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08

Nov

jiro dreams of sushi:

the thing is, politics is really super boring. as don draper says in Mad Men: “politics, religion, or sex. why talk about it?” (and then he bangs his wife).

despite this, i’ve noticed that tweeting/updating your status with something even vaguely political, bizarrely gets more interest/likes than anything else. i posted this on facebook the day before the elections: “dear (not fellow) americans: please either don’t vote, or vote for the lesser of two evils. and please unfriend me if you vote romney. you are a maniac. love, arnab x”

that dumb update got 82 likes. 82!!! for me, that’s insane. even my “classic” pizza slice joke only got 30-something: “i love pizza slices. my favorite thing about a pizza slice is that it points in the direction that it’s supposed to go… my mouth <)”

sure, i have political views. but like most people, i’m also an idiot who doesn’t have enough knowledge to discuss them. mainly because when i try to read about them, my brain gets tired and sleepy. and when i try to talk about them, it quickly becomes apparent that i’m a moron. 

so i will leave the political talk to those who know about it. instead, i will talk about crying, sushi, and documentaries. 

when asked about being able to cry on cue, a close actor friend of mine once said: “it’s not crying on cue that’s hard. what’s hard is trying not to cry all the time.”

i liked this, but for most of my adult life, the opposite has been true. i have never been able to cry. whenever i would start to, i would find the whole thing so ridiculous i would start laughing. “why cry?” i’d think. “what the hell does that solve??” and i’d continue chopping my carrots. nowadays, however, if i’m watching a film, and anyone in the film overcomes absolutely anything, i cry. toy story 3 destroyed me. 

“Jiro Dreams of Sushi” is a brilliant documentary i watched a few days ago about an 85 year old, 3 time Michelin starred, Japanese sushi chef named Jiro, his sons, and his pursuit of perfection. i didn’t cry watching it, as his journey of overcoming things had mainly passed, and this documentary was more a swan song about him and his philosophies about life. but it was beautiful. and unlike most politics, it was inspiring. 

do watch it if you like good things. you should really buy the dvd, or watch it here on youtube before it’s taken down: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JorsEExDnMc

oh, and by the way, if you did vote for romney, i wasn’t kidding with my status update. unfriend me. i’m serious. why are you still reading this?

02

Nov

overhearing a first date:

some months ago on a sunday, i was in a cafe. it was 4pm. sunny out. i was hungover and eating eggs benedict. alone. scribbling down dumb ideas in my notebook. looking back at the notes from that day now, they were:

  • “how do dogs know what guns are?”
  • “invent a Kindle where you can write in the columns, make notes, underline etc” (brilliant. like i’m actually going to do this)
  • “take a picture of me with a grape. tweet it, and underneath write: am having a really ‘grape’ time.”

anyhow, some might think this sounds quite lonely and pathetic, but i was actually quite content (because i’m lonely and pathetic). regardless, soon after, a boy and girl then sat down near me, and began talking. it became clear that this was a first date. their dialogue wasn’t cringy, or funny, or weird. it was just very normal. it followed the pattern you would think most 1st dates would have. and they both seemed like nice and kind people.

i didn’t really want to write down what they were saying. it felt disrespectful and intrusive. but i also knew that i wouldn’t remember their faces, or write down their names. and i had been wanting to see what it would be like to write dialogue that was natural. so i made the decision to scribble. they asked each other where they were from, where they live, what they do, how pretty/lively their respective areas were. they talked about both living in edinburgh:

  • Girl: it’s really nice. but i guess it’s a bit small. 
  • Boy: yeah. when i lived there you’d bump into people you’d know all the time. but everything is walking distance and the flats are amazing. like royal tenenbaum’s.

they spoke about how she worked as a teacher at a special school. she said it was nice, but just a job. he spoke about how he worked in advertising:

  • Boy: i work at an ad agency. it’s ok. i have a creative partner. we sit in parks and museums. that’s the nice part of the job.
  • Girl: do you deal with clients?
  • Boy: no. there’s slick people who do that sort of stuff.

so she asked him if he’d ever consider changing jobs. moving somewhere else. and that was when he said this:

  • Boy: i’m 35. i’m very tired. you know, from life.

and for some reason, i really liked that he said that. in my head she would have just flung herself upon him and they would have ripped each other’s clothes off and then gotten married 6-8 months later. instead, they sat there together for a few moments in silence, and then he asked her if she wanted to go sit outside as it was so nice out, which she happily agreed to. who knows if they ever went on a date again. but i liked that he was so sad and honest in that moment, and that she went with it. it gave a sad lonely boy like me a bit of hope.

then i guess i finished my eggs and went home and watched Mad Men. mainly because i don’t know how to end this story.

[Arnab Chanda is a writer/actor/freelance advertising creative, and is available for writing, private dancing, and tennis lessons].


26

Oct

my dad:

my dad passed away on june 17th of this year. just a little over 4 months ago. i’ve obviously thought about it every day since, but i didn’t really know how to write about it, if i should, or even what i wanted to say.

i always thought that when one of my parents died i’d have some sort of epiphany or revelation about life. but when it happened, i had nothing. the only thing i realized was that i had never felt true sadness until that moment. i felt genuinely hollow. and light. and i was overcome with guilt that i wasn’t there with him at the end. i felt i should have been. i knew he didn’t want to go. he had told me that he wasn’t ready to.

only a month and a half earlier, he’d had a stroke, so i flew to india to see him with my sister. it was his 63rd birthday, and we didn’t tell him we were coming. we just showed up and surprised him. i think he liked it. i still remember his smile when he saw me. he said “who is this idiot?”. he was still making jokes, but his health was deteriorating, although at the time i had no idea at what pace. after two weeks of being with him, when i was leaving to fly back to london, he was too weak to walk around. he lay in bed crying. so i lay next to him.

“i ruined your holiday.”
“holiday? you think i’m going to come to calcutta for holiday? i came to see you.”
“sorry we couldn’t have fun. next time. next time you come we’ll have fun.”

it ended up being the last conversation we had. he had lost his hearing, and so we couldn’t speak on the phone after that. and just a week before i was scheduled to return to india again to see him, he had a sudden heart attack and passed away.

i’d never seen my dad cry before that trip. he was always a fighter. argumentative even. but it was clear how sad he was. i didn’t want to remember my dad that way, but it remains my final memory of him. i desperately wanted to find something positive in the whole situation, but i really couldn’t. kurt vonnegut, in his memoir published before his death, wrote two passages that i still think about often:

-“humor is a way of holding off how awful life can be, to protect yourself. finally, you get just too tired, and the news is too awful, and humor doesn’t work anymore.”

- “what is life all about? i put my big question about life to my son the pediatrician. dr. vonnegut said this to his doddering old dad: ‘father, we are here to help each other get through this thing, whatever it is.’”

i obviously miss my dad very much. and i wish i could have been there for him at the end to help him get through it. i’ll be 32 next year, the same age he was when he had me. as a young doctor, him and my mom struggled a lot when they moved to england in the late 70‘s. i don’t know what’s in store for me in life, but i really wish i could have shared it with him. i think he would have liked that.

my dad:

my dad passed away on june 17th of this year. just a little over 4 months ago. i’ve obviously thought about it every day since, but i didn’t really know how to write about it, if i should, or even what i wanted to say.

i always thought that when one of my parents died i’d have some sort of epiphany or revelation about life. but when it happened, i had nothing. the only thing i realized was that i had never felt true sadness until that moment. i felt genuinely hollow. and light. and i was overcome with guilt that i wasn’t there with him at the end. i felt i should have been. i knew he didn’t want to go. he had told me that he wasn’t ready to.

only a month and a half earlier, he’d had a stroke, so i flew to india to see him with my sister. it was his 63rd birthday, and we didn’t tell him we were coming. we just showed up and surprised him. i think he liked it. i still remember his smile when he saw me. he said “who is this idiot?”. he was still making jokes, but his health was deteriorating, although at the time i had no idea at what pace. after two weeks of being with him, when i was leaving to fly back to london, he was too weak to walk around. he lay in bed crying. so i lay next to him.

“i ruined your holiday.”

“holiday? you think i’m going to come to calcutta for holiday? i came to see you.”

“sorry we couldn’t have fun. next time. next time you come we’ll have fun.”

it ended up being the last conversation we had. he had lost his hearing, and so we couldn’t speak on the phone after that. and just a week before i was scheduled to return to india again to see him, he had a sudden heart attack and passed away.

i’d never seen my dad cry before that trip. he was always a fighter. argumentative even. but it was clear how sad he was. i didn’t want to remember my dad that way, but it remains my final memory of him. i desperately wanted to find something positive in the whole situation, but i really couldn’t. kurt vonnegut, in his memoir published before his death, wrote two passages that i still think about often:

-“humor is a way of holding off how awful life can be, to protect yourself. finally, you get just too tired, and the news is too awful, and humor doesn’t work anymore.”

- “what is life all about? i put my big question about life to my son the pediatrician. dr. vonnegut said this to his doddering old dad: ‘father, we are here to help each other get through this thing, whatever it is.’”

i obviously miss my dad very much. and i wish i could have been there for him at the end to help him get through it. i’ll be 32 next year, the same age he was when he had me. as a young doctor, him and my mom struggled a lot when they moved to england in the late 70‘s. i don’t know what’s in store for me in life, but i really wish i could have shared it with him. i think he would have liked that.

12

Oct

finding a job you “love”:

i recently took an online job assessment test, and based on it’s results, i’d be good at the following things: customer service, client and/or employee relations, office improvements, key support roles and team-based project work. sadly, i don’t know what the hell any of this means.

like many people, i’m not really happy with my career right now, and i don’t really know what job or career i want in life. i suppose a lot of people feel that way at some point, or at many points, in their life. 

i read a great article by penelope trunk about the nonsense inherent in the idea of “doing something that you love” (http://blog.penelopetrunk.com/2007/12/18/bad-career-advice-do-what-you-love/). and after struggling since the age of 22 trying exactly to do that, i’m inclined to agree with her. financially, it has been quite difficult to be a comedy writer and actor, and i’ve always had to rely on other jobs, not involved with these things in order to get by. it is not fun, and i can’t honestly say that it built character. if anything, it made me a lot more cynical about the things that i loved growing up. 

and it really hit home the fact that your job and your passion can be two separate things. your passion or hobby fulfills you. your job literally pays you. i wish someone would have told me that when i was 22. because it’s not a bad thing to know this. you will always pursue your hobby regardless of whether you get paid for it or not. it is not necessary to actively make it your entire life. what is necessary is to find out what you’re actually good at, and get paid for it.

people often write me asking for advice on how to get into stand-up or comedy writing. i never ever respond. but if i did, i would just say: “don’t. it doesn’t pay. and audiences are dicks.”

however, if any of you have a job in customer service-employee relations-office improvements-key support-team-based project work… give me a call. apparently i’d be amazing at it.

[Arnab Chanda is a writer/actor/freelance advertising creative, and is available for writing, private dancing, and tennis lessons].

05

Oct

buying a strokes t-shirt:

“I’ve got nothing to say. I’ve got nothing to say. I’ve got nothing to give. Got no reason to live. But I will fight to survive. I’ve got nothing to hide. Wish I wasn’t so shy.” -Julian Casablancas

after only 4 blog entries, i already feel like the lyrics above. this is not a good sign. but i will trudge through this anyway, and accept that this week’s entry will be a complete pile of dogshit.

because performing alone on stage (such as stand-up), is not something i particularly enjoy, i wanted to find other ways of writing and creating things. i made a resolution recently, therefore, to make or finish one thing a day, instead of my usual habit of just thinking about making things. that thing could be a comedy sketch, a scene in a script, an entire script, a youtube video, a blog, whatever. just something. this weekly blog was borne out of that desire to create something each day and impose some sort of structure on myself. 

but, i’m constantly battling with the feeling that i have absolutely nothing original to say.

i wish i could do things without caring what others thought of me. the fear of being judged is debilitating, and more often that not, it prevents me from even doing anything in the first place. sometimes i meet people who don’t care what others think about them. i’m usually quite envious of these people. sometimes, they’re genuinely nice/carefree people. other times they’re not self-aware and complete assholes. i’ve found that not having a fear of being judged, and being a huge gaping asshole, often go hand in hand.

so, i often like performers who are open about their shyness. julian casablancas being one of them. it is why the strokes are my favorite band and why i really want to buy one of their t-shirts. but, i have weird beliefs about stuff like that. firstly, i think it’s always a bit weird to wear a t-shirt of a band that is still alive and not broken up. it’s like wearing a t-shirt with the name of your current girlfriend on it- it’s weird. but the real reason i don’t want to buy a strokes t-shirt - and here’s how my dumb brain works- is i genuinely think if i wore it, i’d be walking down the street and then bump into one of the strokes. and we would have this conversation:

one of the strokes: “oh, you like us huh?”

me: “huh? what? oh, no. it’s my girlfriends. ex girlfriends actually. i guess. i don’t… uhhh.”

one of the strokes: ”oh. ok.”

me: ”yeah. only losers wear t-shirts of bands they like. i only wear t-shirts of bands if they’re dead. anyhow. good luck.”

and then i’d walk away. and this once again confirms my belief that rather that putting yourself out there, it is better to not do anything, and accept that you have absolutely nothing to say.

[Arnab Chanda is a writer/actor/freelance advertising creative, and is available for writing, private dancing, and tennis lessons].

27

Sep

i lost my wallet:

Losing wallets makes me cry. And that is just one of the many reasons I am a loser.

I’ve lost my wallet twice in the past 3 weeks (the 2nd time after my September 11th blog post, which wasn’t about the events of 9/11/01, although the grief I felt after losing my wallet was reminiscent of that sad day). And each time, I’m forced to call upon all the wisdom and philosophical lessons I’ve learned in my life, and try to apply them like some sort of shitty guru. Things like: “relax”/“it’s not the end of the world”/“breathe”/“life is always shitty”/and “it’s just a material thing- it can be replaced.”

But for some weird reason, none of this works. It always leaves you feeling sick. It’s like a breakup. Except you’re the one being dumped. By a wallet.

The second time I lost it, I had just come off a bus, and when I realized it wasn’t in my pocket anymore, I literally screamed in the street like a maniac: “WHYYYYYYYYYY GOD?!?!?!? WHY?!?!?!?!?!?” Usually, I find myself laughing after doing something insane like this. But this time, there were no laughs. No smiles. Just a genuine feeling of hopelessness. I literally felt like Dawson in his now infamous crying clip: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RLgI-qbrWVo

Moreover, the whole process of replacing everything is a monumental pain in the ass. It requires you to engage with bureaucratic bullshit that you spend most of your adult life trying to avoid: customer service, people at banks, calling lost and found centers, dealing with lines at the tube station, people at the drivers license place, etc etc. You know, dicks.

To add insult to injury, in my wallet there was a Young Persons Railcard that I had been using to get 33% discount on all my train journeys. Because of my baby face, the guy who issued the railcard thought my passport said 1987 instead of 1981, so I had been dining out on that discount for an extra six beautiful years. With it gone, it truly meant my days of care free innocence/blatant cheating were over.

So I have a new wallet now. It is nice and smells of new leather. But I will not grow attached to it. Because I know it will hurt me. And then I will have to waste everyone’s time by writing another blog about it. And no one wants that. Not even me. I’m such a loser.

[Arnab Chanda is a writer/actor/freelance advertising creative, and is available for writing, private dancing, and tennis lessons].

19

Sep

head cases:

borg. sampras. federer. arguably the three greatest tennis players in the past 40 years. and yet i’ve always found them each to be incredibly boring. why? i guess it’s because they’re just not head cases.

the thing is, i like head cases. loose cannons. time bombs. i like guys who have a screw loose. who struggle to compete, to harness their talent, to like themselves. it’s endearing. for me, it’s cathartic to see that pain out in the open. 

for example, i don’t know a lot about snooker, but i remember watching it as a kid growing up in yorkshire and liking it. there was something about the red balls being potted in those little pockets, and the sound that the ball made when it fell through the nets. it was all very nice. but it was also begging for a bit of anarchy. so when i saw this clip of ronnie o’sullivan having a mental breakdown during the match, i really fell in love: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JYjIV54egio

that’s because, for whatever reason, i’ve always liked mental breakdowns. i was a junior tennis champ in saudi arabia, and even used to play for my university in the u.s., and for a while, i was pretty good. but i had a temper. i’d smash racquets (expensive). bang my head with the strings (painful). and if i missed a shot i used to sarcastically scream at the sky (incredibly mature), i.e. “yeah! woo!”/”wow. what a great player i am”/etc.

so i’ve always been drawn to crazy athletes like mcenroe, marat safin, goran ivanisevic, and andy murray. and i’ve always liked that andy murray was quite moody and temperamental. so when he lifted the u.s. open trophy last week, i wasn’t just cheering because he was the first brit to lift a grand slam in 76 years. or because he had lost his first four finals. i was also cheering because he was a fellow head case. and when a fellow head case finally wins something, it strangely helps me feel just that bit more sane. 

[Arnab Chanda is a writer/actor/freelance advertising creative, and is available for writing, private dancing, and tennis lessons].

11

Sep

My Baby Face:

I lost my wallet containing my Drivers License two weeks ago, and as fate would have it, I just got ID’d at the Supermarket. And not even for trying to buy booze. Nope, for Ibuprofen. I felt like Michael Douglas in “Falling Down.” I was on the verge of a mental breakdown/violent rampage. 

I suffer from something called a “baby-face”, as do a very small percentage of the human population. Others in society, known as “shallow morons,” envy this and think it to be a great thing. I’m not sure why. Perhaps they think getting older means they look less attractive (which I don’t find to be true for women or men), or maybe it’s that whole “grass is always greener” phenomenon. But as someone who has experienced “baby-facedom” their whole life, I can assure you, it’s a fucking god damn nightmare. 

One reason I don’t enjoy my face situation, is I don’t believe in God. Which means life is bleak and shit to me, and I need to resort to coping mechanisms to help me get through this fucking ordeal until I die. These coping mechanisms include: burgers, sushi, Woody Allen films, Comedy, Mad Men, Pink Floyd, The Strokes, swimming, futbol, tennis, girls, traveling, and lastly and most importantly… booze. 

I love booze, and it helps me experience this droll life from a new tilted perspective. Some say this means I have a drinking problem. I agree. But buying booze requires ID, and sometimes I’m not carrying any. This means that trying to get through life becomes even more difficult. When I do manage to get a hold of booze, however, the side effects the next day include unbearable hangovers and headaches. And to deal with this problem, I need aspirin.  

But when you’re 31 years old, are suffering for a monster hangover, and have just lost your wallet with your ID in it, the last thing you need is for some stupid supermarket checkout whore* to tell you that you look too young and that they cannot sell you it. I’m 31!!! And I’m still being ID’s for Ibuprofen?!? It is enough to make me want to murder someone. I constantly feel like the kid in the film “Almost Famous” when he finds out he is 2 years younger than he thought: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pBHS_oBRMLc&feature=youtu.be

Anyway, I get back home, and realize that only way to get through my goddamn hangover without the use of aspirin is by drinking even more booze. It’s a terrible/horrific cycle, and if I do end up dying from a failed liver, it’s all because of my dumb shitty “baby-face.” I know… boo-fucking-hoo. 

[Arnab Chanda is a writer/actor/freelance advertising creative, and is available for writing, private dancing, and tennis lessons].

*note: i do not know if this supermarket checkout woman was a whore. she probably was not. however, it’s hard for me to be objective about her because I hate her.

07

Sep

GRINDR:

i was with some gay friends the other day. i’m not bragging. i’ve lived in london for 8 years, so this sort of thing is bound to happen.

anyhow, i was with both of them in soho, and they decided to pull out their iphone and use the grindr app (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Grindr) to see if there were any gays around who wanted some hanky-panky sex time. i was curious as to how good looking the guys on grindr were. needless to say, very good looking. within a few seconds they found a picture of an amazing looking guy, asked if he wanted a blowjob, and the guy got back to them and said ‘yes.’ my friend left and said he’d be back in 10 minutes. “see you in a bit” we said nonchalantly. i suppose in other “less civilized” parts of the world this might have been weird. but we were completely non-plussed by the whole situation, and that’s why london is so great/morally corrupt.

anyhow, i’ve stated before to friends, and i’ll state again, grindr pretty much sums up the fundamental difference between men and women when it comes to sex.

i’ve always been confused and unconvinced as to whether women want/crave sex as much as men, but having talked to a lot of my female friends, i’m pretty sure they do. the difference, it seems, is that generally, most men will have sex with anything within 5 seconds of seeing a picture of it if they’re attracted to it, whereas most women need to see the person, in person, and then need a few minutes to decide, and then also need to see if they like the guys vibe/aura/other bullshit/etc etc.

they tried creating a heterosexual version of grindr last year, called blendr, and inevitably it tanked on it’s ass. why? because, in my opinion, whereas girls need personality for random sex, guys don’t.

personality gets in the way.

i can’t tell you how many times i’ve been turned off when i’m with a really hot 22 year old, and then i hear her talk. i feel like Dianne West in Woody Allen’s “Bullets Over Broadway”, wanting to constantly tell them “don’t speak!” [ clip here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KB2eR-v7pq8&feature=youtu.be ]

if someone does, however, find a way to get likeminded females and males together via an app, i’ll be there. until then, you can just stalk and not get in touch with me on facebook/twitter/tumblr, and imagine our lives together until one of us has to talk and ruin everything.

[Arnab Chanda is a writer/actor/freelance advertising creative, and is available for writing, private dancing, and tennis lessons].