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Saturday Nights and the Ds…..

I spent last night, i.e. the Saturday night in the most clichéd form possible! Went drinking then dancing and then again drinking and then again dancing followed by more drinking and finally an early morning breakfast! I am told this way of spending the Saturday night shows that one has a life – a social life! I just have a small question – as an after effect when I spend the whole of Sunday at home warding of the debaucheries of the previous night …trust meat that point I know that no life is better than that life!!!!! Of course, one doesn’t really complain when one is actually committing the debaucheries, because all said and done it’s a lot of fun, at least for that moment of time. One thinks of the Latin proverb -“It is well to remember that there are five reasons for drinking: the arrival of a friend, one’s present or future thirst, the excellence of the wine, or any other reason.” and raises a toast to it and one more and may be one more! The consequences are all hazy in the alcohol incensed fumes of future……so tomorrow shall never come!

Anyhow, I am not writing to debate out the pro and cons of wild night outs, but rather to share my varied and bemused reactions to clubs/discotheques. Even while the world was dancing the night out around me, I know I had to come back and write about this!!

So after drinking for like 3 straight hours, we went to this “in” club at the very heart of the city. This is like my umpteenth visit to this place and I still have to figure out why it so high in the “places to be in” list. The alcohol is alright but way overpriced. The food is …well palatable, but then who goes to a night club to eat. The music is….well for somebody who really digs dancing……well want to stop dancing and go sit in a corner and nurse my LIT. Then comes the people part of the whole deal…let’s get to that part.

Since this is the place “to see and to be seen with”, the entire world descends there. So I begin with the hep and cool, who were the most amazing clothes, have reserved tables and get waited on hand and foot. In a weird autocratic system, no body dances with their women, but they can go and grope anyone they care to in whatever form/shape/size as long as they are of the female disposition. Then there are the “want to be seen so that can show off to friends”. I find this variety mostly among women than among men. They wear the shortest of dresses and tallest of heels and are distinctly uncomfortable in the attire and do not have any fun, since they are so physically uncomfortable; but you will never find them confessing the same. Oh! No! They just had a “fab” time…..what the hell is fab anyway? Then of course there are the usual frustrated lot – both men and women. The men will go around pushing themselves on to you no matter how much you try to protect yourself. But at least the club bouncers are always on the alert for such creatures and in my limited night clubbing experience have always taken care of these gropers. But what about this whole lot of frustrated…let me rephrase desperate women???? So I went in a gang of 8, four guys and us four girls. At one point, two of my guy friends were just standing in the corner, drinking and generally enjoying, when suddenly this scantily clad persona came crashing into both of them and started gyrating…well gyrating…you know what I mean!! My poor boys……they did not know how to handle this loose cannon. Until one of her friends came and took her away, those two were literally cornered! Then there is this group, who seem to find a challenge in finding private spaces to display their affection and insist that the entire world should witness their love – at least physical if not spiritual! Shudder! Shudder! Ugh! Finally there would be this shy group of men/women who come looking for a good time and a possible dance partner….they will come quietly and shyly and ask if you wanted to dance….when you are already dancing with somebody!

After all of this and the bad music, is it any surprise that I spent a significant part of the clubbing portion of the night, hardly dancing and nursing one LIT after the other. The result of those LITs I keenly feel today…..the sins of the past shall visit us tomorrow…..sigh sigh! Groan! Groan! In the words of one the greatest philosophers of the modern times ….”Alcohol is the cause and the solution to many of life’s problems.” Homer Simpson

All that we see or seem……

I was walking along the shady path that led up to the house. It was a huge rambling mansion that had seen better days, but despite the peeling paint and the washed out appearance, it was still imposing. The rain lashed out harder and as I neared the entrance…..I could remember in flashes the memories that belonged to this house – the lovely, intelligent lady of the manor, her tall brilliant husband, how she took care of all the dependents of the house and its lands, her unwavering kindness and care with she had brought up her husband’s sister, like her own daughter and then that horrid night…..what happened? Where had those wonderful days of sunshine and laughter gone? I wondered about this brutal stillness in the surroundings? Where were all the people of the house? As I approached the main door, I knew there was no turning back….I had to knock and enter the threshold to fathom its secret. I gritted my teeth and rapped loudly and the heard somebody calling my name….the sound became clearer and closer and then I heard clearly “The laundry guy is here! Can you please settle the bill, I am out of change!”

Laundry? Bill?

Yup! It was a dream and just as I was about to unravel the great mystery, my flatmate decided to wake me up for something as mundane as a laundry bill!! Grrrrrrrrrr…….don’t you want to just strangle these so called best friends at times??? I so wanted to go back to sleep and pick up where I had left off. I wished it was like a movie on the DVD player where you pause and then start again. When I complained to what I felt at that point my very unsympathetic best friend, she scoffed and said “Well! It was just a dream! Why don’t you just write a tale and put in a finish that you want! That’s how you get most of your ideas anyway!”

That kinda got me thinking and I must confess that’s true. Every story/novel idea that I have written has had its germination in my dreams. A lot of successful creative people say that they the get their best ideas from what they see in their everyday lives. The courage of the common man is what makes their stories a success. Q.E.D. I do not find inspiration from daily life…oh! no! I have to dream them up…no wonder I am still trying to get published.

Anyhow so the piece around the dream and its lexis nexus with my creativity made me Google to my favourite research site – (no more brownie points for guessing, I have ranted about it enough several times) Wikipedia. I remembered reading Freud’s Interpretation of Dreams during my grad years and coming to the conclusion that it was a bit of hogwash, though most of my brilliant friends tell me I do not understand basic science let alone a complex phenomenon like psychology….they are I am sure right! But I still think Freud is hogwash. Back to Wikipedia, I read and read to better understand my condition, so that I could stop dreaming ideas (literally) and start getting inspired by daily life as a stepping stone to my success as a published author.

Per my trusted source, dreams are connected with our subconscious and are often outside the control of the dreamer. Per good ol’ Freud, dreams are manifestations of wish fulfilment. Jung, his most famous student, of course disagreed and said that dreams have messages and the dreamer should pay attention to them to better understand his/her own psychology.  ( He did not account for inconsiderate flatmates who interrupt one’s concentration) Fritiz Perls argued that dreams are projections of desires that have been ignored, rejected or suppressed and even an inanimate object may represent may present aspect of the dreamer. (What is the house supposed to represent?) Eugen Tarnow says that dreams are ever-present excitations of long-term memory. (No long-term memory of rambling house with a loving owner!)The closest I got to some understanding was Finnish psychologist Antti Revonsuo’s theory of dreaming – dreaming as an evolutionary phenomenon where the dreamer replicates the threats and continually practices dealing with them and this is proved by the fact that dreams include much more threatening events than people meet in daily non-dream life, and the dreamer usually engages appropriately with them. It made sense that as human’s we would be scared of losing what we value and this might impact our dreams! So I plodded on and  read more, but the more I read, and the more I read, the more I got confused and finally after ,making relations to all objects in my dreams, ended up with couple of startling conclusions –

  • I am suffering from trauma
  • I have repressed childhood memories
  • I have faced rejections
  • I need help! Sob! Sob! Bewail!

At this point, my uncaring flatmate decided to take charge and marched me out of the house with a dinner and movie treat.

Now that I have regained my mental composure (some of my friends are convinced I did not have any to begin with!!!) I have decided not to delve in medical matters or become a caricature of Jerome K Jerome’s J who realized while reading a medical journal that he suffered from every single disease in the world and was destined to die in a couple of months!! Instead I shall use my dreams like I have done so far – to find good stories, whether I get published or not! So there!

P.S. The title is borrowed shamelessly from Edgar Allan Poe’s A Dream Within a Dream.

Camaraderie in Weimar Republic

I had mentioned previously that I was reading a book called “Three Comrade” by Erich Maria Remarque and I finished it some time ago. After reading the book, I thought and thought for some time and decided it will be apt to write a note about it!

I am not going to start by praising or deriding it, but rather take a detour and talk about Erich Maria Remarque, before plunging into the work. (Have patience! Mr Remarque was a remarkable man of his time and its worth reading about such real life heroes as well.) We might have heard of Mr Remarque’s other more “popular’ book called “All quiet on the Western front”…..right it was also made into an Oscar winning film; but it was a book for a long while before it became a Hollywood magnum project. Anyhow, my trusted source (you got it: Wikipedia) informs me that Mr Remarque was born in Germany in 1898 and began writing from the age of 15. He was drafted into the German Army and served in the Western Front (Yup! You can finally make the “connection”….All Quiet on the Western Front was novel derived from his war experience!). Post the war, he dabbled in various occupations including teaching, journalist, librarian and a businessman. He published some minor works; fame finally came with his magnum opus “All Quiet on the Western Front” in 1927. He would then go on to publish various other works, The Road Back, Arch of Triumph, Flotsam etc. and of course Three Comrades. Before divulging into the book, I just want to share one small nugget about his life which makes him a hero – he wrote in dangerous times – Nazis were gaining power in Germany. Mr Remarque, a true humanitarian was horrified at what Germany was becoming and went on a self-imposed exile to Switzerland and became a naturalized US citizen in 1947. While in exile in Switzerland, he was in turns coaxed and coerced into returning to Germany. When all means failed, his sister and her family were arrested and executed for ‘undermining morale” of the State and his book were banned. He never went back to Germany. He died in 1970.

Cover of "Three Comrades"

Cover of Three Comrades

Now for the book – Three Comrades. The tag line of the book says “A novel of Germany between the two wars”. In the simple direct style, that Mr Remarque is famous for, his tag line encapsulates the very essence and meaning of the novel in these lines. The story is told in first person by one of the three comrades – Robert Lohkamp, a cynical protagonist who has been disillusioned by his experience in World War 1. The story begins in about 1923 and ends with that decade. It traces the camaraderie between Robert and his two friends – Otto Koster and Gottfried Lenz and their struggle in running a garage in an increasing jobless and bankrupt country. Their lives change when Robert falls in love with Patricia Hollman, a beautiful girl from an erstwhile wealthy family. She too becomes a comrade and joins the three in all their adventures from auto racing to drinking parties through the night. Interlacing with these four principal characters are other minor but true portraits of everyday men and women struggling to find their hold on their lives in time and place they had no choice for – Rosa, the prostitute who leaves her baby in the country while she walks the roads, The Hasses, Alfonso, Gustav the taxi driver with a soft heart and of course Karl, one cannot forget Karl. The book’s end (I will not disclose) becomes obvious well into the middle, but hang on and read it and you will be surprised by an unexpected turn of events.

Ultimately, the book is a vivid portrayal of nation and her people who are trying to come in terms with changes in their lives on which they have no control over. Written in a simple direct language, it has some lovely interplay of words that leave you wondering, like ‘Two photographs – one life.” Simple, beautiful and ethereal! What is perhaps the most wonderful feature of this book is that though there is melancholia all round, Mr Remarque manages to weave a sense of wonderful laugh out loud humour – check out the racing scenes or the events at “The International” or even the doctrines of the “Last of the romantics”. It’s a moving tale, where if you are like me, a lump will form in your throat and will find its way through your eyes!! Read it, like you would enjoy a glass of wine…in fact read it with a glass of wine!! It’s worth it!

P.S. Hollywood also decided to make a movie on this and starring Robert Taylor and Margret Sullivan, it was released in 1938 in the same name. Rumour has it that the 1978 Oscar-winning film The Deer Hunter was inspired by this book. I have not seen either….I have no wish to disappoint myself with a let-down which most films based on books are (except The Godfather, but then it’s The Godfather), but if you feel adventurous, please watch them, but I would strongly recommend reading the book first!!

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