Trinity : Please, just listen. I know why you’re here, Neo. I know what you’ve been doing. I know why you hardly sleep, and why night after night you sit at your computer. You’re looking for him. I know, because I was once looking for the same thing. And when he found me, he told me I wasn’t really looking for him, I was looking for an answer. It’s the question that drives us, Neo. It’s the question that brought you here. You know the question, just as I did…
Neo : What is the Matrix?
Trinity : The answer is out there, Neo. It’s looking for you…and it will find you…if you want it to.
Morpheus : I know *exactly* what you mean. Let me tell you why you’re here. You’re here because you know something. What you know, you can’t explain. But you feel it. You’ve felt it your entire life. That there’s something wrong with the world. You don’t know what it is, but it’s there…like a splinter in you’re mind, driving you mad. It is this feeling that has brought you to me. Do you know what I’m talking about?
– – –
A blogger’s search for Parveen Babi’s fabled magazine cover
Ten years ago, in his last year at college in Nagpur, Vinayak Razdan opened his local newspaper and learned that the actor Parveen Babi had died at the age of 55. Growing up, Razdan had idolised her. He was troubled by the manner of her death. The Times of India headline that day read: “Parveen Babi dies, alone in death as in life.” In her final years, Babi, battling mental illness, had confined herself within her home in the Mumbai suburb of Juhu. She suffered fatal organ failure in her apartment one day, but no one had realised this for a while. Milk deliveries piled up at her doorstep for days before her housing society had the police check up on her.
The young Razdan had had a rough year himself, wracked with anxiety about what career he would choose after graduation. He was, like Babi, living alone. “I had no clue about the future,” he wrote to me in an e-mail this October. “Her lonely death didn’t help.” Of the many mysteries of Babi’s life, one relatively minor one captured Razdan’s imagination: the famous Time issue. He knew Babi as the first Bollywood star to have appeared on the cover of the American magazine, although he had never actually seen that cover. Upon her death, each obituary mentioned it. Frustratingly, however, none of them ran an image of it. So, in 2005, Razdan began to look for it himself. He may not have imagined, at the time, that the quest would take him over five years. [full]
– – – –
1. My quest.
Somewhere in the vicinity of December 2001, during the dial-up internet yahoo messenger era in India, I used to hangout in a chatroom where someone had shared a link to an article about an unlikely literary sensation discovered in a slush pile. I read the article and made a mental note to find the book when I had the requisite opportunity. (read wherewithal)
In September 2008 when I finally had the means (via the first check from the on-campus uni job) I couldn’t remember the name of the book or the author or the exact link to the article. I sort of remembered the heading of the article and tried looking it up online with no luck. The article heading was stuck in my head because it was very unique/quirky ‘lady gets out of bed..takes a dump…writes a bestseller.’
After my initial failures to locate the the book /the author/the article, I put the issue on the back burner of my mind and proceeded with my regular shitty life. But the fact that I couldn’t locate the article gnawed at me (because those who have witnessed my google-fu will attest to my find rate of 98%) and at least once every few years since 2008, I’ve tried to find the said article. No luck tho.
Which brings us to December 2018.
I was reading some article on independent.co.uk when something struck me (the font used)…maybe,maybe..this was the site on which I’d read that article all those years ago. A few custom search queries and no results later, I was pretty disappointed. But by now I was convinced the article was published by a UK news service.
After querying a few more UK News publications and all failures later, I arrived at Telegraph news. I was giddy with anticipation because the font used site-wide definitely looked like the one the article was written in.
search query…moment of truth..FAIL.
I was like fuck this shit.
Then I did a random last search for ‘Publisher’ + ‘woke up’ + ‘wrote a book’ and lo,there it was, the lone result:
Woke up, got out of bed, had a fag… and wrote a bestseller
The mistake I’d been all these years was I remembered the heading of the article all wrong. Looks like I made up my own title. And based on that flawed memory all my subsequent years of searches had been fruitless. But I was so very sure of my memory.SAD.
I slapped my desk in excitement after the curtains down on my quest. A YUGE mistake for it was 3AM on a Wednesday. The missus woke up all angry and asked me why the ruckus. I explained my celebration. She let out a groan and said,”When you were reading Ready Player One you were complaining about how silly you found the writing because Wade obsessively kept combing James Halliday’s memories in search for clues…what were you doing just now?”