Image via WikipediaFolks, the next time you find yourself nursing a bruised ego as an elegant tenant of the Suave and Sophisticated Writers’ Street, move straight into the shabby confines of the cold and desolate Dostoevsky Cheerleaders’ Bloc; it’ll have been the smartest thing you did since the invention of the rubber (now don’t go stretching ideas, you know what I mean). Speaking of that Old Russian bear reminds me of another, comrade Tolstoy, who always takes me to this cartoon. There is the ever so seriously philosophical academic that is comrade Tolstoy, disheveled hair, beard and all, crouched over a small table in a soviet commode (and I mean a study room), with stacks of manuscripts spilling over from the table. He’s obviously lost in divine intervention, head down, quill in hand, writing seemingly furiously as if to save the world. The caption reads, “In writing War and Peace, Tolstoy was going for the big laugh, but the more he wrote the more elusive it became.”
Perfect! Imagine laughing over a book that weighs a kilogram. I’ve, since those halcyon college days, been a huge fan of Russian writers. It’s a tragic lot. I guess my perceived sense of being buggered and bullied by the establishment drove me to these men with multiple vowels in their names. Their books could always be judged by their covers – thick and heavy were the first impressions, followed by titles reeking of secret and desolate intelligence such as War and Peace (which I never finished but carried around long enough to stake a claim) and Crime and Punishment (which I did finish and to my utter delight, enjoyed). The rest of the titles were for mugging up and showing off: the Gambler, The Idiot, Poor Folk and the sorry lot.
I’ve a theory that Russian writers are a romantic dreary lot owing to their weather and the landscape. A green Russia sounds like a cold India, very odd, plus some 90 years of communism and comradeship probably didn’t help the gray matter. Look at Doctor Zhivago! Poetry, socialism, adultery, ice and vodka somehow just don’t mix, not even in a blender. But boy did they beat the cold and how! Makes you wonder what went wrong when the CCCP collapsed and capitalism came home with ear muffins and leg warmers.
Some things are better kept the way they were. For instance, look at us. We buy hunting bows and shoot at a block of painted wood. I bet anyone with no work and a lot of cash can string that shot before you can say “Jeddah!” Look at the golf course; it’s a walking talking ad for the attraction of money and whatever it lures. It’s no walk in the park pulling off dainty little fishnet shoes, checkered and tailored trousers, checkmate shirts and jailbird cardigans. To polish off that smug look of self-entitlement, put on your branded pee caps, the tinted sunglasses and the jolly good glove in hand (just don’t try the moonwalk, or the pelvic thrust). Now for the sack full of clubs, the toy car you always wanted to drive but didn’t have an excuse to and the little kids who caddy for the dandy daddy.
Here’s the sucker punch – they hang around poking in as many holes as they want. Good, because I’d like to see those pocketful of pretty-pursed parliamentarians doing the rounds at the fairways. One big-fat SUV (Stop-Using-Vehicles) deserves another and man, there are plenty of these screeching the roads at full throttle with that big roar of smug self-congratulation honking at your arses. Holy molly! Can you imagine the passing winks blinked at their reflections grinning back from their life-sized mirrors at home? They are doing the DeNiro line “You talking to me?” while one Razzo guy in town actually goes “Hey! I’m walkin’ here!” Life’s a bitch any which way you look at it. There’s no escaping the fact that Russia is one bloody cold place with warm hearted Vodka writers and that America’s having a quadruple-country disorder. No denying the fact that the English are about to use up their last drop of colonial superiority. No shame in accepting the fact that China’s gonna turn the knob tight on Tibet. That the Indian youngster going “Dude” and “Chill” is nowhere as cool as an Indian youngster going “Aye Bhai” and “Chalo Theak Hai.” No loss of honor in accepting that Bhutanese town planners just can’t seem to plan a town for 12 people well enough for them to get along. That we can’t drive no matter how many wheels come attached with the car. That our parliamentarians got plain lucky with the electorate in spite of, and not despite of their inherent intelligence and charm, of which they have none, the buggers. Nothing is heavier than a bloated head and nothing is heavier than an imaginary bloated head. The egos are having a tough time fitting into the world’s biggest pocket, the gho, and still they won’t budge and they won’t go.
What goes around comes around, as Tony says in Scarface. And there’s a price to pay for getting high on your own supply, that you gotta do the time if you stole the dime. Dostoevsky, for all his gloom and doom, was cheerfully right in saying “the Crime is the Punishment.”