TERMITE IS RIGHT
Apropos nothing whatsoever, I had a termite infestation in my house the other day — rather, my house-mate Toto did. In the middle of us having a chat in his room, he noticed that some of his books were listing strangely to one side, went to investigate and jumped three feet in the air as he discovered a colony of termites merrily digesting his J Krishnamurtis and Sigmund Freuds. “At least they have good taste” I said, trying to inject some levity. Anyway, the pest control chaps were called in and went about their business, and I got chatting with one of them. “There’s usually a larger colony in the ground under an infested house, where the queen sits. She needs a huge amount of cellulose as food in order to lay thousands of eggs, which is why termites attack wood and paper. The workers carry the food down into the ground to the queen, which is why we drill holes at ground level and fill them with poison. The workers pick up the poison in bits on the way, and eventually the queen dies from ingesting it. It’s quite simple, actually.” I felt a sudden pang of inexplicable sadness, at this point. Here were creatures who were simply doing what they were programmed to do — the queen laid eggs and increased her tribe, the workers went out and procured her nourishment. They weren’t thinking ‘Right, let’s go and destroy this fellow’s book collection, he doesn’t read much these days anyway’ — in fact they weren’t thinking at all. Yet here we were, able to understand and process all these facts and then taking a considered decision to slowly poison them to death. As they say, there’s a lesson in this somewhere — I just don’t know what it is.
If you’re even halfway interested in photography, you’ll know the name ‘Leica’ when you hear it. The history of 35 mm photography virtually began with the Ur-Leica, and for just over a hundred years the German firm has been making tough, beautiful, no-nonsense cameras and lenses that are widely considered the best in the universe. You can’t really consider your photography experience complete until you use a Leica, and ever since I did a few years ago, I’ve wanted one. Now they’ve unleashed what is probably their crowning achievement — a full-frame sensor, digital version of their legendary ‘M’ series of cameras. I’ve seen some sample images, and they can only be described as breathtaking. I’m going to get one – as soon as I pull my next bank job to come up with the Rs 3.5 lakh asking price (and that’s without a lens). Sigh. Double sigh.
HIT THE ROAD
You can’t actually drive here (well, you can, but that’s another kind of road trip altogether), but if you haven’t been to Barcelona yet, I suggest you somehow find the means to go. It’s one of the sunniest, liveliest, friendliest cities in the world, with stunning architecture, great beaches, amazing food and sophisticated wine.