I walk

June 15, 2017 § Leave a comment

 

I am that guy who walks with long strides and short, through cities big and small, towns with paddy field boundaries and villages with a cross road or two.

I am a small force of my own, an object small, determined to walk however far, I don’t know to what. I push through the heat, through the cold, through rain and sweat, drenched, past churches, temples, mosques and elsewhere where people go to seek the divine, but find a human in between instead.

I have no faith,

It just is.

I have hope,

It just is.

I see gorges, I see rivers free, I see the deep valley cut clean. There’s a whisper, there’s a flap, there’s a flurry, there’s maybe a prey or a predator, but all I see is a quietude, a slumber, an afternoon rain weathering away the rocks as if to measure life sans time, in a moment that lasts itself beyond reason or rime.

There are no boundaries, except those we draw on our own. And we draw, we carve, the lines that are roads, the way to homes we build in tiny geometric shapes plotted on plans and maps, surveyed and claimed as humanity’s own.

I walk under the sun, I walk under the street lights, I walk through firefly lit starry nights. I watch the match boxes come alive, at tea stalls and humongous complexes with tiny ants rushing in anxiety to fill another day with they know not what, but call a purpose.

I walk past the malls and the neon light boards that insist that the you can’t resist what is within- racks of the same, machine made and mould. There are no rats there, just spiders and cobwebs that escape pest control.

 

The five-o-clock sea breeze squeezes and chocks its way past the sepulchres of everyday life that form a maze with no end, either way. The crows scavenge and steal from the fortnight’s garbage. There’s a rot somewhere, and a nervous laughter all around, no one wants to stir the tea which is already too sweet.

I hear the music play, a coy bride on her wedding day, being apparently given away. I hear the songs of parvenu faith, blaring aloud, thumping chests to twirling moustaches, a goddess is demure when the nine-yards are draped.

I stride, and I leap, I run. There’s nothing in my mind, but the next step, and then another.

I believe in hope.

It remains alive through the dreary monsoon days, the harsh Madras sun and the opaque Himalayan cold that eats into your very bones. It lingers on, like the taste of your first lover, which you try to recount, to remember the day you were first together, young and silly, tangled limbs and messy sheets.

My strides strong and long, never weary. The feet yearn for more, a mile, or a furlong, you can call it whatever you want.

There is no corner they leave unthread on the dirty beaches in my city, with faded boats casting long shadows under which stray dogs rest, under which young lovers hope not to be repressed.

There’s no nook which they not pass by, the crevices in the jumble of rocks destined to become sand, the burrows of wild creatures which hide and prowl only at night.

I seek hope, for I believe in it.

Every road has a memory of love, of grief, of pain, of laughter and others’ memories. There are stories that speak through abandoned shoes and neglected rosaries, there’s always someone who has been here before- wanting to be set free, searching for faith in sand castles and abandoned temples. There are moonlit shadows that smell of cheap wine and rum, lovers in revelry, lost souls washed ashore who cannot burrow like crabs any more.

Some paths split, taking you afar, others which come together to bring worn shoes home, torn to be mended by hands varicose and alone. The streets cut each other at ninety degrees, but there’s always that cul-de-sac which lies forlorn.

I yearn for hope.

There’s a twilight which lingers on, like a long-lost memory. There’s a watch forever stuck at half-past three.

I walk.

I am that guy who walks with long strides and short, through cities big and small, towns with paddy field boundaries and villages with a cross road or two.

I have no faith,

It just is.

I have hope,

It just is.

 

 

May in Madras

May 17, 2016 § Leave a comment

When it rains in mid-summer,  Madras sighs, half in relief, half in wont reminiscences. This rain, let out like old alcohol bought in another season, to celebrate another joyous eve, first strikes with the smell, a petrichor, a de javu, of a November day- breezy and clay lamps which struggle to remain lit. And when you taste it, at the tip of the tongue, the air is no more languid, but fresh, vigorous, and resplendent. The harsh light is kept out by a curtain of clouds, and the shadows longer as if the sun was further South, and the tempers of precarious Bay, waiting to blow out.

This is May, in Madras. You can call it Chennai if you want, but the ring of the word, without the harsh Che is more of this city- not the incessant cacophony of horns, but the amorous sea-breeze than reminds you of shores on which Occidental flags fluttered and gyrated to the tolling of ancient bells, and the braying of donkeys, diligently carrying laundry.

This city, in this month, when tempers flare, and you perspire without effort- as if you are born into success; and the smoke of camphor and agarbatti prevail in the narrow lanes, brings upon a languid hope. That tired, strained hope, which some find in a heavy meal after religious excesses. That wish after noon, for the school day to get over, or at best for the Maths teacher to disappear.

The waves in the beach of Madras, diligently crash, again and again- the troughs and tides, make their own pace, unhurried by the liners, or excited children, angry parents, hidden lovers, or drunk men caught in the nets of boats they may not own. The crests, shoved away, by the over-crowded port on which a canny English man once found a place to stretch his leg, and measured an empire that never set- creep in, year by year, till a time they shall swallow with a tumultuous crash, the old fort, and Santome.

The simmering heat is a memoir of those days- of history, and childhood, of myths, and veritable veshti-clad  old-age. And year, on year, it comes again, and the thirst just becomes more, and more. Till an insatiable  day, when nothing can be quenched, except the land that is the city, and her people, their boisterous pride and nine yards of contemptuous vanity.

 

 

 

Memories, of your memories

January 11, 2016 § Leave a comment

Memories, of your memories.

I stand beneath that gopuram, between these pillars and ask the silence to tell me, of those days when you hid and played, unseen.

The breeze that blows is filled with the smoke of vehicles, the pillars have been reinforced by concrete and those who seek redemption drop rupees and not annas. This is a world which won’t allow me in without you- the family home is now something else- claimed by wont and avarice of those who sought more than memories and peace. The streets are dirty and the cars line the way, I try to imagine your life, as it could have been, under an emperor and a queen, protected by your namesake, under the vestiges of ancient beliefs.

The time you survived small pox and the man who said you would live albeit your world all but giving up- I cannot think of such a man, or the fact that he was a tenant on our family lands. People have measured you in your life by everything you didn’t do, and you could have done, but you lived a man of beliefs- of a secular life, equality and most of all, excellence in mind and thought. You taught me history, you told me the ways of the world, and gave me stories. And you gave me a philosophy, you gave me a heirloom which none else could have done. For long I felt it was a burden, but in that I found emancipation. I wish I could talk to you about what I feel now, where I stand and what want- at the dining table, just you and I.

I don’t know whose pillars these are, but you were mine. This land, it holds history which stretches far, and the river which flows has reigned the veins of many a maverick.

Do I belong here? You did. I belonged to you, as only a grandson can. Who else would entertain every foible of mine?

Memories, of your memories. I live with them, unburdened now. In them I see who I could be. I am what I am today because of who you were.

3 January went by, but it was unlike any other day, for your birthday will always be special to me. Now, I write, with a tear in my eyes, for none can be you for me(or I for you.)

We humans tend to glorify life, and for its sake death. But, no grandeur can last longer than the last breath. Our histories are ours. To the rest they are but stories and tales, a once upon a time. And in my history there is you, and your stories. In your last breath, you reached for what you believed. I hope in mine, I do the same.

Memories, of your memories.

38000ft

January 1, 2016 § Leave a comment

Mumbling songs whose spirits I admire, whose words I love, but the Master they speak of, I believe not.

And yet there is a hope, and a sense of fantastical happiness that overtakes me, as I enter that world within, in that space between my ears, where the effervescent notes dance in hypnotic embrace.

To this music, I owe a freedom and in it I am unbound and alive.

I live not a moment; not a while, but just live- for time ceases to exist but as a steady thalam. In that sounds and silences I find that life is but what you make it to be;

and all you don’t want, a bad dream, forgotten in true awakening.

Realisations and such

July 14, 2015 § 6 Comments

On Saturday I will be turning twenty-four. A lot has changed in my life, but amongst those which haven’t is the urge to write. I still write a lot- in my head. It is a weird process, but one which is most fulfilling. The fact that technology hasn’t invaded our heads is fortunate, else even that would be captured and put out in the web. Paper is a lovely option, but this is more about not putting pen to paper and just losing yourself to the words. Music has been essential in me discovering this. Anyway, that’s for another time.

Amongst what has changed is the way I see the world. The idealist me still exists. My belief system hasn’t changed. But what has changed is the way I deal with people and the world. The ropes that bind(freedom, rights, independence etc) are such that one needs to be suspicious if it is too long, fight if it is too short, or be left wondering what is the right length. But as you go along you try to get a grip of it. Ultimately nobody knows, and what’s essential is to enjoy the process. Along the way I have learnt a few things, some on my own and some through people- you know who you are, and I am glad that you allowed me to be a part of your life. This isn’t a definitive list or in any order,

a) No self-pity.

b) The world owes you nothing.

c) You can have no friends or a seemingly endless list of people, but you got to deal with yourself. You owe yourself something- enough care to be with yourself.

d) Your happiness is important. You may derive happiness through people, but don’t expect people to make you happy.

e) You care for people, but there is a line beyond which you can’t do anything for them. No, you haven’t failed.

f) There’s much wrong, but there’s also much right. Anger shows you care, but you need to bear in mind that actions have consequences; think things through. Respond and not react.

g) People will go away. Some forever, some for a while. You don’t control them neither are you controlled by them.

h) What’s here today can be destroyed in seconds. Look at the sky- there is a universe out there you don’t know.

i) Be nice to people, but don’t expect people to be nice to you. You will encounter rude people, hateful people- be firm but don’t lose your manners.

j) There’s no point in getting stuck. Space is in the mind.

k) Believe in yourself. You will fail, again and again, but don’t stop believing.

l) Hope is that which makes you want to get out of bed. There are those days when you don’t want to- let it be, you soon will.

 

I am at a stage where I don’t depend on people for happiness. And that’s not sad, bad or mad. There’s a contentment in that. I take comfort in music, writing, art and the shadows thrown by my reading light. I think of old stone and new- of Hampi and of the Himalayas. We are in an age when everything is shared, told, advertised and success is that which someone else is surely jealous of. The world is gluttonous, and there’s a clamour for privilege- I cannot escape this, but I can ensure that it doesn’t consume you.

To Life and Hope,

 

 

March 12, 2015 § Leave a comment

A clear mind is not developed because or lack of religion, but to go through the looking glass and question who you are.

Take a deep breath

October 21, 2014 § 1 Comment

Inspired by this post on brainpickings.

It is indeed worth pondering that we as a civilisation have lost the ability to live apart from time. Time, not that inexplicable thing which over which tectonic plates move, but time of the red queen sort. Evolution tells us we cannot wait a moment, that we have to keep running. And we run- towards an apparent goal, away from things we despise. Yet, we are always far from where intend to be, and rather too close to where we don’t want to be. Let it be financial goals, or career goals, or even personal goals,  we fail to achieve what we want.

We have come to measure success in weird terms, like the number of houses you have or your bank balance. But, success as a race, as a species should be in our ability to coexist and progress, to live in happiness, with strong health, mental and physical. We define happiness in weird ways, and seek to sooth our despair in vestigial rules, while losing focus on what truly matters. We try to replicate supposed happiness our forefathers had through rituals, or we try to fight it all, and claim that the present is all that matters. But ultimately, very few of us are happy. We lie to ourselves.

We live in fear of failure, as individuals, as a society, as a nation, as a species. Our music reflects this, our movies do, our arts do- everything around us is a tribute to the apparent conquest of our fears, although we never quite do so. Fueled by this, we run, we give in to time; we run till we fall; we run till we end up in a hospital bed and hear that the insurance doesn’t cover our treatment. Our savings for a better future are lost in a supposed cure, and your legacy ends up being a bunch of photographs which fade too fast, because today’s corny capitalism requires things to be perishable.

We have come to view ‘work’ as effective use of time. And for this we try to suck the life out, put our spirits in a cage and lose touch with our better selves. This work is nothing more than being a clog in the system, a merciless martix which we have created and we run. All but a few live outside this, and we chide them as negligent, as far too capricious, and tell ourselves that their happiness is but temporary. We yearn for currency,  whose value changes inexplicably; we yearn for recognition which all too well loses its meaning faster than we seek. We live at such a pace, we live by such precise clocks that all that persists is a vague feeling of uselessness, an insatiable insecurity, prodding us to move on to something better.

Maybe, it is time we take a breath as Neruda says, put things in abeyance like Whitman says. Maybe, it is time as a species we reach out to that part of us which many of us ignore and help ourselves. And from that will stem a recognition of what we have done- the chaos we have created called civilsation. A world of class, of inequalities. If we don’t do something about it, all we would give the future humans is pain, insecurity and nurture the need to destroy it all, in the quest for peace.

The problem we face is not the languages you speak, but the different languages across generations, across cultures, across beliefs. To top that, we fail to listen to each other and scream, and scream, and scream in hope of being heard. In the end, we give in to weapons, we give in to those instruments of fear, to enslave, to shut out what we fail to understand. There’s no pride in what we do, there’s no joy, there is but the war on terror, which we call the war for peace.

 

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