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.
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.
Excessive cognitive dissonance
June 20, 2014 § Leave a comment
Excessive cognitive dissonance.
And as June evaporates away like a bird bath, I miss the rock under which I had been camping. While, writing exams is an endeavour I would rather not undertake again, living in general ignorance(QI! QI!? QI?!) was rather comforting. Since I last wrote a blog, much has happened, with my head turning into a cork on the shiny bottle of sour spirits.
It is just too much of effort to stay inspired. One needs to consciously assimilate inspiration and get worked up enough to care about something. Fiery fire breathing dragons, it is just too much effort! But don’t get me wrong, I am walloping in self pity with tubs of ice cream(turned lactose intolerant recently-LOL), rather I seem to have been kissed by a dementor.
And boy, it is no fun. Except that, simply knowing that this is no fun isn’t enough. It is like a comfort zone- much like trying to stay in bed all day- at some point you are going to get bored and have to get up. Which, I guess means that I have to wait for something to wake me up out of this er…limbo?
What is the point when everything is pointless? Why get inspired, if it is going to be popped by some pesky twerp anyway? Ha, might as well accept that some weirdo riding a bike while brushing his teeth is going to try to knock your bumpers off.
P.S:- Avoiding most people. A weird bout of misanthropy mixed with a general inability to be polite and smile. You might find me talking to myself though. Beware.
Not to be washed away
April 9, 2014 § 1 Comment
He was as crumpled as a paper waiting to be tossed into the infinite mess of the world, when she picked him up, straightened the sheet and read their future, as if the wrinkles were palm lines. She was convent educated, he refused to shave more than once a week. She adored eloquence and finery, while he had an old comb and a worn out toothbrush in his backpack.
He never knew love; and now in the verses she learnt him. His scrawl was a savagery, and yet she liked the t’s. There was a margin none too wide, and the words seemed too afraid to be too far away, lest a stranger makes them part ways.
It was a love like none other, and lasted all for a fleeting moment. And then she noticed the chewing gum, smartly sticking to her white dress. “Ugh,” she said, picking the gum in disgust, rolled the paper and binned it, with vehemence.
Yet, the words seemed to have left a mark, not to be washed away.
April 4, 2014 § 2 Comments
Abeyance. I haven’t read much of Walt Whitman, expect a couple of poems, but I do know he loved his abeyance. And in abeyance, I live. Like the patient lizard on the wall, waiting for the mosquitoes to make their way within its reach. Of course, there are plenty of mosquitoes for him to feast on, while I am still not sure what the metaphorical mosquitoes are supposed to be. Abeyance.
Life can be as slow and painful as an animation. Just think of all those drawings, those guys drew. What forced them to spend hours of their existence drawing a guy think, or make her blink? That is scary. Though, not as scary as passing the same accounting entries, day after day, forever. Abeyance.
This isn’t true abeyance. True abeyance was March. After a while, all thoughts of the past and the future went out of my head. I was just there, doing I can’t remember what, just there. The days went by, and another summer was born, screaming, wailing even, its inchoate terrors. Mangoes slowly turned ripe in my neighbour’s house. Their dog though, kept wandering up and down the house, howling at strays, barking at pets, as if it is the third ghost of Christmas. Abeyance.
I really wish I could think of some poem to quote here. Or say something fancy, but my mind dares not to think, lest it betrays itself into territories, too familiar, like power cuts in mid-May afternoons or the adhan when you wrote that particular exam paper. Not them per se, but they are the big gates, which hold a dam like none other- until you read about more desperate ones, as high as ‘scrapers, filled with all that potential- only to be spoilt by toxic humanity. Abeyance.
Some say take life by the horns. if you have read Hemingway, you know the romanticism of bull fighters. If you know my friend, you might have heard about the wonderful tartare they make out of those bulls. Some say, just run away from it all. But life has yet to metamorphose into something as sedate as a bull. I let it be, the embryo slowly growing into a metaphor, nourished by nightmares, all rather murky, like the tax departments. Abeyance.
True abeyance is when words abandon you. Broken glasses and lamp shades comfort you. And with a single malt in hand, you flip through a newspaper and listen to friends talk. Laid back, the house is like childhood cramped into a single photo frame; like that spot you hid for hours, hoping someone would seek. Maybe an aunt, long after the rest have gone to bed. Abeyance.
A moment is all it takes they say. You got to live your moments, because, well, you anyway have to survive them. Morality is like a car waiting to be battered by a rugged, torn football. Leave it there long enough and it is bound to happen. You could, of course, play with the kids and do the damage yourself. That maybe fun and there is none to blame. Abeyance.
The participle. Forever left to define itself, constantly, sentence after sentence. If only, it could just be. But then, it wouldn’t be, would it? Ha! Shakespeare. I don’t remember much, but may I misquote thee? Abeyance.
Firmly, I search for an ending. I am hunting for musical comparisons, but am lost in the strange song that plays within. Maybe it is the heartbeat, counting itself. Maybe, I imagine it. After all, we exist as we think. Abeyance.
Here and now,
Else, there is nowhere.
Past and astride,
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.