Sunday, March 25, 2007

Much of the Truth Lies in Shadows

We Are Rolling is an anonymous blog for the standard reason of the author wanting her thoughts and expression to be appreciated (or not) for themselves and not for its source. As a result, I have often found it difficult to write about certain things for fear of revealing my identity. But I realise as I approach the first year mark that this cannot carry on forever. I must confess that I have more to write about than inanities like eggs, currency notes or magic beans and would like to share some of my more cerebral thoughts, which sadly, emanate from my academic interests. I am student of Media. There you have it: the truth. Though do not forget that much of the truth lies in shadows. There is more to this facet of me, mired in wanting to be more than a student, a traveler, a woman.

Studying Media is an intriguing 'activity' because every once in a while you'll read something that'll jolt your little world. Marshall McLuhan has been more successful in doing this to me (and I reckon, to many others). You might know him from his famous expressions 'the global village' or the more ominous 'the medium is the message'. For me, as a Media student, the less obvious lines send chills down my spine. Who is the hell is Nostradamus? This man takes foresight to a whole new level! In the early 1960s, McLuhan wrote that print culture would soon be replaced by what he called 'electronic interdependence'. Note, this was the early 1960s; fax machines weren't even used until the 1970s, let alone cell phones or the internet.

And here is what I find most eerie - 'users will simultaneously become producers and consumers' from The Global Village: Tranformations in World Life & Media in the 21st Century, co-authored by Bruce Powers, published in 1989 after McLuhan's death in 1980. I am baffled. How did he preempt the postmodern era of media non-ideology in which YouTube and Amazon and Wikipedia are leaders in this marketplace dynamic? Or, 'communication media of the future will accentuate the extensions of our nervous systems, which can be disembodied and made totally collective'. How did he know of the blogosphere and e-activism and the fact that for an alarmingly large population of the world our cell phones and keyboards are quite simply extensions of our arms and minds?

Much of the truth lies in shadows.

I rest my case.

Wednesday, March 21, 2007


Aniruddha was a little disconcerted to find this email in his inbox one morning:

Dear Aniruddha,

Thank you for applying to the Department of South and Southeast Asian Studies at Berkeley. I regret to inform you that you have not been accepted for graduate study. Our admissions committee has reviewed all of the materials submitted with your application. Its members have the difficult task ofselecting those with the strongest overall records. Equally important is the selection of those applicants (from a pool of well-qualified candidates) who are the best fit with our program's language and literature emphasis. Each of our six language groups must draw from the small allotment ofadmissions permitted our department. As a result, unfortunately, we are not able to accept many talented applicants. We wish you good luck with your academic goals in the future.

- Lee

Perplexed, he replied:

Dear Dr. Amazonas,

I am really surprised to recieve this mail of a rejection of the application for admission, as I haven't applied to the South and Southeast Asian Studies at Berkely in the first place. Therefore, I do not understand this mail and its purpose. A kind clarification would help, if it so pleases you.

Thank you,
Yours sincerely,


Clarification soon arrived:

Dear Aniruddha,

Please accept my deepest apologies for this error and any distress my mistake caused you. I did not catch this error and am truly sorry for this.

Lee Amazonas

Tuesday, March 20, 2007


With the impatience of his generation
he abandoned his fountain pen.
He chose instead a sip of first flush Darjeeling
because of a butterfly that fluttered past.
Under his pillow, the butterfly kept
some kernels of musk to seep
into his dreams, till warm sunlight
tickled his eyelids awake.
They flocked to the sea one day but
the clouds were debating a storm.
The butterfly laughed at the thunder while
he watched in astonished silence.

Tuesday, March 13, 2007

Learn, Power Wielders, Learn

Email writing is a tricky business, no doubt. Being the bearer of bad tidings can either make you very uncomfortable or really get your creative juices flowing, especially when you are (secretly) thrilled with your power as the Common Room Treasurer of a college in a prestigious university. Then, emails like this get sent out at a high frequency while it's writer sits chuckling to himself in his room eating chocolate chip cookies in the middle of the night:

Dear A,

Your request for funds to compensate for expenses incurred while participating in the U8 Summit at the University of Warwick this weekend cannot be met. This is for many reasons:

1. I am told that the Summit was well organised but due to its location in an isolated English village, 20 mins away from the crime capital, Coventry, the impact on world affairs and problems was minimal, if any.

2. It is alleged that you spent much of your time either sleeping, talking to a gentleman named Sam and partying to Punjabi music. Though the cultural exchange must have been enlightening, the College Amenities Fund should have nothing to do with it.

3. You slept through most important meetings and talks at the Summit. Thereby, not only casting a shadow of doubt on your commitment to the cause but also shaming the college before students from around the world.

4. You shamelessly slept with your mouth open in a gathering of more than 500 students while the Director of Global Fund for HIV Aids was delivering a lecture.

5. You spend an exorbitant amount of money at a Summit dedicated to development and sustainable growth, on tissue boxes to wipe your (ahem) mucus.

I hope you understand that it would be inappropriate to have the college compensate you for all the above reasons.

Best Regards,

Your Common Room Treasurer

Sunday, March 11, 2007

Disclaimer: Reader Discretion Advised (Morbid Content)

Be afraid. Be very afraid.

They say the world is shrinking. I say the world is on Facebook and will not leave you alone. That creepy annoying kid on your bus who picked his nose? Remember him? He is on it. So is that girl who spread vicious rumours about you. Even that boy you had a crush on but could never approach. There are many many many more people in this world who you don't know, don't remember or care to. They are all on Facebook.

Yet, one day you get added by a girl named Mira Seth (name changed to protect her identity though I don't know how it makes a difference). You accept her request because there was a girl way back when you were 12 who you were friends with and she was called Mira. However, when you go to her profile page, you realise that it is someone else. Not some complete stranger, just someone who was a year senior to you at that school. Alright, you say.

But then she writes on your wall, asking you how you are, etc. You are obliged to reply in this wonderful era of instant communication. Oh well, you reply saying your memory is a little rusty and that you recall two Mira Seths and politely ask which one she is, as her profile photo is unclear. She replies saying she is the 'chubby one, the one who didn't commit suicide in Class 12'.

You are shocked. Obviously, it's tragic and scary, even though you cannot remember who she is, no matter how hard you try..

Still, something continues to bug you.. You think, so there now is only one Mira Seth. Why am I not able to put a face to the one on Facebook?

Saturday, March 10, 2007

Note to Self

Do not offer to share your umbrella with persons who are 6'2" tall.

Tuesday, March 06, 2007

There Are Many Ways To Feel Good About Yourself

Here is one:

Meet an old friend who is now, for some obscure reason, studying Finance in Bergen and buy her many drinks when she visits London. Soon she will say, 'I know I said my life is great but it disgusted me when I realised that if I stop eating chicken for a month, I could pay for an entire trip to Spain.'

Sunday, March 04, 2007

RHCP Inspired Father-Daughter Togetherness

It has been a really long time since I last heard the Chili Peppers. Stadium Arcadium (which, by the way, I now feel starts off well and then gradually descends into unintelligible madness) is an album that listened to considerably last summer. So when I heard Snow Hey Oh this evening, it brought back the memories of sunny Bangalore and trying to tuck my zippy car in the chaos of cars parked on Church Street. It also brought back this lovely memory of driving my father to work one morning:

My father is, by far, one of the most calm and open-minded people in the world and I love him to tiny little bits. On this fine July morning, we were on Koramangala Ring Road and Stadium Arcadium had played on the system for a good twenty minutes. Negotiating my way through rush hour traffic, I was, as usual, tapping my fingers on the steering wheel to the beat.

Suddenly my father asked me in all seriousness, 'What is this fellow saying?'
'Err.. hmm.. actually, I can't follow the lines in this particular track.' I replied uncertainly, trying to decipher Anthony Kiedis' rap interlude.
'Hmm.. so why do you listen to this music, if you can't understand it?' he asked earnestly.
'Well..' I said, caught a little offguard. '.. it's catchy and funky and it has rhythm, don't you agree?'
'Actually, that is true. I do feel the beat.' My father replied, with a tentative head bob to the beat of Hump De Bump.
'Don't you?' I smiled back, pleased at my skills of persuasion, doing a little jig.
A silence followed as we appreciated the melodic genius of the Red Hot Chili Pepper's guitar riffs together. What a beautiful and peculiar moment, I thought to myself.

The song ended and my father remarked in wonder, 'It never ceases to amaze me how there is a market for everything. Even this has an audience!'