1. I was born in a small town known for a matchbox factory. We moved out a year later, and I have visited the place just once later in my life.
2. I know how to speak, read and write four languages, and can understand and read one more.
3. My earliest coherent memory is walking with my father to the hospital one morning, to see my newborn sister for the first time.
4. The first time I fell in love was with two girls at the same time. They were twins. We would go to pre-school together, and I would occasionally confuse one for the other.
5. My earliest concern about the English language was trying to understand the difference between the words “agree” and “angry”.
6. I used to draw a lot when I was little. Even went to “art school”, which was a euphemism for a shed where a lot of children were made to copy whatever the teacher drew on the blackboard and then colour them in. Won a few art competitions, but never really did anything much about it.
7. On my sixth birthday, my father gave me a coffee-table book. “Indira Gandhi” by Swraj Paul. I have no idea why.
8. I used to be bored very easily until I came to college. Then I figured out that I could hear complete albums in my mind during boring classes, meetings or dinners – music interludes and all.
9. I am a bad conversationalist. I zone out in the middle of conversations when there are too many people around, and tune back in when someone says something that’s of interest to me. Most of my one-on-one conversations tend either devolve into pop culture discussions, or become one-way talk-fests where I am nodding my head, grunting and thinking of something completely unrelated to what the other person is talking about.
10. I occasionally flex my wrists when I am alone. In my mind, I go “snikt” as razor-sharp adamantium claws pop out of my skin.
11. With a few exceptions, my relatives and I don’t get along too well. I find most of them a bunch of two-faced weirdos and they think I am weird.
12. I made up a new game when in school. It consisted of two teams throwing mud balls at each other, but your team won only if you did not hit anyone in the other team and instead, made your mud ball explode near your opponents. I thought it was a cool game, until somebody figured out that it was cooler when they exploded on your body.
13. One of the biggest joys of my childhood was reading Enid Blyton’s books. It took me a long while to figure out that Enid Blyton is a lady, and her name is Enid and not Gnid as I had assumed from her distinctive signature. My favourite Blyton series was the Magic Faraway Tree books, about a magical tree on the top of which you could visit different, wonderful worlds that parked themselves for short periods of time. Then I grew up and found out that we have a magic faraway tree of our own, called the Internet.
14. I make it a point to not break eggs on the larger or smaller end, but hit it squarely on the middle. Not only does it make peeling the eggshell easier, but it also gives me great pleasure to know that I cannot be executed for treason either in Lilliput or Blefuscu.
15. Occasionally, when I am watching a movie or reading a book, I want the villain to win.
16. I am fanatical about having zero unread messages in my email inbox.
17. Around 1990 or thereabouts, I read a book on international spies and found out that every single one of them had their identities compromised because of photographs taken during their high school and college days. For the next three years, I refused to let myself be photographed. I would go out of the way to avoid family pictures and also tracked down my photographs in relatives’ albums. All because, y’know, just in case I was drafted as a spy later on in life.
18. I refuse to read certain books or watch certain movies or listen to particular bands because some people are too enthusiastic about them. Case in point: The Fountainhead. Pink Floyd.
19. I am bad at debates. I tend to see both sides of an argument, and can come up with pro or counter-arguments that are equally convincing.
20. Religious rituals piss me off. Mostly because they consist of people doing something without understanding or trying to figure out why they’re doing it.
21. I beat up a guy in school once because he was trying to snatch a comic away from me and wrinkled the cover when I wouldn’t let him take it. There was blood. And multiple screaming teachers.
22. I learnt to play the violin when I was little, mostly because of my parents and a violin-playing neighbour who impressed them a lot. Six years and two different violin gurus later, I stopped. Because of the Higher Secondary Certificate examinations which, in my part of the world, is a rite of passage equivalent to the Japanese Genpuku or the Jewish Bar Mitzvah. Later, I taught myself to play the keyboard by ear.
23. I rarely bother about lyrics when I am listening to a song. When humming a song I like, I tend to use a lot of gibberish, instead of the actual lyrics. I listen to the words only if somebody points them out to me and that could happen years after I’ve known the song.
24. Strangely, I learnt two songs – Billy Joel’s We Didn’t Start the Fire and Vanilla Ice’s Ice Ice Baby – before I heard them. It was because I had an older friend who would sing these songs and I memorized the words from his diary.
25. It is not humanly possible to keep count of the number of umbrellas I’ve lost over the years.
26. I am very bad at buying gifts. When I buy a gift for someone, I get confused between buying something that’s meaningful and something the other person would want but I personally consider flippant. It’s a constant battle.
27. I collect original comic art, among other things. To the best of my knowledge, I am still the only person in India who spends gigantic portions of his salary buying (mostly) inked 11 inch by 17 inch bristol boards. Fuck, I love it.
28. I am a lapsed quizzer. It’s because I’ve lost faith in people who watch movies and read just so that they can come up with questions and answers for future quizzes.
29. I once hit a girl with my bicycle when I was coming back home one evening. It was her fault, honest, she ran to the middle of the road and then ran back again. That was possibly the only road accident I’ve been involved in.
30. I’ve worked in the engineering division for the same company for about seven years now, and I am still more than a little under-confident about my technical skills.
31. If I hadn’t gotten my first job, I would have probably been a struggling musician. I ignored academics in college in favour of the college band. Sang, played the keyboard and was generally full of it. Now, I consider myself a victim of real life – kind of like the Farhan Akhtar character in Rock On, only a little less sullen and with not as much money.
32. I loathe most sports. I used to play cricket in school, but one day, some guy hit my right shin with a leather ball and I wound up bed-ridden for a week. I still have a dent in my shin. My parents made me enroll in a table tennis class at the local stadium, and I used to go there in the evenings, after school, spend 10 minutes sitting on the spectator benches and then sneak out to the library opposite the road, which had an awesome collection of comics and James Hadley Chase novels.
33. I know how to swim, but people look funny at me when I am floundering around in the pool because I tend to splash a lot.
34. I don’t like social networks because there does not seem to be anything much to read. Or do. Other than seeing people change statuses and take quizzes and write badly-spelt messagesto each other.
35. A recurring dream I have is about my life as an undergraduate student. In my dream, there is an exam the next day and I have to prepare for it because I hadn’t appeared in the mid-sems, but something or the other keeps turning up and I just can’t seem to study. I don’t even remember what books/chapters I need to read and struggle to find my pen and admit card until the last minute. It would not be as scary if I hadn’t really been through such a situation in my undergrad life.
36. I’ve been an A.R Rahman fan ever since I heard Roja. I occasionally frustrate people by raving incessantly about his music, and there are times when I just cannot bring myself to listen to some Rahman albums because I know they’ll disappoint me.
37. All cars look the same to me. I can probably broadly distinguish between three kinds of cars, but I can never understand how people can point out the make and model of any car passing by.
38. I am more than a little obsessed with Japanese culture. It all started when I read Eric Van Lustbader’s The Ninja and Miyamoto Musashi’s Book of Five Rings back-to-back, and then discovered a manga called Mai The Psychic Girl.
39. When I was 13, I got my first and only enema. It was at an ayurvedic camp in a small village in Assam, and the quack that headed the camp prescribed an enema for every affliction that came his way. Having warm water and oiled stuffed up your anus when you’re standing on your hands, face-down in a wretched latrine tends to do things about your worldview, I tell you.
40. Until very recently, I suffered from a digital magpie complex – the urge to back-up every bit of digital information on multiple data repositories. I’ve created backups of backups, resulting in a house filled with CDs and DVDs. Now, I just don’t give a shit.
41. I tend to tease my friends mercilessly about things they like. I get very insecure when they tease me about things I am interested in.
42. The only time I’ve been happy in love is right now.
43. One bad habit I would like to give up – procrastinating. Another bad habit I want to give up – swearing when I am upset.
44. For a very long time, I considered eating food as something that interferes with my waking life. I could not sit for lunch, dinner or breakfast without doing something else – reading, watching TV, anything at all that would help make the tedious job of chewing my food a little better. Enjoying my food is something I learnt very late in life, maybe a year or two ago, just when I began to cook properly.
45. When I am in office, I like going for lunch alone. That one hour feels like an oasis of sanity during the day, the only time I exist for myself.
46. The only time I had a fracture was at the end of last year, when I missed a step and broke my leg. Luckily (or not) that was two days prior to my scheduled annual leave to visit my parents, and everything worked out. Except for the part where I spent my vacation cooped up in a room.
47. I consider myself a wannabe gamer. I’ve been hooked to computer games ever since I tried Quake 2 on my first PC in 1999. I currently own a DS and my girl has a PSP that I use far more than she does. I was primarily an FPS-lover but thanks to the DS, I am a fan of puzzle-based adventure games and classic side-scrollers. I don’t think I can ever, ever play RPGs and strategy games.
48. I can’t stand beer. Surprise, apparently I can, as I found out after a trip to Romania, when a senior colleague asked me to take a sip of a local beer named Silva. I like beer now.
49. Quite a few of my close friends are folks I’ve met online. Some I’ve met in real life, and some, I probably will someday.
50. I am very particular about finishing a book or a series I’ve started, regardless of how good or bad it is. The only exception to that would be Ashok Banker’s Ayodhya series, which was so badly written it made me ill after I read the first 15 pages of the first book.
51. If I ever made it to the finals of Mastermind, my topics would be the Batman mythos, the music of AR Rahman and Indian songs in Aramaic. The third is obviously a topic heavily weighted in my favour.
Obviously, to be continued.