Friday, 26 December 2008

Christmas reds

After a long time, I had a nice Christmas yesterday.

Ben is in town. So he invited me to attend the morning service and I gladly agreed.

There are many things I missed about Christmas back home in all these years of being-away-on-Christmas-time. But, I guess what I missed most, what made it so bluesy for me, was the midnight mass at St.Paul's. Somehow, at this time of the year, I feel like going to a Church, to the decorated Christmas tree, to the nativity scenes..

Maybe it is a result of childhood conditioning by cane-wielding Jesuit brothers. Maybe it is part of my city which lives in me, where everyone regardless of religion gather in celebration at an illuminated Park Street and St. Paul's Cathedral on Christmas eve. Whatever it is, I realised yesterday, that attending Church is important for me on Christmas. It is what makes Christmas "good" to me.

Thanks to Ben and Samanda, for tagging me along.

Oh, and we also sang carols!

The last time I remember singing carols (in a formal setting) dates to my nursery years at school. I had been selected for the choir. I was darn excited. Not for being in the choir, that was collateral; what mattered was I would get to wear a bow-tie ! Now, that, when you are a kid of 4, is an event. It is an event which propels you from the world of elastic string-fake knot-tie kids to the world of bow-tie men. Understandably, bow tie was for me the ultimate grown up clothing item.
My excitement continued even after the school show when I refused to part with my bow-tie for days. I would have probably worn it for years to come (and even considered a career in billiards), had it not been for my sister. She revealed to me the terrible truth.."the only men who wear bow-ties these days are waiters". My dream was shattered. My wear-the-bow-tie-with-everything days were over.

Anyway, yesterday we all sang carols together. It was good fun.

The rest of the day involved a nice lunch with Ben and Sam and an evening of brandy and movies with Prabhat and Saurabh. Nothing fancy, no partying.

But, this Christmas was warm.

Wednesday, 17 December 2008

Christmas blues

Last few weeks have been hectic..friends from all over the country were here. Lots of pork, tingmo, shabalay, beer and whiskey. Frenzied clubbing, stag nights, long drives, hookah evenings and conversations till the wee hours of morning.
And now...just before Christmas..it all grows cold.
My Christmas jinx continues...since 2003..Christmas hasn't been particularly merry.
Last five were spent parting, being stranded for 30 hours in the airport, forgettable, homesick,lonely...
Yet another cold Christmas stares me in the face, but at least I'm going home for the New Year.

Monday, 8 December 2008

Life as a Longhair

I once read on a website, that long haired men with hair length going beyond their shoulders, constitute about 2-3 % of the adult male population of the world. This basically means we are a minority and therefore it is not uncommon to face discrimination.

Life, as such, is not very easy as a longhair. Surprising, because I inhabit a country which is home to the Sikh, an entire community of men who sport long hair because of their religion.

Indian history has always portrayed their men and gods as long haired (with the exception of the priestly class) and it was only post-colonisation that short hair became the norm for men. Yet, Indian society chooses to forget the past and hang on to its Victorian attitudes.

Unless you are a sadhu or a Sikh, Indian society is quite intolerant of long haired men. You will be accepted as you are by a select few. The majority will either stereotype, rebuke, make fun of or try to reform you.


In my 4 years as a longhair, I have faced many such a situation. Sometimes these slurs even come from your friends. I do not blame them, because as an Indian, you grow up in a peer group which subconsciously legitimises taunts.

These incidents range from those that made me angry to those that are simply hilarious.

This is one such hilarious one, at the end of it, I did not know what to reply.

_

When I was in my second year of post-grad college I had just about started to grow my hair for the first time. During this time, we had a class-trip to Maharashtra. On the way back from the trip, we had taken a train from Pune.

As usual, being a bunch of students on a daylong train journey with not much to do, we raised quite a ruckus. While some of our co-passengers did not mind the noisy banter, some were justifiably a bit irate.

After sometime, one such co-passenger, a punjabi woman in her late fifties, paid us a visit. She had come to ask us to keep it down a bit. But then her eyes fell on me..

She sat down beside me, and referring to me as "beta", asked me the reason for my long hair. Obviously, when you are referred to as a "son" by an elderly lady, wise crack replies and snarky comments (my defenses when random people ask me such questions) were not an option. So I tried to explain as best as I could. She did not listen. But what she told me thereafter left me dumbfounded.

" Men should not keep their hair long.
A man's virility is stored in his blood. And the hair on the head sucks blood from you. That is how it grows long, by sucking blood from the head and neck.
If you keep long hair, you will lose your masculinity.."

I could not reply. Faced with revelations on the vampiric nature of hair follicles, I had no counter arguments. Logic deserted me on the face of such arcane metaphysical wisdom.

All I could manage was a small whimpering
" Ok, I'll cut my hair when I get back".

On hearing which, she left. Happy,on having managed to quiten us down. Happier still, on being able to save a young man from losing his virility to vampiric hair.


Saturday, 29 November 2008

Do you really care?

At a time when the nation mourns the loss of hundreds of innocent people..some choose to use the terrible incident as political leverage.
It is sad and heartless.
Stop messaging me to choose a better government. If you really care about the welfare of the people, stop playing the blame game. Forget about your hunger for power.

Sunday, 23 November 2008

Social expectations

I am a bit of an anti-social in the Indian interpretation of the term.

I have been known not to visit home for two years at a stretch at times. Right now, I have not seen my folks for 15 months. This amazes a lot of people I know, specially since I inhabit the same country as them. It is quite unusual in a country with such strong family ties as India.

Another trait that my folks complain about is my apathy to make regular phone calls to them. It is quite the norm here (specially so among the ethnic group that I belong to), that people living away from their families, call them up regularly or at least on alternate days. I fail to comply.
Quite often , I receive calls from home asking " What's the matter with you, you have not called for over a week now. Is everything all right?" or " Why don't you call us? We get worried."
I tried to make them understand that if anything did happen to me, they would be the first person to know. So, by extension, if I do not call, it means I am fine. It did not work.
I still continue to be chided at times for my unwillingness to do the responsible Indian child thing.

But the greatest dilemma faced by my antisocial un-Indian self is when it comes to Death.

At times, when such unfortunate news reaches me, I am always at a loss.
I always prefer to visit the family in person. Under circumstances when that is not possible, the phone call is customarily the next appropriate alternative. But what do you say? How do you share the grief, be an emotional support, or do whatever that you're supposed to, through a phone call, sitting miles away?
It is not that I do not feel all that, but how do you express that?
Even when I am attending in person, I prefer to remain silent. Letting my act of being present beside the family at such a time speak for itself. But when you have to substitute a silent presence with a phone call, it stumps me.

.
.
.

Monday, 17 November 2008

Merry men

Perhaps I am too cynical, but I often wonder about their smiles, staring from the photographs.

Is it joy to be there, or joy to be photographed there?

Is it the virtual equivalent of scribbling your name on monuments?

Is it the residual hangover of a colonised culture still grappling with national identity?

Is it an attempt to scavenge pride through an acknowledgment of inferiority?

Is it about
be-ing or ego ?

Thursday, 6 November 2008

OCD and the Celebrity life

One of my habits [read Obsessive Compulsive Disorder] is related to PC Recycle bins and Trash mail or Spam mail.

When I choose to delete something, either from my PC or my mail Inbox , I delete it. [Hear ye, all Software corporations]. Yes, I can be and am indecisive at times, for instance when I had to choose between buying Naked Lunch and On the Road, both of which I have wanted for sometime [ I ended up buying both]. But at other times, I am very firmly decisive. Specially when it comes to files, folders,mails or random junk which I want to delete from my PC.I am always sure about it. I do not delete important files by mistake. Even if I did, I already have it backed up somewhere. So spare me the Recycle bin and the Trash mail folder.

This means, every time I turn on the PC or check my mail, I have this compelling desire to empty my Recycle bin or Trash folder. The innocuous 'folder inside the bin' icon or those seemingly innocent numbers within the parentheses next to my Trash folder in my mail are lethal threats for me. I have to clear them everytime. There is no escape.

Though the threat of the Recycle bin has been satisfactorily eliminated by me, thanks to the Shift key, the Trash folder remains a continuing threat. And it has company...also known as the Spam folder. So everytime I log in to check mail, which is about 4-5 times a day, I dutifully empty the Trash and Spam folders. I even have nightmares of accumulated junk mail when I do not check my mailbox for somedays.

The reason, that I have brought all this up, in the first place, is that a charming fact of life has revealed itself to me, while I was being a slave to my OCD.

Over the past few months, while cleaning my Spam mail , I noticed an increasing number of mails written in Chinese sitting pretty among the usual spam crowd. Every now and then, between mails promising everlasting erections, a dating life busier than Heathrow, free degrees to make Nobel Laureate professors look like high school drop outs and unclaimed fortunes, there lies the Chinese mail. Over the past few months their numbers have increased. Earlier it used to 5 or 6 per day, now I get almost 30 mails in Chinese everyday !!

Why the Chinese people have chosen to write to me on a regular basis, I do not know. But, I am guessing that I must have become some sort of a celebrity in China. So here I am paying the price of being a celebrity by being flooded by Chinese fans. If only I could read them and reply...

But till then, I guess I can now ask for special celebrity concessions at Chinese restaurants..

Sunday, 2 November 2008

The third question

Lately, all my conversations with people seem to reach a now-predictable stalemate. This is especially the case, when the people concerned are old friends, family or otherwise-very-concerned-for-me people whom I have not met for a while.

The conversations generally begin quite innocuously...how are you, what are you upto these days and all that. But as soon as they feel that they are well versed with my current state of affairs, when they feel just comfy enough, out comes THE question. Statistically speaking, it is generally the third question. Sometimes the question is disguised as a comment [ almost a passing comment, at times], sometimes as a suggestion. But the question is always lurking there, waiting to catch me unaware. At more distressing times, it is even accompanied by helpful suggestions for me, just so that I can triumph over the "problem".

In case, you are wondering, what the question is, here it is, with some of its variants and some of the suggestions...

When are you getting married?
Why are you not getting married?
Why are you single?
Why are you not going out with someone?
Don't you like someone?
So, did you find someone yet?

Suggestions:
I think you should go out more often and meet some girls.
This is the age to get married.
Think about your parents.
It'll be too late to marry if you do not be quick about it.
Think about your would-be children.
All of your friends, even your juniors, are married off.
Ask your parents to find a nice girl for you.
You have a steady job. You should get married now.

More insightful suggestions:
You should cut off your hair or else no girl will marry you.
Forget the past, find a nice girl and settle down.
You smoke too much. Stop smoking or you won't find a nice girl.
You should not have got the tattoo.
Stop listening to heavy metal.
You are too weird. Mend your ways.
Shave that goatee and sideburns.
Take off those ear rings.


...



Certain death

Recently, once again, I expressed my desire to buy a motorcycle to my folks.

As always, it was met with a resounding disapproval.

They are convinced, that certain death awaits me as soon as I sit on a motorcycle. They believe that the moment I am astride a motorcycle, crazy drunk truckers, who have been so long hiding behind bushes with their trucks, generally relaxing and discussing Plato, would be overcome by an overwhelming desire to hunt me down with their trucks...and will do so. Or maybe, the skies will part and an errant meteorite, having lost its way to Saturn's ring, will suddenly decide that me on a motorbike is a jolly good place to land on. And Heaven forbid if the clouds see me on a motorbike, for they will surely, muster all their aqueous strength to rain down heavily enough so that I skid from my bike even without having to start it.

What leads to such zealous belief I fail to comprehend. But the commandment has been delivered:
" Thou shalt not covet the motorbike. Thou shalt buy the car instead."

It remains to see, whether I sin.

Saturday, 1 November 2008

Voice of Tibet

Last week, I was back at McLeodganj. With me was my friend, Adil. The journey was quite eventful, in the sense, that we just decided to go and left. We reached the ISBT exactly 15 minutes from the departure of the last bus. We had no tickets, and the counter had a long que.The prospects seemed dismal.

Luckily, my friend, Bali, who had come to try his luck to get a ticket to Chandigarh, found out that the bus had two passengers who had not arrived till then. Conversations with the conductor followed, and shortly we were off to our destination.

On reaching McLeodganj I caught up with my friends, the JJI Exile Brothers. Though the elder brother Jamyang was out of town [having gone to Delhi to buy equipment for the band], we had an amazing time with Jigme and Ingsel.
It took them a while to recognize me, but once the recollection was over, we were invited for a drinking session. Soon all of us headed to their basement with some bottles of whiskey. Amidst the red walled room, filled with graffitti and Jim Morrison posters, we discussed about music, their Europe tour, being Tibetan and their trials and tribulations.

JJI for me reflects the voice of the Tibetan youth. A generation, born in exile, battling with their refugee status, with substance abuse, with disillusion. And what better way to convey such sentiments than through music.

The seeds of rock music have always flourished in times of rebellion. Whether it be the voice of Dylan and Baez in the 60s America or that of the JJI brothers in present day Tibet-in-exile. Their songs, a mix of English and Tibetan, have an addictive honesty.

But, I have said enough, for the rest, I would rather let their music speak for them...

JJI Exile brothers: Songs from their debut album


Tuesday, 21 October 2008

Literary chords



Last night I finished reading "Silverfish" by Saikat Majumdar.

I was mesmerised by the way the book brings alive the Calcutta of 90s...the spirit of the city..its everyday tragedies...its everyday people...caught in the tragic political under currents run by its dadas, asphyxiated between red tape and despair...yet nursing its river bank evenings with tea and nostalgia...come alive through the author's words...a beautiful and tragic story...

It made me feel the pathos of the characters, it drew me from being a reader to being a participant in the lives of the characters.

The whole experience was quite cathartic.

Those who have lived in a Calcutta of the 90s, will immediately identify with the trials and tribulations of the characters. Those who did not, will get a sneak peek into the grittier realities of life in the City of Joy in that era. But do not expect to be a passive observer, the writing will draw you in, and before you know, you will be a part of the story, riding its various tides. You may chose to dance on hot roofs stealing pickles or to drag your feet up ancient colonial stairs of red brick government houses; but you will not be able to stand and stare.


A tragedy, then, is the imitation of an action that is serious... with incidents arousing pity and fear, with which to accomplish its catharsis of such emotions...

Aristotle, Poetics VI.2

For more information on the book, please visit
http://www.saikatmajumdar.com/silverfish/index.html

Blog version 2.0

My attempts at jazzing up my blog continue..

After trying with numerous templates, none of which quite fit my needs, I decided to try again by changing the header image. Also, now the blog is wider by 270 pixels
.

Last time, I had this image



After sifting through my stock photos and som
e photo editing, made this new header


Comments invited..

Sunday, 19 October 2008

Post paid woes

7 days. 2 SIMs. Countless phone calls and visits.

I am still not contactable.

All those who advised me to shift to post paid. I am reeeeally homicidally disposed to you now.

Breathe. breathe.

Thursday, 16 October 2008

of sighs and smiles

for days now
pensive i've been.

how do you respond to a sigh?
do you sigh in return
or do you smile
sunshine bright
knowing
the sigh will
dis
appear.

does a smile
travel
( i know, laughter does)
through cellular towers
dancing on cables
soaking
the morning sun?

can a morningfreshsunbright
mobile smile
fill up a moment
of solitude
nurtured
in cigarette smoke?

can it tear apart
the blanket
of silence
with the
vivacity of laughter?

we shall meet
again
dear friend
and fill our cups
with
laughter.

deep inside me
forgotten roots
stir.
in our tongue
we never
say
going.
we
say
coming.



Sunday, 14 September 2008

Leaving Ahmedabad..

A week. That is all I have left in this city.


After spending an odd 16 months in this city, it is time to recollect. During my stay here, I had cursed the city for the trials it had put me through. But it would be thankless of me, if I do not praise it for what it has given me. So this rant would be free from my cribs about this city.


When I came here, I knew only one person in the city, Malav. I did not know the city, I did not have a place to stay. But I had a friend. And that is what strikes me about this city. Within its social fabric, warmth and friendship is the brightest of hues. It is a fabric difficult to get into, as I had found out to my chagrin. But once you do, it is amazing.

I had been part of many a tale here, from the days of house hunting with Malav on his Yezdi, when the broker thought I was not presentable enough to the would be land lords to the day when I finally got myself inked. As a testament to my crazy experiences in this city, here is a letter I once wrote to my colleagues about my phone number..

Good morning designers,

After many (mis)adventures and trysts with reckless motorcades, after enduring scorching heat and relentless rain, I have managed to get meself a local mobile number. For those who think this is but an easy task (and are probably smiling at the nuances of its simplicity), try convincing the SIM provider of your identity under the following conditions:

A> your appearance should resemble a disheveled ruffian out on a stroll [add torn jeans for best results]

B> all your identity proofs should have different looking photos of you

C> you should not be able to read, write or speak the local language [ I have 23 leaflets explaining the various mobile schemes in Gujrati…feel free to translate]

Anyways now I do have a local number. So if any of you want to console me, treat me to lunch/ dinner, teach me the language, buy me a Harley…feel free to call at xxxxxxxxx.

Adios amigos.

I will miss the quirkiness of this city;

the apprehensions of whether the restaurant for the night has meat on its menu, the bike rides to across the river in search of tasty street food, the journey into run-down shanties for momos, the drives to a different city for music, the peacocks on my balcony, the wait for the bootlegger,..


This city has rewarded me with good friends and amply so. Seldom again would I walk into an office full of friends rather than colleagues. Working together through relentless nights for faceless clients sitting across the globe, working to build a nascent corporation to a point where corporates would trust them with big projects, sneaking off to chai breaks, taking digs at hierarchy, daily battles with the alarm clock, feeling proud when one of the team would be praised for his work by a man who has never met us…its been a great experience.


Wherever we go, whatever we do, shapes us for the better. This was no different.


Many a times I have said to my friends about my present location,

‘ One day God looked at me and said “Ok. This guy has had far too much pork and beer. Let’s put him in Ahmedabad. Let’s punish him.”’


I stand corrected. Maybe what he said was

“ I think he needs a few more good friends. Let’s put him in Ahmedabad”.

The nameless beauty from school days

When I was still in school, I remember being truly captivated by a beautiful woman who appeared on a music video. After so many years, the face still remains as enchanting as ever. The song was Instant Karma's version of the song "Julie". A month ago I found out the name of the woman. Maybe, you too remember her..




[Photos courtesy: YouTube screenshots]

Sunday, 17 August 2008

Retro Sunday

There are some songs and some genres of music which have a very strong associative memory in my mind. Some songs which I associate with a place, a time or a person.

Today morning, when I turned on my PC, little did I expect that I would be taking a walk down the ages. But when the music from my play list began playing, I was at once taken to the days of my childhood. Sipping on my black coffee, smoking the first cigarette of the day, it did not take me long to sink back into old memories. As the music started pouring in, the journey back to childhood had already begun.

As I listened to Engelbert singing "Man without love", I was filled with memories of those days. When the only source of music were LPs and cassettes, when we would be listening to music from an old wooden case coffin top turn table [it was a NELCO , I think] or from our brand new AKAI PJ-W55 stereo boombox. I remember fiddling around with the SW1 and SW2 bands of the tuner, only to discover static. It even had an FM tuner, back in those days !
Every day was a discovery. Listening to vinyls on the turntable or to compilations of assorted artists on cassettes that my sister would get, I would be introduced to artists like Roy Orbison, Nat King Cole, Neil Diamond, et al. Sometimes at a friend's house I would chance upon an unknown artist and then sample the music. And if I liked the music, I remember the pain I would go through to get it copied on a blank cassette. At that time, a double deck player was a luxury.[It was only 8 years later, that my dream of having a double deck was fulfilled, when we got the Panasonic Mini Hi-Fi system] So I would hungrily seek out music anywhere and everywhere.
Whether it was Boney M, that I first heard my neighbour's son Papuda play on his turntable [I remember the fascination of seeing people in white tights and sporting afros on an LP cover] or the cassettes of Billy Idol that I chanced upon in my friend's house, everything would be absorbed without bias. We would look forward to save money and buy the "expensive" English cassettes. I think the first one we ever had was when my sister bought Michael Jackson's "Bad". Oh the joy of having an original cassette! Gone were the days of single lined cassette covers with hand written song names. It was the real mc coy and it had a picture of the artist on it to boot. It was the pride of our cassette collection.

Today, as I listened to Engelbert-Nat King Cole-Toto-Scott Mckenzie-Neil Diamond, I was back in those days of my life. Days filled with hand written cassette covers and a golden Neil Diamond on a black LP cover saying "Jazz Singer".

Monday, 11 August 2008

Urban hauntings

The past few weeks, my city seems to haunt me in the strangest of ways. The fact that I have not gone "home" to the only city which I truly can claim as "home" for a year now is heartbreaking enough. Even though the city I once knew it as may have changed; even though going back to her is like meeting an old lover after a decade of separation and mutual changes, yet somewhere deep within her, there still exists glimpses of what she used to be. It is those glimpses that draw me to her. Like going through an old cabinet and suddenly chancing upon a tattered sepia toned photograph which transports you back to a forgotten age.

The last 5 books I read, the last 4 movies I saw, were somehow connected to my city. Uncanny, considering it included writers like Neil Gaiman and Terry Pratchett and a Bollywood remake of the Korean movie "My Sassy Girl". It is as if life keeps on reminding me that I should take a trip to my city; have a rendezvous with an old love...

 [Photo courtesy: http://www.kolkatadirectory.info]

Thursday, 31 July 2008

To Spring, with Coffee

There is a coffee-stain on my heart;
dark as greed,
persistent as a rumour.

Spill over memories of laughter
poisoning me softly,
like a warm hug.

Bright spring sun
parching smiles from my lips.
Liquid peace,
liquid 'me's
ooze away in the gentle breeze.

There's a restlessness rising
deep within.
Got to outrun
the caffeine rainbow.

Written on March 19, 2008. This is the poem I mentioned in a previous post.

Wednesday, 30 July 2008

Coffee night echoes

A rain soaked evening with pages from history
chapters soaked in sunlight,
mildly smelling of coffee.
Cigarette smoke memories
curling, curling
defying aqueous gravity.

It's a crowd here;
gypsies and metalheads,
seers and the firstborn bloom,
artists and acrobats.
Jostling, jousting
ripping apart
the Shaper's fabric.
From his ebony bed, he smiles.
All ends are pregnant with beginnings.

The ascetic dancer looks on,
for him
it's deja vu.

Coffee night of echoes.
On nights like these,
madness shouts back,
stares you in the eye from Liquid crystal displays.

is it so easy to forget?
better light another cigarette.

Hope persists beyond reason.

Sunday, 29 June 2008

Abu Trip

[ Photo courtesy Prabhat ]

Last week, we went for a surprise trip to Abu from office. While everybody headed to see the local tourist spots, Sahil, Prabhat, Om and me decided to give it a miss. We went instead for a walk on the hills. The walk made me realise, how much I miss the hills.

Bombay, the beginning of an affair

Two weeks ago, I had gone to Bombay [I prefer the old name, it has a story, a context; the same way I prefer the old name of my city]. Me and a couple of friends had gone to Bombay for the weekend. Two of my friends were there on official business, I just decided to tag along because it had been far too long since I had gone a-travelling.
When we reached Bombay, it was raining heavily. As we kept walking in the rain, the city started to strike a chord in my heart. The incessant showers, the puddles with oil slick rainbows, the brightly coloured umbrellas that stare at you like flowers in a drenched concrete jungle, reminded me of my city. At once there was a connection. The two times I had come to Bombay before, I had not felt it somehow. But this time it was different. This was a Bombay which I could relate to.
Smoking on my cigarette, sitting on the balcony of my friend's apartment, I watched as the school children frolicked in the rain washed roads, splashing about in the puddles, under the watchful eyes hid beneath the brilliantly hued umbrellas. Nostalgia.

In the evening, we went to Cafe Mondegar. Here, another pleasant surprise awaited me. The walls had cartoons by Mario Miranda, which again reminded me of my childhood. When I was growing up, we had this calendar, a small table calendar with watercolours by Mario Miranda, which I cherished. During the summer holidays, I would sit down with my drawing book and new set of watercolours and copy those cartoons. Equipped with a single crimson stalked paintbrush that came complementary with the water colour tablet set, I would spend days copying the uniquely flavoured water colours by him. 12 pages of water colour never were a restriction; characters and scenes would be rearranged to suit my need to delve into this wonderful water colour world of Mario Miranda. And here I was, after so many years, stepping into a Cafe whose walls belonged to that water colour world.

Soon, the beer and conversation flowed. Listening to the old jukebox as it played the requests, I realised a new love affair has started in my life.

Friday, 30 May 2008

Colourless calender

Days that used to be in red, have become ashen.
Cruising on endless cigarettes, I count my ashen days.

Have you seen my crayons?


Saturday, 26 April 2008

C'est la vie

Went to sleep : 3.45 hrs
Woke up : 6.12 hrs

insomnia does not believe in weekends...

Tagged again !!

if this continues, i'll end up with an identity crisis of being airline baggage..


Total number of books I have


No clue. i have been reading ever since i can remember.i have a room full of books back home, more books crammed into cabinets forgotten by everyone except me and a constantly expanding set of books that i carry along...

Last book I read
Kafka on the shore by Haruki Murakami


Last book I bought

You do not buy a book. You buy books. Hence -
Sandman volume 9 and volume 10 by Neil Gaiman
Sputnik Sweetheart by Murakami


Five books that mean a lot to me
Five books? its difficult to list five genres even. life ain't that simple when it comes to books or music.But here is a highly non exhaustive list in random order -

Albert Camus - Outsider
so much of what i am i owe to this book..

Robert Pirsig - Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance
who could not love Phaedrus?

Douglas Adams - The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy
how can one survive this universe without it, i mean what if my house is destroyed by the vogons for a highway..i need the book, and a towel..

Sukumar Ray - Abol tabol and Ha ja ba ra la
for all who speak of lewis carroll, here is the indian equivalent. the first poet i ever ever liked, back in those days when poems were all about memorising and recitation

Ken Kasey - One Flew Over the Cuckoos Nest
J.D. Salinger -
Catcher in the Rye
Joseph Heller - Catch-22

Homer - Illiad and Odyssey
Thomas Bulfinch - Mythology
mythology is always fascinating, tales that talk of times when gods walked among men always captivate..

George Orwell - Animal farm and 1984
sarcasm, cynicism, wit..

J.R.R. Tolkein - Lord of the Rings, Hobbit, Silmarrilion
without elves, orcs, istaris or the nazgul...life appears so bland

Douglas Rushkoff - Cyberia
music, drugs, games...a non-judgemental view of the 20th century.

William Gibson - Neuromancer
long before the Matrix, there was the Neuromancer and Ghost in the Shell [Masamune Shirow]

Dee Brown - Bury my heart at Wounded knee
i have always hated cowboy flicks. nothing glorious in charging with blaring winchesters and colts against the man with the bow and arrow. who is the savage? go figure..

Neil Gaiman - Sandman
the graphic novel series that gives many a piece of "serious" literature a run for their worth
....
all the asterix, calvin and hobbes, batman i read and still read. and phantom, cause of lazy afternoons spent reading them when everybody would be sleeping.

Friday, 25 April 2008

Tagged

Last movie seen in a theatre:
One missed call. The Japanese original was much better.

What book are you reading?
Good omens - Pratchett and Gaiman.

Favourite board game:
scrabble

Favourite magazine:
Sandesh during its Satyajit Ray years, late 80s Reader's Digest, Car Styling..

Favourite smells:
the smell of the earth after a rain, the smell of blossoming shiuli on autumn mornings, the smell of a new book..

Favourite sound:
raindrops falling on the leaves..

Worst feeling in the world:
can be cured by an honest smile..

What is the first thing you think of when you wake up?
cigarette. cigarette. cigarette.

Favourite fast food place:
depends on the city

Future child’s name:
....good question. next...

Finish this statement, “If I had a lot of money I’d…”
take off on a world tour.

Do you drive fast?
these days..i only pedal or walk..

Do you sleep with a stuffed animal?
one tight slap!

Storms - Cool or Scary?
cool.

Do you eat the stems on broccoli?
yes

If you could dye your hair any colour, what would be your choice?
hyper-intelligent shades of blue

Name all the different cities/towns you have lived in:
ahmedabad, delhi, pithampur, asansol, kolkata...and intermittent weeks across the himalayas

Favourite sports to watch:
football

One nice thing about the person who sent this to you:

great sense of humour

What’s under your bed?
the magic carpet

Would you like to be born as yourself again?
why not ?

Morning person or night owl?
bit of both..basically insomniac.

Over easy or sunny side up?
boiled.

Favourite place to relax:
where ever there's lots of trees

Favourite pie:
apple

Favourite ice cream flavour:
chocolate

You pass this tag to –

praveen, spiderman, subhajyoti

Of all the people you tagged this to, who’s most likely to respond first?
praveen

Friday, 18 April 2008

Confessions of a misfit

Day by day, I become more of a misfit.

I realized that I have become unfit for staying in a family-sort-of environment. I feel claustrophobic in it.
Bollywood blockbuster movies and its music, which seem to enthral most, fail to generate even a slight interest in me. Other than a few handful. While the nation laughs its guts out on the great Laughter Challenge, I find it boring and stale.
I am perhaps the only Indian male, living or dead or yet-to-be-born, who has zero interest in Cricket.
I am supposed to relate to my people, but I can't in most cases.



Almost cut my hair
It happened just the other day

It's gettin kinda long

I could have said it was in my way

But I didn't and I wonder why

I feel like letting my freak flag fly

Cause I feel like I owe it to someone


Must be because I had the flu' for Christmas

And I'm not feeling up to par

It increases my paranoia

Like looking in my (rear-view) mirror and seeing a police car

But I'm not giving in an inch to fear

Cause I promised myself this year

I feel like I owe it to someone


When I finally get myself together

I'm going to get down in that sunny southern weather

And I find a place inside a laugh

Separate the wheat from the chaff

I feel like I owe it to someone
--CSNY

Monday, 14 April 2008

A Zen story

Sometimes I love to speak in self made parables, so here it goes,my very own zen story....

Once upon a time, there lived a very wise zen master. One day, the princess of the land heard about the very wise zen master. Intrigued, she invited the master to her court.
When the master arrived, she received him with great pomp and splendour. She arranged for a grand feast in his honour. After the feast was over, the princess asked the zen master-
"Oh wise master, what is the secret of everlasting beauty?"
The master smiled and continued munching on the Manchurian lamb.
The princess asked again,
"Oh wise master, what is the secret of everlasting youth?"
The master smiled again. Picked up a toothpick and got busy with the bones.
For the third time, the princess asked
"Oh wise master, what is the secret of everlasting beauty and youth?"
The master smiled." Break the mirrors" he said. And left.

Friday, 4 April 2008

It rained a smile

The sky had been cloudy since morning. Since last night, the temperature was also going down. Compared to the scorching 42 degrees summer a few days back, it almost felt like autumn.
All these were but preambles to the heavy downpour that descended on the city today.

Since the afternoon, the overcast sky had made way for strong winds. Soon the wind was followed by a heavy shower, quite unusual for this city. As the rain gained strength, we [me and my colleagues] looked out of our office windows and bemused. There is something about the rain which always makes you yearn...for things lost and things probable. Some of us sneaked out to have a quick cup of chai and a smoke, enjoying the breeze, flirting with the rain. Some got busy on the phone, planning a rainy evening.

As for me, I headed to our usual haunt with a couple of friends - the cafe. By the time we reached the cafe, the rain had stopped, only the breeze was flowing, carrying with it the pleasant smell of the freshly drenched earth. The usual scrabble game, which has become a daily evening routine, was cancelled. All of us were too overwhelmed by the sudden rain, falling on a city which is parched and usually in the midst of a 40 degree summer this time of the year. So we just sat there, smoking, talking, flowing with the breeze.

Suddenly, it started to rain again. And this time it was heavier than the previous shower. Soon all of us were scurrying to the interiors of the cafe, to the safety of the glass walled inside area.

While, we were sitting inside, I watched the rain from the safety of the glass walled enclosure. Watched the drops lash against the paved flooring of the outside seating area; watched the droplets from the sun shade umbrellas meandering down on the steel,wood, leather, cane of the chairs; watched the tiny rain drop rivulets trickling down the glass walls; watched the pools forming on the patio.
Suddenly, I felt a long forgotten urge. I asked one of my friends to lend me a sheet of paper. With the sheet torn from his notebook, I made a paper boat. [ it took me quite a while, and I realised that I had almost forgotten how to make one!! ]. The next moment I was outside, braving the rain to set sail to my paper boat on the vast ocean in the patio. Soon my friends joined with paper boats of their own. And we stood there, in the rain, desperately smoking on to our soaked cigarettes, as we watched our paper boats traverse the oceans.

Somehow,this spontaneous surrender to a sudden urge, made me feel very happy. As I watched the paper boat floating and twirling on the patio's ocean, I felt very alive. It rained a smile on my face and a joy into my heart.

Once again, I was the me I once was, the me that would tear pages off the school notebook and launch an armada onto the waterlogged streets of Calcutta from the window of the school bus on rainy afternoons...

Tuesday, 1 April 2008

Horse latitudes

Right now, life is in its Horse latitudes.
Thankfully there is a library in these seas.
I have been reading a lot lately and whiling away my evenings through marathon runs of Scrabble at the cafe.
.
.
.
.
need to go
need to go
away from sun burnt ennui
before i run out of books
before i run out of nooks

in the hills of gods
the pagan melodies still flow
the lullaby of the tree
is calling out to me
and i must go




Saturday, 29 March 2008

Inflight radio

I always used to look forward to flying Kingfisher because of their inflight radio, specially since one of the channels plays only rock. But my last trip left me wiser, next time I'll be carrying my music player. The radio has now been reduced to a playlist of 10 songs per month I guess. In all my flights, these 10 songs were played in an endless loop. And since the total playtime of these songs lasted about 50 minutes, it meant in a two hour flight, you get to hear every song at least twice. And if you are travelling more, which was my case, you get to hear the same songs umpteen times.

Anyway, the song that I heard the most during my trips was Bob Dylan's Positively 4th Street..

You got a lotta nerve
To say you are my friend
When I was down
You just stood there grinning

You got a lotta nerve
To say you got a helping hand to lend
You just want to be on
The side that's winning

You say I let you down
You know it's not like that
If you're so hurt
Why then don't you show it

You say you lost your faith
But that's not where it's at
You had no faith to lose
And you know it

I know the reason
That you talk behind my back
I used to be among the crowd
You're in with

Do you take me for such a fool
To think I'd make contact
With the one who tries to hide
What he don't know to begin with

You see me on the street
You always act surprised
You say, "How are you?" "Good luck"
But you don't mean it

When you know as well as me
You'd rather see me paralyzed
Why don't you just come out once
And scream it

No, I do not feel that good
When I see the heartbreaks you embrace
If I was a master thief
Perhaps I'd rob them

And now I know you're dissatisfied
With your position and your place
Don't you understand
It's not my problem

I wish that for just one time
You could stand inside my shoes
And just for that one moment
I could be you

Yes, I wish that for just one time
You could stand inside my shoes
You'd know what a drag it is
To see you

And I wonder,coincidence or divine intervention..

Saturday, 22 March 2008

Ramblings..

The sky is grey tonight, and starless. From my window, it looks back at me like a blank TV screen. Wrote a poem four days back, but don't feel like posting it...yet.
Baul and bhatiyaali playing in the background, I have the old blues again...the roots issue.

I think I need to spend sometime in the Himalayas...or maybe Shantiniketan...

Thursday, 13 March 2008

freedom

slave to freedom,
did you realise,
you have become.

freedom is your prison
freedom is your poison
freedom is the mask
behind which you hide.

hollow word freedom
staring from dictionaries
shallow word freedom
binds you in its chains
dream word freedom
cruising through your veins.

captive dreamer you pay the price
the free spirit- your greatest vice.



Thursday, 28 February 2008

Steppenwolf day

I have been listening to Steppenwolf all day, quite a change from the Children of Bodom, Rotting Christ, Anathema, Paradise Lost, Bathory, Deicide, Morbid Angel, etc. I have been listening to for the past 4 days. Some songs struck a chord, here is one...

A Fool's Fantasy

Slip away with me
Let our hearts be free
Live a life of love
There's no need to care
Sharin' it together
Whatcha got to lose?
In love and life, it's all you get,
It's easy to choose.

There's a way for love
We can make it work
There's a way for love
A fool's fantasy
Is that so much to ask for?
Everything we're dreamed about
Could be ours forevermore.

Take a chance on freedom
Come take a chance on me.
We'll drown ourselves in pleasure
Just happy to be
Without inhibitions and nothing to fear
We'll while away the summer sun
Nibblin' on an ear.

...Oh, I have been also listening to Chitose Hajime , specially Haru no katami..

Monday, 25 February 2008

Into the night..

Realms of bliss, realms of light
Some are born to sweet delight
Some are born to sweet delight
Some are born to the endless night
-The Doors

February has been unkind .
Cold winds blow away the candles, as I stand once more in the shadows.
Darkness is not the enemy, fleeting promises of light is.


Sunday, 10 February 2008

The Friday Fiasco and how I almost Outmurphyed Murphy's law

Well, the past week hadn't been one of the best.

Murphy's Law kept hounding me in every teeny weeny aspect of life. I would make some plan, you know, those " i am so small, i am negligible" kind of small plans. And think, " Mr. Murphy is going to let this one pass, its beneath his dignity kind of thing". But no, he had to screw up all my plans...including the ones involving otherwise hassle free day to day activities.

Amongst, the bigger plans, Murphy reigned supreme.

The wait has achieved eternal status, couple of days more and it earns its place as the eighth Endless [due pardons to Gaiman].

The frog cancelled the journey [sigh...I mean SIIIIIIIIGHHH].

And to top it all, the Friday Fiasco. Ever since I have come here, I have been under nourished in terms of good live music. So when I heard that one of my most liked bands TAAQ is coming to town, I was delighted [delighted?...understatement]. For a week, I blabbered about their greatness to all and sundry, even bought meself tickets. On the fateful day, I refused a generous all expenses paid movie offer with my other colleagues and boss. Me and a couple of faithful music loving colleagues then embarked on the journey. After reaching the venue, we waited and waited [ Mr. Gaiman, note how wait creeps into every aspect of life, it is the eighth Endless]. After a mere four hour wait in the 7 degree night, during which hunger gave up trying to convince us to eat and cigarettes proved to more volatile than zippo fluid, we were told the show has been cancelled. TAAQ were unhappy with the sound. They cancelled the show.

Without being judgemental, without advocating whether the band should have played with the bad sound or the college should have arranged better sound, all I can say is, it was a HUGE letdown.

So, Murphy had his laugh all through the week.

Yesterday, I almost out murpheyed him. I had gone to the mart with a friend. After picking up our stuff, we went and stood in what till-the-moment-before-we-stood appeared to be the shortest [and hence logically, the quickest] queue to the billing counter. But Murphy's Law [sneaky little bastard, it is] caught up. The wait came soon after.

Noticing, that the i-am-the-longest-queue-of-the-supermarket queue beside us had now reduced itself to being a single person queue, I , in one swift movement, befitting Olympic sprinters, placed myself in that queue.


Now, at this point, the woman in front of me, had already had her stuff billed. All that remained in my way of getting my stuff billed and leave the counter after paying [thus pulling a fast one on Murphy], was for the woman to pay up. And she already had her hands inside her neat brown leather bag, the lovely notes would be coming out any minute, victory was within grasp...

Murphy thought otherwise.

She fished out a booklet of coupons![..the horror, the horror!]

Firstly, she had trouble to determine exactly how many coupons to pay for the bill; whether she should use the large denomination coupons or the small ones; if she uses the large denomination coupons, how does she pay for the small change. After 15 minutes of such life-threatening dilemma, she finally agreed [with due assistance from the counter girl] on the exact mode of payment.

Then she discovered, that her coupon booklet has no tear-off perforations. Some cynical bastard somewhere probably made the coupons thinking "I'll give them the coupons, but won't allow them to tear it off" and got his sadistic kicks out of life.

What ensued, was pure chaos. She battled with the staples, twisting, turning, applying long-forgotten martial techniques in her effort to tear off some coupons. The counter girl left, took a brief tour of the entire mall and came back with a stapler. Unity is power. Together, they embarked on their military campaign against the coupon booklet. The booklet meanwhile refused to relent. I am, all the while, standing and looking at my friend on the other side, who had been waiting after paying for his stuff, for ages now.

The melee lasted for a good 20 minutes. At the end of which, the exact mode of the payment was again renegotiated based on how many coupons had been successfully torn out.

Finally, 45 minutes after I had stood in the queue, and when the lady was just about to pay, I found myself on the other side with my friend.

Murphy prevails.

Friday, 8 February 2008

I am on Google !!!

My colleague just brought it to my notice...

Thanks to professional networking sites, my alumni site, poetsindia.org, the Designindia yahoo group, a heavy metal related blog by my friend Hemu and my current employers...

I appear on the first page of search results...Big Brother is watching !!

Monday, 4 February 2008

Vox Insania

Words conflict, words constrict
Words create, words captivate;
only syllables liberate.

Polychromatic tears screaming through torn dreams,
vibrant, emotive,lethal
like a Pollock canvas.

Ancient gallery full of the broken.
Endless walk into shadows that smell of bats.
Lets sew these smiles onto our faces,
lets pretend we are perfectly sane.

Sunday, 3 February 2008

Poems and memories

When I was still in school, I had the good fortune of being acquainted with a modern Bengali poet. Many afternoons, I would go over to his place, discuss poetry, life and everything in between. He would, with his words, lead my curious footsteps to the thresholds of previously unknown literary demesnes.
Some days, he would be not in a mood to talk, or too engrossed in his writings. On those afternoons, I would go through his vast cobwebbed library. From those dusty shelves, I would extract treasures. Treasures, wrapped in tattered jackets, or shrouded in brown paper, or left to be, at the mercy of silverfish. Treasures he jealously guarded, like an ancient dragon guarding its gold; treasures which he yearned to share.
Once, while giving me couple of his books as a parting gift, he told me "Take these, few read poetry these days..". He was smiling, yet his eyes were struggling to hold back tears.

I have tried to keep the legacy alive. I still read poetry, and I still write.

So today, when I chanced upon two poets whom I first met on those brown paper covered afternoons, I felt like sharing them.

Few read poetry, but perhaps you are one of them...

THE GATE

“ I only went out for a walk, and finally concluded to stay out till sundown, for going out, I found, was really going in.”
— John Muir

It was late in May and yet the day was chill
And gray as I walked out in rain
To see the budded trees and catch the quickening scent
Of lilac and wisteria, honeysuckle, apple blossom.

A pair of Northern Orioles sang a merry song
From the highest branches of an aspen,
Blackbirds clacked and started up from grasses
And wood ducks watched without alarm.

I felt that I was seeking something in my walk—but what?
Respite from restiveness? Meaning in mere motion?
The going in that going out is?
The going on no matter what that life is?

Until I climbed a hill and saw a pair of maples
Form a sort of gate I didn’t know what I had come for:
To walk through a gate of trees at the crest of a hill
Where the wind walks.

- Kirtland Snyder

Mission Tire Factory, 1969

All through lunch Peter pinched at his crotch,
And Jesús talked about his tattoos,
And I let the flies crawl my arm, undisturbed,
Thinking it was wrong, a buck sixty five,
The wash of rubber in our lungs,
The oven we would enter, squinting
---because earlier in the day Manny fell
From his machine, and when we carried him
To the workshed (blood from
Under his shirt, in his pants)
All he could manage, in an ignorance
Outdone only by pain, was to take three dollars
From his wallet, and say:
"Buy some sandwiches.You guys saved my life."

- Gary Soto

Waiting..

Well, sometimes life feels like the interim moments. You know, like the lonely dinner at the restaurant, when you are very hungry and have placed your order, but the food is yet to arrive.
Hungry, weary, sticking out like a sore thumb and no one to make conversation to. That kind of eternally impatient wait. Generally, I end up reading at such situations...pamphlets,menus,cigarette packs, mineral water bottle labels, anything with text. [By the way, if you are unhappy with the quality of your cigarettes, you can mail our dissatisfaction to qma@itc.in; you should always consume a bottle of mineral water within 4 months of its packaging...random pieces of information I stumbled on]
Right now, life is paused at such an interim moment.

A posteriori, life is a summation over time of such interim moments.


Saturday, 2 February 2008

Random quizzes

Well, took a couple of random quizzes...here is what they have to say about me..

[1]

http://quiz.myyearbook.com/

How goth are you?

Oh my GOTH! your the ruler of darkness!



You are true goth, you rule darkness, and you kick ass!! I fucking love you....welcome to my world!

[2]

Hello

You have just accomplished the test on http://www.allthetests.com with the following results:

You are an Angel Goth. You choose to stick to what you believe and what no one else says.


You are a free spirit and hate to be caged.

[3]




Bet you practice Wicca or Paganism or possibly more liberal Christianity. You probably love Dead Can Dance, anything ethereal, and might be vegetarian. You probably also like to hug people.


What kind of goth are you?

Created by ptocheia

Tuesday, 29 January 2008

River of changes

Love In the Asylum

A stranger has come
To share my room in the house not right in the head,
A girl mad as birds

Bolting the night of the door with her arm her plume.
Strait in the mazed bed
She deludes the heaven-proof house with entering clouds

Yet she deludes with walking the nightmarish room,
At large as the dead,
Or rides the imagined oceans of the male wards.

She has come possessed
Who admits the delusive light through the bouncing wall,
Possessed by the skies

She sleeps in the narrow trough yet she walks the dust
Yet raves at her will
On the madhouse boards worn thin by my walking tears.

And taken by light in her arms at long and dear last
I may without fail
Suffer the first vision that set fire to the stars.

-Dylan Thomas

Times are changing,
a new story unfolds as another is buried..left to dust in the cranial album.

Light shines again in the abyss.
Newlightpromise, and an age-old fear.
My thoughts are expressed in borrowed words.