Tuesday, June 30, 2009


Swayamvar, in ancient India was a practice in which the princesses were allowed to choose their husbands in a formal ceremony wherein the suitable candidates would contest against each other to win the lady's hand in marriage. The vying participants would be judged on various parameters like strength,bravery,wisdom,moral fibre..these parameters were mostly custom-made according to the whims and fancies of the princesses and their crowned fathers. The undisputed victor would then be said to have won his wife, as the princess would put a garland of flowers around his neck, after which they'd be wedded. This ritual was a prerogative of the royal blood only. Nobody remembers exactly when was it lost in the tattered pages of history. Or should I say mythology, because no offence but most of these tales in which Swayamvar appears sound apocryphal.

The latest buzz is that queen of controversies Rakhi Sawant is having her own Swayamvar (pardon me for copying the tabloid language,but I couldn't think of any better line).
I happened to watch the finishing segment of the first episode of Rakhi ka Swayamvar.
My mother puckered brow and voiced her displeasure every now and then. I, on the contrary was more amused than revolted,unlike her,unlike a majority of the viewers in India. I was amused at the unprecedented nature of life,the way it springs up surprises. Now look at this woman. She has been sensationalists' favorite child for reporting juicy hearsay. Everything about her has been in news, and having said that the politest way of elaborating it would be that she educated people about using any kind of publicity to their advantage. Which is why this recent news is flummoxing-at least for some people. It is hard for most people,especially women to digest the fact that she who is so presumptous,so uncouth,so loud, who dances half-naked in most of her videos, has admitted going under the knife for enhancing her features, is known more for the string of controversies that have been associated with her than the blink-and-miss roles that she has done, who is so unladylike-how come she's being seen as the Ne plus ultra of feminity,whom every man wants to woo! How come of all the womenfolk she gets as many as sixteen prospective grooms to swoon over her, sing romantic songs to her,write beautiful poetries for her,try to impress her in every possible way? How come she gets to live the dream of almost every woman who breathed on this planet? Because if loosely seen,this is pretty much what every woman desires.
"She's not even beautiful,let alone cultivated! And some these men are so good-looking,well-bred,educated and settled. Why do such men want to marry her?" said my mother with a sickened expression as a guy gave her a traditional one-knee proposal.
I tried my best to play the devil's advocate by saying- "She's really talented in her own field you know,and to top it she's very gutsy,speaks her mind even while on televi..." I broke off,as a reaction to her reproaching glare. Hehe..it's difficult to convince mothers,why do I even try! For she kept on chanting " Na roop aachhe,na gun aachhe" (Neither has she looks,nor values).

I really don't understand this. Nevermind the heavy voltage drama,the hurling of abuses,the pretense. Nevermind all of it. Call her a celebrity or a nonebrity,whatever pleases you but at the end of the day- she's also just a girl,standing in front of a boy,asking him to love her( Anyone who has watched Notting Hill would know where this dialouge came from!)
And come to think of it,we all choose. The process of selection and rejection keeps occuring at some sub-conscious level all the time. We look at everyone, screen the potential partners and filter out the others. Then we comapre,think,select,reject and finally come to a conclusion. This according to me is the process of attraction. The thing we call instinct is actually a very fast mental Swayamvar- maybe not in a literal sense,but definitely in a figurative sense. The parameters on which we judge one against the other may vary accrding to our spiritual configuration. So,all the lovely ladies out there don't be green-eyed at Rakhi Sawant. She's just doing it on camera,that's the only difference. Be it a formal ceremony or mental evaluation,I'm convinced that it's a Swayamvar alright!
May the best man win :)

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

No reasons

I don't know what's it with me these days. Or is it the weather? I don't have any other reason.I sleep around three in the morning, get up latest by seven-thirty; Often as a result of the racket caused by the twittering of the little greyish birds I don't name of. And yet I find myself suprisingly fresh. I don't appear groggy, my eyes don't burn when I sprinkle water on my face,something that is characteristic of the exam season. Even before I open my eyes I become aware of the air current propelled by the rotary motion of the fan blades blended with the morning breeze.It is greatly distinguishable,even when both blow simultaneously.I remain perched on the bed for a while, vaguely staring nothing in particular, furrowing my brow as I try to recollect fractions of my dream. A few flashes of faces here and there and I stand up knowing that it's the best my mind can recollect. I go to the balcony first,to get an eyeful of the lush green trees,the morning fresh gardens, a sky of periwinkle blue that is crowned with the golden sun, the beautifully structured roads. I love the feel of the cool wind caressing my face,and especially my hair,matted after a night's sleep. Turning right,I find my father already settled up on a chair,reading a main paper, a second main paper and the finance supplement within hands' reach. I pick up the unattended tabloids that lie on the floor,the ones that always play a second fiddle to the main papers,to which my father never spares a glance.

I go to the drawing room next,before going for a wash,before paying heed to the teeth that need some paste,where my mother listens to a tarot card reader with rapt attention. "Oh,you're awake so soon?" She says,never irritated with the diversion that comes in the form of her daughter."I saw the tubelight switched on in your room/comp room late at night when I got up to drink water( she always gets up in the middle of the night to drink water,and I can't get myself to understand how come can she not sleep at a stretch!). When did you sleep"? I yawn and mumble some gibberish to her daily question,before hugging her. I don't think she expects a proper reply either. I step in the direction of the wash-basin, drawing back my steps only at times when I hear stuff like 'Leo raashee,aapko milta hain,the card of wheel of fortune'...

I have to begin,like I said with the newspaper supplements. I read The Ahmedabad mirror first,then the Ahmedabad times,culminating the supplement reading with DNA after hrs. Then I take on the main paper which by that time my father is finished with.Always beginning with the TOI. The headlines I think would cease to be called headlines unless they don't report something miserable,something catastrophic or something that pertains to violence.Skipping and Skimming news through all the pages,I reach my favorite page-The editorial page. My mood lifts when I see articles of my favorite columnists-Jug Suraiya, Bachi Karkaria. I like a few others too- Janardhan Roye,Madhumita Gupta,err..some Mr Krishnan etc. There's a column called The Speaking Tree. I find it good,but sometimes the stuff is so densely spiritual that I tend to lose interest halfway through the article. I scan the sports pages only when there's something significant going on. For less than special occasions,I conveniently ignore that part of the newspaper. I read DNA after that,only if I feel like.

The problem begins at around nine when I'm finished with the papers. I think of studying for the vivas,but the overconfident idiot in me complacently reminds me of the fact that I've already sat in four vivas with mimimal preparation,a major part of it done half an hour before the arrival of the external examiner,sitting with friends in the lobby and yet did satisfactorily well. No,it isn't worth putting my time into it. Definitely not. But then,what else? Oh,I could always start preparing for the exams that I'd be taking soon. For some reason,however I've lost that enthu..it's bad.It musn't happen,but I just don't seem to get the inspiration to sit down with it. I'm more than aware now than any other time that shortly I'd be standing at the same crossroads,the same transitional phase where I stood three years ago. Making choices are tough,especially when your future depends on it. How I envy those who are crystal clear about their destination from day one. I know, as the months draw steadily near,the adrenaline gush is going to get stronger. And people around you don't let you forget it even for a while. Suddenly,everything is moving with double the pace. Like yesterday when we sat with our books wide open in college(not studying), ranting about the delay,sharing tips to confund the examiner (:D),rolling our eyes at a guy who wore a shocking pink shirt,making plans about the movies that we'd watch together, darting meaningful glances at friends about the seeming gayism of a certain classmate (:P), still behaving every bit like a fresher, came barging in the h.o.d with the news that we have to select out electives for the seventh sem-right then! A second ago we were a bunch of kids talking nineteen to a dozen about totally irrelevant stuff,and a second later fully grown ups weighing the pros and cons of nanotech against biomed with professional interest. Life gets so stupendously speedy at times. After tomorrow,we'd officially be in the final year..jeez,I guess it'll take some time to sink in.

I didn't realize that I've typing for so long. I always type at a stretch,but today I've been very sluggish,wandering after every four lines or so. I think I should stop blogging this often,lest this too should become a task,not pleasure.

Chinky is officially moving out today. I thought I'd be in a very unstable state of mind today. But guess what,I'm not! No sorrowness,no melancholy background music in my head.I don't feel a thing. And I have no reason for it. Maybe,it's just the idea of parting and not the parting itself that is painful.Just as the way some people love the idea of being in love and not love itself. Plausible.Maybe I too belong to the same ilk,I don't know.

Anyway,I'm tired of typing and my tummy demands food. So long!

PS: This post script is only for my friend Priyal,who was rather grouchy after reading my last post-Apology! Abjection! I don't think you're a loser.You are the last person on the planet to be one. And even then you won't be! Please don't stop reading my blog. :)

Saturday, June 20, 2009

Reading blogs? Must be a loser!

"What kind of losers read blogs anyway-read a book god dammit! " said a man whose name I don't know at a television program called lounge,on a channel called ndtv goodtimes. Thanks to chinky, first I and then my mother have been addicted to ndtv goodtimes. We watch almost everything-Lounge,I'm too sexy for my shoes,The big fat Indian Wedding(urghh! this is the show for which my partner in crime originally pushed me),Women on top,No kidding and even the cookery shows! I think Indian programs in english are much better than that are on air in the western networks-except the sitcoms of course. No one can perhaps churn out as fine comedy as those yankees do. My current favorite is 'The big bang theory'. It is a story of four idosyncratically,exceedingly geeky guys- Leonard,Sheldon,Howard and Raj(esh). People must watch this show for Dr. Sheldon Cooper,if for no one else!

Anyway, I'm diverting as usual. So,this show lounge discusses mainly books,reading habits, writing passions,plays a platform for budding authors,reviews books. To cut the long story short, for people who love books,reading or writing it is practically a fun world. The anchor Rajat Kapoor was interviewing this woman who after four years of blogging had penned down a book. And this critical guy I think is a columnist in DNA newspaper but I'm not sure(It's my father who likes DNA,I still remain faithful to TOI.Although I've been advised many a times by my pedagogs to switch over to The Hindu. They say it's a much better read,and it's language unlike the times is not erroneous-but then again I can never appreciate a daily that has such a non-secular name!)
Oh no..here I drift again :)
So,yeah this man's comment made me frown a little. A few months ago I would have seconded his statement, but now I took it as a personal insult! But then the damage was done. My mind had already gotten busy. It started searching for answers. Such questions actually cascade into a series of other questions. Why did I start blogging? Why do I need to peep into others' lives? People I don't even know! Why do I need to browse ten blogs a day-twenty in idle days, only to learn how some girl in Karnataka loves to paint or some guy in Manhattan beat a bloke black and blue when the later was trying to hit on his girlfriend? Since when did I get so self indulgent that I keep keying words after words describing my entire routine and that too addressing nobody in particular. This is something that puzzled me since day one. When you write a blog,whom do you address? The days when I was oblivious to blogging( I used to think a blog is a kind of webpage you have to code and design yourself and I really couldn't get myself to understand what was a person supposed to do after that!) I maintained diaries/journals. I've written in my diaries ever since I knew how to write. Earlier I used to call it friend. Then after I read the diary of Anne Frank I drew inspiration from her and started calling it Kitty the way she did. After reading HP and the chamber of secrets I didn't write in my diary for a very long time. I was scared that it might feast on my soul in the same way Riddle's diary did on Ginny's.In the final years of my school life,I resumed it. I got myself a beautiful,expensive diary of hand-made paper. I used to be in so much stress those days that I mainly whined and cribbed. But I was happy to vent my feelings, scribble down my fears,pen down my apprehensions. I wrote only when I was anguished. Something that I regret now. I should've written it in happiness and despondency alike. Also,I never wrote of some things that I extensively thought of and wanted to write about them just for the sake of memories.But I never did.I'm referring to my crushes.Oh,in those days I used to have umpteen number of them :) I don't get them that frequently now. Of course some features were just the same. When I wrote of friends I wrote exactly how they appeared. Not just the description of their phenotype but also the clothes they wore; the colors,the pattern,the design,the texture. And also,not just clothes-watches,shoes,wallets,earrings,socks,belts,you name it. I'm a detail loving person and to top it I'm a girl. I not only notice people,I scrutinize them. If I have a special memory of some occasion,I always remember how the person was dressed.Something I'm actually proud of.
Err..so where was I? I was making some point,right? Yes..so the thing is that this blog has subjected me to both transmitting and receiving ends of shear narcissism. I talk of myself all the time. I'm this,I'm that,this is the shop I like,these are the subjects I don't,my friends,school,college,teachers,assignments,exams. It's I,me, myself all the time. And surprisingly enough far from getting bored by blogs of other people with similar tones,I actually look forward to it! I like it better when people divulge personal information than dissecting social issues. We all bloggers blog because,as the woman replied to the critic- "We feel like a solo artist,interacting with the world". And that is correct.Yes,we do! What gives us high is the fact that people might read it and like it,unlike our diaries that lie unattended most of the times, deep in the drawer of the study table. And we read blogs because..well..sometimes you just need it. To get away from your life and peer into the kaleidoscope of somebody else's life. And on some levels that's exactly the same with books,movies or music,right? Oh,well the highfalutins may argue that books are different. That they are written by creatively endowed lot,not any man on street. That is debatable,I say. If anybody who has a computer can write a blog,then anybody with a pen can write a book or anybody with a guitar can compose music. We get down to the bottom of it,don't we? What's good,what's bad and most importantly who decides?

Also,there's a very common myth associated with blogging. People think that all those who blog are aspiring writers. That, at some or the other point of their lives they want to see themselves smiling at the world from behind the bright covers of the books that would have their beaming faces and a sparkling smiles. Never was an assumption so baseless made. I know people who after reading blogs/articles/essays/columns get so impressed that they straight away remark-"Hey,you should become a writer". Some of my friends say it too,much to my chagrin. It is bewildering that still a majority of people feel that if you can write in a flowery language,you're an author material. Bah! To pen down a book you need more than anything else a story! The living example of this fact is the Indian author Chetan Bhagat. He, till date is the most successful Indian author of fiction in english in terms of number of copies sold,surpassing some of the most talented writers who have won accolades from various prestigious corners of the world- Salman Rushdie, Arundhati Roy, Jhumpa Lahiri,Vikram Seth, Amitav Ghosh and most recently Aravind Adiga etc. While they are celebrated writers who enjoy exalted status in global circuits,back home they stand no chance to beat this guy when it comes to popularity. At the risk of offending Chetan Bhagat's fans ( I'm one too-on some levels,ie) I must say,his books are no literary treasures. He writes in the simplest form of language allowable by publishing houses. This too is one of the reasons why someone who never bothered to pick up a famous five in his/her formative years goes hunting for this guy's books. Quite a feat,isn't it? To turn non-readers into readers. Well earned full respect for that,Mr. Bhagat! He has ameliorated the reading habit of the common India. He did to India, what JKR did to the world. Oh, how can I ever thank her for letting Harry out of her cupboard,into our drawing rooms :)
So,bloggers or non-bloggers everybody has an opinion on almost everything. And people talk and listen all the time. So,that probably makes them losers too,right? Well obviously we are all losers! What is there to gain from life in the end? If books are treasures,then blogs are mini-treasures and some of those I've visited are nothing short of Aladin's cave!!

Oh,I'm so happy that the net's working fine again. I'd been dying to blog. I wanted to write something about the harbingers of rain when I saw a peacock fluttering its plumes,I so desperately wanted to blog the day it rained for the first time in this season,about how rains drive me madly romantic.I wanted to write how this country is becoming unsafe for women day by day,something about how I've inherited my father's choice in books,how I felt bad for a toddler who walked barefooted on a freshly tarred road on a scorching afternoon,carrying a child he couldn't fit in his arms, how I hate to be in the first batch for vivas,how the new little pups at the college come running demanding food everytime anyone opens a water bottle,about how I decided to set a reminder to carry packs of biscuits for them when I go back for my two remaining vivas.

Ok,the yawns are getting lengthier now,and I'm making a lot of spelling errors which means it's time to click 'publish post'.

PS: I'm reading Unaccustomed earth by Jhumpa Lahiri. I never knew it was on my father's book shelf all the while! When questioned,he replied it has been there for almost a year now. huh! I hate his ultra forgetful nature :x
But she is an ace writer!! book review in the next post. :)

Saturday, June 13, 2009

life's comical!

If there's one thing that strikes me every time I read Khushwant Singh's compilation of jokes, is the fact that all the while when we rummage around for 'good jokes' in joke books, comic strips, on the internet, radio (radio mirchi has an oddball joke reader called Sudarshan-"Oh,please call me Sud" :D), forwarded messages and a dozen other potential sources which help those lips to achieve and sustain that curve, we tend to overlook the real life comedies that keep happening around us all the time. Maybe because our mind is not quite receptive to it. We overlook it because we think,hey funny moments can be stumbled upon only in places that are most likely to be full of it. But once we start observing things and people around us,the laughing hyena tag might not be far away!

These are just three of the many random unanticipated hilarity that I came across in day to day life.

Once while standing in a queue at a billing counter in crossword, I happened to glance at the two books the man standing in front of me had purchased. He put the first one on the desk which was titled ' Conversations with God'. After the second one was placed I said to myself, "God surely is going to have a grueling time", for it was titled ' You can negotiate anything'. :)

This happened around a year ago. I had gone to the Bhaikaka bhavan for attending a workshop and as they were running a bit late on schedule I had to wait outside. After ten minutes had elapsed I got so bored that I decided to have a stroll in the garden nearby. But it was quite sunny so I dropped the idea of the saunter and sat silently in a shady bench near the entrance,observing the saplings, the hues of the flowers, butterflies, insects I don't know name of, etc. No sooner had I begun drinking the beauty of nature,came flouncing two beggar girls in their tattered chaniyaas. The elder one couldn't have been more than six and the younger one was probably three or four. They instantly got on to their regular jobs of dramatizing for scraping a few pennies . Their rather vehement performance told me( for I was unable to comprehend the brand of gujarati they spoke) that they were trying to pass off the younger one as a blind girl. The little one kept blinking her eyes in a sporadic manner and flapped her limbs in the air. There was no need for this performance actually.Those who know me also know that I don't think twice before giving alms( something that has often had people accusing me of encouraging social evil,but let us get back to it later on). Now, despite the fact that her acting was splendid,she was a little girl after all. For how much time can a child possibly keep fluttering her eyelids! She gave up and widely opened her eyes. Her sister elbowed her to resume it,but she just couldn't. But by that time I had doubled up with laughter,and then both of them joined in as well. Children make life so beautiful,and funny too! :)

Ok,this is a rather vulgar one( do I sense sudden alertness? :p)
I saw this guy at fun republic wearing a very funky pair of jeans. But I wasn't able to gauge the extent of funkiness until I passed by him. His tee was tucked in so that a clear view of the jeans would be possible. On the right side of his jeans,at the crotch level was printed the word 'Tom'. And on the left side,on the same level was written 'Harry' :P :P Any more elaboration would be inappropriate. If you get the joke good,if not better :D. Uttara laughed for a full five minutes after hearing this. I don't find it so funny now,but at the time this incident happened, I blushed scarlet,doubled my pace and walked away guffawing!

There's comedy and laughter in every walk,every step of life. I hope I encounter and recognize it more often. :)

Friday, June 12, 2009

an era ends

Now before I start getting all nostalgic and maudlin, I should mention the rofl moment of the day. As I, Anu and Chinky were taking out the vehicles from the parking,ready to ride back home a guy came out of thin air,went to chinky with his arm extended, fancying a handshake. I thought he was someone she knew and apparently she thought so too because she'd almost hoisted her hand. But just then he spoke- "Hi,I'm Chirag. I want a frandship with you' :D:D" Chinks was stunned beyond measure. Anu and I were trying very hard not to laugh out loud. After all the snubbing was done,we rode away giggling. God! That was something customary of cyberspace, not real life! :D

So,anyway..the hiatus is finally over! The trauma of vivas still remain but at least I'm done with the major cause of nail bitings. So,one might think that I'd be the happiest and most relaxed soul right now. The deduction,going by the premise is not incorrect-except that I'm not.

It's one of those low phases of life when you know things that are happening are nothing wrong.They're good,they're making everybody else happy,they mark the beginning of something new-maybe not for you but definitely for other people.Still you cannot control your ire,you are frustrated,you want to slow the time down,you want to do so many things you should have,say so many things you could have but most importantly you want to make things as they were a while ago. But you can't. You're not god. You can't undo things,you can't go back in time,you can't prevent the significant changes from surfacing in your life,you can't hold people back,you can't do anything about the fact that chinky is shifting outta vikki...

The first time I met Meenakshi (chal maan li teri baat kamini), it was way back in the year 2004, during the month of march. March end I think,because we were done with our boards and had all the time in the world to kill(oh,what an amazing year tenth class was). It was me,her and uttara and we got chatting about a guy we all knew. What of course we didn't know at that time was that this absolutely irrelevant person was doing us a favor of a lifetime- he was making us friends for life! In any case we got along pretty well,and then began frequenting each others' houses. We wondered how come we didn't know each other for so long! I shifted here during eighth. Chinks was here all along. And so the saga began. On every evening it was mandatory to go on long walks. Me,Chinky and Uttara( Anu,for some reason never joined us) used to spend those few hours blithely discussing funny stuff, merrily discussing the teachers and their eccentricities and stupidly discussing 'him'. God!! Why? What did we see in him anyway? He definitely was not worth the profuse attention that we showered on him. But I'm not complaining since it brought us closer :) At that time,I must admit,I was closer to uttara than chinky. Which is why I was far from being shattered when her family went to Canada for a year. Of course I felt bad, but it was definitely not an overwhelming feeling. There was no orkut,or facebook at that time. We never e-mailed or called. Honestly,we never felt like doing it. I was completely out of touch with her for a year or so. And then one fine day she came back and the timing couldn't have been better because I was in my first year of college and hated it-every bit of it.
From then till now-more than three full years. It has been a roller coaster ride.Like something out of the world from somebody else's life. I wish I could describe every moment of it,but no human language,no semantics can actually do justice to it. Besides I'm bad at casing emotions in words. Let me just say that,every time I think of those days,the things we said,did,didn't do (honestly I don't even remember a major part of it) something in the chest region lifts, something from somewhere exudes positive vibes, my eyes twinkle,I never fail to smile,I feel good,without knowing why the hell.
Of course I don't tell her these things...chadh jaaegi :D

But what can I say when she's actually happy about it(" I'm sick of a stagnant life.I want a change"). It all started with Uttara going away to Chennai,Palla to Hyderabad and then Anu will probably go out of a'bad for her pg. And I wish she really does. She so badly wants to. Chinky will be in a'bad only of course but no matter how much she says it's no big a deal and things will not change-I know they will. Distance is a bitch-I have affirmed and reaffirmed this time and again. This is nothing new to me. It has been happening since I was in school. Of all the people whose parents could have gotten transferred,only theirs did whom I was most attached to.One by one all my best friends went away.I used to think I was cursed but my mother told me-"look at it this way,for every best friend that leaves another arrives,and how many people can boast of having so many good friends,huh?" True,I used to think-For every Alakananda who went away Suchismita and Vandita arrived,when they went away Aditi came,and when she went away Chinky came-of course she wasn't a classmate( which I think was better that way).Anu was there all along ( fifteen years dammit!). It used to stop my tears but still I didn't want new people-I wanted them! They all said while going that they'd stay in touch,which they did too. But somewhere in the path,you lose touch.It's nobody's fault actually. Distance makes people fall apart. It's a universal fact-deal with it. Out of sight,out of mind-harsh,isn't it? But true to the core. The sooner we accept it,the better. I know it's bad. Falling apart is actually worse than falling out with each other.It might be bitter,but at least there's a defined ending. Abrupt endings,vague endings are the worst.
I would someday really like to question the bearer of the universe (if I could) about the dynamics of it,about the way universe functions. It's so unfair that people can just hop in and out of your life.It's so unfair that sometimes everything is perfect but the timing isn't. It's so unfair that you can neither do anything about it,nor live peacefully with it. It's all so unfair.

Anyway,back to reality. I hope Chinky finds her new abode better than this one. I hope Anu gets through her entrances and goes where she wants to. I hope that this year accelerates with supersonic speed. I hope by this time next year life gets much more certain and structured.I hope to get out of a'bad..oh no,there's probably no other city that I'd ever be able to love the way I love amdavad but you know what..now I need a change too. Chinky and my tagline- In hope we live!
As of now,there won't be any 11:00 PM messages saying- 'kamini,walk par chale?' ,' I'm at your parking;do baar nsp ho gai :D', 'utar bey',there won't be any dogs that she would chase for us,there won't be any peacocks we would gape at,there won't be any O.A whose enviable svelte would provide more atmospehere to the fumes of jealously,there won't be any 15 minute walk follwed by a 45 min lazying around in the garden,there won't be a lot of old things-But hopefully a host of new ones :)
Whatever be the case,this is big,this is huge.Chinky's moving out,Anu would be going out after a month or two and I'm on my countdown year....indeed, an era ends.