Last Word, Miscellany

I am? I do?


A question put to me the other day left me scratching me head. Not because I have dandruff or other head afflictions, but figuratively speaking I was left wondering. What was the question, you ask?

“What do you like?”

Frankly, I was flummoxed, bewildered, puzzled, foxed, surprised and confused. What do I like? What am I like? Who am I? As I started writing this, I came across this post from the entertaining Suresh Chandrasekaran which simply added to the need for this self appraisal.

I have a name, comprising of a “given” name (or in my case, I’m told, a “taken” name) and a surname generously handed down from my father. Does the name identify my personality as well as my person?

On a hot, sultry day in my final year of high school in Calcutta no one was in the mood for any serious study, least of all the earthy teacher who taught us Hindi. He sat down and said, (I paraphrase), “Screw studying today, it’s too bloody hot! So let’s have some light entertainment. Anybody, ask me any question, about anything, sex, drugs, rock & roll.”.

I was first in line with my question ready. “What does my name mean?”, I asked.

Mountain Goat Lounge
Mountain Goat Lounge (Photo credit: carfull…Cowboy State-r)

“Hmm, let me see now. The first part is …, which means ‘mountain goat’ and the second part signifies ‘lord of’. So you are the ‘Lord of the Mountain Goats’.” Much hilarity ensued in the class.

But, (yeah, yeah, I know, they told me never to start a sentence with ‘but’, but ‘however’ is just so pompous and I like to leave the pomposity to the Slo-Man.) back to figuring me out.

English: Main Pod of the CN Tower in Toronto, ...
English: Main Pod of the CN Tower in Toronto, Canada Deutsch: Turmkorb des CN Tower in Toronto, Kanada (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I don’t really have a head for heights, so walking around outside of the CN Tower in Toronto tied to a harness is not really a picture of me you will ever be able to take. I also don’t much care for goats unless they’re slow-cooked with plenty of spices and fresh parathas on the side. Clearly, the mountain goat thing is a misnomer.

So what do I like? There are so many things I like. Which of them defines me, or rather, which of them gives you a picture of me. Let’s start with my “hobbies” or “Other interests”.

Reading:

Cover of "Biggles of 266"
Cover of “Biggles of 266” (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I read all kinds of stuff; technical white papers, blogs, authors of all kinds. PG Wodehouse is one, but then I also read the classics, Hardy, Dickens, assorted Brontes and Shakespeare (for fun, you understand?). I also read and The Five Find Outers stories if I can find them. I enjoy reading plays too, very much, Schaeffer, Stoppard, Ayckbourn, Shaw et al. I also enjoy Dick Francis’ horsey tales of murder and mayhem as also Alistair Maclean’s formulaic novels. Even Agatha Christie and lesser lights such as Peter Cheyney.

Music:

English: Sir Cliff Richard, portrait
English: Sir Cliff Richard, portrait (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The first western music I heard was on “A Date with You” on AIR in Delhi back in the early 60’s in the last century, which played light jazz and rock and roll. Cliff Richard, The Beatles (early ‘I wanna hold your hand’, yeah, yeah, yeah Beatles) were staples. Moving to Calcutta we had Musical BandBox and Lunch Time Variety on weekends playing a mix of country and light pop with Lynn Andrews, Elvis Presley, Engelbert Humperdinck and Tom Jones as the staples.

Then one day, after borrowing my sisters’ eyebrow pencil to darken a nascent moustache, I saw “Woodstock, The Movie” and my musical world changed for ever. Janis Joplin, The Who, The Grateful Dead, Jefferson Airplane came to stay. Then of course, one day, my elder brother came home with this funky album with a black cover that showed a light beam passing through two prizms and going from white to rainbow and back  again. From the opening heartbeat to the ending heartbeat, the waves of sound coming from The Dark Side of the Moon were to transport me away to another world of possibilities and open up a can of worms. (More of that in another post, sometime, RSN).

I like Bob Dylan’s poetry and use of words. I like what I call acid country as exemplified by the Flying Burrito Brothers and The New Riders of the Purple Sage. Here is FBB doing Six Days on the Road.

Yet, I enjoy the rippling piano and the words I hear on this song from Arthur Askey, Peter Starstedt’s one hit, Leo Sayer singing “You make me feel like dancing”, The Bangles’s “Walk like an Egyptian” and none of these can be listed under hippie music.

Neither can Vivaldi’s Four Seasons or anything by Mozart – uh no, wait, maybe he was the first hippie. Any blues, whether delta acoustic, Chicago electric or “white blues” will do. I even enjoy Diana Krall, Scarlett Johansson singing this wonderful duet with Pete Yorn, listen to “Bird on the Wire” for it’s earthy feeling of pain. “Ripple” from the Grateful Dead brings tears – they should play this at my funeral.

Yet, I enjoy this jazz piece and this Bollywood oldie as well. Confused much?

Movies:

Intelligent comedies work best. Mel Brooks (despite the fart jokes) is high on the list as is Woody Allen (don’t bother sending me emails, I’ll just junk them). Yet Woody’s Blue Jasmine was a tragedy of the human spirit in turmoil and it held my attention all the way to the end. Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels was smartly put together.

ElizabethtownYou can keep the teeny and young adult comedies such as the Hangover, even the 40 Year Old Virgin, but then I thoroughly enjoyed Harold and Kumar go to WhiteCastle. While comedies dominate, I also enjoyed the revenge-driven games of Sleuth, the manic Sightseers and tragic love of Casablanca. At this point I must confess a fondness for Sleepless in Seattle, You’ve Got Mail and it has nothing to do with Meg Ryan and everything to do with soppy love stories. My Beloved Bangalan cannot understand why I liked Elizabethtown and I cannot explain that either.

Food:

Spicy food is a definite yes, but then what about delicately spiced slow cooked Mediterranean fall-off-the-bone-buttery-soft lamb stew with baby okra or steak and fries?

I could go on and list golf, cricket, crossword puzzles and try to analyze what they show about my personality. That would bore you and cause me much typing and among other things I’m lazy. What it boils down to is that I am a complex person, open to ideas, sounds and words.I cannot be defined by a single quadrant on a four-point scale, or a colour or any other of the personality test categorizations. I’m regaining my sense of smell but losing my eyesight. I could have been a drug-laced hippie but I link addictions to failure. I think HR departments in North America are useless but I think human beings are the single most important thing a company could have. I think disco sucks, but I know The Grateful Dead were a ‘dance band’. I’m smart and intelligent yet unreasonably stupid in matters of love and family. I’m highly conflicted and terribly afflicted with modesty.

In other words, I’m absolutely normal. It’s all you lot who aren’t.

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19 thoughts on “I am? I do?”

  1. Oh, I’ll keep the okra, no problem!! Cliff? meh… I suppose Devil Woman is ok and maybe Summer Holiday, only because this damn cold weather up here has got me hallucinating about warm sunshine, shorts and t-shirts and long, cold iced drinks in the shade. Gaaahhh!!

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  2. Two votes for spicy foods, and two for okra so far! Nice, we’re coming along well… I wonder what Rutabaga would say to spicy okra ( maybe with ground pomegranate seeds sprinklings) ?

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  3. You ARE a softie you…but an interesting psychedelic marshmallow… soft centered, with nuts, spicy bits of star anise, chewy like a piece of turkish delight …bite into it and your ears will be assailed by strains of Vivaldi with an underlying note of hard rock!

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    1. Wow! Someone else who’s read Cheyney! Now that is a surprise, a welcome one. And I once harboured dreams of being a playwright, even wrote a horrible one once, hence the strong contingent of playwrights… I saw a few wonderful plays recently – Shaw, Wilde, Shakespeare, Wilder. This year they’re doing a bunch of good ones at the Shaw Festival, so I expect a few drives to Niagara for dinner and theatre will be called for!! bring it!

      Thanks

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  4. You didn’t give your far more beloved okra(bhindi) the place if honour that it deserved – just half a sentence – I protest 🙂 – from a fellow bhindilover

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  5. Hello Slo-Word. Like you I cannot be organized or categorized. That is why my blog cannot be dedicated to only one subject. Lately I’ve been reading a lot about World War II. But I’m also knitting and trying to edit my NaNoWriMo novel. And I need to get my seeds started for my garden. Thius is what makes us interesting, yes?

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  6. Ha! A thoroughly enjoyable read! We have in common the love of spicy food, but little else. . . Then again, I do believe I need to broaden my horizons. The last line had me — literally — laughing out loud. 🙂

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