Thursday, July 31, 2003

Hullo. Hullo.
Anybody there?
Please say something.
I speak into the silence, unsure whether there’s anyone listening at the other end. Unsure whether I will get a response.
The mobile network’s been off for over an hour now and it is a scary feeling. Life seems to have become a creepy sci-fi movie. All the mails that I have sent today have bounced back. It’s frightening to realise that I am completely cut-off from the outside world. No contact. It’s amazing how I take every thing for granted. The computer, the mobile, the fridge, the mixer, the lift in my building, the vehicles I travel in. The machines have taken over. I can’t do without the machines, without being connected to the World Wide Web. A deadly virus has already taken over. Its spreading even as I type. They are the ones in control now. We are but pawns. Judgement day is here.
Over and out.
Beep. Beep. Beep. Beep. Beep. Beep. Beep.
Imagine this. A hundred houses on a huge land. Each of these houses is like a human Noah’s arc. Two Marathis, two Bengalis, two Punjabis, two Gujaratis, etc (Let’s say we are talking in the Indian context.), similar to the ones that live in the other houses. A woman and a man, able to procreate and to sustain their kind. And between these houses runs a 20-lane highway, the houses like islands in the huge ocean of highway. The traffic is heavy on the high-way and death inevitable if one tried to cross-over. These 100 houses exist as separate entities, unaware that another house of this kind exists. And now imagine, if one house gets struck by a deadly virus and all the women die. What happens to the men? Would they die too, unable to carry forward their mission which was to sustain their kind? If only they could travel to another house. But how? They would surely die, even if they tried to move to another house, ploughed under the heavy trucks that move with lightening speed.
A long long time ago land was completely covered by forests. Animals were free to roam. A fire in a forest did not mean the end of all the animals in that forest. They could move on to another area. But as civilization grew, man cut these forests apart, and slowly all that remained were islands of forested area separated by towns, cities, fields and villages. Separated by a busy high-way making it virtually impossible for the animals to move from one area to another. Stuck in such islands, breeding within themselves and the inevitable genetic problems that arise, dying a slow death.
Imagine what man has done. He has effectively killed the animal-kingdom for his own survival. How can he undo the past? How can he ask for vindication?
Corridors is the only answer. Like bridges built across the 20-lane highway connecting each house, there can be corridors that would connect the forests, giving easy access to all the animals. The freedom of movement and the assurance of life.

Wednesday, July 30, 2003

Alright here’s ‘The Mole’. Inspired by the combined suggestions in the comments on this blog, this piece is meant as a challenge to the reader. Let’s call it ‘Spot the meaning’. To be precise, every time the word mole is used here, it is used with a different meaning.

The head of the mole popped out of the hole
His appetite whetted by the aroma of mole
Like a double agent mole, he sniffed and he smelt
Out of his burrow now, he tightened his belt
He touched his mole, his lucky charm
But the sound of a mole, a sudden alarm
He ran for his life and hid behind a tree
Scared out of his wits, no longer hungry
He wished he could fly back to his hole
If only he were as light as mole
Then an idea struck, he could travel underground
So he moled his way back to his mound.
Hmm. Shampoo reminds me that I have to get some. I am very choosy about my shampoo. It’s not like I don’t change my brand but I go into these phases when I use only one brand. And if I don’t get it I don’t shampoo my hair. (Ok! Ok! That was slightly exaggerated.) Right now, I am using this herbal thingy that you get only in Delhi. It smells divine. Did I just say in my last post that there should be only generic products? I take back my words. Had I become insane for a moment? What would I do without Toblerone, Twix and Lindt? And my perfumes? I am true product of today’s branded-world. I am corrupted because of the choice. And I do my bit to encourage the bewilderment that accompanies it. Why else would I choose to be in the profession that sells choice to people?
The story goes that one day Socrates stood gazing at a stall that sold all kinds of wares. Finally he said, “What a lot of things I don’t need.”
Supermarkets are a great thing. I am a true admirer of freedom of choice. Give people all the variety that you can give. And give them the freedom to choose something that suits them. But for heaven’s sake don’t confuse them. That’s exactly what happens when I step into a supermarket. I just don’t know what to buy. And I end up buying all the wrong things and more often than not things that I don’t need. What do I need a shower cap for? I don’t use the shower for Christ’s sake. What about a ready-to-eat meal which needs to be cooked in the microwave oven for only two minutes? I don’t have an oven!
You know, some things are best as they were. I enjoy going to an old-fashioned store where the shop keeper sits on the other side and helps me choose. I need the shop keeper to reassure me that the brand that I select is the best. Alright, I know it is silly. He wouldn’t have ever tried a ready-to-cook meal which costs three times of what he spends on a single meal. And he definitely wouldn’t have tried a ladies’ razor. But hey, you know what I mean. Shop keepers know everything.
What I want for once, just once, is that I walk into a shop and I say soap, toothpaste, shampoo, etc, etc, and they give me just white packets which have written on them in Arial bold font size 16 letters ‘SOAP’, ‘TOOTHPASTE’, ‘SHAMPOO’, ‘ETC’, ‘ETC’. Life would be so much easier. No complications. No trials. No expectations. No disappointments. Sigh! What a life that would be!

Tuesday, July 29, 2003

I am not a religious person. I do not have a small religious corner in my house. I do not go to temples unless they have some historical significance. I fully support my parents’ decision that my brother should not have a thread ceremony. I proudly tell me my friends that my father does not wear his threads and that I despite being a Brahman eat beef. Neither am I one of those people who believe that God exists inside us or in the spaces in between.
But I am not an atheist. I do not ever say that I do not believe in God. And I pray. I pray when I am happy and I pray when I am sad. For me, God perhaps exists as my faith. God is the proof of my weakness, of wanting a steady support. God is my strength, a reason to believe that thing’s will always turn out right.

Monday, July 28, 2003

“The most unfair thing about life is the way it ends. I mean, life is tough. It takes up a lot of your time. What do you get at the end of it? A death. What’s that, a bonus?!? I think the life cycle is all backwards. You should die first, get it out of the way. Then you go live in an old age home. You get kicked out for being too healthy, go collect your pension, then, when you start work, you get a gold watch on your first day at work. You work forty years till you’re young enough to enjoy your retirement. You drink alcohol, you party and you get ready for High School. You go to primary school, you become a kid, you play, you have no responsibilities, you become a little baby, you go back, you spend your last 9 months floating with luxuries like central heating, spa, room service on tap, then you finish off as an orgasm. Amen!”
~ George Constanza, Seinfield
ther•mo•dy•nam•ics Physics that deals with the relationships and conversions between heat and other forms of energy.
I sit with three guys in a tiny room which is called the Project Manager’s room, which essentially means that we are all Project Managers. It is kind of like Client Servicing. In other words we are glorified servants and we take shit from the Client as well as our office people.
The following are the Four Laws of Thermodynamics and how well it fits into our work space.

The first law of Thermodynamics
Total energy of the system plus the surroundings is constant. Energy can neither be created nor destroyed. Energy is conserved.

The energy in our room is always constant. None of us are ever happy or high together. Someone is perpetually down in the dumps and by the time he recovers he is replaced by someone else. We seem to spend more time consoling and patting each other’s back and giving an I-know-exactly-how-you’re-feeling look than working.

The second law of Thermodynamics
For an adiabatically enclosed system, the entropy can never decrease. Therefore, a high level of organization is very improbable.

High level of organisation? You have to be kidding! There is complete chaos in our room all the time. Phones ringing. Deadlines that were to be met the previous day. People tearing their hair apart. Tempers flying high. Entropy exists in the truest sense of the word here.

The third law of thermodynamics
The asymptotic law, states that all processes slow down as they operate closer to the thermodynamic equilibrium making it difficult to reach that equilibrium in practice.

Equilibrium does not exist. That is the biggest truth. The truth we live to learn.

The fourth law of thermodynamics
If a system receives a through-flow of exergy (produce entropy/dissipate energy), (a) the system will utilize this exergy flow to move away from thermodynamic equilibrium, (b) if it has more than one pathway to move away is offered from thermodynamic equilibrium, the one yielding most stored exergy, with the most ordered structure and the longest distance to thermodynamic equilibrium, will have a prospensity to be selected.

The fourth member of our exalted Project Manager’s room has finally decided to quit. The problem is that we are in a comfortable rut. It does not take courage to quit but a dose of exergy.

Our tiny room has two windows. One at each end. Big inviting windows, yet another part of the thermodynamic system. We are stuck in this equilibrium. We can’t escape. There are canopies just below both the windows. We can’t even jump out in frustration. Our fall would only be cushioned by canopies. They take care of all contingencies!
We are stuck in an adiabatically enclosed system and we can’t move away from the thermodynamic equilibrium until we receive a through-flow of exergy.
Blow some this way God!

Friday, July 25, 2003

Ever wondered why a child's cot is called a crib? Is it because that is the place the child learns to crib? At first he discovers a whole new world. But as time progresses he realises that things are not as incredible as they seemed. He takes off his rose-tinted glasses. And then starts complaining about it, his words falling on deaf ears. The transition from discovering a new world to grumbling about it. Cribbing in the crib!
A friend and I were sitting at a fancy restaurant yesterday. Over a tasty meal of juicy sizzlers we were not too happy when the table next to us was occupied by a group of rowdy boys. High with life, these boys were loudly exchanging profanities and obscenities that I have not heard in a long long time. To give them a little credit (just a little) they were talking in a language that they thought would not be understood in this city. How were they to know that I understand Bengali and that hostel life ensured that I also know the choicest of Bengali swear words? It was really not their fault. But imagine. Here we were, in an expensive restaurant hoping to get some good food and a quiet soothing ambience, as our age and mature soul demands. (OK OK! We’re not that old, but you get the drift?) Torn between amusement and irritation I wondered how to deal with the situation. This was certainly not how a quiet evening was supposed to be.
‘They’ say God has his ways, and ‘they’ are always right. We had given up on the boys and had surrendered to a disastrous evening. We ate our meal quietly, rolling our eyes once in a while. The guys continued to abuse and nudge each other as they stared at us. My mobile rang then, as we paid the bill and prepared to leave. I looked at the number and an evil smile lit up my face. A Calcutta number. A Bengali friend.
I needn’t have spoken that loud. My friend must have wondered why I was screaming like a banshee. I wonder if he noticed that I spoke only in Bengali (I tend to sprinkle words in English here and there). But it had the desired effect. Most of the guys turned pink. One of them put his forehead oh his hands and said ‘Oh Shit!’ Their mouths were gaping and their chins touching the floor. Ah retribution is sweet! My friend and I managed to keep a straight-face as we walked out of the restaurant but burst into helpless laughter outside. We laughed till our tummies hurt. It had been a sight worth seeing. The evening wasn’t a disaster after all.

Thursday, July 24, 2003

I am not unfaithful. I am not. I did not mean to break his trust. It was not what it seemed. Let me explain the situation better. Then you can tell me what could I have done. I was a victim of the situation. I was not to blame.
There is a kirana store very close to my house where I usually make all my grocery purchases. They deliver to my house, which is a boon, cause most days after office I feel too lazy to make the effort. Now, this shop (the only general store in a one square km radius), somehow manages to never have what I need, except for the basic bread, eggs and milk (very seldom am I lucky to get butter or cheese here). Now, me being the person I am, I’m very chatty with the shop-keeper. (I took my PR paper seriously!) Jokes apart, I usually tend to have a friendly relationship with all shop-keepers, electricians, plumbers, etc.
Yesterday, I had a long list of things I needed. And some of the things, chicken for instance, I knew for sure that I would not get in this shop. So I called up the closest super-market (which also believes in home-delivery. Thank God for CRM!) and gave them my entire list.
Now tell me, if I am ordering most of my stuff from the super-market, does it not make sense to order all the stuff that I need? I hear you saying yes, so I shall proceed. So, I ordered bread and eggs (which I usually order from the kirana store) as well. But after I disconnected the call I realised that I didn’t have a drop of drinking water in the house. So this time I called up the kirana store and asked them to deliver two bottles of mineral water.
When I heard the bell ring I thought that the water had come, since the kirana store is barely a stone’s throw away whereas the super-market is almost two kilometres away. But, efficiency thy name is super-markets, a huge bag of grocery had arrived. An unfamiliar bearded man stood at my doorstep and I gave him a hesitant smile. He smiled back as he stretched his hand out to give me a packet of eggs. (Eggs are never kept with the other stuff because they always break.)
So, as I was saying he stretched his hands to give me the eggs. And, at that opportune moment, walked in the shopkeeper from the kirana store. (Why him? Why couldn’t it be the boy who usually delivers?) I saw his eyes take in the scene. Our hands stretched out. The bearded man’s hands holding the packet and mine taking it. He looked at the packet. I could hear him say ‘eggs’ mentally. I turned pink to my toes. I wanted to scream out. No no! I am not cheating on you. It is not what it seems. But all that came out of my lips were a squeaky “Kitna hua Bhaiya?” (How much is it?) knowing fully well the price of two bottles of mineral water. I paid him first, not daring to look into his eyes. He took the money quietly and went off with a word. No pleasantries like we usually exchange. No smiles. Nothing. He took one last look at the bearded man and walked out.
Tell me that I did no wrong. How do I ask for vindication? Throw myself at his mercy and ask for forgiveness? How? How?

Tuesday, July 22, 2003

The funniest site ever.

This makes me think about the idiosyncrasies of somebody I know. I could dedicate an entire blog to this. But for now, I’ll stick to these many.

• Phone calls are meant to be brief and concise for heaven’s sake. ‘I never talk on the phone beyond two minutes’ you’re told. But, when you want to hang up the phone (it’s already been an expensive STD call from a mobile to a land phone) you’re supposed to talk for another hour. ‘You can’t hang up now!’
• Every time you grumble about how you hate cooking, you’re told that the next visit you will be treated to a meal which will be cooked by him. And when the time comes, you slog over a hot stove for two hours while the person in concern lounges comfortably reading a comic!
• He will refuse to help while you cook. But, he’ll stand next to you as you sweat in a hot kitchen telling you what to and what not to do. How we hate back-seat driving!!
• Communication is all important you’re told and that the distance will not make a difference. And then there is absolutely no contact for three whole days.
• The person will spend three hours explaining to you why your fears about a certain thing are completely baseless. “What’s the worse that can happen?” you’ll be told. And just when you are almost convinced, will say that he’s inflicted with exactly the same fear.
• You’re in a bad mood and you fight and don’t give him a chance to say anything. Then later you say you are sorry. And he insists it was his fault. No it was my fault you say. But he insists some more. And you get a sinking feeling that he is actually enjoying apologising and probably doesn’t even mean it.
• Has absolutely no idea about time. (He refuses to wear a wrist-watch). When you are busy with work and say you’ll be back in an hour and you message back in less than an hour (your meeting got over fast) and you’re told ‘Why were you gone so long?’ (Duh!) And when he’s busy and says he’ll be back in 15 minutes, he always (without fail) means two hours!
A friend of mine went for a Dream Theater and Queensryche concert. Third row!!! Lucky @#$^#&%. He also managed to steal in a camera. He refuses to tell us how. Check the snaps out.

Extremely jealous.
A lonely soul on a mountain alone
Heaving and panting from the tiring climb
An eagle circles the sky in the distance
The neighbouring peaks decked with forests virgin
Wild animals lurking in the hidden green
But on this zenith she stands alone
Scared as the sun sets, darkness enveloping
‘Is there anybody here?’
She screams, desperate for contact
Her voice echoes in the mountains loud
The sound of the wind resonates in her ear
‘Somebody?’ ‘Anybody?’ another attempt
But no one answers her desperate plea
‘Is this not where I wanted to be
At the top, leaving everyone behind?’
And with that, she bends down on her knees
And with her face in her hands, she weeps
Sobs racking her tired body
A lonely soul on a mountain alone

Monday, July 21, 2003

You are Morpheus-
You are Morpheus, from "The Matrix." You
have strong faith in yourself and those around
you. A true leader, you are relentless in your

What Matrix Persona Are You?
brought to you by Quizilla
I came back from my weekend holiday to a filthy house. Some six of my friends had borrowed my flat for the weekend but none had the decency to leave it clean. My train came in just before five in the morning and I had looked forward to a two-hour rejuvenating nap before I left for work. The moment I entered my house I was overpowered by a strong smell. The whole flat stank of left-over stale food. The sink was full of dirty utensils. The fridge was empty, not even the usual bread, butter and cheese in it. The fridge carton that I had used to keep stuff on was broken. In other words, everything was a mess. I put my bags down and spent the next hour cleaning the house. Put out the trash. Switched on the exhaust fan. Threw the empty beer bottles and cigarette stubs. Cleaned the kitchen. Lamented over the broken box and consoled myself that it was just a carton. But I am still furious. They’re my friends and right now I could kill them.

Sunday, July 20, 2003

Maut mujhko ganwara hai lekin
Kya karoon dum nikalta nahin
Dil mein dard bankar aaney wale ko
Zamane bhar ki rahat de mujhey tarpane wale ko
~Solitude, Ravin

Death would be acceptable to me
But what can I do if death eludes me?
He who enters my heart as pain
Let him who makes me suffer be granted all the peace in the world.)
I am sitting in a junior's room right now. In my hostel. Everything seems so surreal. I feel drunk and I have not had one drop of alcohol. I guess all the tiredness is setting in.
It isn't a good idea to relive the past. Everything is familiar and yet nothing is the same.
I went and checked out the room that I spent two years of my life in. And I felt nothing. No remorse. No regret. No tinge of sadness. Nothing. It was just another room. Occupied by someone I barely know.
I played badminton and I realised that I can't even do that properly now. Roxy, the campus Alsatian that I spoke so much about didn't even recognize me. The mess food was the same but now it was neither good nor awful. I feel numb. Perhaps it will hit me tomorrow. Later, when today becomes a part of yesterday.
I guess I needed to do this. To finally move on. To learn to love my present.

Friday, July 18, 2003

A strange sight greeted me yesterday as I climbed the hill on which my house stands. Tired after a long day’s work I thought I was hallucinating. I rubbed my eyes unbelievingly. But it was still there.
Two animals standing on a huge trash can. A dog and a cat, with less than a foot separating the two. A lovely golden brown dog and a white spotted cat. Unmoving. Fearless. In a trance. No sound, not even my whistling, broke their reverie. They looked right into each other. What were they doing in the dark? Silhouettes on a cloudy moonless night. Two shadows from two different worlds, born on the same street. Discovering each other? Crossing over the wall of enmity that sequesters them? Defying the laws of nature? Daring to fall in love?

Thursday, July 17, 2003

One of those inane conversations. It's not one of the days that i should talk to anyone. But some people just don't let you be. And thank God for them! This is definitely my last post for the day. ( I am 'dying dying .... done' here. But that's like stating the obvious. Another human trait. How can I deny it?)

Dying dying.... done!!! says:
I am thinking of committing hara-kiri
Rage, Rage Against the Dying of the Light says:
dying dying.... done!!! says:
dying dying.... done!!! says:
I posted again
Rage, Rage Against the Dying of the Light says:
Are u Japanese
Rage, Rage Against the Dying of the Light says:
dying dying.... done!!! says:
Yes again. what will u do?
dying dying.... done!!! says:
Sue me?
dying dying.... done!!! says:
I am going
dying dying.... done!!! says:
I will keep walking till i reach nowehere
Rage, Rage Against the Dying of the Light says:
You can never reach nowhere
dying dying.... done!!! says:
Well then I’ll just keep walking till I collapse
Rage, Rage Against the Dying of the Light says:
No work and irritation
Rage, Rage Against the Dying of the Light says:
A bad combo
dying dying.... done!!! says:
Who has no work? I have a lot of work . I just don’t want to do it.
dying dying.... done!!! says:
Don't call me
dying dying.... done!!! says:
Don’t ever call me
dying dying.... done!!! says:
I am going away
dying dying.... done!!! says:
Rage, Rage Against the Dying of the Light says:
dying dying.... done!!! says:
dying dying.... done!!! says:
dying dying.... done!!! says:
To the mountains
Rage, Rage Against the Dying of the Light says:
Come away with me
Rage, Rage Against the Dying of the Light says:
I am going to the mountains too
Rage, Rage Against the Dying of the Light says:
We shall go together
dying dying.... done!!! says:
No i need to go alone
dying dying.... done!!! says:
To die alone in the cold wilderness
dying dying.... done!!! says:
i am serious. i am more serious than i have ever been before
dying dying.... done!!! says:
I want nothing'. Just want to get away
dying dying.... done!!! says:
Break all contact from humanity
dying dying.... done!!! says:
My client called yet again
dying dying.... done!!! says:
Don’t they just love my voice
dying dying.... done!!! says:
They can't stop calling
dying dying.... done!!! says:
They’ll not find me here tomorrow
dying dying.... done!!! says:
dying dying.... done!!! says:
I had the last laugh
Rage, Rage Against the Dying of the Light says:
You should go and find some water
dying dying.... done!!! says:
Water for the dying soul
dying dying.... done!!! says:
The last few drops
dying dying.... done!!! says:
Shall someone quench my thirst?
dying dying.... done!!! says:
Before I step into the other world?
Yes, I too am wondering what’s wrong with me! But what the hell! It’s my blog and I will do as I choose. And post as many posts as I wish.
Damn! Damn! Damn! Who am I kidding? My director just informed me that maybe I should consider not taking the weekend off. What does he mean ‘maybe’? He might as well tell me that I am not given the permission.
Why was I never told that a working life is worse than a convent?
My office is part of the Hotel California chain.
“You can check in any time you like
But you can never leave.”
My life is a perfect graveyard of buried hopes.
~Anne of Green Gables
It’s like an auction. They’re all bidding for my death. All my clients. Which one gets to kill me first? Ah, the suspense. Slam the gavel.
Going, going, gone.
Dying, dying, done.
I need to get a life!
The dusty path
That my weary feet walk upon
As I journey towards the setting sun
Darkness engulfs me in its cool arms
The breeze caressing my tired face
The road ahead seemingly endless
As I continue ahead, on my flight to nowhere
The incessant bleating of a lamb in the distance
Dragged away to its early death
The sound echoes in my head again and again
Like drums beating in a forest green
I want to help but I know that I can’t
Some things are best when you let them be
I have become a bloggomaniac (Is that one g or two?). Somebody stop me!!!! And yes, I do have work. I just don't feel like working.
I am totally unemployed!!!

You're Perfect ^^
-Perfect- You're the perfect girlfriend. Which
means you're rare or that you cheated :P You're
the kind of chick that can hang out with your
boyfriend's friends and be silly. You don't
care about presents or about going to fancy
places. Hell, just hang out. You're just happy
being around your boyfriend.

What Kind of Girlfriend Are You?
brought to you by Quizilla
Some years back, when Mamma and I had discussed marriage, both of us had agreed that the best option was that I elope. The reason being that my parents would be obliged to call a million people. And I would hate that. Marriage is supposed to be a special occasion which you share only with a few special people. So if I eloped, they would conveniently blame it on the daughter. “The youth of today have no consideration for their parents!”
Result: Everyone’s happy.
A few days later my mother came across some old stuff that she had packed away in a wooden box. A tattered blue sari, my father’s first present to her. Lots and lots of letters, my parents sure had some courtship! And her wedding sari, a gorgeous brocade cloth interwoven with the most beautiful hues of coloured threads. I told her how lovely it was and she told me that I could wear it for my wedding if I wished to.
Imagine what my answer will be when the man in my life proposes marriage.
• Yes. I will marry you.
• But, we are going to elope and get married.
• And, I want to marry wearing my mother’s wedding sari, which considering its age will leave a trail of torn cloth behind as we elope.
Now, I think no man who reads this would ever want to every marry me!!
Women are superstitious. Much more than men. It is a known and accepted fact. I read an article the other day which was about some research conducted in Britain. The findings claimed that women are much more superstitious than men and that women have a 60% higher probability of dying in a car accident on Friday the 13th. How specific is that? Don’t they say that is possible to find statistics to prove anything in the world! You take a sample of 100 Mormons and you’ll get findings which say that “Men feel virile only if they have 20 wives”!
Going back to superstitions, I know that however I convince myself that I am a sane and sensible person, I know in my heart of hearts that I can be extremely superstitious. I laugh at Ma but I do the same things. I don’t cut my hair or my nails on a Monday. I never ever step on a book or newspaper. I always touch my head (which for some strange reason is meant to be a substitute for wood) and say touchwood when I talk about something good that’s happening to me. I always cross my fingers (while chanting Ram Ram) while walking back late night on a lonely road. (Laugh all you want!)
People often tell me that I live in the past. I do. I accept it. But that’s because I’ve grown up believing that you should never talk about the good things in your Present or your Future. If you do then the good things slip out of your hand. Yes, another superstition. So, if you are going to get a promotion, don’t talk about it till you get it and you’re on the way to get your next one. If you’re in love, don’t talk about it till you are engaged, married and have three children.
Tell me then, is it my fault that I live in the past?
Damn! Am I even supposed to talk about this? Do bad things start happening when you question the power of superstition?
Cross my heart.
Hope to die.
Never again
Shall I try

Wednesday, July 16, 2003

A holiday at last. Not a joke that Sundays usually are, squeezed in between six days of being a work-crazed maniac, but a proper holiday. Away from the four bare walls of my house. Away from the beautiful place that I live in, the beauty always a reminder of the fact that I appreciate it alone.
A walk down memory lane. A two-day holiday in the city where I spent the last two years of my life. I am going to Ahmedabad to visit my friend. But who am I kidding! I need to go back to my institute, to our campus. To the time, when I looked forward to being alone. When the door of my room was constantly open, when my friends and hostel-mates didn’t think twice about entering. To the time when I longed for some privacy. To the time I so desperately miss.
A tryst with emotions that I have tried hard to block out. Emotions that I have pushed back to the cob-webbed corner of my mind.
My ‘To do list’ for Saturday/Sunday:
• Walk barefoot on the front lawns. (How often did I do that in the past! In the moonlight, in the early hours of dawn, when the dew-wet grass tickled my feet.)
• Sit outside my room. (Where I sat every day. Sometimes in the evenings, sometimes at 5 a.m. when our campus was finally quiet, sipping coffee made with no milk and sugar begged off a neighbour, soft music playing in my room.)
• Play a game of badminton. (I am almost proud to admit it, I was a badminton maniac. I have played hours of badminton. Sometimes, after finishing off my assignments, till 5 a.m. in the morning.)
• Go sit at Chhota, our canteen. (Green trees with wide-spread branches sheltering the canteen from the hottest of suns, ensured that Chhota was a great place to hang out at all times. A hammock and a tire, swinging on them; bucket chairs, that we always fought over; food, though half the things on the menu were never available; cold drinks which were usually out of stock and seldom cold; cups and cups of coffee, welcome at any point in the day; studying under the shade of the tree and at night under the dim light of a solitary lamp; chatting with friends, yapping, soul-talking; weeping the last few days, when I knew that the time to leave had come.)
• Pat Roxy and Peggy. (The famous homosexual couple of our campus. Roxy the Alsatian. Peggy, aka, Pegasus a stray dog named so because of the sound of his feet when he ran. Roxy, the docile dog, who accompanied me on most of my morning walks. Peggy the dog with a snipped tail, who begged for attention, begged to be hugged and patted. Roxy, who loved the comfort of our air-conditioned class room, and often sneaked into our class much to the disgust of our faculty. Peggy, whose tongue was forever licking my hands, my cheek.)
• Ride my friend’s Kinetic. (I learnt to ride a two-wheeler for the first time there and then I never stopped. The wind in my hair, the speed, the wonderful times, singing on the Kine as I rode, getting away when the campus got claustrophobic; freedom)
• Go Neel gai (Blue deer) watching. (My favourite pastime in the last term. Knowing the right time to spot them, the right places. The silhouette of a Neel gai in the setting sun. The perking of the ears. Once, on a field trip to a neighbouring village, I had hugged a baby Neel gai for 15 minutes, the poor thing had been caught by some villagers. Scared, shivering, its long-lashed beautiful eyes fearful. I wanted to hold it and protect it but I let it go so it could join its herd.)
• Talk to Thakurji (The senior-most watchman. The most talkative of them all. The one who would unfailingly stop me when I wanted to go out. The one I have sat with on a cold winter night, roasting my hands on the fire. The one who said that I am intelligent and that I will do well in whatever I do in my life. The one who told me that I will find my dreams.)
• Have a glass of cold cocoa (The most amazing drink for Rs. 10 only. The owner of the shop, an old fat, bald man with old worn out clothes, had told me that he would visit me wherever I worked. Another person, who I know heaved a sad sigh when I had said goodbye. He, who would treat me to a glass of cold cocoa, while we chatted for 10 minutes about the most inane of topics.)
• Go to the mess for a meal and then not eat. (How many times have I done that? Food in the mess was always awful. Pretty good as mess food usually goes. But awful when you have to eat the same thing day after day, with no respite.)
• Eat a meal at Upper Crust (My favourite restaurant in Ahmedabad. The food was affordable as a student and ‘yum-yum’ tasty. Very far from our campus. But what’s a little distance when you need to get away from the mess food.)
• Let go of my emotions. (Cry all those tears that I know are locked in within. Sob for all the times that I have left behind. Another leaf in the book of my past.)
She: I am not going to talk about this anymore. (And I believed her!!!)…… But I still think you are being foolish…….. Mathe pe kya likha hai? Ek bada ‘C’ likha hai. (For the uninformed the ‘C’ stands for chu*iya. And for those who are well-brought up and don’t know Hindi abuses, never mind!) ….dadada dadada dadada….
Me: How long are you going to go on about this?
She: At least for the next six months.
So now it is her vs. me. She, who has tried all logic and reasoning. And I, despite being the practical and logical person that I am, refuse to accept her reasoning. Sometimes you got to do what you got to do.
Now I wait in eager anticipation, who gets to say “I told you so”? Her or me? There is nothing more irritating than an ‘I told you so’, when you already know that you have been proven wrong. And this time I hope that she doesn’t get to say it. And I swear if I am right, I will be happy enough not to want to say it. Keeping my fingers and toes crossed.

Tuesday, July 15, 2003

A few days back I was asked “What is Calcutta really like?”
A question asked by many. Usually, “Calcutta’s a lovely place” suffices for an answer. But that day I stopped to think. And I asked myself what is Calcutta really like. What was so different about Calcutta?
Calcutta is a city still living in its past. A city that I can perhaps relate to for the same reason. The city of art and the city of music and drama. The city of trams and metro. The city of the rickshaw wallas. The city of old buildings, as beautiful as those you may see in old European cities, but broken, dilapidated and forgotten. The city of intellect. The city with the best second-hand book stores. The only city in India where I have seen second-hand CD shops where if you’re lucky you can get some unusual music at half the price. A city where people love to eat, the number of restaurants a proof of it. A city for the young and a city for the old. The city of love! An organization in Calcutta has actually demanded a ‘lovers park’ for couples.
Calcutta is the city where in the monsoons you can see people fishing in the water-logged streets, fish that have come from ponds that have overflowed. Calcutta is the city where the operator of a giant wheel in a big entertainment park will stop the ride because a child is crying. Not only will he stop the giant wheel, but will get the child down and console her before resuming. Calcutta is the city where a taxi driver will take you round and round in circles when you are getting late for an important appointment. He’ll tell you his entire life story and then refuse to take the taxi fare. Calcutta is the city where if a man misbehaves with a girl on a bus, there will be ten other men who will come up to beat him up. Calcutta is the city where a lazy Sunday afternoon is broken by the strains of beautiful music, played by the man selling wooden two-string instruments. A tune from the past. A tune that haunts me still.
That is what Calcutta is really like. It is like a tune that haunts you forever.

Monday, July 14, 2003

An ordinary life threaded with bits of more ordinariness. A life that will leave behind no marks. A life that blends into the background. A lonely life. Lonely by choice. A life that revels in its loneliness. The life of a nobody.
Inconsequential. Trifling. Trivial. Insignificant. Meaningless. Non-descript. Vapid. Pointless. Purportless. Purposeless.
‘The fear’ is what I am afraid of. The fear of hurt. The fear of rejection. The fear of loving. The fear of expecting. The fear of disappointment. The fear of a broken heart. The fear of lonely nights. The fear of pillows wet with tears. The fear that I will run away. The fear that you will let me.

Saturday, July 12, 2003

The Wait

It is life in slow motion,
it's the heart in reverse,
it's a hope-and-a-half:
too much and too little at once.

It's a train that suddenly
stops with no station around,
and we can hear the cricket,
and, leaning out the carriage

door, we vainly contemplate
a wind we feel that stirs
the blooming meadows, the meadows
made imaginary by this stop.

~Rainer Maria Rilke
Tadpoles were a big mystery to me when I was a child. Not that I knew then that what I was so mystified by were tadpoles. They seemed like fish to me. Rather ugly fish but then everything is fascinating as a kid, is it not! There were small ponds around where we lived, with hundreds of tadpoles swimming about in it. The advantage of having parents who encourage interest in nature and adventure is that they don’t complain when you bring in things, living or dead. So I often carried back 5-6 tadpoles in a plastic packet or tin-cups scavenged from the dirtiest of rubbish heaps. Then I would spend hours observing them. But they always disappeared. Sometimes while I was away at school or sometimes at night when I slept. I continued bringing them home in the hope that someday I would solve the mystery. I never did. Not then.
When I grew up and learnt that what I had spent hours admiring and worrying about were actually tadpoles I had laughed. Laughed at the folly that ignorance is. But something is my heart moves every time I think about it. A wrench in the pit of my stomach, a dull pain which comes from reluctant acceptance of the past let go. There was beauty in the tadpole mystery. For had I not spent hours imagining up my own Enid Blyton ‘Mystery of the missing fish’! Oh what growing up changes! And with the retreat of our childhoods what it takes away from us.
What we need is a little romanticism in our lives. Just a little more.

Thursday, July 10, 2003

And I thought modern technology has all our prayers answered. What do you do if e-mail, chat messengers and telephones don’t suffice? I need something that works all the time. I hope that so many papers being written on teleportation means that somebody’s working on it. Beam me up Scotty!!

Wednesday, July 09, 2003

A little confused, a little unsure
My life’s a little awry, had a little fall
Don’t know what’s happening
Or if anything’s happening at all

You don’t say that you love me
You don’t say that you don’t
I could ask you if you did
But on second thoughts I won’t

I’ll just disappear into the horizon
Far away from your sight
And then my love, we shall become
Ships that pass each other at night
Managing a house is no joke. For anyone who sniggers at ‘house-wives’ I only have one thing to say, “Mister, you have no idea.” Especially if you are the house-wife, the husband and the children all rolled in one. Confused? See how it goes….. a peek into my confused daily life.
The alarm rings.
Wake up, I tell myself. (The mother)
And I snuggle back under the blanket. (The lazy kid)
Two minutes later, I open my eyes again. Wake up! (The mother getting angry and impatient)
But I don’t want to. (The irritating kid)
The bell rings. The maid’s come.
She’s late again. (The frustrated house-wife.)
I go open the door and go and plonk myself back in bed.
Five more minutes please. (The sleepy kid)
I then manage to force myself out of bed.
I want coffee right now. (The demanding husband)
I make coffee (The poor house-wife)
Drink coffee as I read the morning newspaper (The husband)
Make breakfast (The house-wife)
Remind myself to have medicines after the meal (The mother)
Make unhappy faces as I swallow the pills (The fussy kid)
Grumble about having a bath. (The filthy kid)
The bathroom bulb’s fused. Change it. (The helpful husband)
Go to office. Work. Work. Work. ( The busy professional: The husband at work)
Shop for vegetables on the way back home. Come back and cook dinner. (The house-wife)
A friend calls and we go out for dinner. All that effort wasted! (The unhappy house-wife)
I shouldn’t be too late as I have work the next day. (The concerned mother)
It’s past twelve when I get back home. (The irresponsible kid)
Throw my clothes and jump into bed. (The untidy kid)
Make a face at the mess I make. (The tired mother)
Fall asleep thinking about bills, life and the future. (The father)
And the story repeats the next day…….no wonder I’m so tired. The number of lives I lead!!!

Tuesday, July 08, 2003

The stillness of the night is broken by the incessant call of a lapwing. The cool of the rain-soaked breeze whips my face as I go out in the open to take a break. I need a break. Desperately! I need to go home. Soon.
Life is just a selfish game. No one matters. We are all just leading empty lives, to die a lonely death. We’re busy surviving. Working unbelievable hours to earn money to do things that we never get to do or to enjoy.
Too busy to stop. Too busy to notice. Too busy to make a phone call. Too busy to care. Too busy to notice that the earth’s not stopped moving. Too busy to realise that the others have moved on with it. Too busy to say ‘I love you’. Too busy to want to.
It was a bungalow before it was converted into our office. Once inhabited by a family, they are said to have left the place in a hurry, the reasons hushed up by the ones who converted in into an office.
Built on a hill, it looks deceptively small from the front. But as you enter you realize that there are more rooms in the building than you actually thought. And one room, the one we call the Small Conference Room, is tucked away into a quiet corner of the building. Below this room, there is another room, which is a part of the foundation of the building. Without this room the building would be unable to stand and would collapse. A room that is shown in the building plans. But a room that the current owners have never found. A room with no doors and no windows. A room that exists. It has to. But a room that no one has managed to find despite all efforts.
There are several stories about this place, most of them told by a withered old gardener, who had been working here for a long time. Very few believed him. The gardener died some years ago and with him his stories.
Last night was a dark and cloudy night. We were coming back from Bombay when one of the Directors of the company I work in told me this story. It was raining heavily yesterday. A night perfect for saved up ghost stories. His intention was to scare me but as he proceeded his voice became quieter and eerier. ‘Don’t venture around that place too late’, he said, laughing, at the end of his tale. But his laugh was no longer a teasing laugh, but a slightly nervous one.
I asked him whether he believed in the story. He said that he didn’t, the pause before his answer two seconds too long for me to believe him. I looked at him expectantly, waiting for more. Then he said, he’s never seen anything. ‘But sometimes, if you’re working late in the night and go out for some fresh air, you see cats.’ ‘Cats?’ I asked, unimpressed. ‘Yes cats,’ he said, ‘cats which are bigger in size than your normal cats. White cats with yellow spots. And eyes that scare you, boring into you as if they were observing you. They sometimes sit on the wall, quietly. And then they disappear. I have never seen where they go.’ He was quiet after that. And I quickly changed the topic to a happier one.
But now, I will think twice about working alone late in the office. Now, I look at the forest at the top of the hill differently. The trees, newly green with the fresh rains, inviting in the day look menacing in the dark. Home to creatures, dead and living. Home to the unknown. Home to fear.

Wednesday, July 02, 2003

Sometimes when you’re alone in the night, the silence seems to creep up on you. Its cold fingers thread themselves around your neck. It burns your skin, the cold fingers. Every little sound echoes, like the memory of a distant past resounding in your mind. The wind plays with a broken latch somewhere. The shadows dance in the flickering light, as other forms emerge from them. Two-dimensional images that seem to inch closer to the corner that you sit in. You unconsciously move back into the wall. The door rattles. The wind’s whistling seems louder now, singing a haunting tune. You get up abruptly and put on some loud music. Anything to make it stop. Your heart beats faster now. You keep glancing at the phone urging it to ring, but it stares back silently. You need the comfort of his voice to caress your soul. But you’re all alone. All alone.