19th March 2000

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I can be a party animal

Sometimes I wonder about myself. Maybe, I'm just getting old and silly or something. About 2 weeks ago, my wife was making plans to take her mother home after she had been here for a visit. My wife was to be gone for over a week. This leads me to start thinking…a week all to myself. What can I do while she is gone. Who can I go see, where can I go? Well, as it ended up it went something like this:

Day one: started getting bored about 6pm. Decided to clean up the pantry and re-arrange it since it had gotten totally unorganized over the holidays. This took all evening and ruined any chances of nightlife. Ate some leftover ham and cheese that was on the verge of going bad. Stomach gets upset. Started dishwasher. In bed by 9pm.

Day two: Noticed that the freezer needed cleaning. Moved all of the bad (stuff I can't eat) food out to the freezer in the garage. Moved all of the good stuff back into the house, so I'll know what we have worth cooking. I hate going to the store and buying something and then coming home and finding out that I had 2 of them stashed somewhere and didn't need anymore. Read the paper again just to make sure I didn't miss anything. Nothing worth watching on television. Can't remember if the dishes in dishwasher are clean or not, ran the dishwasher again just to be sure. Put dirty clothes in the washing machine. In bed by 9.

Day three: Can't figure out how to make just 2 or 3 cups of coffee since I don't need a full pot each morning. Settle for instant. Makes me sick again so I go out to get breakfast. Start trash bags and fill up with 3 days worth of newspapers, which I have read from front to back, several times. Make several phone calls, but nobody asks me over for dinner. I refuse to beg for someone to cook, I can survive by myself.

I've done it before and I can do it again. Nothing on television. Fix myself a frozen TV dinner. All five parts of this thing tastes like cardboard.

Why in the world did we buy this in the first place? Put dishes in the dishwasher. Can't remember if the ones in there are clean or not, re-run the washer again. Take clothes out the washing machine and load into the dryer.

Day four: No coffee this morning. Decide to go ahead and re-arrange furniture. I get movers to come and move all of the office stuff from upstairs back to the study downstairs. Then they move all of the bedroom furniture from downstairs back to the bedroom upstairs. Now I have to unload all of the boxes holding my office stuff. Decide to go ahead and sort papers and get them ready for tax returns. Stack boxes on the floor to take to the store room. Too late to go out for dinner and wild night on the town. Eat soup and load dishwasher again. Re-wash the same dishes. Can't remember if the clothes got dry on not, so re-run dryer. In bed by 9PM again.

Day five: Move boxes and extra furniture over to storeroom. Have to re-arrange the storeroom since it's got stuff scattered all over the place and I don't have room to move around. Come home and work in the yard fixing flowerbeds and raking leaves.

Too tired to party or watch TV. Maybe tomorrow night. Eat bowl of canned chili, start dishwasher, start washing machine, run dryer again. I am now in the habit of getting bowls and cups from the dishwasher since I know they are clean. I get my towels and underwear from the dryer since I know they are dry after having been dried 3 or 4 times. In bed by 9:30.

Day six: Neighbours take pity on me and ask me over for dinner. First decent meal in 5 or 6 days. I'm really losing weight on this new diet. If she'd gone for 6 months or more I'd probably be down to about 100 pounds. There's a scary thought. Drink some wine; stay out way later than normal. In bed by 10 PM or so. Forgot to check on dishwasher, washing machine and dryer. Will re-do all 3 of them in the morning. Forgot and left the cat outside in the night. Must have been really tired.

Day seven: Friend calls me to come over to a state park and spend the night in his new RV. I drive 150 miles. We run out of things to talk about around 8pm. Decide to go to bed. Can't read as overhead lights burnt out. His heater breaks. Have to sleep in bed with the dog. Dog snores.

Too cold to move. Next morning, no coffee, and no hot water and no soap for shower. Head back home. Take shower, eat another can of soup and run the washing machine, dryer and dishwasher again, just to be sure. We're now into day seven. One more day to go and then she'll be back. But, hey I'm doing all right.

Day eight: Unload the dishwasher, put glasses and dishes away in the cabinet. Clean up the cat's litter box. Take out the trash. Vacuum the house.

Hang a mirror I'd put off doing for nearly a year. Unload the washing machine and load the dryer again. Need to fold all of this stuff since it's gotten so big and has taken over the laundry room. Put the final load of wash into dryer and turn on. Go out for lunch and then come home so I can be here when she arrives from the airport.

Take a bath and pull towel and underwear out from the dryer for the last time. Boy, hot towels and warm underwear feel really good. In retrospect I think that next time I'd better do some long term planning.

If I want to be a party animal, I could be a party animal you know. Just ask me. Next time she's gone I might even throw a party right here at the house. After I finish cleaning out the closets.

That kannada lion

Lankesh the editor of Lankesh Patrike was an iconoclast a rebel against hypocrisy, a man curt to the point of rudeness who turned into an icon himself.

When Lankesh died in his sleep on January 24, it was much more than the passing away of a brilliant creative writer who had had a tremendous impact on Kannada literature. It was the death of a lion, his roar against the establishment stilled forever. What was more, it was the passage into darkness of an enigmatic personality, who continues to haunt you as he did in life.

Born into a farming family, he had his early education in a small village and later in Shimoga. I have always believed that his move to Bangalore at the end of his adolescence proved to be a traumatic experience for him and that it shaped both his life and writing. An introvert, he sought refuge in himself when faced with the complexities, confusions and contradictions of an urban setting. The vulgarity, meanness, selfishness and treachery which he found in the urban man were the themes of his stories and plays he wrote as "An Angry Young Man " during the 1960s. His portrayal of characters with such traits was powerful, partly because he discovered them in himself he struggled to come to terms with urban life. There was no end to this struggle and so he lived and wrote like "An Angry Old Man".

He has left a few collections of short stories, three novels, two collections of poems, a number of one-act plays, a couple of full-length plays, an excellent translation of Baudelaire's poems, Greek plays and two volumes of critical writings. A restless spirit drove him to varied fields like teaching English at the university, writing a column in a popular Kannada daily, making films and finally journalism. His individuality is evident in what he has left for us. It was his production and editing of Lankesh Patrike, a weekly some 20 years ago which brought him wealth, fame and a large following. Lankesh's genius lay in sensing the mood of the people of Karnataka fed up of rampant corruption at the highest levels. No one in authority was spared, be it ministers, public servants, heads of religious institutions or writers.

After a short period of foray into politics and a longer period of total commitment to his weekly, Lankesh returned to creative writing. It was after this shift that he wrote some of the finest short stories in his Sahitya Akademi Award winning collection. Kallu Karaguva Samaya and a full-length play "Gunamukha".

In my assessment, Lankesh's contribution to Kannada is fourfold: First, he brought into journalistic writing some of the qualities of any good literary prose. Second, he brought into literary prose some of the immediacy and earthiness which any good journalistic writing should have. Third, he taught us the spirit of iconoclasm and rebellion against hypocrisy, wherever and whenever it manifested itself, either in life or literature. Fourth, he turned the pages of his weekly over to young writers who showed promise. It is to his credit that some of the young ones he encouraged have turned out to be writers of great merit, winning many an award.

A complex character, he remained inscrutable even to his closest associates. Almost pathologically averse to baring his soul and to any show of sentimentality, he took with him a rich inner world waiting to be turned into fiction.

Being human, he loved being praised for his writing, even as he derided others' writing in terms which came close to sadism. An iconoclast, he had turned into an icon. Curt to the point of rudeness, he made more enemies than friends. He made fun of sycophants who surrounded him but one could see that he enjoyed their idolatry. He will be sorely missed. I was not one among the sycophants around him, A man of great contradictions, I think he liked me for that very reason.

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