Ex Men Origins and the Scavengers Initiative

She was an environmentalist on a research mission around Fukushima. Her superhero story is one of over-reach; she tipped over and fell into the waters. An irradiated killer whale tried to take a chunk off her but made a hash of it. A quick rescue that has since had the world debating the wisdom of it. Watch out for the flippers. And that destructive retractable dorsal fin. And the 4 tons of crushing mass.

Whale Woman.

If you think this is one is outlandish, read on. You’ll be spaced out by the end of it. And it doesn’t matter whether it’s happening inside someone’s head or not; it’s all real. It’s on Wikipedia.

*****

Lost, half-blind and fully-famished. He grabbed something and made a meal of it. That Spangled Tipsy Salamander was the only one of its kind.

The Slinking Salamander.

Beware his spasmodic shimmy – it’ll turn you blind and give you a headache to last a lifetime.

*****

She was born near a sewage dump. She was swallowed by a reticulated python when she was but a baby. Not your cuddly-cute baby, she. More like blood-curdling, toxic ugly. The snake spat her out in disgust and proceeded to end its life in the throes of a myocardial infarct. Unlike other superheroes, she wears her mask most of the time. She only peels it off to wield her numbing superpower. Even the blind go catatonic when she does that.

The Reticulated Pythoness.

*****

It’s a bird, it’s a plane, it’s…Frogman. Technically he should be called Toadman but some idiot journo in the nation’s biggest selling sell-out daily known for getting its facts twisted in knots gave him his name and it stuck. No, he was not licked by an irradiated toad. Baby, he was just born this way.

*****

The ornithologist was watching. What the fuck do you think ornithologists watch? Unbeknownst to him, a Pied Kingfisher quite near him swallowed a strange berry shaped like nothing on this earth – a seven pointed snowflake. The bird flew up and dropped its intestinal load right as it was flying over our birdman. Maybe it hit a raw, exposed nerve but his transformation to an Ex-Man was complete in seconds. Yeah, shit happens and how!

The Kingfisherman. Stages a magnificent dive (not even a football fan though), the world’s foremost catcher of fish, free frequent flyer. All in all, the true emperor of good times.

*****

He’s the only man to have survived a bite from a Komodo dragon. Actually he was not a man and not quite a woman. Maybe that’s why; who knows? His power? He just turns a beady eye on you and you slink away like a lizard. Has no effect on The Slinking Salamander though.

The leader of this band of freaks, these Ex-Men (and Women) – The Komodo Dragon (the uppercase D to distinguish from the lizard of the same name).

Wait. What band? KD got this idea to to put together a bunch to clean up the festering filth of this world. He calls them The Scavengers.

P.S.: The reptile that sank its teeth into the man who became The Komodo Dragon? It choked on the toe it bit off. Good riddance too.

P.P.S.: The original irradiated-killer-whale-bite-survivor was a man from Tamil Nadu in South India. Religious fanatics would not have a Whale Murugan. That and representative politics engendered a reboot – as is the norm now – and thus was born that whale of a woman.

P.P.P.S.: I wrote this entire post just so I could use the word “unbeknownst”. Achievement unlocked. The feebleness of which reason also defines the quality of writing.

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Orbituary

If I puncture a few – or many – chests puffed up with pride, it’s only because I’m an obnoxious, cynical, ignorant prick. I have the utmost respect for the scientists who worked on the Mars Orbiter Mission. So it’s not you; it’s me. In a nation of over a billion I must be a rare one, maybe even the only one, who had no clue why we have a mission sent to/around Mars. Everybody else is chest-thumping (careful there, you might bust your coronary), desk-thumping, tub-thumping (careful here too; an obscure one-hit-wonder band might just sue you), fist-pumping, tear-jerking in ecstasy. Members of various communities want to suddenly recognise their ‘brothers and sisters who did the community proud’. FB and Twitter have gone into overdrive as the Iyers and the Nairs, the Mehras and the Mehtas hunt down their own. I suspect when they do that they’ll see that unassuming fellow next door whom they scorned as a geek and a nerd. Yeah, that should be a fun meeting. The real estate maven are drooling and the autorickshaw (tuk-tuk to you foreigners) drivers are rubbing their hands in glee, their greedy eyes popping at the very thought of the out-of-this-world fares that they can demand. Everybody else knows what this is all about and how much the human condition will be elevated as a result of this great spin-off. Whereas me, I’m just going around in circles much like the Mars Orbiter (that’s an ellipse, you say?). My terrible ignorance has had me riding nightmares through hellish landscapes these last few afternoons (yep, that’s right). No, not Mars; that is obviously a rapturously lovely planet. Heck, what is this mission? What, WHat, WHAAAAT?

And then a group of people mentioned that it was to prove that men, and only men, are indeed from the 4th planet. That’s when it struck me that everybody else is an ignoramus too – it’s just that they don’t know it yet. See, Mars already has this.

Dejah Whew
Dejah Whew!!

So now you know; your mission is a dud. Wait, wait, wait unless you meant to bring Capt. John Carter back to earth…er…Jasoom.

P.S.: If any of you is offended by this, didn’t you read the first three sentences? Lighten up. Levity (Red Bull, suck on this) gives you wings and sends you flying without spending billions of dollars.

In God’s Country

The wife and I recently went on a whirlwind (nope, that doesn’t explain the squally weather there) trip to Kerala. There was a time when I used to go often to “God’s Own Country” but it’s been a while since that happened last. It definitely has been a couple of decades since I last caught sight of Thrissur, my mother’s hometown. And given the very wet reception that we received, it was only to be presumed the town was none too pleased to see me back. If we were not doused in rain, we were drenched in sweat. Like I said, wet, wet, wet.

I’m not much of a temple visitor but given the proximity to Guruvayur which houses one of the most important Hindu Vaishnavite temples in the country and since we don’t visit this part of the country very often, we thought we’d say hello. The temples in Kerala have some fun rules of entry. One of them is a dress code. Women in saris (these days they allow for the northern ‘salwar kameez’) and men in dhotis or veshtis (no lungis please) and bare upper bodies. Quite an eyeful for the women, you think? Nah. The quite-a-noseful puts paid to any such impure, lascivious thought. After standing in line for one and a half hours, we edged closer to the inner sanctum. Actually not much hard work – the throng carries you along. I would’ve put my hands up and let the aforementioned quite-a-noseful blast the hordes down if only I wasn’t hemmed in hands down. A clever gent ahead of me had drawn from his apparently vast reserve of experience to hold his arms well above his head supposedly in supplication to the lord. Supposedly. Hah, I knew what that was all about. Like I said, clever man. After snaking around more corners than the wonderful chaps in our corporate houses cut, we had to climb up a slippery stair installation and slither down the same before we got a nano-second view of the lord. Or so we happily thought. See faith is all about belief. The good folk in the managing committee of the temple would have us believe that the path to a holy peek is evidently a long one and sees its share of twists and turns, ups and downs. Seriously though, we had not a moment of a sense of piety, a realization of spirituality in the whole experience. But holy cow! we came away with an understanding of the horror that cattle encounter when they’re herded into the narrow confines of rickety transport trucks. The temple management here has much to learn from the Tirupati temple.

In sharp contrast to this rush-job in painful slow motion was our visit to Thrissur’s Vadakkunnathan temple. Even at the peak of my atheistic days, this was a temple I used to love visiting for the sense of peace and tranquility that I found in abundance there. Thankfully that hasn’t changed. Housed in a beautiful and huge complex, this dedication to Shiva is a wonderful example of a style of architecture unique to Kerala. Legend has it that this was the first of the temples constructed by Parasurama in expiation of the greatest bloodbath let loose by one man in all mythology. Here I found a calm and a sanctity that should be the realm of a place of worship but which rarely is.

Everywhere we went in “God’s own country”, we found the hand of God. Here too came once the man who briefly wielded that very same hand.

Look, look no hands this time
Look, look no hands this time

Every village had posters put up by fans of national football teams. The dominant ones were Argentina, Brazil, Germany and Spain (just about). And clearly the English team that ‘God’ infamously struck down in 1986 finds sympathy and quite a few fans. If this truly is God’s country, then his game surely must be football. Yeah, it fits – he must be getting his kicks from it.