A Hundred and One

The Bus

The bus pulls up at the signal. I have just run my fastest 600 meters. My chest heaves, my tongue’s pasty, my skin, alive. The bus-door cranks open. Heat radiates from the engine, and tumbling from the bus is a crowd of smells, and late night emptiness. I am the two-eyed, well-aware queen of reserved-for-ladies seats occupied by late men. I sit, hands caked with the smell of peeling paint and rust. Salty tastes form on my tongue.

For memory, I rest my head against the strip of bus between my world-view, and someone else’s.

I feel a reassuring shudder.

My Favourite Thing to Eat

My most favourite thing to eat in the world, is chocolate. There is also tamarind, which I like for the same reasons. But I like chocolate better.

The glory of chocolate is not taste. It is texture. Chocolate is like skin, obeying whims of temperature and touch. A tango tangle between tongue and block. The block sits stubborn in the mouth, fighting, rigid. The tongue pins it down to the palate. And slowly, the block gives in.

70% cocoa is like grown-up love. More difficult to tease, harder to melt. Crafted. Bitter, sweet, heady, with a tang of well-brewed chemistry.

My Summer Holidays

My summer holidays are over. I cannot lie on my belly on the cold floor, sip Rasna and read the same Tinkles and ACKs (particularly Panchatantra). I cannot eat any more ghee-rich lunches fed by my grandma, or nap with my stuffed elephant, wake up at 4:05PM, in time to slip into my cotton frock and Hawaii chappals, or run out to play. I cannot throw pebbles at my friends’ windows. I cannot dig tunnels in sand-piles, or come home with a few million rashes and stray puppies any more.

People would laugh if I did. I’m too big now.

My Pet Dog

I don’t have a dog. It is not a biscuit-brown well-bred Cocker Spaniel. It does not daintily cross its feet at the last joint. It does not have socks, or puppies. I have never had a dog. I have brought home strays in the rain, fed them biscuits, owned them with ribbons, and have sent them back outside, crying. Dogs have been cause for my hiccupping cry of “cowards”, flung at my family for their never wanting to have their hearts broken again.

The only dog I have had, is their memory of one. A carrot-thieving German Shepherd named Teddy.

Ariel View

I’m not half a woman,
I’m mostly sea.
I’m not half a woman,
I don’t need legs to complete me.

I’m not an almost-whole Marilyn,
Underground rails billowing my dresses,
Haute couture of where I come from
Is mostly sea-shell bras, and floating tresses.

Come, live below sea-
Level with me,
Where there’s no doing the dishes
Or laundry,
We’ll pop oysters,
Smoke sea-weed,
And what we spark between us,
Is the only fire we’ll need.

There’s enough bubbles
For champagne the whole year round.
Gargling composes
Trumpet and saxophone sound.

There’s enough clay,
To be a water-work Michelangelo,
Where it makes sense to say,
Let’s take it easy, let’s go with the flow.

Our fingertips will forever be wrinkled,
Your money and maps, forever wet,
And should you ever get homesick,
We’ll visit the nearest shipwreck.

I’m not half a woman,
Sure, I’m almost always at sea.
I’m not half a woman,
I don’t need legs to complete me.

I’m sorry, I’m just not into flesh-trade,
Cutting in love’s name, is such a cheap charade.

I’m not parting with my second-half,
To be named your better-half.
I won’t burn hours at the treadmill,
To account for shapely calves.

So, Mister Prince Charming,
Mister Smile Disarming,
Take a deep breath,
Take the plunge,
Don’t open your mouth to say hello,
Just wave at the pants-wearing sponge.

Little Bad Girl

The first thing that struck me about the Guetta concert was the sheer number of pretty, young, skinny things that had come, bravely totting numbers reserved for nightclubs far away from mothers’ concerns.

I was amazed. At all the gigs I’ve been to, I’ve never had this much girl company. The only thing that outshouted the speakers this time, was a chorus of squeals. I did not worry about leering creepy men. I did not worry about sweaty armpits and hard-stoned head-bobbers keeling over. I did not worry about my now-inferior smartphone getting whacked out of my back pocket. Why would I? When next to me, was a barely-sprouted-upper-lip boy taking shamefully crisp photographs on his Lumia. Yes, the 800.

This gig was bewildering from the word go.

My first brush was a tee we saw at the gates – an adequately censored phrasing of Guetta’s contribution to parlance with co-conspirators MoS, Fuck Me I’m Famous. Needless to say, sported by a suspect-looking uncle.

We’d arrived right in time. The LEDs lit up, screaming Guetta’s latest album title – and motto – NOTHING BUT THE BEAT. An unshaven, agreeably disheveled, and adorably dirty-straw blond Guetta made an entry. (cue squealing girls – and boys that did surprisingly accurate impressions of said squealing girls)

A few vague teases later, came a mashup of one of my favourite-of-all-time Guetta tracks, Love is Gone, and one of my latest shame-numbers, Little Bad Girl. It was delicious. And it didn’t last long enough. It didn’t even go anywhere. Before long, it trailed off into an unfortunately unyielding foreplay of Love Don’t Let Me Go.

The lineup that followed was pretty much a repeat of that sequence. Snatches of vocals from hit songs, blended beautifully with so-much-deja-vu riffs. Everything diffused before any serious boogie. It looked like Guetta had basically opened up all the channels of all his songs, and had gone apeshit with recurrent patterns in his discography.

Musically, mathematically, you were genius Guetta. But I’m sorry, I think nightclubs here have made me expect differently.

First, the sound setup was not noisy enough. I think the cheapest shortcut to being overwhelming, is to be loud. The setup just wasn’t. We tried three different positions in the crowd – center, off-center, even far back, and the acoustics weren’t hitting any spots.

Guetta, I know it was your first time here. But you should’ve done your homework. You should’ve first seen what your protégés here do with your music. They play you, your three minutes due. They play you, intro, crescendo, and cut apologetically out of your outro, into some undeserving Pitbull.

I don’t know if it’s a problem of song rights with the artists you collaborate with. But I was dying to hear what first got me hooked on to you – your 2004-dated dirty bit with JD Davis, The World is Mine. I’m astonished you picked your scream fest with Nicki Minaj (Turn Me On), over your feel-good bigger-hit with Rihanna (Who’s That Chick).

The strobe-lights and LED work was impressive. The console was mind-blowingly well-done for a space to be occupied by just one man. LED motifs paid a quick tribute to magnetic tapes (yay!) before moving eventually into Pokéball-looking turntables. The text work was beautiful. Guetta’s famous heart popped over and over (silhouetting barely-old oddly-necking couples). My favourite was the play in the “A” from the typography of his name on his album covers. Which, in hindsight, strongly resembles Free Mason symbolism on the Dollar (I’m not under influence, I promise). Every effort had gone into making Guetta look like an Electronica Messiah. And if you were watching, it probably worked.

For me, this was a coming-of-age concert as a Guetta fan – and as a Dance music nut. DJs are not meant to be experienced second-hand, at the scratches and whims of Ladies’ Nights specialists. Guetta, Live, outside the confines of his studio, someone else’s console, or even YouTube, actually has more personality. Something I’d like to witness in an amphitheater, not a Palace Grounds. I had no idea Guetta had touches of Trance in his fingers. Or inclinations towards quiet solos, until today. Even the way he faded in and out of bridges when his fans sang (horribly off-key), had an odd Guetta-fingerprint.

I suppose this is what a Guetta experience is like. Mostly an EDM jam-session. Not necessarily the House party that I’m used to crashing.

But I’m not writing him off. Not until I watch him at an MoS night.
For now, bring on Deadmau5.