Wednesday, January 13, 2016

I wish the world was a smaller place,
The poles, not so distant,
Boundaries, undefined.

I wish the world was a smaller place,
The peaks, not so unassailable,
Depths, less frightful.

I wish the world was a smaller place,
The places, not so asunder,
Distances, surmountable.

I wish the world was a smaller place,
The people, not so lost,
Desires, realizable.

I wish the world was a smaller place, for its magnitude frightens me now. Its fickle nature, haunts me. Far removed from comfort, into the concrete wilderness that we roam, stuck in a cycle of everyday grind, instilled with flickering hope and ever dwindling courage to carry on, further and further, till there is nothing left to fight for, into the darkness, where not a morsel of courage remains, but only the dying embers of the long forgotten hope, that one day, it will all be worth it.

Was it worth it, is it ever worth it?

Our lives, etched with sacrifice, for a glorious higher purpose, that we never realize. Maybe we had everything, which we deemed insubstantial, and it our quest to substantiate ourselves, we end up having nothing. The magnitude and the obscurity of the world around us pushes us on, and it will forever continue to do so.

I wish the world was a smaller place,
Our souls, not so discontented,
Lives, tranquil.

I wish...

Sunday, January 10, 2016

Two of a kind...

I had a corner seat to the left, three rows from the back. It was the second day of classroom training in Mysore and we were in the midst of the irritating L&D(Learning and Development) sessions. Basically, those were three days of English and communication classes that I thoroughly hated because they involved communication and people skills, both of which I lack and have no interest in acquiring.

We were given a task, speak to five random people in the classroom, introducing yourself and start a conversation with them. So here I was, making no effort whatsoever to introduce myself to random strangers, when the guy who sat in the last row, directly behind me, came over. " Hi, Dhruva! Tui bangali?"

That is how I first met Dhruva. We didn't have the longest conversation at that point, but I distinctly remember, the very next time we spoke, later in the evening, his first question was, "Baba fukish to?" I was like, "What the hell is 'Baba'!", and he explained how 'Baba' is just a synonym for 'Ganja',"Chol! Aj fokachhi toke".

Thus began our camaraderie, taking trips to the co-ordinate outside campus for a smoke up, to taking frequent breaks between the tedious classes to go grab a smoke in the smoking zone, often to the instructors great displeasure, generic training was fun.

Then there was Dipankar. I have no idea what I'd have done in stream training had it not been for him. Not that he wasn't around during generic. He used to sit right next to Dhruva and had this strange tendency to always speak to me in Hindi knowing full well that I understand and speak Bengali, as he would explain, "Bhalo lagge or shonge Hindi te kotha bolte". Madfuck!

It was during stream training that he and I really started hitting it off and honestly, had it not been for him stream training would have been a nightmare. From dragging him along to the far off smoking zone for company in every break, making sure table tennis was a bigger priority than studying, to sending me the coding assignments the day before the exams, because I hardly wrote a line of code during stream training barring exams and projects. Over time, he got around to speaking in bengali too, getting over the hindi speaking phase, which was just weird.

So when our training ended and we got our locations, I really wanted Pune, and lo behold I got Pune but Dipankar got Hyderabad. Obviously, I logged into his system and applied for a swap to Pune, which worked out well enough except that the bugger wanted Hyderabad because well, love! Idiot!

Then by next morning it turned out that Dhruva had got Hyderabad too, so once again, with thirty minutes to go before the swap portal closed, we both put our names in again, with Dipankar's confidence "Bhai, amader jaa marks acche, aram se swap hoye jabe", it turned out just so, and all three of us landed up down south here in Hyderabad.

Now it has been more than six months here, and it has not been easy. Living in a far flung middle of nowhere place, with nothing to do, nowhere to go, and job satisfaction bordering on negligible, life here has not been too kind. But I still remain thankful for these two, without whom life would have been a living hell. They have kept me sane, been there for my deepest lows, and brought joy where there was none. They have helped make the most of what we have, and have helped me call this place 'home', much to the amusement of the folks in office. There is so much more that I wish for, and hope for, but there is nothing that I wish to change, for what we have here, has been the best possible thing, in this one year of living on my own, in a home away from home. I have been depressed, I have missed, I have craved and I have been cranky, but I have never been lonely.

I know, this will not last, as nothing ever lasts. One day, soon or far, we'll all head in our own directions, but I will always cherish the memories of our stay here in Hyderabad, and all the moments that I have shared with them. To friendship, and to making a life out of nothing, you two have been immense. Thank you!

Monday, January 4, 2016

Kasol Diaries - Part I, High and dry...

It's been a while. Hi!

I've almost forgotten how it feels to write. I have trouble enough putting thoughts into words as it is, so I reckoned a few bottles of beer could put my melancholy into something more productive. Here goes.

It has been a dark year which shows no promise of relenting. I could speak of my troubles, but I figured, how uncool is that. So what then? Well, it hasn't been all doom and gloom fortunately. Amidst the mass of overbearing clouds and claps of thunder, shines bright a silver lining. A sliver of joy, bright enough to help uphold a facade of sanity, even normalcy perhaps as I tread on mundane, muddy waters far removed from the comforts of home. Well, that completes the abstract introduction, now onto the story then.

Sagnik was harping on about a trip for a while now, although I had my reservations. You see, it wasn't the usual, 'Let's all go get drunk at Goa over the weekend' kind of plan, which is very doable under any circumstance, but he had mooted that we all head off for a little trekking expedition to the Valley Of Flowers deep in the laps of Uttarakhand. Now I say 'little' but do take that with a pinch of salt. It's not the exertion or the prospect of walking along steep mountain roads that fazed me, hardly that, on the contrary I love those sort of things. Pointless rambling has been a bit of a personal favorite ( as the readers of this very post will by now have come to realize ), but I had my doubts over taking a week off work, considering I'd just gotten off training. Those were the days when I still cared a little, and hopes of glorious purpose ( okay, maybe not glorious but still...) , dwindling as they were, were still to be extinguished. However, I had agreed in principle,because the prospect of traveling to far flung exotic places is not something one just says 'no' to very easily.

So tickets were booked and plans were set into motion and with each passing day in June, the chances of those plans fructifying became lesser and lesser. You see, here's a thing about mountains. When it rains on them, they kind of start falling apart, and which each passing day, as news of incessant rainfall up in the north reached us, and more importantly, reached the ears (or eyes, depending on the source) of our folks back at home, our plans, like the mountains in the rain, started crumbling down in a heap.

Now what? Plan off? Well, not quite. By then the leaves were approved, and tickets confirmed, and the initial reluctance on the hope of the aforesaid 'glorious purpose' had completely dwindled, so no point hanging around. “I head Kasol is very beautiful this time of year”, said Sohham one day, about a week or so before we were supposed to be traveling. Kasol, now that was new. Google made the place out to be a marijuana/hash paradise. So, the 'Let's go get drunk in Goa' alternative became, 'Let's go get stoned at Kasol'. Perfect, won't you say? Well, it was, and so much more than that, and this is where this tale really takes off ( Whoa! You're still reading, I'm surprised. You really must have NOTHING better to do. Well, I did write this shit, so I feel your pain. Anyway... ).

The bus ride from Delhi to Bhunter was eventful in many ways. Getting stoned out of my senses at the dinner stop at a roadside dhaba was one of them. Let's not get into the details there( My mother does read these blogs. Hi mum! Disclaimer :- All characters mentioned in this post are purely fictitious and any resemblance to any person living or dead, is purely co-incidental ). But it was the day after that produced one of those many magical moments that completely blow your mind in a way no drug on earth can. It was early morning, and the bus had stopped for a break. Groggy, with heavy heads and heavier feet we trudged down for a wash and a much needed cup of warm tea. The place was on a cliff side overlooking a river, a back balcony opened up to a splendid panoramic view of the mountainside coated in a light shade of mist that descended onto the gushing waters while the surrounding scenery was lightly touched upon by the soft rays of the rising sun. It was tranquil bordering on fantasy, and for the first time in months, I knew, I was happy.

P.S. Yes, I am rather too fond of this picture, can you blame me?

The rest of the journey to Kasol passed by in relative serenity. Made a new friend on the road, who like us, was lured to this little hamlet in the hills for all the 'good times' that it promises (and rarely disappoints, I would believe). Our cab diver rolled up some great hash to make the hour long journey from Bhunter all the more soothing, and of course, as an afterthought, he added that we're likely to encounter police checks on the way. The thrill of a crime eh? Although fortunately, that never came to be (just yet) and the journey by the meandering river, with the mountains towering over them, basking in the pleasant sunlight of a beautiful July morning passed by in quiet, contemplative harmony.

Soul city, no pity

Now coming to Kasol. What can you say about a place so far removed from anything that you can ever imagine. It's like a world far removed, far more advanced in its simple primitiveness from the ones we live and and die in. It draws you in, lures you with it's charm and breathtaking beauty all derived from its meagreness which still offers you so much, and gives you that little glimpse of utopia knowing full well that you can never have it, only cherish it for the fleeting moments that it grants you. The soft gurgle of the river, the little clumps of forests, the many little shacks full of revelers, the streets lined with curio shops, far flung from the commercial hustle and bustle of nearby Manali, and the cold draw of the overbearing snow clad mountains that tower over them all are a feast for the eyes and the soul. 'Soul city, no pity', is the catchphrase that goes around there, and in many ways, it could not be more apt.

Alright, it's getting a little clumsy here with all the photographs, but two words, “show off” should adequately cover the motives behind them, But seriously, it's hard to pick one over the other as I relive those moments. I can almost vividly see what the camera captured in a frame, and it's the big picture behind it (which obviously you can't make out from random stills) that is making my job of picking and choosing very hard.

Anyway, to continue, our day in Kasol was....good! Most of it (understatement really) was spent on a high, which was pretty much a feature of the entire trip and I believe it is not a fact that has much repeat value, so from now on, you'll just have to assume that to be implied and understood, unless explicitly mentioned otherwise (yeah right, like that is going to happen). An evening stroll down the lanes full of Israeli people donning that hippie look to envy inducing perfection, a little side venture following a small brook into forest lands which we were convinced had a marijuana plantation hidden somewhere in it and being told off for straying into private property by two gents who we decided were members of the drug mafia. It was like a Hardy Boys story set in Los Pollos Hermanos (watch Breaking Bad if you don't get this), except better. Adventures done, it was time to hit the famous(infamous?) night scene. To be fair, July isn't the most happening month in the region. Something to do with rains and riverside mountain retreats and boulders trying to turn people to putty and you know, little details like that. But the cafe's were, vibrant, to say the least. The one we went to, I forget the name (reasons implied and understood, remember?) had some of the most amazing psychedelic trance music that I've heard like ever. The music alone is sure to put you into that zone.

Now cafe's in Kasol differ slightly(only just) from the Cafe Coffee Day's we have back at home. We walked in to find dim lights, great music as I mentioned already, low tables with a flickering flame of candlelight dancing over them(not the romantic kind, although depends on taste) and rugs placed around them with cushions for lounging. And lounge we did. Of course all this you notice second. It starts with the pungent whiff of burnt hash that stimulates your olfactory lobes as you walk in through the door, your eyes adjusting to the the dim ceiling lights glimmering amidst a faint haze of smoke, and the warm draw of the flickering flame of burning candles, swaying to the haunting beats, piercing the veil of mist as we looked around for a vacant table.

Now if you are really interested in observing people, really looking into the variety of our own species and their diverse mannerisms, you won't get that sitting in a posh restaurant where everyone is so formal and for want of a better word (twice now this has happened, damn!) behaving themselves. You need to place them in a comfortable, relaxed setting, put on some nice music, among friends, surrounded by like minded individuals with no fear of being judged by those around them and just let them be what they are. Of course it also helps to get them stoned out of their better senses. As that place offered best of both worlds, it was like walking into a summer sale on the opening day. You get the best deals and a lot of variety. So people were sitting up, talking in hushed tones, some lounging and laughing, some in quiet pensive thought, some simply lay down and snored the evening away, some crushed hash, stuffed pipes, rolled joints, some sang songs, some simply dug in to the food, made all the more heavenly in the high that had set in. Sounds, of cutlery clinking, a roll of laughter, serious debate, cut short to draw a puff of the chillum that was on every table, in every hand. Keen eyed storytelling, red eyes, droopy eyes, eyes wide shut, hands flailing, table thumping or the intricate movement of the fingers over the tender strings of the guitar while the smoke cleared the veils off their faces. This place had it all. To top it off, the food was great. One fulfilling human experience later, we walked back to the hotel in a curvy zig-zag gait, high on life.

The following day dawned bright and sunny, and having woken up early(-ish. Alright, 9'o clock), I decided to take a little stroll around town while my industrious pals snoozed away. I followed the road by the river, the noise of the gushing waters swarmed in the air like a resounding symphony, the towering snow clad mountain peaks above, a serene and silent conductor of this grand opera, overlooking its creation in stern pride. Quite a Whiplash moment (haven't watched Whiplash? Do). The route was peaceful, lined with trees where birds sang, barring the occasional car or bus that swept by, nothing stirred. Of course, when they did sweep by one had to chart a very strategically planned route where as to minimize the effect of the splash of muddy water as the tires hit a bad patch on the road. But that was all part of the fun. I was halfway to Manikaran (as the sign post indicated), when I came across a little side route cut into the mountains. It led to a thin rickety bridge that swayed in the wind, and swayed even more when you laid foot on it. Across the bridge was a little camp full of tents pitched on a lawn by the waterside. It seemed like a nice place to catch a cup of tea. So putting my vertigo on the back burner, I stepped onto the little plank that passed for a bridge, over the gushing waters and the maze of rocks underneath (I am naturally making this sound waaay more dramatic than it actually was). Having reached the other side, (not before making a heroic stop midway to click pictures), I half expected applause. Sadly, that was not to be, so tea I had to be content with, except that I realized that I'd left my wallet back at the hotel, so this was all a pointless exercise. Except, it wasn't really very pointless (from my perspective, for you, reading this load of tosh, it would seem to be pretty pointless, yeah. Oh and that 'tosh' thingy was a pun, because that is where we head next. Stay tuned).

So, a little side trip up a steep slope in the woods to catch hash and breakfast at the Jim Morrison Cafe before leaving for Tosh, was a clear indication of how unfit we all were. Huffing and puffing through the door, before flinging ourselves onto the mattresses on the floor after a treacherous 10 minute climb, should have been ample proof of how grossly unready we were for the planned Kheerganga trek that comes a little later on. Some of us took the hint well, while others, well, let's just say we showed more grit and determination than intelligence. More on that later, I'll skip ahead to Tosh with my next post....sometime, soon maybe...

Sunday, January 3, 2016

Courage in unlikely places...

If you're reading this, then congratulations are in order, because we all made it through another year. A feather in our cap/hat/toupee wherever you'd like it.

Do I reminisce on the year gone by, or do I put forth my set of new year resolutions for the year to come ( I know, I know, those never work, but one can always hope). Maybe wander off in a whole new trajectory of abstractness? That could be fun. So here goes,

If you're ever passing by the park next to the 17th and B, look up the tall maple tree. High up in the branches, you will find a story of hope.

Sitting atop the branches, cradled in her nest, is little Boo. A tiny beak, a sleek coat of blue feathers with a dash of purple, and the brightest little eyes you'll ever see.

Every morning, Boo awakes to the sound of music. The songs of the birds, soaring high above in the sky, gliding with the wind, singing out in joy as the morning sun erupts over the horizon. Boo gazes up through the gap in the maple leaves above, her heart yearning to soar up to them, and glide along into the blue skies, singing her heart out as the rays of the morning sun catches her perfect blue feathers, shining bright, the feel of the wind, rushing by, the heavens above, and the world below.

One day, as her mother left to fetch food, Boo awoke to find music filling the air. She yearned to join them, but she was frail, she did not know how to fly. Her little legs drew her over to the edge of the nest as she gazed out and below. Amidst the gap in the leaves, far below was the green grass, her legs shook, and she tumbled backwards, the little hope, lost.

As her mother returned, Boo nestled herself against her in misery, and with a quiver told her how she longed to fly up and high. She feared she'd never have the courage to learn. Her mother put a wing around her and whispered in her ear, "Soon, you'll fly higher than all those other birds up there, your voice filling up the sky with music and then they'll all look up to you, and wish to be like you, soon". She sang to her a quiet tune, the melody dancing with the wind, through the leaves and branches around them, and Boo felt some of her sadness withering, as she put her head against her mother's and dropped off to a pleasant slumber.

As summer drew to a end, Boo spent her days trying to spread her wings and fly, always under the watchful gaze of her mother. She flapped and huffed and puffed to the edge of the nest, taking tiny little jumps on her way, but as she reached the edge, her gaze drifted to the ground far below, and each time, her legs gave away, her courage abandoned her. Every time she tried, her hopes crumbled away, bit by bit. "Slowly, my child", gently her mother whispered, "Let go of the fear, and soar. That is what you're meant to be, that is your destiny", but poor Boo never could let go of her fears. Her tiny legs withered beneath her as she fell.

As the days went by, her gloom worsened, she fell sick, her spirit beaten, her body weakened. One August evening, there was a big storm. The dark skies rumbled, lightning cut through the air, and the rain poured down like pellets. The wind howled, shaking the sturdy foundations of the maple tree, as the nest swayed and shook. Boo was very scared, as she shivered in close embrace with her mother, her eyes closed tight, wishing and praying for it to end. Her mother, drew her close, reassuring her, but the courage in her voice did not come from her heart, for she too was worried. Little Boo did not know how to fly, and her nest was her sanctuary of safety. If something happened to it in the storm, she'd have nowhere to go.

That was the longest night of Boo's life. The storm raged on till the early hours of morning, the wind howled through the leaves, the clouds spurted thunder and lightning all over in fits of rage, and the nest swayed and shook to the beat of the tree. Her mother's reassuring embrace was her only security, but dark thoughts crossed her mind. With every bolt of lightning, she shivered, what if the next one hits the tree, with every raging gust, her legs wavered, what if she fell, all her failed attempts at flight flashed through her mind, and she cursed her own inability. Her demons were all around her, and she could not flee. She prayed and prayed for the morning light, and the melody of chirping voices that fill up the air, she prayed for courage through the night, eyes shut tight, till her body and mind, weary and beaten, gave away and she fell off into an uneasy slumber.

But as morning came, the clouds withered, the rain stopped, and sunlight poked through the veils of mist. The sound of music once again filled the air, and as Boo opened her weary eyes, her heart skipped a beat in joy. The world around her was the most beautiful that she had ever seen it to be. The rain had washed away the summer dust and the wet grass had never looked greener. The trees, shedding off the last droplets of rain, had found a life of their own, stretching high and wide, and the ground below, soft and covered in a carpet of the first autumn leaves. There was a soft chill in the air, and the birds sang in the blue skies above, it was a new day, a new beginning. Shedding off the wetness in her feathers, Boo got up and walked up to the edge of her nest once more. The ground below did not scare her anymore, the skies above called to her. There was a rustle in the branches above, her mother had returned with food. Gladly she snuggled up to her, "Today, you fly my child" she told her, Boo looked at her, there was quiet confidence in her eyes, and she nodded. "Today I fly".

Standing near the edge of her nest, gazing ahead at the faraway horizons, a soft breeze brushing against her feather, Boo spread out her wings, and took small careful steps. A little jump, a little flutter as she neared the edge, her mother gliding around in careful watch, she looked once at her, and then up at the skies, and jumped. She stuttered, her heart skipped a beat, there was a moment's panic, and she flapped helplessly, but the fear passed the moment it came, and within seconds she felt weightless, she could glide. The wind rushed against her face, as she glided through the canopy of trees up towards the beckoning skies. It was a moment like no other, the sheer joy that overwhelmed her heart was indescribable, as the world passed by below her, looking pristine and small, the skies endless, the horizons limitless, and for the first time in her life, she felt freedom. Her spirit, thus far faded and low, was unconquerable, as she looked around to see her mother flying beside her, pride etched in her eyes, she zoomed up high into the blue skies, a song on her lips, as the sun caught her perfect blue feathers, the glint of purple shining magnificently in the morning light. The other birds, flocked to her, circled her and erupted into a joyous chorus of melodies, that slowly faded into the faraway horizon adorned by the rising sun, a new beginning.

So if you're ever passing by the park next to the 17th and B as I have, look up the tall maple tree. High up in the branches, you will find a story of hope.


And it is with that hope, of new beginnings and renewed courage that I look forward to this new year. There may be pitfalls and failures along the way, times when courage and faith abandons you, there will be storms, and dark nights, but with every new morning light, a new day and renewed hope shall emerge, the air shall be full of joyous melodies. The skies beckon to you, the horizons are limitless, just spread your wings and fly.

So congratulations once again on making it through another year, the next one shall be awesome. Here's wishing you all a very happy new year, full of joy and new adventures.

“When we least expect it, life sets us a challenge to test our courage and willingness to change; at such a moment, there is no point in pretending that nothing has happened or in saying that we are not yet ready. The challenge will not wait. Life does not look back. A week is more than enough time for us to decide whether or not to accept our destiny.” ― Paulo Coelho

Saturday, December 26, 2015

Thanks are in order...


I promise to keep this one sober. 

There is a heaviness in the air and it is getting to me badly. Life is in a state of perpetual hangovers. Take today for example, I wake up, knowing I've grossly overslept, body aching, my head heavy, the solitary leg that managed to escape the shackles of the blanket in the dead of the night, did not get far before succumbing to the cold, and oh, the lethargy, in Bengali we have a wonderful word to describe that feeling very aptly, "Lyadh" (the phonetic spelling is debatable).

But the lyadh that is taking over my life, is very irksome. There was a time, when I actually enjoyed doing absolutely nothing. Now ironically, I've spent so much of my time doing nothing, that I'm now pretty fed up of doing nothing, but my ineptitude at doing anything, leads to the hopeless feeling of being stuck to doing nothing. Did that make sense? I hope it did, I did say I'd keep this sober.

So it has been six months since I landed up here in Hyderabad. Six long months, where much has happened, and a lot has changed since, and there is so much to be grateful for. This is the time of the year, when everyone sits down and reflects on the year gone by, and aspires for good things in the year to come, but I'm not going to do that, not yet. But Hyderabad, she has taught me a lot, she has taught me about solitude amidst company, and it has given me company for the solitude. These six months, it gave me a taste of the high life, and it made me bear the brunt of the consequences, it threw me in the pits of depression, and it helped pull me out, it increased distances, while helped bridge the gap, it is where new acquaintances became friends, and old ones became more. It has not been the easiest six months, and it isn't getting any easier as the days go by, but it has been an experience that I will remember and it has given me moments that I'll cherish for a lifetime. So thank you.

Life here is sedentary at best, and there are those days when I wake up feeling super cranky, and there was a time when I'd drone on and on about it, but yesterday was different. It was more pensive. Maybe I'm growing up (yeah, right), maybe I'm getting used to it now or maybe it's just that I have a perfect reason to bring my spirits right up. The high's are high indeed. Sometimes they spiral off control though, and I end up with a million and one regrets and guilt's. I'm working on that, therapy and all. My psychiatrist tells me not to worry too much about that, so I'm going to heed that piece of comforting advice, for now at least.

So D reminded me one day, that we're on the brink of a decade since we were in class ten. That was a rude reality check of sorts. Ten years, how time flies. I remember pretty much all of it pretty clearly, and given my memory, that is saying something. Early morning wait for the bus to come, on the days that were too cold, or I had a particular class that I wasn't looking forward to, my usual routine involved faking a round of stomach ache's right up to 7.30 when I knew for sure that the bus has passed. Those last five-ten minutes used to be excruciatingly long, where I used to take quick peeps at the watch amidst the 'pain'. But school was fun, there were no hassles. Early morning assembly had those painful songs, which we always avoided by appearing late, then there was the customary nails and badge check, where invariably my patched trousers used to get hauled up. I mean, every time I used to buy a new pair of trousers for school, lo behold, within two days, they'd invariably end up torn at the knees. Something to do with playing football on the concrete but who's to explain that to Mishraji! So I had these huge chunks of patches stitched over to cover the holes, and it wasn't long before the patches themselves tore, which lead to a patch on top of a patch. Soldiers who've spent months on the battlefield look less disaster struck than I did. Classes were fun, chatter, banter, all kinds of little tricks and tomfoolery ensued, and as the break time approached, we got busy with team selections for the match. You see no one wanted to waste any time on the field picking sides, so all that was completed in class, while some poor bloke up front droned on, and begged for our attention. Joga da's sudden bursts of rages, Rani Ramani's "whyyy yes yequool too yem see es square", every guy waiting for the next time DC's pallu would drop, and Mishra's "Quiet! The principle just passed away", those were classics. Intentionally skipping the bus back home, so as to walk back with a whole bunch of people, talking, laughing, without a care in the world. Those were good days.

Funnily, I don't miss them. I look back fondly at each of those and so so many more memories, but I think I've lived that phase of my life as best as I ever could, and I wouldn't go back and change anything, even if I were given a chance. I think they're perfect having lived them with not a clue as to what happens next. All our decisions, good and bad, lead to something, and I've come to realize that it is for the best to let them take their course. When I was in school, I'd never thought there'd be a day when I'd look back too fondly upon it, there was always so much that could have improved, so much that could have been different, as there always is, and as there always will be, but it is the imperfections of it, the little chinks, the one fall, the one embarrassing dance in a mickey mouse costume, the one time I failed an exam, that one time I blushed deep red when a girl gave me rose in front of a whole crowd of parents on valentine's day, the first time I cried when my mother left me at pre-school all alone, the many fights, the 'aari's' and the 'jibone aari's', losing the kho-kho finals three years in a row, the first failed crush, the last day of school, everything, that was not perfect then, everything that had ended once, still lives on, in happy perfect memories as I reflect back upon them now with immense satisfaction.

So I wake up cranky still, as I did then, as I probably always will, but I'm learning to deal with it better. I'm learning to accept my own fate, and every decision or indecision, taken sooner or later, despite the timing(or lack of it), has led me to where I am right now, and one day in the near or far away future, I'll look back upon them once again, the memories, so many of which are my fondest as they are, and  hopefully those whose imperfections will make them timeless, and perfect. To the year gone by, and to the people who made it possible, once again, thank you.

Monday, December 14, 2015

The soft gurgle of the brook, the water lapping up against the rocks, pristine, clear. I see the sky in it, as it is above me, blue, serene and endless.

The swirl of smoke rises into the dreary darkness, my fingers trace patterns in them as I lay here. The night envelops all around me, the walls, imposing in their might, holding me, crushing me.

The soft cool breeze flows like the waves along the green grass where I sit, I feel it coming to me, cradling me in a soft embrace before passing me by, it dances before my eyes, in little spiral gusts, lifting me.

The road ahead is bleak, I cannot see, only the whispers echo through them, calling me out. There are monsters, monsters who reside in the dark labyrinth of my mind, they talk to me, the lead me on into the abyss, they whisper in my ear, drag me, hold me, and they'll never let me go

Friday, December 19, 2014

Identity crisis level :

This is probably what I sound like in technical interviews.

Friday, December 12, 2014

Sair kar duniya ki gafil, 
Zindagani phir kahan 
Zindagani gar rahi to 
Naujawani phir kahan. 

- Ismail Merthi

Thursday, December 11, 2014

All in...

It's in the worst phases when you realize that life is too short for tentative half measures. You'll end up regretting both ways. If things go well, you wonder how much better they could have gone had you been more decisive, conversely if things go bad, you wish you had the courage to put your foot down in the first place.

Screw all that. For once in my life, I'm going to go all in and see where that lands me up at. You see those motivational stickers all through your life, "Make every moment count", "Live the moment" and you know they're right but you just shrug it off with a "Nah, maybe later, when I'm more stable."

I wonder if anyone is ever stable. All the wealth in the world, private jets, islands and beautiful women later, you'll still be wishing for the stars. The key is to feel alive more than anything. We're so obsessed with securing our futures and that of our future generation that we miss out on those moments that make this journey memorable and worth it. The future is important, but it is also an undefinable entity with any number of possibilities. How are we to account for them all? Rather, it is the present that is before us, and it is our moment. Secure the present, seize the moment, and let the future be.

So back to half measures then. Indecisiveness shall be the death of me now. For too long, I've wallowed in the pits of depression over what can be and what could have been. Let's try the James Bond way of life for once. It worked for him, why not me or anyone else for that matter. We're all young till the moment we die, and we're all humans, so by the laws of nature, we're allowed to make mistakes, maybe one to many. Let's exploit that loophole in the rule book and take matters in hand. If things go very wrong, hey, there's always the next reincarnation if you believe the Buddhists. But, if it works out, boy oh boy, you'll have a life worth remembering.

No more time barriers then, for as long as it takes, I'm in this, all in or nothing. (I hope Adidas rewards me for this free publicity).

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Sunday, December 7, 2014

And a little light...

I think it was the morning of New Year's day or thereabouts when I started heading back from Mainak, homewards. The Kolkata Marathon was scheduled in a few days time, and given the new found enthusiasm that a new year brings, I was suddenly taken over by this incessant urge to give it a shot. However, rationality prevailed in the end (shocking, eh?) and I decided that I was woefully short on preparation. "Next year, for sure." I resolved, and decided to set things in motion by walking the entire distance from Ballygunje Phari to my home in Garia.

Stepping out in the pleasant sunlight of that winter morning, it didn't seem too much of a task really. I love walking for one, and I've walked longer distances without breaking into too much of a sweat. That one time when a couple of school friend's were staying over at Anirban's place for the night. Sagnik made us download and watch 'Veer'. It was immense fun, given how utterly awful the movie was. Then, filled with the 'josh' we decided at 3.30 a.m. to head out into the streets looking for a sumptuous meal of early morning 'luchi-alur dom'. We were sure we'd find some roadside joint open despite the hour. Thus we headed out into the misty morning. Empty streets greeted us, the chilly breeze embraced us. But it was fun, walking through the middle of the streets that are filled with a million and one vehicles throughout the day, singing and laughing for all it was worth. We walked and walked and walked that day, starting from Baghajatin, we watched the sun rise from the top of the Dhakuria bridge, took a brief rest in one of the walker's parks in Ballygunje before resuming our quest to the promised land, where 'luchi' and 'alu'r dom' flowed like wine. It was near Park Circus a distance of about 8-9 kilometers maybe, when our resolve finally broke and not a shred of food could we find. We took the first bus back home to Anirban's, hungry but tired, and curiously, pretty happy, we all trudged off to sleep. It was about 2 hours later when his mother woke us up, announcing that she'd made breakfast. "Luchi alu'r dom baniyechi. Gorom acche, kheye abar ghumo tora." We could only look at each other's stunned faces and laugh.

Anyway, coming back to my quest to walk the length of the road from Mainak to Garia. Things began well. I maintained good speed and excellent spirits as I conquered each stretch of road. I was making excellent time and the weather could not be more perfect. I charged into Golpark, past the auto stand which invitingly beckoned, promising a quick drop right on my door step, but I was a man on a mission, a conqueror on a raid. I trudged up the Dhakuria bridge, and jogged all the way down. It was akin to the Bilbo Baggins scene in the Hobbit where he declares to the Shire that he's off on an adventure. My adventure though lasted only a few meters further as it was around the 'Jadavpur Thana' crossing, about halfway or thereabouts into the route when fatigue took over. My mind which was warding off the urge to hop onto one of the passing vehicles, slip into a comfortable seat and get dropped off on my doorstep, was starting to lose the battle. Finally the war was lost, and I hailed a passing auto and thus ended my adventure. I was pretty pleased though. For a Day 1 kind of thing, I'd still done a good 3-4 kilometers at excellent pace. My preparations for the Marathon could not have kicked off any better I felt, triumphantly.

However, as it goes with these things, that was also the last bit of preparation I did in the year to come. The enthusiasm with which I started the new year, the new beginning, predictably faded away as the new twists and turns came up along the road. The year to follow, became a mixed bag of events. I graduated (not that surprising really), I packed in two starkly different vacations, one to Chandipur and another to Kochi, both thoroughly enjoyable, relaxing and immense fun. I also lost a lot of friends along the way, you know, the usual everyone goes their own way thing plus my usual anti-social agendas. I bombed two big interviews and spent a couple of thoroughly miserable weeks pondering over them, and lost out on another job (not my doing that, though). I had a great Pujo, the most fun in some time, and then some lonely weeks with nothing to do, knowing that I should study and yet being thoroughly disenchanted while everyone around was doing things, or at the very least, trying, and yesterday, one of my best friends was finally married off to a happily ever after. It was fun, really!

A year that began with resolve and strong motive, is winding down to an end, and today, another cool winter morning I found myself, once again at the doorstep of where it all began. Had I bettered myself this year, were all the experiences, joy, sadness and despair really worth it? I guess there was only one way to find out. As I stood at the gates of Mainak, heading homewards, I decided to put it all through a test. Let's walk back home, from Ballygunje Phari to Garia, I decided once more. And so I walked, past the ambling crowds, past the inviting cluster of transport standing innocuously waiting to take me home, but I was once more a man on a mission, a conqueror out to conquer my own demons, to prove that the year gone by has been worth it, every moment, hour and second of it. I walked, and as I reached the crossing of Jadavpur Thana, I could see myself a year ago. There was whence my spirit was taken, there is whence I lie (I have a flair for over-dramatization if you must know). And as I crossed that place, I felt triumph, an odd sense of joy. It wasn't really much of feat as I'd easily done longer stretches before, but today was different. A year not so great maybe, was suddenly looking pretty awesome. I felt invincible ( again, I feel that pretty often) and I felt good again. It was now time to move onto bigger and better things (The Kolkata Marathon though, I still concur, is beyond my reach at the moment).

Anyway, for the year that was, I'd forever remain grateful to those who tolerated me, my many whims, fancies and passing moods that change quicker than a supermodel in a fashion show (bad joke, I know, sorry), and helped me along. Maybe I don't say it enough (or at all) , but thank you.

Oh, in case you're wondering, I did complete the whole walk, that included a rather longish detour which I thought would be a short cut. My sense of direction could need a little bettering I suppose. That's the story for another year.

Saturday, December 6, 2014

A little darkness...

Two sunrises in a row now. High fives all around. I am becoming quite the morning person these days. Winter mornings are fun admittedly. The chilly morning air, the cold mists and the shadows right before sunrise, giving way ever so gradually with the first gleam of the morning sun spreading light and warmth all over. A pleasant cure for weary eyes, and wearier souls.

If you're wondering about my sleep cycle then it's best to warn you that many a renowned scientist have found dark corners in the heart of asylums after fretting over it. For now, I make do fine with my prolonged sleeplessness by making it up with prolonged sleepiness. I dunno what the long term consequences are but it seems to work for now. You put all your faith in the medical system, trusting that by the time your bad habits come back to bite you in the ass, medical science would have progressed enough to deal with it.

Now, moving onto more important aspects than sunrises and my sleep patterns. The New Year approaches. The time for resolutions anew and full of hope we chug ahead thinking how this year would be THE year. That like never happens, but still, salute to the human spirit of never giving up hope. I for one am horrible with resolutions. Most of mine don't even make it past the first week. However that won't deter me from having another stab at it later down the month after all, it's not like I have a lot else to do anyway. But on the topic of resolutions, every night I resolve to sit down with my books and study and invariably end up in the morning still in the process of resolving. There is just too much irony in my life. However, if this does not change soon, I'm afraid next year won't be THE year after all. Worth a ponder.

Aside from my own troubles, I also empathize with the troubles of those near and dear to me, especially those who just got hitched. My sincerest condolences. However, I do look forward to an evening of good food and leg pulling to come. May it all be worth the trouble is all that I wish of these unfortunate folks. Marriage is such a pain. Two people, all eager to tie a bond to bind them together for eternity. You'd expect better of people whose near ancestors spent a good part of the last century trying to win freedom for their people, and here they are, sacrificing that for what? Over populating the already unbearably crowded planet? All the best then. It's funny how everyone wants to be strong, successful and independent while growing up, and then, at the first opportunity sacrifice those very aspirations for what? Love? Tradition? Security? Peace of mind?

Why is a sacrifice so necessary? I could never tell. From Romeo and Juliet to the modern sappy romantic novels and movies that are thrust upon us, it is all about sacrifice. What, you mean the people there were not happy with their lives before that they went ahead and sacrificed that happiness for something that may or may not bring them that same level of joy? Why not just let things stay as they were. Don't fix what isn't broken maybe. But nope, where is the fun in that, let us all bend to the will of society and the many inordinate senseless traditions and rules that govern that very same society, telling you how to live, how to die.

Anyway, a rebellion is for another day, another lifetime maybe. For now I lack the will and determination to even open my books to study for something that is important and relevant. It's a curious thing how the mind wanders into realms far removed from each other, so quickly and abruptly, but it would help if it stopped a while and focused on what's now instead of what's to come and what may come.

And finally, as it turns out, I am not much of a morning person after all. The light reveals me for who I am. The darkness of the night is when I thrive, for it shares my thoughts and trepidation, and smothers it with its overbearing labyrinth of blackness A day may come when I am ready to face the light, a day in time undefined. I can only hope that this year is THE year.

Friday, December 5, 2014

I love the smell of napalm in the morning...

Magic is all about deception. The ability to bamboozle you with simple mind tricks,

Step 1 - Make it interactive,

"Think of a number, any number..."

Step 2 - Play the perfect host, ask obvious questions to build up a little suspense,

"Are you done? Ready for it?"

Step 3 - The grand reveal,

"Good. I don't care, live with it."

Step 4 - Laugh at the bamboozled audience. *trumpets*


Step 5 - Making a quick exit from the stage, maybe put in a neat vanishing act.

That is pretty much all it takes. Practice, practice, practice is what makes perfect though.

So, wanna see a magic trick?

"Think of a number, any number..."

Wednesday, December 3, 2014

Some perspective please...


You know that feeling when you sit down to do something meaningful finally and just at that moment get completely overpowered by this insane urge to do something starkly opposite and meaningless and and can only resign yourself to grins and helpless laughter betraying both the amusement and exasperation that you experience as you give in to that urge?

Well, once you figure that out, it will explain the big grin there up top.

Anyhow, I'm having one of those nights, full of perspectives and innate reflections, analyzing the world around us, as it is, as it has been, and as it ever will be. How important a role does chance play upon our lives, or luck as we call it. Today, I spent the better part of the day lying around in perfect comfort and nothing came of it. When Newton does it, he gets to discover gravity. How unfair is that. I recall the oft repeated sms joke that invariably used to be circulated the eve before the physics exam in school with people wishing a coconut and not an apple had landed square on his head instead. The crux of it is, how important it is to be at the right place at the right time even while idling aimlessly.

Critics would point out that hard work and perseverance is what prevails at the end, and Newton, for all his luck was still the only chappie who went about working out the gravity theorems while better men and women in his place would have just nursed their swollen head, devoured the apple, and turned over to finish off their siesta without a care in the world about gravity (or as it would have been called then, "the thing that sucks"). True, but still that is a matter of perspective. I could argue that if enough people keep getting hit on their heads with apples, especially a physicist, it was bound to crop up one way or another so Newton was, for all intents and purposes, still very lucky. Who is to say who's right?

Ah! That leads us to the little matter of perspective that governs various aspects of our lives, especially the ones people use to judge us by. How we perceive actions and consequences? To most, Michelangelo was a genius, and rightfully so. To some however he was just an overgrown kid who went nuts with a box of crayons. Who is to say who is right?

We remain stoutly steadfast with our views and opinions of right and wrong while maintaining how "open-minded" we all are. Coming back to Newton, a crowd favorite tonight, had his family steadfastly protested against his constant state of laziness, would he have discovered gravity? I don't think so. Is there a lesson there about how not to trivialize or discourage even the most seemingly aimless or useless of activities and intents, I'm sure there is but that lesson has yet to be learnt. Not everyone's a Newton the same critics that bleated before shall raise their heads once more. But again, I wave the perspective clause in their faces. You think not, I think so. Who is to say who's right?

So, am I twisting facts into fiction to suit my purposes. I may be, but there again, an "open-minded" person would point out how anything is possible. Sadly, we live in a world where open mindedness is worshiped, and yet practiced only to suit our own purposes. If you haven't spotted the irony there, I beg you give it another shot. In an ideal world a grown up could fly a kite all day without question, sleep under a tree and not be called useless, travel around the world without a job for years and be called an explorer and not a worthless hippie, write stories, invent their own words, and stage plays that appear completely crazy and over the top and yet be treasured and not be called a clown. A world where we can be what we want to be, do what we want to do. A world where luck does not matter, but just the right perspectives. But, who is to say who's right?