Trolls of March

March 29, 2014 § Leave a comment

left, right, left-Trolls of March, into April we go. Okay, not so loudly, but you get it. Absolutely nothing exciting though, as another summer screams exclamation marks like one of those…

Anyway, I have surprised myself quite a bit, this March. Start trailer, scenes-which-promise-full-censored-X-rated-stuff-right-after -the-9pm-movie-esque, well not really. This month has been about seemingly great opportunities which  rang the door bell and when you run down two floors, huffing and puffing, it is just an unexciting sales person with a flat tone or one of those survey people with a worn out  face who wants to talk to anyone but you. But I have sat through it, unruffled, almost unmoved by the vagaries of life, as the winds Easterlies turned Westerlies(or is it the other way about?). Oh! whatever. The least of the trolls was being served long island, on the rocks, because I asked them to substitute the cola for some juice. That wasn’t so bad, anyway.

This year has been about reading voraciously, but not March. Apart from the complete Maus and three volumes in the Buddha series, I read a book on football tactics(Inverting the pyramid), a couple of children’s books(reviews, coming soon) and a short story collection by Mamang Dai. I suspect April is going to be slow as well, with the exams around the corner again.

I can’t recall what I have been doning in March. It seems like one big blur.  What I do realize though is that I have been happy, mostly. And the two seem to be related. Indifference and I are like <insert random simile with two opposites> but we have come to live with each other. The world is rife with politics, elections and lost planes and conspiracy, but all that is rather too troublesome to process or so my head has decided. And what am I, but an instrument to be used by the head.

Watched this Malayalam movie called Drishyam- one of the best movies I have seen. I would strongly suggest you do watch it Malayalam, as they intend to spoil it grand in Tamil. I also had bhel puri and caramel popcorn at the theater. Not all that blurry, evidently.

Anyway, from cancelling tickets to another country to cancelling local tickets, the month has been…well trolling me. All I have written this month is a poem and nothing else. No photos, no stories, no reviews, nothing. Maybe, I should hunt out one of those month wise calenders, take out March, make a rocket of it and chuck it as far away as possible. I am sure at that particular point, a funny little breeze would decide that it had enough of being little and blow the rocket back straight at me.

Oh! Merchants of hope, summer is here.

 

 

Let a book consume you

February 26, 2014 § 1 Comment

There is a certain comfort in letting a book consume you. You turn into that person who watches all, and yet doesn’t take part in it; except that you do. You let the deaths, the tortures to become your own. You let the joys, those frivolous little things bring happiness. You see people walk into lives and walk out, crushing, churning, screaming, loving, but in the end, it has to end, inevitable.

Is it at the last word on the last page? Or is it when a week later, finally the plot germinates to become complete, to become yours, rather than the writer’s? When the story however strange and alien, becomes your own, to tell, to discuss? Or is it when the story after months shreds everything, and all that remains is that character, that condensed plot, and the emotions condensed to a few frames, to a certain smell, an image maybe?

When is the beginning? The day you first hear of the book, or see its cover in a book store? Or is it when you buy it, steal it or borrow it, to read? Is it when you are through a few pages, when the writing pattern and the tensity are established, when the tempers morph to a familiarity?

The book consumes you. You begin to live it. You are in it. At first it is like adolescent love, but soon it becomes a person, complete. And it becomes a part of you- not as a child, born and separate, not a conjoined twin, but a begin much closer, within you, which exists apart from you, but still with you.

The book finds you and then devours you, slowly. It squiggles into your reality, mercilessly eating into it, opening the cracks and in a while making you change. Out of it, you come, as a different being, one who has gone through the book, literally, musing over, lost to words, which seem to be images, which seem to be sounds, which seem to be smells; but surely they are words?

Let a book consume you. Don’t be afraid of it. It might seem unreal, but it is real. The story is true, the people are alive, whatever the disclaimers tell you- don’t be fooled by the writers, that is what they do. And while it might all seem like an almost forgotten dream, dreamt on a long Sunday, it isn’t really a dream. It is part of you. Let the book consume you.

Knowledge

February 8, 2014 § 1 Comment

In his sleep, he turned over and inadvertently cut the cord.

 

 

The knowledge sunk in, under its own weight and drowned.

 

 

The sea swelled a bit and touched his little toe.

 

 

He felt a tickle.

 

 

It was the end.

 

 

Maybe the beginning.

 

 

He was afloat, he lay, straight.

 

 

He opened his eyes.

 

 

He felt the world within.

 

 

And the terror grew.

 

 

He closed his eyes.

 

 

And the world rested.

 

 

A cord grew, through his navel, yearning for light.

 

 

He was dreaming again.

 

 

A flower bloomed.

 

 

Knowledge was reborn.

 

 

The more you know, the more you believe.

 

 

The more you believe, the more you are lost in it.

 

 

Someday you too shall dream, like the God.

Trusty old system

January 17, 2014 § 1 Comment

The problem with pulling up issues in a system in India is that you will be given examples of thousands of other things which are wrong. “That is the system.” You will be told, as if it is the vedas reduced to a mantra.

In a country where rapes are staple, and we pretty much don’t do anything about it, what do you expect to be done with regard to anything else?

Here’s the low down- the results are out again, and surprise, surprise, 3.15% of those who the exam have cleared. Is this really such a difficult exam? Maybe yes, maybe not. But what the majority of us feel is a frustration. Frustration that this system is like a lottery. Just because we are ‘students’ doesn’t mean we lack the instinct to know if what is needed has been done- especially when the papers are made of questions from earlier papers and the board has given out its answers.

Marking is subjective. Does it make sense to have a system where the bias of the corrector would affect the paper? We go through at school- where people with a prowess in a particular subject are marked down for ‘showing too much’, but in a professional exam? It isn’t about ‘showing too much’ here, rather where thousands of people write and evaluated by thousands of others, how do ensure consistence? This question stems from a larger issue, which might sound ugly on paper, hence left out.

Add to this a subject with outdated syllabus, (56 kbps internet connections, anyone?) and you are in hell. But looking beyond this- we are told time and again that results are manipulated to suit the demand and supply. Whatever that is. We are told horror stories, of how bad the evaluation is, by people who have made it to the other side. And you know what is annoying? Not the system, but people who refuse to do anything about it.

It is like screaming into the dark and the voices reply you are right; turn on the light and ask them, they shall say, you are wrong. No one will do anything about it, because this is our system. It ensures, I really don’t know what. We believe that people’s lives and careers are numbers, and who cares what happens?

Maybe this post is all wrong- maybe I am really not good enough for this course, like all my friends out there, who are at least as frustrated as me. But that’s another story. Stop giving me advice, I can, we can, deal with it. If you really want to help, do something about the system; if you care. We can very well see the albatross around out necks, we don’t need you to point it out, time and again.

This post is written in frustration. The only way I know to deal with things is to write about it. Don’t bother commenting on this with nine yards of advice- it amounts to nothing. I refuse to understand this is how things in this country work. It is wrong and I refuse to rationalize it. I am now sure even if I were to clear this exam, I wouldn’t feel a sense of achievement. At the same time, taking nothing away from those who have cleared these exams, now, in the past and in the future- a few might say you were lucky, and maybe you are- but you still had to give enough for that luck to come into play.

At the moment, all that remains is an utter sense of hopelessness. I will recover, because that is what I always do. I am glad to have friends who can help me through this, but again, another 7-8 months of my life would be left in a lurch. The exams require mental and physical strength, apart from a good few months of prep. and that is no fun. And there is nothing which says things are going to be fair next time.

It is okay to fail in something- no one ever succeeds in everything they undertake. But to know you were given a fair shot at things is more important to be able to move on.

Again, maybe I am all wrong about this. Probably, I am? After all, this is your favorite, trusty old system.

A city

December 17, 2013 § 1 Comment

A city is a beast made of dreams; built house by house, and then home by home, slowly laid, and then cramped into little matchbox rooms where the cement holds unabridged, the promises of a tomorrow. This creature of wonder, an ensemble, of people together, almost the same, yet ever so different when you look closely, is best understood when you walk it.

Walking a city is a learning. Each step is a surprise, even if you have lived there forever. That morning you wake up to see the slight haze hang over the complexes or the walk along a promenade near the sea, you discover  a crumbling building which you never knew existed or that there is an old man in your neighborhood who sits at the same spot everyday.

And then you learn a city is made of parts, an area has its own air of unique dirt and smoke, a road is full of wisdom and another full of vice, yet another lane is where you would find blinkered tourists buying their share of memorabilia. There are lakes where chirping birds saunter their days, away from the screaming horns; there are rivers filled with sewage, with kites circling over, even while crows scout from atop hoardings selling underwear, condoms or perfume.

There is food, in all shapes, tastes and hygiene. You could brave diseases or choose to obey what your mom thought you and eat from seemingly neat looking places with tampered mineral water bottles. As you walk, you can chew on that bit of fine bajji coated with oil reused and reused, or better still just watch a friend do it.

A city is an adolescent who woke up on a morn to find that she’s a teenager; a teenager who finds that she an adult. The old lady of the village, she would never be- forever left in the drive of one generation or another, spewing and spawning, breaching, growling and growing, in mind and spirit, guilty, then wont and then unaware of her past, left to dry like tanks and ponds, only to be covered by landfills, dirty roads and finally buildings of hopeless belief.

A city eats as much as it feeds. She takes away the best from those gamble all they have in hope to quench their purple dreams and feed them vanilla days of slow despondence, with taints of fading grey- uncertain virtues and decided vices, tears of ephemeral pain and fleeting joy.

A city is of the people; but not made by the people; rather by those cramped buses  which carry to work, the hoards in crumpled shirts and salwars, even as the gears groan tiredly in arthritic pain. As you walk into those districts of tall and taller buildings, as you push past the crowds of the shopping streets, haggling with fate itself(of others and yours), and walk into those stations which lead into the mofussil, you can feel a pulse, sometimes strong, sometimes not so loudly, but surely of a beast who is growing, stretching her arms, ready to embrace all those would dare, maybe even a little peck on the cheek, maybe even clandestine love like those behind her parks’ bushes.

A city is best understood walked- through her broad arteries or narrow bazaars leading to temples, mosques or churches. A city is best known in the eyes of those who push and shove each other out of the way, those who push through her breaches, in as much to redefine this bit of humanity as to define her, to decorate her and in the end to berate her as they stand cramped in locals or stuck in foreign air-conditioning.    

A city is a beast you grow to love, and then to hate, but in the end who will still love her. A city is your hope, as much as you are her’s, and as you walk past the shut door late at night, there is always a crow which shall cry in sleepless fright, for another day shall soon follow, to wallow, to screech, to grow, yet another day, mighty, with her own usurped grace.

 

Sachin and the 90’s kids

November 17, 2013 § 3 Comments

As Carlsen pulls another one out of the proverbial magic hat, a reporter throws a question to Vishwanathan Anand about Sachin. Frankly a very silly thing to do, when a fellow has just battled for  about 5 hours and lost it for seemingly a single error. But what it does bring to light though, is the story of a generation for whom a guy with a short stride forward and push through the covers did more than anyone else, a guy on whose shoulders they let the weight of their expectations rest, An atlas of sorts; and he held it.

The praises and the tears flow much like an overflowing river, perhaps to touch the feet of this cricketing god, or so it would seem. This country loves to worship, loves to throw it all in, to gamble its emotions and let the stars do their bidding. On a little man, for years, it gambled all that it could, and in some measures it was repaid. Personal hopes and unfulfilled dreams were left in a blissful abeyance, as he shooed away those miscreants who dared impose their presence on his bright side screen. As the little red cherry was wistfully driven away to the fence, at a Perth, at a Wacca or at a Lords, the fellow drove the placid to tears.

The story isn’t really about cricket, or golf for that matter, or curling. The story is about how a boy who as grew into a man came to define a generation. How a name could turn penury into a few seconds of ecstatic bliss. It doesn’t matter, how he did it, rather what he did for those who pledged their hours to wristy cuts leaves an emotional footprint to be fossilized for a couple of centuries, at least. He might have stood against wall, he might ridden plaintively in quiet determination through those years when games were supposedly thrown away at a price, but that night he flicked away an Akram at Sharjah or the day he swept away a Warne at MCC was enough for the nation to taste its heart, sweaty, greasy, but still hopeful.

This is the story of a boy who caught the tails of television, of live telecast and the clever commentary of a certain Bhogle. With him they could let their dreams seem bigger than they were, feel a bit more whimsical about life in general, even while at the other end a Dravid slowly worked a boring reality of sorts, grinding the willow, adding flying bits of the leather to a grassy top. This is the story of a man of not merely stats, but of the unstated. A man whose dash across the 22, seemed to solve more problems than yatras did.

This is the story of the generation(s) who were ready to give their hearts and years, who coveted happiness and instead found joy unbound in those fleeting moments. None shall be able to the same- because with the little master of unbroken dreams retires that fleeting love affair. Talent, ability and achievements are elements, yes, but more than that, to sate belief through darkness and to sally hope through foggy yearnings is a task of a different order.

None shall be the same, because that generation has now grown up. The romance has already been written and now shall be allowed to while away till it acquires that particularly lovely tint that old books do. The generation gambles no more, but sullies in thought of days ahead. Maybe it would find a hero, but she shall be of a different sort. The story it wants to write is no more romantic, but of bravery, boldness and unflinching strength. That is how it wants to be seen, and for that it will hunt far and wide, peering deep into its own musty soul.

As the masala moves along, this story ends with a national award, which till date has been reserved for life time achievers, the rulers and their friends. In a sense, the script has been worked wonderful, with shades of the 90’s even. In this, shall the generation recount its tryst with star-dust, with the same gusto reserved for certain stars, a la Rajanikanth.

While not a fan of the game or the player, leaving aside records, contributions, controversies, what strikes me as an observer, is the emotional impact Sachin Tendulkar had on a whole generation which grew up watching him in their little screens. 

Something a bit personal

October 28, 2013 § 6 Comments

At 22, I believe that my head has acquired a certain stability it didn’t possess earlier. As in, my head doesn’t run off into its own set of issues. It doesn’t feel that angst any more. Maybe that tough phase earlier in the year has made it grasp aspects of reality better.

On one side I feel I can do whatever I set out to do. The whole world seems out there and yet this comes with the taming rider that there are things which you have to do which you might not like to do. But then, you are of the inspired lot, who believes in setting out and doing things, a better commitment to yield to than the other.

On the other side is that last bit of 20,21 uncertainty- the prospects of a many years ahead seem scary and the moment seems to linger in abeyance, especially with the impending exams. The effort to put my head down and prepare for these exams has needed quite a resolve, but then you realize that there is nothing you can do about feeling let down. And no matter of introspection or thought out reasoning helps change what happened, rather a perspective, one coated with positivity is need to counter the intuitive rebel, that need to break out or worse that little kid who cries over stolen candy.

My friend’s death has affected me in very strange ways, it has in a way made me resolve to be stronger and yet it has left me questioning my own resolve to get through those long dark days.

At a certain level I have tried to become ruthless, ruthless in not allowing self-pity get in the way any more. There was a period where I had set out on a mad dash to do certain things, mostly to prove to whoever, I don’t know what. And in a way Bookrack let me feel that I could do that and though it no more is, it gave me the confidence that I am a capable person.

June 16- September 16 was probably the toughest time in my life- because I suddenly had to face emotions which stemmed from events which affected my physical world. I surprised myself by coming out of it stronger, and most importantly stabler than ever. The Hampi trip helped me greatly, this poem was written inspired by that wonderful place.  I have stopped tweeting for over two months now, another change which has (surprisingly) helped me find more clarity in where I stand.

A week away from the exams, there is a bitter-sweet taste which lingers. The way I see people has also changed, a shift in perspective which seems broader than ever, but at the same time which points out rather sharply the skewed world we live in. There is a needed effort to look beyond and accept the landscape as it is, not merely as itself but as a sum of histories, of individual and of people to reconcile the place I stand at. While that might sound rather vague, what it does mean is to not feel dejected but instead to keep your head.

That fear of becoming a character out of an Auster novel abets itself with this sort of self imprisonment I have imposed on myself(exam prep) but accepting distances makes you feel a sense of security and lets the planes of imagination guide you through.

It has been quite a while(years, in fact) since I wrote something this personal on a blog. But there was this sudden urge to write. What’s important is to hold on and to enjoy the ride, I guess.

Thank yourself

October 21, 2013 § 1 Comment

Take a moment and thank yourself, because you are alive and here. Some say life is a gift, precious, gifted by someone or something; others choose to believe that you are a product of billions, zillions of years; whatever you choose to believe, you are here and alive, that is what matters.

You might feel you haven’t done much about it, but then remember you wake up each day, look at yourself in the mirror and decide to give it another go. You are built to survive, but being built isn’t enough, you got to do it- and you do, each and everyday.

You have dreams, aspirations, ambitions and yet a constant fear holds you- photographs from seemingly far of places which drive home that life is fragile and this lottery ticket might be one that has expired, lost to the conditions in fine print, much too small for you to decipher. But still, you go ahead and build plans, days, future, what not and decide to drag the weight, do that extra kilometer, just so that goal which seems so far away today, would be your tomorrow.

A journey is worth more than the actual goal, stories are strung word by word and not a cat’s scribble of your first day. Get up, get out  and do whatever you think you should and remember to have fun, be happy, remember to laugh at the funny posters along the way, enjoy a good joke and to be in awe of random sunsets.

Thank yourself, for whatever happens, you can do what you want to do, as long as you believe in yourself. Life may seem long and dark, and the only way to get through this is to not give into that comfortable depression, that wonderful soft pillow which takes in all those tears. You got to get up and take another step forward and another and another, and move the curtains away, let the sunlight hit you and the deep blue of the sky tell you that there is more than you ever will understand, but that doesn’t mean you have to throw up your hands in despair and give up but go out and know that nothing can stop you except yourself. Don’t be afraid, and believe in yourself for you have come this far, scratched and bruised maybe, but stronger than you ever were.

Freedom

July 30, 2013 § Leave a comment

There’s nothing like the comfort of the keyboard. The rhythmic sound of keys being struck to produce words, sentences, stories, poems. So today is Monday the 29th of 2013, slowly drawing to a close, IST.

Sometimes you wish life had defining moments, and then there are times when you just want to live it, just like that.

If you read, if you write, your sanity is defined by the impossible things you believe in to be possible. It is all there is- a different world, different stories, different lives, all coming true as if they were your own. Maybe staying true to reality isn’t the right thing after all.

Life is best when there is nothing for you to worry about, just a moment to live, to feel, to let go, to stand on top of a hill and shout your heart out and then listen to the silence of the world and know that the words spoken are tucked away from sight and cannot possibly reach you here.

How does it matter who you are, or what you be, if all you had was a moment? You know, independent of time, of people, of places and origins, just midstream, idling along,  moving ever so lightly, un-dammed, let go off, free as the breeze, soft as the skin that the drizzle falls upon?

But all that is a moment, and an epic is nothing but one composed of many such. Like One Hundred Years Of Solitude, like eternal-ephemeral love. Jokes are wonderous to hide behind, sarcasm acts as a twinkle in the winking eye, just a sign, just a hint of what really is, what ought to be.

The freedom from inevitability, of fate, predetermined course, does that exist? What comfort is there in knowing things are happening like the way they ought to? Isn’t it better to just move on, another step forward and another into the future, as if the past was a subscript long ignored and forgotten, to be seen by those far away who cannot make out the language?

Is courage facing your worst fears or the willingness to look beyond, to see the sunset and know that there is a dawn around the corner, till there won’t be any? And that no one sets out these things, at least no one you know.

True freedom, maybe is living beyond purpose, beyond intent and just being. To see beyond the cycle of causation and the perforated  blankets of relationships, to stare at yourself at night in a mirror and know that the stars are out there, because they are.

It is easier to listen to the songs of love and believe than to look at reality. It is easier to lie, to yourself, to the world and sprinkle it with wisdom cleverly made in the shower to ensure there are no clogged drains. It is easier to never admit than to fight for what you think you really want, because maybe to lose what you already have is worse than to have more.

Is it wise to have nothing then? Where there is no hope, where it looks ridiculous even to the most fantastic of the poets, is that the moment when that thing, possibly the human spirit or just the drunk you, rises up to give it a go? Is that the freedom we really seek?

How not to begin your day

July 11, 2013 § 1 Comment

Don’t think. Tie the stupid watch but don’t look at the time, don’t think. Walk forward, one step at a time, walk forward, one more step at a time, slowly, slower, slowly.

Don’t see, don’t think. Stare blankly and freak the person out. Look deep into the eyes and then quickly go blank. And when they freak out, pretend to look at the watch, but don’t look at the time. Repeat that till the person walks away or runs away. If that seems to take forever, hell just walk past them, waving at infinity. That’s a perfectly good way to begin a day.

Not that it would make anyone feel happy, but there.

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