Thursday, October 31, 2013

And then, they were born: footnote 1

Remember this post? Remember this part?

Devavrata's father Shantanu (read: lustful old pervert) had wanted to marry a woman roughly the age of his son. This was no ordinary woman: Satyavati was born of King Vasu and the apsara (not the pencil) Adrika (also known as Girika) who, for some reason, was disguised as a fish during the intercourse (well, an alternate version is so absurd that it deserves a post in itself: we will get into that later).

***

That was a promise I had made. Now I will live up to it. Do not be surprised (yes, I know you have a right to be surprised). What is more, there will be more information on a couple of the lesser characters and a grand revelation at the end, so stay tuned.

Tale One: Satyavati's birth

Long, long ago, in the kingdom of Chedi (approximately in Bundelkhand: Shishupal hailed from here), there lived a king called Uparichar. Uparichar was named so because he travelled high - literally: one of his favourite hobbies was to pay occasional trips to heaven and socialise with Gods.

Chedi was a relatively peaceful kingdom, with the Kolahal Range and the River Shuktimati cutting it away from threatening attacks, which helped Uparichar pursue his divine trips in peace.

Then, one day, something interesting happened. Kolahal came to Shuktimati with a bizarre proposal:
Kolahal: Hey, gorgeous.
Shuktimati: Wassup?
Kolahal: Fancy a drink?
Shuktimati (raises a wave): You are offering me a drink?
Kolahal: Fine, let me come to the point. Your place or mine?
Shuktimati: Jeez, what are you talking about?
Kolahal: I want to make love to you.
Shuktimati: WHAT?
Kolahal: Babe, I'm hard and you're wet, so what's the big deal?
Shuktimati: You're a pervert. Himalaya will send you to Yamalaya.
Kolahal: He won't. He lost his strength after marrying Bhagyashree. He is now full-time into glasses and contact lens.
Shuktimati: Fine. I will ask somewhere else.

So Shuktimati went to Uparichar.

Shuktimati: Kolahal has made lewd gestures at me.
Uparichar: How does a mountain do that?
Shuktimati: Oops, I should have told you earlier; we have our own mode of communication.
Uparichar: Okay, I don't need the details. Just don't call me 'Oops'.
Shuktimati: Whatever. Now protect me.
Uparichar: Deal.

So Uparichar went to Kolahal and kicked him. The mountain moved sufficiently away from the river and did not disturb her anymore.

[Note: There are some versions that claim that Kolahal and Shuktimati actually made out and had twins, one of which was Satyavati.]

The ordeal done, Uparichar aka Oops went for a tour in one of his pleasure-gardens. Alone. As it often happens with pleasure-gardens, testosterone got the better of him; he took the matter up in his own hands and ended up emitting fluid of some semi-viscous kind.

But that is not the end of the story. Oops wasn't willing to waste the fluid: someone - I have no idea who - must have taught him that the sole purpose of masturbation is reproduction. Also, the person in charge of his sex-education was not really a competent one.

As a result he wanted the queen to use it (I have no idea how). So he made a packet out of leaves, filled it with the aforementioned fluid and summoned his parrot.

Oops: Parrot, you have a task.
Parrot: What's new about that?
Oops: This is not the usual task. I want you to carry this package to my queen.
Parrot: I can't. This stinks. I have seen what you have done.
Oops: What are you talking about? This is fluid that has made kings, administrators...
Parrot: No, dude. They're made through elections. L. Not R.
Oops: You're jealous.
Parrot: Nope, I was just born green. I'm not doing this.
Oops: I will banish you to Kolahal.
Parrot: This is the last time I'm doing this. I would need that mynah when I'm back, though.

So the parrot flew. He was not very keen on carrying the package all the way. He kept whining:
Why am I doing this? Is this the kind of job I was born for? Is there anyone in the world who is doing something that offers less job satisfaction than what I am doing right now? Why does the queen need a parrot? Wouldn't a carrot be a better option?

He was crossing Shuktimati when a hawk spotted him. It swooped upon the parrot in the same way that hawks have swooped upon parrots throughout the course of history.

The hawk preyed. The parrot prayed. And then dropped the bundle.

But that is not the end of the story.

There was an apsara called Adrika. Some sources also refer to her as Girika.

[Note: Both words mean 'a small mountain'. Now stop snorting and get back to reading.]

Now, Adrika was loitering in the form of a fish across Shuktimati (such pastimes were considered quite commonplace in the era). The package dropped, releasing its contents.

Adrika swallowed the contents. And got pregnant.

[Note: If any female fish is into fellatio and is reading this post, beware. Not everything is explained by science.]

When the fishermen eventually caught Adrika and opened her up. Adrika, now killed, went back to perform her day job in heaven. The fishermen found twin siblings inside the fish. They took her to their king (called Das), who took her to Oops.

Das: We found these children inside a fish.
Oops: ... and your point being?
Das: They are your children.
Oops: Sounds convincing. The son is mine. Not the daughter.
Das: But they are twins. They must be born of the same father. That's logic.
Oops: I am the king.
Das: Fine.

So they came back. This girl was Satyavati. The boy, on the other hand, is rumoured to have founded Matsya (now in Chambal). This is the same Matsya where Yudi and his family took refuge under King Virat. That is completely another story.

[Note: it must be remembered that the story in Matsya included Yudi telling his only lie in the epic - an incident that usually goes unnoticed. The one regarding Ashwatthama was not a lie; at least the complete sentence was not.]

***

Tale Two: Shantanu's first marriage

The story begins with a king called Mahabhisha. He had probably achieved a lot in life (read: donated cattle to Brahmins), which is why he was granted entry to heaven. He was also granted all the cool perks - including Kamdhenu, Kalpataru, and Chintamani, all of which are meant to fulfill all your desires (why need all three, then?).

Mahabhisha was also eligible to attend Indra's court where all the cabarets were held. Ganga, the most worshipped river in India, was visiting the heavens, possibly for a refill.

Then there was a breeze (not the soap), and lo! Ganga's assets were revealed. Mahabhisha, unable to overcome his lust, stared a bit too shamelessly when the Gods looked at her with *cough cough* respect.

Indra summoned both Mahabhisha and Ganga to the interrogation chamber. One would assume that Ganga was properly clad before she went there, but then again, that is just an assumption.

Indra: MB, you have stared at this woman's breasts unashamedly.
Mahabhisha: What should I have done, O Lord?
Indra: Stared with respect.
Mahabhisha: How does one do that?
Indra: You should have noticed what I do.
Mahabhisha: One word. Ahalya.
Indra: Shut up. You will be banished from heaven and re-born as a man called Shantanu.
Mahabhisha: Big deal.
Indra: As for you, Ganga...
Ganga: Yes, My Lord?
Indra: You will be banished from heaven as well and will have to marry this Shantanu.
Mahabhisha: That is a punishment?
Ganga (winks at Mahabhisha): Seriously?
Indra: Yeah.
Mahabhisha: What's your IQ level, dude? 15?
Ganga: Do I get to keep my name?
Indra: Yes, you do.
Ganga: See you downstairs, then.
Mahabhisha (winks at Ganga): Yeah baby.

Pratip, king of Hastinapur, was sitting on a river bank and meditating and minding nobody's business. Given the location of the place one can safely assume that this river was Yamuna.

Suddenly Ganga arrived out of nowhere and sat on Pratip's right lap.

Pratip: What on Earth do you think you're doing?
Ganga: Are you blind?
Pratip: You know the LLW-RLD rule, right?
Ganga: Yes, I do. Left lap is for wife, right lap is for daughter.
Pratip: So you've come all this way to be adopted?
Ganga: Nope. I want to marry Shantanu.
Pratip: Who in the right frame of mind would want to marry Shantanu?
Ganga: I love him.
Pratip: You love him? Listen, I've got two other sons, Devapi and Vahlik.
Ganga: Nope, I need Shantanu.
Pratip: Suit yourself.

So Ganga went up to Shantanu.

Ganga (winks): Remember?
Shantanu: Now or after the wedding?
Ganga: After. But I have a condition.
Shantanu: Anything. Anything.
Ganga: You cannot ask me any question after the wedding. Any.
Shantanu: What about before?
Ganga: Shoot.
Shantanu: That day in heaven - was it intentional? It was such a mild breeze.
Ganga: I have dolphins to look after. Bye.

***

The revelation

Look at the family tree below. You have seldom seen anything like this. Conclusions welcome.

[Note: Yamuna was not necessary. I just put her in there because Bhaiphnota / Bhaidooj is approaching. I apologise, but I had to portray Kunti twice. I have shaded relevant characters in to make sure people notice them.]


I rest my point.

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

And then, they were born

It had all started with Bhishma.

Devavrata's father Shantanu (read: lustful old pervert) had wanted to marry a woman roughly the age of his son. This was no ordinary woman: Satyavati was born of King Vasu and the apsara (not the pencil) Adrika (also known as Girika) who, for some reason, was disguised as a fish during the intercourse (well, an alternate version is so absurd that it deserves a post in itself: we will get into that later).

As a result Satyavati ended up smelling like a fish (she was also brought up among fishermen); despite that she was seduced by Parashar (the first of the many rishis in this saga):

Parashar: I want to sleep with you.
Satyavati: Huh?
Parashar: See, if you sleep with me you'll get the most awesome son.
Satyavati: Dude, get your things sorted out. I don't want a son. I want men, which is anyway difficult with this body odour.
Parashar: I will bring the son up.
Satyavati: What about my virginity?
Parashar: What about it?
Satyavati: Look, I need some fun, but I need my virginity intact as well.
Parashar: Fine. I will re-virginise you.
Satyavati: Sounds good. What do I get in return?
Parashar: I'll get rid of your body odour. You will be blessed with a fragrance that will attract any man.
Satyavati: Suits me. I'll give you my complete package.

So they made out and Satyavati gave birth to a child called Vyas. Vyas departed with Parashar and ended up writing Mahabharat himself (or rather, dictating it to Ganesh). I know there is a loophole somewhere in this but cannot get what it is.

Shantanu probably had a thing for fish; his first wife was Ganga, and now he became enchanted Satyavati's piscine aroma. He - you have to believe this - decided to ask his son for help.

We all know what followed. Bhishma vowed that he would never marry or rule a kingdom (read: he wanted to collect a cohort of concubines and run the kingdom from the background). As a result Shantanu ended up blessing his son that he could choose his hour of death.

This is something that has always baffled me: Can anyone bless anybody to be anything? I mean, if I had blessed Fardeen Khan that he would rule Bollywood for the next 75 years, would he really have been able to do so? Shouldn't there be a minimum cut-off level for being eligible for granting a boon?

The other blessing was easier to understand but difficult to explain: Devavrata was renamed to Bhishma. Exactly what purpose this served in Bhishma's life is unclear, but he accepted the name anyway.

So Bhishma became the ultimate dude of the book. He was invincible at war (yes, he was officially invincible); add his father's blessings to that, and you will find someone who cannot be beaten and can choose his own death. With a new name.

***

Satyavati and Shantanu ended up having two sons - Chitrangad (no 'a' at the end; the word means 'a decorated armlet') and Vichitravirya ('strange semen'). Someone in Hastinapur must have been very imaginative with names.

Chitrangad was the obvious contender to the throne (which was run, as you must have guessed by now, by Bhishma). However, he went out hunting one day, and met a namesake yaksha. The creature turned out to be rather over-possessive about his name.

What followed was history. The yaksha challenged his namesake to a duel on the extremely sound logic that two people with the same name do not have the right to co-exist in this world (thank goodness I was born in a different era).

The battle that followed has gone down in history as the Battle of the Chitrangads. One of the Chitrangads emerged victorious, and since he did not return to Hastinapur, one can only assume that it was the prince who had fallen.

The baton now passed on to Vichitravirya. Satyavati now sent Bhishma to Kashi to capture all three princesses from the swyamvar for Vichitravirya's sake. This probably made Satyavati the greatest mother in the history of mankind.

These princesses had names that followed the add-two-letters formula: Amba, Ambika (Amba + Ik), and Ambalika (Ambika + al). The general idea was to ensure that anyone who married these women would have the word Amba in the names of their wives.

As we all know, Amba backed out, and following a rather convoluted stretch of events (which involved my hero Parashuram) died, vowing to come back with a mission to kill Bhishma. But that is another story. I promise to write on that at some point of time.

Vichitravirya was shattered at the prospect of a foursome being reduced to a ménage à trois, but he still managed to live with it. Given the fact that he was called Vichitravirya, he died overdoing things a bit (yes, really) before he could father a son.

***

That left Hastinapur with two horny heterosexual women and without a heir. Of course, they had Bhishma, the most eligible bachelor in the country, but ruling a kingdom would have meant that he would have to give up his name of Bhishma and go back to Devavrata, and he would certainly want to give up his well-practised autograph.

Then, one night, Satyavati called Bhishma to her room. I'm not sure whether this is a night, but important conversations typically happen at night. You can even think of a thunderstorm or hailstorm or Himesh Reshammiya's voice or anything as a backdrop for that matter.

Satyavati: Sit.
Bhishma: No. Bhishma never sits.
Satyavati: Don't be stupid.
Bhishma: You should not talk to me like that. Nobody talks to Bhishma like that.
Satyavati: Listen, this is a serious matter. So please sit down and stop referring to yourself in the third person.
Bhishma: Well, what is it?
Satyavati: We need an heir for this kingdom.
Bhishma: So what do you expect me to do? Abduct a husband for you?
Satyavati: Listen, I have something to tell you. I have a son.
Bhishma: You have made two mistakes there - in the tense and in the arithmetic -
Satyavati: No, I had three sons. One of them, the eldest, is still alive.
Bhishma: What exactly are you talking about?
Satyavati: Er, well, I do not have a very pious past...
Bhishma: Which is why I wanted you to marry my father. You made an excellent couple.
Satyavati: This is really not the time for sarcasm.
Bhishma: Fine, what is it that you want?
Satyavati: I want this son of mine to impregnate Ambika and Ambalika.
Bhishma: I see what you mean. 
Satyavati: Do you think I should summon him?
Bhishma: Yes, I guess it's about time. I'm tired of their lewd gestures at me. They have even started calling me Debu.

***

So Satyavati's son arrived, and approached Ambika's room that night.

Ambika was scared. She closed her eyes. Before the action (possibly).

Ambalika was scared. She went pale. Before the action (possibly).

Not willing to take any risk Satyavati wanted to send Ambika again. But the cunning woman sent in a maid, who was happy with what she saw, and slept with Satyavati's son willingly.

So, what was it that intimidated two women and pleased a third? Let me give you a hint: the son was called Vyas, which is Sanskrit for diameter.

A few months later Hastinapur celebrated the birth of three sons: the blind Dhritarashtra, the pale and sickly Pandu, and the super-smart Vidur.

***

Dhri was born blind, which meant that Hastinapur turned a blind eye to his claim to the kingdom. Pandu was made king. This led to the Hastinapur teenagers chanting couplets where the first line almost invariably ended with Pandu.

Dhri worked his way around the system. He soon got to know that the mantle would pass on to the elder son of the next generation, so his son stood a chance as long as he was able to outdo Pandu at it. So he decided to get married.

Bhishma was sent to Gandhar (modern Kandahar). This was the third generation whose wedding Bhishma was supposed to arrange. Gandhar was probably sure of the blind love the groom would be possessed with, and set out for Hastinapur as Dhri kept himself busy with reading Braille porn.

Gandhari's parents were obviously not very imaginative with girl names. What was completely unexpected was the fact that Gandhari turned out to rather moronic as well. For some reason she thought that the best way to keep her marriage running smoothly was to blindfold herself.

General question: If Dhri was a cripple, what would Gandhari have done? Get a leg amputated? Hop on one leg for the rest of her life?

Pandu was not sitting silently, either. He was married to the reserved Kunti (who was, rather unpredictably, from a kingdom called Kunti, and then a Punjabi pataka called Madri to double the probability. Threesomes, you see, ran in his genes.

Personally, I believe that the kingdom was somewhat partial towards Pandu as well. They probably did not take the number of wives into consideration but probably took into account the sum of the distances required to travel to obtain a wife. The following illustration might tell a thing or two.

 Based on an excellent map of ancient North-West India that I have nicked shamelessly from the internet
***

Despite the fact that everyone is aware of it let me go through Kunti's pre-marital life once. Everyone loves gossip, which, I guess, should improve this blog's hit-rate.

When the notorious Durvasa landed up at Kunti (the kingdom) the king (who was called Kuntibhoj, which literally translates to 'one who eats Kunti'; don't ask me why) got petrified. Cursing random people at the slightest possible lapses was, after all, Durvasa's USP.

Kunti (who was actually Kuntibhoj's adopted daughter), through her six-sigma diligence that lasted over months, could manage to achieve that rare achievement: make Durvasa happy (not in the way you think); Durvasa granted her a boon that she would be able to summon any God whenever she wanted.

As soon as Durvasa left Kunti rushed to her room. She peeked outside the window and gestured at Surya, and he was there. I have no idea what happened to the sky for those few minutes.

Surya: You called me?
Kunti: Yes, Sir. I was granted a boon that I wanted to test.
Surya: What do you think I am? A freaking guinea-pig?
Kunti: No, Sir. I respect you very much and I think you're really hot and those yellow rays totally rock. Those eclipses are quite neat, too.
Surya: See, I don't come cheap. You need to pay me for the lost time.
Kunti: I don't have any money.
Surya: Sleep with me.
Kunti: Fine.

So they made out. Kunti met her parents after a couple of months.

Kunti: Hey, guys. I've got news for you.
Kuntibhoj: Yes, my dear?
Kunti: I'm pregnant.
Kunti's mother whose name I do not know: That's a joke, right?
Kunti: With you? Can you even spell humour?
Kunti's mother whose name I do not know: This is why I tell you not to let her out at night.
Kunti: Hey, this happened in broad daylight.
Kuntibhoj: So, who is the father?
Kunti: Surya.
Kuntibhoj: You mean the guy who makes bulbs and tubelights?
Kunti: Nope, the real one. The big yellow one. The star.
Kuntibhoj: That's cool.
Kunti: That's hot, you mean.
Kunti's mother whose name I do not know: This is not a time for puns!
Kunti: So what do I do now?
Kunti's mother whose name I do not know: There's no MMS, right?
Kunti: Nope, I made sure of that.
Kunti's mother whose name I do not know: Good. So have the baby and dispose off it; then get back into shape and we'll get you married off.

So Karna was born.

***

Then something strange happened. A rishi called Kindam (alternatively called Kindam or Kimindam) had decided to copulate with his wife. This may not seem strange, but the couple - perhaps known for their fertile imagination and inclination of roleplaying - decided to make out in the forest disguised as deer.

Not the greatest fan of deer porn, Pandu shot both the animals with a single arrow, only to discover that they were humans. Kindam then cursed Pandu (what was his fault?) that the Hastinapur King would die the moment he would try to have an intercourse with a woman.

Question: Was Pandu really at fault? I mean, he shot the deer, did not get to eat them, and then got cursed because they turned out to be kinky saints making out? Is that fair?

Kindam then died along with his wife. Owing to the fact that he died of unsafe sex, the word condom might have been named after him. I'm not sure, though.

Pandu, for whatever reason, left the palace to stay in the forest along with both queens.

***

Dhri, obviously, did not waste any time. In those dark days he felt for his wife a lot, and found his way through alleyways hitherto unknown to him. After a few attempts news came out that Gandhari was, indeed, pregnant.

Hell had, however, already broken loose elsewhere. Given that Pandu was now officially unable to produce a son an alternative needed to be found. Pandu had a conversation with his wives.

Pandu: Babes, you realise the need of the hour, right?
Madri: No.
Kunti: Yes.
Madri: Ignore her. She doesn't know what she is talking about.
Kunti: Aryaputra, I think you're talking about heirs to the kingdom; your sons.
Pandu: Yes. But given the current situation there is not much we can do, right?
Madri: No. And I'm hungry. It has been ages since I've eaten. Can I leave?
Pandu: See, the only way out of this is niyog. I am not my father's son, which means that my sons should also not be mine. Does this make sense?
Kunti: No, but I get the general drift.
Madri: Yes. Can I leave?
Kunti: What is it that you ask of us?
Madri: I have found a new recipe today. Do you want to try it?
Pandu: Well, if the two of you oblige...
Madri: Nobody wants to listen to my recipe. Hmph.
Pandu: ... you can sleep with one of those rishis.
Madri: Can't you think of someone better? What if they are actually deer in disguise? Or does it only work the other way round? Hang on, can't we summon Vyas-Sir?
Pandu: Do you have any idea what the family tree would look like if it's him?
Kunti: I know exactly what you mean, Aryaputra.
Madri: What's Aryaputra?
Pandu: ... and?
Kunti: See, I have once pleased Rishi Durvasa...

Pandu raised an eyebrow.

Kunti: Oh no, it's not what you think. I had cooked for him and looked after him when he had visited my father.
Madri: The next thing will be her recipes. And nobody wants to listen to mine. Hmph.
Kunti: Madri, this is serious stuff. So Durvasa gave me a boon: I am eligible to call any God at any point of time.
Pandu: So you think you actually want to do it with the Gods?
Kunti: Isn't that a better option? Gods are, well, Gods.
Madri: What are Gods like? Have you met one?
Kunti (blushing): Nope, haven't tried out this boon. Does this sound good to you, Aryaputra?
Pandu: It does. I guess you should summon Dharma.
Kunti: Why him?
Pandu: He sounds impressive. Look at it this way - if you get sons out of him we can call them Dharma Productions, which sounds quite profound. Something tells me future organisations will be named after him.
Madri: What about me?

So Kunti was duly impregnated after a few days. Nobody bothered about Madri, so she left for Madrid. Okay, I made up the last bit.

***

Things were happening in Hastinapur as well. Gandhari had not managed to deliver despite the fact her pregnancy days were over; she grew impatient. Her belly kept on expanding, and Dhri soon started finding logistic issues. He could handle his blindness, but flexibility was certainly not his forte.

There was also the perpetual issue of Gandhari's smelly blindfold: she had vowed not to remove it; as a result the blindfold had never been washed; Dhri had tried to convince her, but Gandhari somehow remained quite strong on this.

He sought out pleasures elsewhere: he cornered random maids in the palace (my guess would be on his using his ears and nose to seek them out, but I would not rule out him using his other parts of his anatomy as well).

Then, one day, Gandhari could not take it anymore; she called for a maid and asked her to smash Gandhari's belly with an iron rod. Being brought up a couple of oceans away from the United States the maid obviously did not have a baseball environment: she refused.

So Gandhari took up the rod and acted herself; she ended up releasing a humongous ball of flesh (no, it's not what you're thinking about). She was on the verge of destroying it when - all of a sudden - Vyas arrived out of nowhere.

Vyas: Don't do that, baby.
Gandhari: Listen, my husband wants a heir to the throne. I cannot give him a ball instead.
Vyas: Look, just keep the bloody thing submerged in cold water.
Gandhari: Right. That will surely be an improvement: a wet ball instead of a dry one.
Vyas: No, just do what I say. Once you do that it will split into a hundred small pieces.
Gandhari: How small?
Vyas: About this much.
Gandhari: That was insensitive.
Vyas: My bad. About the size of a thumb.
Gandhari: Whose thumb?
Vyas: Mine. Okay, fine. Your forefinger. Got it?
Gandhari: And what exactly am I supposed to do with these?
Vyas: There will be exactly a hundred pieces.
Gandhari: How do you know?
Vyas: I wrote this entire thing, woman. I know all this stuff.
Gandhari: Jeez. A hundred pieces from a ball. So what next?
Vyas: Just take these and put them in a hundred small earthen pots full of ghee. They'd, er, hatch. You'd get a hundred sons.
Gandhari: But I need a daughter. I want someone without hair on its limbs.
Vyas: Fine, 101 it is then. A hundred boys and a girl.
Gandhari: Why would that happen just because you've said?
Vyas: I'm the author, baby.

***

So the race began at various location. Bets were placed. Womb-shaped mementos were sold. There was even a contest where the participants were asked "WHO WOULD WIN? (A) DHARMA'S BALLS OR (B) GANDHARI'S BALL?" The answer was to be sent by pigeon.

Things got a bit tight towards the end but Kunti eventually beat Gandhari to it. She had a son called Yudhishthir. Watching Gandhari give up Kunti decided to rub it in further and summoned Pawan. That ended up in Kunti getting pregnant for a second time.

In fact, Gandhari's sons took a lot of time to happen. Things got so late that Kunti's second son Bheem was born on the same day as Gandhari's first son was hatched. The son was named Duryodhan.

Duryodhan arrived with a bang (no, it's not what you think). He brayed on his arrival, and the bray was responded by calls of foxes, vultures, and crows. Vidur called these ill omens and asked Dhri to discard his son. Dhri probably told him that an asshole didn't really have the right to comment on someone who shouted like an ass. That solved the issue.

A deluge followed thereafter: it took a month for the ball to produce a hundred more children - only one of which was a girl. Meanwhile, Dhri's encounters with the one of the Vaishya maids during Gandhari's pregnancy had earned him another son - whom he decided to call Yuyutsu. Given the name I strongly suspect the use of Japani Tel in the entire matter.

On a side note, as per the following chart Yuyutsu was a Mahishya. Also, if you have not realised, both Dhri and Pandu were Murdhabhishiktas.


***

Things were happening at Pandu's end as well. When Pandu had asked for another son Kunti ended up asking for Indra. The third son was called Arjun.

There is more to this, however. Though both Dharma and Pawan were Pandu's choices, Kunti had chosen Indra herself. This is officially the reason why only Arjun is generally referred to as Kaunteya (Kunti's son) or Partha (the son of Pritha, which, as you must have guessed, is another name of Kunti).

Lesson: If you're a woman your son will be named after you if and only if you get to choose the father of the son.

Pandu's fetish for sons was still not over. He wanted sons, more sons, more and more sons. He met Kunti yet again.

Pandu: Babe...
Kunti: Yes, Aryaputra?
Pandu: Er, can you have another go?
Kunti: But that's not possible, Aryaputra.
Pandu: Why exactly?
Kunti: Well, I cannot sleep with five men.
Pandu: Let me see - myself, Dharma, Pawan, Indra. Yup, you've slept with four.
Kunti (to herself): No, moron. Surya, Dharma, Pawan, and Indra. You never slept with me. You were too busy deer-hunting and fantasising that illiterate bitch.
Pandu: But what's the big deal? Sleep with one more.
Kunti: No, that's not doable.
Pandu: Why exactly?
Kunti: Er, if I sleep with four men I'm just a woman with loose morals. If I sleep with five that would make me a prostitute.
Pandu: Does that even make sense?
Kunti: Yup, that's what that Shwetaketu has mentioned.
Pandu: Who's that?
Kunti: Some prodigy. Hundreds of years ago they all mated randomly. But then it all got confusing when they had to write the father's names in the admit cards, so he started these definitions.
Pandu: Did you actually look up all this stuff?
Kunti: There's this rather cool thing called reading, you know. Something that the two of you are blissfully unaware of.
Pandu: So you mean to say, you can sleep with one of the others?
Kunti: Nope, this is an use-and-throw thing. You cannot recycle Gods to copulate.
Pandu: What happens to my voyeur fetish, then?
Kunti: You can ask Madri.
Pandu: But she cannot summon Gods.
Kunti: I will teach her. Just put up in display. As both of us know, anyone would go after that kudi with his tongue hanging.

[Time-out: So Kunti actually wanted Draupadi to be a prostitute. Now you know why Karna called her so immediately after the game of dice.]

And thus...

Pandu: Baby, I need you to sleep with a God.
Madri: That's not doable.
Pandu: Sure? I don't want to force you...
Madri: What God?
Pandu: Any God.
Madri: I have always wanted a doctor.
Pandu: Kunti here will teach you.
Madri: I don't trust her.
Kunti: Fine, I'm out of this.
Madri: Okay, when?
Pandu: Can I watch?

So Madri learnt how to summon Gods and cheated: she summoned the Ashwinikumars - twin brothers who were the doctors of the Gods. They did some quick stuff with her, and somehow, somehow, somehow, she had twins - one from each twin father.

These guys were called Nakul and Sahadev. Obviously, Madri, charged up by the threesome (did I mention about it being a fashion in the Kuru family?), wanted more fun. This was when Kunti put her foot down and refused point-blank.

You can have sex with another man even when in marriage, but not to two men simultaneously. Thus spake Kunti, adopted daughter of Kuntibhoj, sister of Vasudev, mother of Karna and the Pandavs.

***

Then, one day, Madri was walking about in the forest, draped in a wet, semi-transparent saree (the kind later copyrighted by Mandakini). Exactly why she did so is not mentioned anywhere, but Pandu finally gave in.

Obviously he died. You cannot survive a curse from a saint having fun disguised as a deer. That is out of the question.

Kunti: I cannot live anymore. My husband has passed away. You live, Madri; someone needs to take care of these five.
Madri: No didi, it has to be me. I was the one who had tempted him. Besides, I don't think I would make a really good mother. I've already seen Arjun check me out. You will make the better mother. I guess I'm just too hot for all this.
Kunti: Will it be teak or sandalwood?

Before he died, however, Pandu had asked his sons (who were possibly hanging around to watch him as soon as he started chasing Madri in that attire) to eat his flesh. None of them agreed, but while the bodies were being burnt Sahadev noticed a group of ant carrying a minuscule bit of flesh with them.

Sahadev ate the piece. Stealing from ants was what he was known for.

Immediately, he gained knowledge of the past, the present, of the future. He refused to tell anybody about this, though: the wise seldom speak.

***

Kunti left for Hastinapur with her sons once the funeral got over.

The Pandavs met the Kauravs. It was hatred at first sight.

That, however, is another story.

Meanwhile, whatever you do, whatever you think, whoever you fantasise, whenever you watch porn at work, always remember one thing: SAHADEV KNOWS.

Sunday, October 13, 2013

Love in China

Disclaimer: Some people, especially the Chinese, may find this story racist and distasteful. However, given that this was started at three in the morning, and the probability of a Chinese actually reading this story is very low, I think I need not apologise. Even then, if anyone, Chinese or otherwise, feels offended, please let me know. I will apologise.

***

The Chinese, as well all know, are cool people. They had built The Great Wall, make products at dirt-cheap rates, had banned Google, drink copious amounts of green tea, do not eat chilli chicken, and use the abacus for calculations.

But this is not a tale of any of these attributes. Had there been chilli chicken in China it might have got a mention in this story, but I guess authenticity gets priority over culinary delights. Even if it is chilli chicken. Or chilli pork. Or chilli anything.

That is the 'China' bit of the story. Now for the 'love' bit.

Love is probably more baffling a concept to the world than the Chinese. I mean, that is obviously true for the Chinese (which, as we all know, is lot of people - 1.351 billion as I write this), but it holds good for the rest of the world as well.

It starts with a man. He had a rather annoying habit of bothering others, so we will call him Ping. As much as we want to, we will not call him Fa-Ding Kan.

It also starts with a woman. No, we will not call her Pong. Let her call her something else, like Jen.

***

Ping used to work as an executive in an office, or at least that was what he used to tell everybody. The word 'executive' comes with its advantages: it can be used both as a noun and an adjective as far as designations are concerned; more importantly, it's a term so vague that it can be used to denote any designation.

Jen had a more well-defined job: she was the manager of a pizzeria. It was not a Dominos or a Pizza Hut or a Papa John's for the simple reason that I am not sure whether these chains have outlets in China. Let us call this place Pi-Tza.

Yes, I know what you're thinking. I agree that pizza does not rank anywhere close to the top as far as Chinese cuisine is concerned. You can call this a wildcard entry, since pizza easily makes it to the top ten inventions in the history of mankind. Especially if it's thin crust Hawaiian pizza that we're discussing.

The place was certainly not called Chinatown. That is one of the biggest difference between the big Chinese cities and the big cities elsewhere in the world: no big Chinese city contains a place called Chinatown, which is rather uncanny.

***

This was what used to happen every day: Ping used to come up to Pi-Tza every day after work; he made it a habit to raise a tantrum out of small issues and call for the manager. The waiters used to smirk. The waitresses used to gossip.

But Jen could not get what it was all about. Her philosophy was simple: work hard, be punctual, eat a lot, go to the salon for periodic Chinese cuts, and sleep well. She did not have relatives. She lived with a fish and a couple of small green plants in pots.

Ping had a few relatives. All of them were dead. This was completely different from Jen's case, who did not have relatives. She was brought up in an orphanage.

Ping was very good at badminton and, as you may have guessed, ping-pong. Ping-pong is different from table-tennis. If you do not know the difference between ping-pong and table-tennis, you can Google it up, provided you are not in China right now. Or maybe you still can - I have forgotten the last update on that.
Nicked from
http://bnps.co.uk

Jen was not good at any sport, but she had that ability to appreciate the beauty of white vases with cute blue dragons painted on it. If you do not know what I am talking about, you can have a look at the adjacent picture. Pi-Tza was studded with such vases. They even served pizzas on plates with dragon art on them.

So what Ping basically wanted was this fan of dragon art to fall in love with him. Hence he pang pinged her lady love everyday with trivial complains like "there is no salt in my soup". *
=====
* "There is a (insert insect of choice) in my soup" is not a valid complaint in most eateries in China.
=====
Much to his dismay, Ping found out that an appreciation of dragon artwork did not necessarily imply intelligence. Jen listened to all his complaints with a kind of cute smile that only pretty Chinese women are capable of pulling off. It's the kind that melts a man at the spot: you know what I am talking about, right?

Jen also indulged herself in mindless small-talk with Ping, preferring to drag on about dragons at the slightest opportunity. Ping was remotely interested, but enjoyed watching that pretty face babbling on about an obscure form of art that he was completely clueless about.

With time Ping grew desperate and realised that it was time he proposed to Jen. He confided to the waiters and waitresses, who sympathised with him, played Chinese Whisper (that modified "Jen, will you marry me?" to "eel intestine for supper today?") and Chinese Chequers for hours, and came upon a plan.

It was an outstanding plan. Had this been the age of cellphones they would have told Ping immediately. They had to wait instead. The fact that waiting was their official profession did not make things easier.

***
Note the headgear

Ping arrived next afternoon and had a long discussion with the waiters and waitresses. They were smart, supportive, and exchanged a once-in-a-lifetime idea with Ping. Ping bought them a round of beer, and left with a smile on his face.

He had decided to put on his best Chinese suit, and also put in the Hiuen-Tsang headgear that made him look extremely cool. If you're not sure of what I am talking about, do have a look at the adjacent picture.
=====
Note: I am not particularly aware of how the Chinese propose, so I am trying to keep this more traditional. 
=====

Jen looked extremely pretty in one of those Chinese costumes that are designed to make Chinese women look pretty. Ping walked up to her, knelt down, took out a ring with a miniature dragon vase on it, and mustered enough courage to execute whatever he had rehearsed about a million times the night before.

Jen narrowed her eyes (or at least it seemed so).

Ping: Jen...
Jen: Can you please stand up? Your headgear is annoying me.
Ping: I am sorry (removes headgear).
Jen: What on Earth is that?
Ping: It's a ring. Look, there is a neat dragon vase on it.
Jen: No, the headgear.
Ping: Oh, it's a history thing. Did you study history?
Jen: Yes. Japanese.
Ping: Okay. But you love Chinese art, don't you?
Jen: Yes, that I do.
Ping: So this is for you. This ring.
Jen: That is amazing. Thank you. But I cannot accept this.
Ping (crestfallen): Won't you marry me, then?
Jen: Marriage? Feng-shui says that I cannot accept a vase that is less than fifteen centimetres in height.
Ping (relieved): Fine, I will get another ring for you. Now, will you marry me?
Jen: How can you propose marriage to me in The Year of the Tiger?
Ping: The Year of the What?
Jen: Oh, the Year of the Tiger. You cannot do anything good in the Year of the Tiger. It never works.
Ping: Why not?
Jen: Because they say so.
Ping: But tigers are so Chinese! A Tiger Balm and a Chinese Balm have the same effect!
Jen: Still. I cannot. It's the Year of the Tiger.
Ping: But when does the Year of the Tiger end?
Jen: It doesn't matter. I won't.
Ping: What if I insist?
Jen: Then I will bash you.
Ping: What if I still insist?
Jen: Then I will kill you, and will leave you to rot until your skeleton gets converted to bone china.
Ping: Okay. I will not marry you.
Jen: So, is this meeting over?
Ping: Yes. And you do not get to keep the ring either.
Jen: So, you won't love me anymore?
Ping: Of course I will, Jen: but now you will end up marrying someone else, and I cannot bear that.
Jen: But I love you.
Ping: But you would not marry me.
Jen: No.
Ping: Then let us call it quits. And I keep the ring.

So a crestfallen Ping walked out into the pizzeria, ordered a thin-crust Hawaiian pizza. He finished it and walked outside the pizzeria and waited.

***

Out walked Jen, in full pomp of her youth; her pale skin glowed unabashedly in the lustre of the Chinese dusk. A Chinese Sun is exactly similar to an Indian Sun other than the fact that it gives light to more people.

The waiters and waitresses left as Ping hid behind a house. Jen locked her pizzeria and approached the rickshaw parked nearest her pizzeria

Jen: You?
Ping: Yes, Jen: it's me.
Jen: What is it, Ping?
Ping: Say, Jen, can I at least hold you? Just this once?

Jen walked up and perched herself atop the rickshaw.

Ping: Please?
Jen: Okay, just this one time.

So Ping gave her a hug.  The rickshaw-puller looked confused.It was the right height; he stood on the ground; she sat on the rickshaw. The hug was tight. And then Jen pulled herself away.

Or it seemed so, at least.

The rickshaw had come down with a crash.

As did the relationship.

They were both Chinese, you see. ¦-)

Friday, October 4, 2013

Do take a bite

Big Apple 2 Bites: A Novel of Love, 9/11 and Aikido has gone the same way it typically goes with books published by Indian authors: the good books do not get publicised and the terrible ones do.

I was a bit circumspect when I had picked up a book with Aikido as one of the taglines. I agree that I had ventured myself into the mysterious realms of Kyokushinkaikan Karate and had been sensible enough to give up once I had managed to acquire a green belt.

After reading Arunabha Sengupta's book I guess I shouldn't have. I was too young to understand at that age that martial arts is not only about breaking bricks or sparring with a competent opponent, no.

Sengupta's books drives introduces you to the philosophical aspects of martial arts; about why the arts represent life; about the self-discipline it teaches you; and about making you realise that life, or anything remotely closed to life, is not to be taken too seriously.

***

Which brings us to the other aspects of book. Seldom has a book represented the cultural diversity across continents so intricately - and yet has managed to elaborate on why - and, more importantly, how - these diversities can be overcome.

Sengupta keeps on making you ask yourself crucial questions that were always there inside you but you were afraid to ask yourself. How important is a career? How important is a job? More importantly, what is life all about? What is it that we have all been chasing since birth?

Is truth really worth it? Is it really wrong to lie? How relevant are the principles we have grown up with? How relevant have our academic careers been? Have the class-notes really done us any good?

More importantly, how crucial a role does dhop play in our lives?

Is life all about spending hours in a cubicle, slogging your (insert body part of choice) out over weekends to make a client you are unlikely to see - so that you can be promoted to a larger cubicle, the corner cubicle, a cabin, a larger cabin, the large cabin in the corner, and so on?

Isn't life too large to remain confined to cubicles or cabins?

Isn't life too short to remain confined to cubicles or cabins as well?

Sengupta makes you think beyond the barriers; the best bit is, he does it in a style so nonchalantly easy that you start relating to him before you know. When he falls in love, you fall in love with him as well. When he hates a person he finds company in you. When he talks about loneliness you know exactly what he is talking about.

***

But all that is about the philosophy. Even if the book did not have a single extra layer than the obvious it is worth a read because of its unputdownable aspect: the style is gripping; the humour subtle; and the second-person narration unusual. Ten pages into the book and you're sucked into it (more so if you have ever been in love or have ever worked with very, very dumb people).

As the title suggests, it's also about 9/11: there is no unnecessary melodrama around the incident (which could easily have been inserted to make the sentimental reader weep). However, it's so authentic that the impact of the incident hits you really hard. Sengupta looks at the incident from someone's point of view who had taken the existence of the Twin Towers for granted and suddenly finds himself without it.

Talking of humour the three-word mention does not do justice to it at all. Unlike most Indian authors Sengupta's sense of humour is dry, at times obscure, and never over the brink (and uses metaphors, similies, and even the lost art of alliterations). It won't make you laugh out loud, but it will make you snigger at times and automatically make your lips curl into a spontaneous smile, so be careful if you're reading it in public transport.

Do read it. You've spent enough money buying trashy books; spend your money on something worthwhile for a change.

You may even end up creating a Babel Tower in the dimension of time as a result.

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