.

But you’re cocky. You have brought along your Colt Python even though handguns aren’t allowed on a hunt. Your ass could be in deep shit if a ranger caught you with one.

But everybody brings along his own trusty little life insurance on a hunt, okay? So here you are, your Colt out and you are pointing it at the closest m—-er f—-er. You think you can blast your way out of this jam.

You’ll empty your magazine, maybe kill a few, but wolves are relentless. That won’t stop them. Wolf packs count at fifteen plus animals. They’re a disciplined, tight-knit fighting unit. You’ll down a few but they’ll just keep on coming at you.

You are a novice at this. You’ll look directly at them, unaware that they are looking back at you – specifically your eyes. They are staring at the pupils of your eyes. You are staring at them, trying to tamp down the panic and they’re watching your pupils and noting how they dilate. With fear.

That’s another thing wolves know to recognize in you – fear. Never ever look a wolf in the eye. Look away, wear sunglasses, whatever, I am not kidding. Wolves are unstoppable when they sense fear.

Then they’ll begin the game. Oh yes, for wolves it is just as much the game as the actual kill. They like to play with their food. They’ll circle round and round, the diameter of the circle tightening gradually. Soon they’ll be brushing past you, deliberately bumping against you and grinding their butts against you. They’ll be playing with you, their lips curled slightly up, giant canines barely visible, a low guttural hum of a snarl escaping from between their teeth.

Wolves have a strict code of discipline. They’ll wait for the ‘chief’, the alpha male, to make the first move, have the first bite, take out the first chunk of flesh, maybe from your calves or thighs. I have a toe-fetish. Purple nail polish on well-formed evenly sized toes turn me on. Wolves too love toes, but in a strictly culinary sense. They don’t give a flying f–k if you had nail polish on.

After they are sick of bumping and grinding against you, it’ll be a slow descent into hell. Since they really think human flesh sucks, they don’t like the idea of being forced to eat you out of hunger. They resent having to eat you. Add to that the fact that you might have killed one or two of them with your Colt Python before the magazine dried up and they’ll be mighty pissed. They’ll make your death take a long long time.

But here are some tips in case you find yourself encircled by a wolf pack……

Whatever you do, don’t try to make a run for it and don’t even turn your back on them. Do not look them in the eye because that will give them the opportunity to watch your pupils and discern if you are scared. If you have a flashlight, turn it on them. Make slow, unhurried, deliberate moves. If there’s a tree nearby try climbing it. Wolves don’t climb trees.

If there is no tree and no flashlight and you’re a schmuck who stared them in the eye, all hope’s not lost just yet. Tell them you never ever hurt a wolf and they are making a big mistake stereotyping you as a big, white male human hunter. In case you own a dog, tell them you own a cousin of their’s whom you treat with utmost respect. If you’re Italian, tell them that two of your long lost ancestors suckled their female ancestor three thousand years back. Tell them anything but make your voice sound deep, like a baritone. Wolves are scared of bass.

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But wolves are relentless. After all your pleas, they still may not let you walk away. Carry a cyanide capsule at all times, bite into it. You’ll like the taste. Potassium Cyanide tastes like sweet figs.

And don’t be sad. Think of the plus side – all those big-breasted angels wearing flowing chiffon and nothing else underneath, up there. I understand that in heaven everything goes. It’s the heavenly version of a Hugh Hefner party at the Playboy Mansion. Think of all those boobs you can watch for all eternity.

So, take it easy. Wolves are nice, wolves are good……

 

 

 

Of Racks and Tines

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My friend, Michel Dupuis, would have loved to put a .306 round through his neck, but season is over. The deer can sense it when the season is over. Its like we’re friends again – until next October, that is. If you hunt off-season, you are a schmuck because of the consequences of getting caught – a five grand fine, the loss of your firearm and hunting licenses and the confiscation of your gear – your truck included.

But a hunt is something one has to experience at least once in a lifetime. Or be a hunter, like me and Michel. It is not just the kill, it is the whole thing – the prep, the drive through the wild, the chill, the bivouac, the buddies, the booze, the wait, the click of the bolt hitting the round in the chamber, the shot, the leap-back of the stock, the jarred shoulder, the pinging ear, the frightened scampering, limping flight in the brush, the trail of blood, the carcass, the drag over the cold hard ground, the hitching up and the skinning and cleaning, the packaging and the venison in the freezer for a whole year.

It is a heady thing but if you haven’t experienced it, you’ll never know it. Are we hunters bad? Maybe, but if I kill for meat, I do not think I am being cruel. I take my time and try my best to get the animal with one shot at the right spot. He doesn’t know what hit him. I have never had a doe run injured through the brush and get torn to pieces by coyotes.

Don’t you eat mutton or chicken? Just because you get someone else (the butcher) to do the killing for you, that is moral and my killing a whitetail isn’t – does that make sense?

That buck in the foreground is a 12-pointer, six on each side, each point being one tine on his rack. Eventually the whole rack will fall off and regenerate.

The time of the year a buck sheds it’s rack depends upon his age. If he is old, he will shed in December. This one still has his rack, which means he is young and will shed in spring (anytime now, that is). It figures, since the rack seems fully developed.

The antler grows back through summer and by fall, it is fully grown, ready for the inevitable locked horn fights for pussy in the October mating season. And as he ages, the buck will grow more and more tines every year and by the time he dies (if he is lucky enough to die of old age, that is) he will have a 16-point rack.

Its really crazy – we salivate over and kill them in the fall and now they amble over trustingly and we feed them carrots.

This one didn’t budge though. He had a kinda world-weary, been there done that, ‘seen it all’ look in his eyes. I whistled, clicked my tongue, snapped my fingers, clapped my hands, fell to my knees and begged him to come over and have the carrot I was waving at him and maybe take a photo with me but he said,” Shove it up yours. Carrots, carrots, carrots, ugh! Don’t you m—-er f—-ers have nuthin else to bring? Get me a hamper of pears and blueberries and I might think about it. Now scoot. Lizzy, over there, says season is over but she likes to get it on in spring. Scram.”

I could identify with that. Why does sex have to be confined to a season?

E Pluribus Multis (Part-3)

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Trump looks upon the Norwegians as ideal immigrant/citizen material, a sentiment even your friendly neighborhood white guy in America feels deep within but is too polished to admit. A white American would rather have a white Christian Anglo-Saxon European as an immigrant.

I understand that sentiment all too well. Why, my nation of birth – India – wrote the original encyclopedia on it. You wouldn’t believe the level of racism, bigotry and intolerance that exists within the hearts of a sizeable percentage of India’s majority Hindus. Indians worship the color white. It is the only country in the universe where “Fair and Lovely” – a phony skin cream – is the top selling cosmetic.

Roman citizens firmly believed in pretty much the same thing as Trump and his deplorables – that they were racially superior to the rest of the world. To the Romans, Hispanians were hotheads, Greeks were slippery, Egyptians were other-worldly, Phoenicians were greedy, Persians wore too much perfume and the Nubians(Sudanese) were plain dumb. The Romans too (like Trump) had their ideal immigrant material – the Greeks. Just as Trump sees Norwegians – and by extension, all white Europeans – as equals, so did the Romans see the Greeks as equals.

There were exceptions in Rome too though. Some immigrants made it big, really big. The great Septimius Severus (145-211AD) was born a brown-skinned son of Libyan immigrants. Historians unanimously hailed him as one of most effective Emperors that Rome ever had. Perhaps he wasn’t as white as some of his marble busts make him out to be. Rome those days just wasn’t as color conscious as America is today.

One does not have to look far to see that modern America too has had it’s Septimiuses – Barack Hussein Obama, for example – to much of the outside world, one of the best Presidents America has ever had.

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Let’s look at other similarities between ancient Rome and today’s America…..

Take the geography. Rome had a natural fortification to the north – the mountains of Cisalpine Gaul (Swiss Alps today) sat like a motorcycle helmet at the very neck where the ‘leg’ of Italy joins the rest of Europe – the only land route in and out. Over the centuries, the Huns, the Goths, the Gauls and the Vandals tried their best to move battalions over the rugged 3000-metre, snow-bound mountain passes and by the time the exhausted, frost-bitten grunts got to the other side, the well-nourished Roman Legions were waiting. On the other three sides, Rome had vast seas – the Tyrrhenian in the west, the Adriatic to the east and the Mediterranean below. Thus, Roman citizens remained untouched by direct land-based invasions for a millennium, before they finally gave in – weakened by the comforts of a good life – to the Huns.

Likewise, America is secured by the Atlantic and the Pacific. It has docile puppy dogs, Canada and Mexico, on the other two sides, both acting as impregnable buffers. America has never had to defend itself against a direct military invasion. I suspect American citizens are at a stage similar to Rome in 400AD, bloated by conspicuous consumption and an obese, spoon-fed, couch potato, reality TV-soaked populace that gets easily spooked by rumors and fake news and has absolutely zero stomach for a real fight. Who knows who America’s Huns shall be but as history shows, it is only a matter of time.

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Special interest groups and rich donors – not the citizens – have always decided who was going to rule in both, ancient Rome and present-day Trump America.

Politics has always been the road to personal wealth. The American EPA Secretary, Scott Pruitt, exploits his position to benefit the oil oligarchy in the US and systematically degrade the environment to his benefit. Two thousand years back the Roman quaestor, Hadrian, curried favour with Emperor Trajan to help friends and relatives forcibly acquire property from ordinary citizens and sell influence.

Hadrian eventually succeeded Trajan as Emperor. During his reign, he had columns and monoliths erected proclaiming that he was the best, most popular, most effective Roman Emperor ever. He even got his Bithynian male servant and lover, Antinous, deified into a God and then built a city called Antinopolis in Egypt, in the boy’s honor. Some reports suggest that Antinokins got drunk during an orgy on the Nile and fell overboard the royal yacht and drowned. Others say that in fact, Hadrian had the boy thrown overboard when he caught him giving one of the Praetorian Guardsmen a blowjob.

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Both, Rome and America, have constantly and deliberately heightened their security concerns to distract attention from domestic challenges and to spy on their own. Enough circumstantial evidences exist that point to conspiracies within most of America’s history-shifting events :- the assassination of JFK, the case for war in Iraq and in the same context, even 9/11 itself.

Ancient Rome too was rife with conspiracies. Marcus Aurelius’s son, Commodus, warded off multiple assassination attempts until he was finally strangled to death in his bathtub. Commodus was played by Joaquin Phoenix in Ridley Scott’s 2000 film “Gladiator”. Russell Crowe’s General Maximus was a fictional character, though.

Both, Rome and America, had very very itchy fingers. They actively fomented wars which could easily have been avoided. America has had it’s Guatemala, Nicaragua, Vietnam and the ongoing Iraq, to name just a few. In fact over the past hundred years, there have been American ‘boots on the ground’ fighting to secure it’s hegemony somewhere or the other at almost all times. Rome too fought so frequently that it’s citizens did not see beyond one continuous year of peace at a time for nearly the entirety of it’s 1200-year existence, from 800BC to 400AD.

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After the assassination of Julius Caesar and the blood bath that followed, Octavius came to power as Rome’s first Emperor in 43BC. From a Republic, controlled and administered by the Senate, Rome switched to an absolute monarchy. The Roman Senate (a group of around 400 rich and influential wheeler-dealers) ceded all it’s influence to the Emperor. Rome’s elite were reduced to currying favor and lobbying with the Emperor, turning themselves into yes-men. The quaestors, generals and governors increasingly began to use the loot from their foreign conquests to influence the Emperor’s decision-making and through it, shape Rome’s domestic policy. Rome’s elite had their own influential king-makers : the Ciceros, the Catilinas, the Catos, the Macedonicuses, the Brutuses and the Cassiuses.

I see the same thing happening in America. There are the Kochs, Mercers, Murdochs, Adelsons and a cabal of Jewish billionaire donors who have had American presidents by the balls for decades.

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Exactly as in ancient Rome, there really is no democracy left in America today.

Public policies no longer reflect the preferences of the majority of Americans. If it did, the country would look radically different in so many ways. I am a Canadian who lives in Canada and therefore forgive me if I am off the mark, but take a look at the list of stuff that could happen if America was a real democracy…….

  • For starters, the one who won 3 million more votes would be President. Campaign finance would be strictly controlled. Gerrymandering and the consequent disenfranchisement of blacks and minorities would no longer decide elections.
  • The wealthy would be taxed more, so that when the vet came home all shot up, there would be better rehabilitation for him.
  • Those who take their Lord’s name in vain (the so called American Christian evangelicals) would retreat into their screw-ball churches and nut-job pulpits and cease to be a force in politics, ushering in an age of tolerance and the gradual acceptance of LGBTs, immigrants and minorities.
  • Gun control laws would be much stricter.
  • Paid parental leave would be the law of the land, public colleges would be free and the minimum wage would be higher.
  • Abortions would be accessible without question, because it is the woman’s right to decide whether she should have the baby or she shouldn’t, regardless of the circumstances that led her to get knocked up.
  • And lastly, that typically American urge to waste money ‘building democracies’ in other parts of the world by force would be drastically tempered since ordinary Americans are sick of that.

Oh, I forgot……marijuana would become freely available.

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