January 31, 2003

Story

There are no words that have not been said before. There is not even a single thing that has not been talked about before. That being the case, why should I speak? Why should I talk? What good is my story when it echoes in an empty hall, when everyone has had their say and gone home? Can't really blame them, for all I have is a book full of cliches, nothing original, nothing new. Maybe the ghosts will listen, I hope they would, because I have an old story to tell. Once upon a time....

January 28, 2003

Drizzle

The weather has been just amazing out there since yesterday. It was drizzling slightly first and by today it has graduated to full-blown thunder, lightning and the works. Not that I have been outside a lot, but it just makes for a wonderful environment to be in. After working continuously for twenty days together, finally got some time to sit at home and let go of things for a while. No visitors, did nothing other than code for a good twenty hours in two days. Feels good to use the brain once in a while, even if it is for really crappy code.

It was both alarming and comforting to have time for oneself and sleep in my own bed at night after such a long time. It even felt alien. It was alarming because I spend very little time by myself, at times due to compulsion and at times due to choice, but mostly due to the latter and it is scary to be alone. Not the evil spirts sort of fear, but something like being alone with your thoughts and as it is I am prone to thinking way too much unnecessarily. It actually takes an effort to stop myself then. It is comforting because you almost forget how it is to take things easy, slow and pamper yourself a bit. And the beautiful feeling of not having to meet deadlines on a daily basis.

Cynical and pessimistic are two words that I have been hearing a lot in conversations in the past few days and I really do not have much to say about it other than that it can be labelled whichever way one would feel like, but I can only think in the way I think. It is not a matter of making a statement but more or less a matter of being what I am more comfortable with, but that does not mean that I do not try. I do, it is just that I am more comfortable accounting for the worst case scenario. If it turns out well, great, if it does not I do not want to be caught unawares. I hate surprises, especially of the nasty kinds.

Honestly, I am at a loss on how to deal with the element of survivability. It used to be uncertain earlier if I would see the other end of the tunnel if things were to collapse, but now it is a fact. I know for myself that I will live in the end. What confuses me is if it means that nothing ever means anything to you anymore or is it that you have stopped actually feeling for anything. There is no consistent answer for it, it varies with the mood. When it is all hunky-dory, you are tempted to think that by some twist of fate things have changed, when disaster strikes the "nothing ever means anything to you" mode kicks in and when it is all over and a new day begins, I sweep the hurt and loss under the carpet with the "stopped actually feeling for anything" approach. How I would love to have some consistency now.


Two stones in my pocket girl, I keep them for my dreams
I'll give them both to you now, 'cause you need them more than me.
Two stones in my pocket by Neil Halstead

January 24, 2003

Muddle

"Do you really love May?" Ellen asks Newland about his fiancee May in The Age of Innocence. He replies, "As much as a man can love someone". She asks again, "Have you ever seen the limit to which you can do that?". He just says "I do not think so". It is not a verbatim reproduction of the dialogues, so please do allow for the misquotes if there are any. But then it does not really matter, because we all make out things differently from the same that we all get to see. It is a beautiful movie, just flows from shot to shot, slow yet something to be savoured like sweet wine and one can be forgiven for forgetting at times that it is a period drama. But, when it comes to emotions does time really matter?

Often I have sat and wondered if I am not fooling myself saying all the same old things, lines that are delivered perfectly without any rehearsing. The plentiful two penny that settles any valuable deal. Every role becomes easier as you keep doing it over and over again. Somewhere along the way, from the awestruck and stage fright ridden novice to the accomplished actor at the fag end of his shelf life, the world turns on its head, the shadow of hope bids adieu from your footstep and every performance becomes just another number notched on the aging timber of memories. A lifetime is just another day to get by.

It is disturbing at first, to hear all and not be heard, to touch all and not be touched even when you desperately want to be. Slowly you get used to it, the shock gradually wears off and it becomes a way of life. It is rather hard to explain why it is so, but the spirit just gives up as time passes on. A lie, a fake smile, or anything else that helps the cause of diverting attention helps a long way in maintaining the frozen calm. Most of the time you do not know why you do the things that you do, even when you are fully aware of the consequences. Explanations are asked for, explanations are searched for, none is forthcoming. After a while you actually stop expecting the bus that would never arrive. Still you wait, because that is expected of you. Sometimes the truth is just a bunch of wild lies and therein lies the beauty of the whole concept. Is it a truth or is it a lie now?

A night in summer long ago
The stars were falling from the sky
And still, my heart, I have to know
Why do you love me, lady, why?
-- A night in summer long ago by Mark Knopfler

January 22, 2003

Stars

After what seemed like an eternity of thick fog and really nasty weather, the skies finally cleared up yesterday. Since I work nights I had not realised that things were a lot better during the day itself. Woke up quite late in the night cursing everything that came to my mind according the religiously followed ritual of dragging oneself from under the blanket before getting cleaned up and leaving for work. After stepping out, when the bike's engine was warming up, I happened to cast a glance towards the skies and I saw stars. Never in my life have I been so happy to see the few that were visible.

It has been really bad for the past few weeks with a shortage of manpower meaning that we have been working non-stop for two weeks plus and counting. That combined with a tempestuous emotional make up and the usual ups and downs in an already volatile personal life, you get one sulky, grumpy creature that is only safe for interaction from a respectable distance of, say a hundred odd miles.

So, I saw stars. It reminded me of the time when I was travelling once in a train through Andhra, a lonely snakey creature in the vast expanse of arid land in the night. Since I was occupying the the side lower berth in a second class compartment, I had the pleasure of keeping the window open while the rest of the junta was fast asleep and look upwards towards the skies, after twisting the body in a very unhealthy angle. It was nothing short of magical and is a sight to be seen and not written about. Every time the train would take a curve, in the plains the curves happen to run on for a few kilometres, the skies would turn along with it in tandem with the countless stars. It is a sight I will never ever forget.

It is amazing how every time I plan to take a break from work and go on a vacation it is always preceded by a bunch of crises. It happened in 2000 when I happened to black out due to exhaustion after riding for around 25 kilometres on the busiest roads in the city. Luckily, I had reached office by then and was not on the bike. It happened in 2001 when I had to go to the place where I least wanted to be, at that moment in time, for a vacation and spent a good part of it grudgingly playing my part in a wedding I had no intention or liking of being a part of. 2002 was a blank, did not take a break at all.

2003 and this is the state of affairs: emotionally, physically and mentally drained to the core and a mountain of issues still to work through. The least of them being a half worked plan for the break starting February 16th. Patterns, though, are often there by design and not by accident. Same goes for the crises. Most of them are self inflicted, just another nice excuse for taking things out on yourself when things go wrong or not according to the script. Then again, I have to admit, I would not have it any other way since I believe that it is better to lose on one's own terms than to win on another's.

January 21, 2003

After the rain

There is an odd puddle with three different skies reflected on it. Cool breeze from the south creates gentle ripples on them as I look at it and smile. The fairy of time gently empties her basket of broken mirrors into the puddle. There are so many faces of you etched on them. They smile back at me as the fairy vanishes with the last drops of unpracticed salty pearls that I manage to squeeze.

Would you remember me for the things that I said or would you remember me for the things that I did not say? Would you remember all the laugher that I spilt carelessly or would you remember the tears that I never gave away? Would you remember the times that mattered or would you remember anything at all?

This road looks all so familiar with figures familiar disappearing down the misty, muddy path. Stop. Take a step back and yet another. Gradually everything fades and then only the white, a misty white is left.

This time I know it won't come back at me and I am happy for once, just for that.

What's the sense in losing ground
A hard sun is never hard to find
Just close your eyes, Turn your face to the wall,
And you'll be fine
- All Your Tears by Mojave3

January 15, 2003

My People

It is remarkable that you could assign any xyz name to this city and I would not notice much of a difference even after having lived in it for three years now. It is not essentially the fault of the city but more or less one of mine, that people make the city for me than it being the other way round. Yes, there are places that I love going to, but those are not places I would miss a lot even if I have to set up shop elsewhere.

But it is scary at times to think how much I stick to a core group of people anywhere. Scary, because if all of them decide to disappear together on a given day I am in serious trouble. Life for me is essentially a log book of time past and time that is yet to arrive. The past is filled with entries of fond memories and the future with little plans of meeting up and spending time with my favourite people and the anticipation of it. You take that away from me and even the most familiar of places become alien with shreds of memories hanging on to them making for a bizzare out-of-bodyish experience.

I was never one for ambition, I never wanted to fight to save the country or become a millionaire or become popular. In fact I had a mostly unspectacular childhood with no broken bones and countless cuts and bruises in your average middle class nuclear family. Most of those years have been voluntarily and involuntarily cleaned out from the space it used to occupy in my memory for reasons that are too personal to state here. But all I remember even then what I wanted in life was to keep it all together and keep them all happy, even if it meant not putting up my pathetic academic record for parental approval and scrutiny. So whatever that has transpired since is mostly pot luck that events that happened around me decided to brew up and guess I have made a reasonably good meal of it.

A close friend of mine is very fond of saying that she understands where you come from, in the sense that you can never really erase the traces of where you came from and what you really are. It is a statement that is very true, you can never really run away from it all even at the farthest corner of the earth. Nor do I want to now. There was a time when I wanted to and tried my best too, only to realise that distance is nothing when it comes to the mind and things that have to be dealt with have to be dealt with eventually.

The same legacy is very much on display with respect to getting somewhere in life. Having seen my folks start with nothing but a mountain of debts and loans to pay through, starting on their life as the nuclear family with nothing more than a bicycle for transportation to end up twenty years down the line as highly respected people in the society with a more than comfortable lifestyle means that your own aims really do not go beyond a roof to sleep under and three square meals in a day.

Once you get there, then the question of "what next?" pops up on every screen you look at. Money is not really an issue, the world is large enough of a scam to support a comfortable lifestyle if you know to talk your way through and there is very little integrity left in it anyway to shrink from exploiting it citing morals or ethics. So, it all comes down to people again. Form a core group and make it your life. It is pretty hard for most people to understand why things work out that way. Even I am at a loss when it comes to explaining that, for there are no contracts social or emotional that binds us together. Then again, whoever said relationships were easy to understand and interpret.

Do not really know if it is because I am getting on in age but the core has begun to matter more and more of late. To the extent that I am willingly ignoring the ones on the periphery so that I can spend the maximum amount of time with the core. At times it can go to the extent of going sleepless for periods that extend for more than 24-32 hours because of my working hours. Maybe it is that you really cannot afford to muck up at this age, there is really not much of the past you can lean on anymore when you pretty much decide how and why you live your life. You have run out of excuses now.

Maybe it is just insecurity. Something funny that I have noticed of late is that whenever I tell someone "I won't let you go ever" it is more or less a roundabout way of pleading "please do not let me go". Put the same logic to most other things and the results can be pretty funny. But, to be downright honest I am scared of losing the four to five people who are absolutely precious to me now and I really do not want to even imagine what life would be like once they move on.

Some day it will happen I know, we all have our lives to make, but now is all I have with them and that is scary enough to treasure every moment I can spend with them. It has its nice sides too, I no longer shy away from telling people how much they mean to me or admitting that I need them as much or even more than what they need me. When you have an ego and pride the size that I have, that really is something.

It is not confidence or courage that drives it but pure white fear that tomorrow they might not be there and the fear of then having to live in an alien city in the company of ghosts called as memories.

January 12, 2003

State

Wasted most of the morning in unsuccessfully trying to eke out greater meanings from the mundane. Since the overkill of an effort in trying to get the oil to spread evenly over the surface of the frying pan too did not oblige much in that direction, I decided to concentrate on the lesser intellectual pursuit of trying to fix up a quick and dirty breakfast. In the process I did discover one culinary truth -- the longer you spend in trying to spread the oil more evenly the better things get fried without sticking to the pan.

Unfortunately, truths do not have much of an effect on my trademark clumsiness and with a very sad heart I must inform you that my six month old streak of perfect bull's eyes was broken today. A moment of silence was observed for the prematurely popped yellow as it went about exploring various areas of the pan hitherto inaccessible to it.

Cryptic or forthright and in your face? How do I write here? Honestly, I think I have overdone the cryptic bit to the extent of things starting to look laughable even for me. But forthrightness takes a lot of courage and the potential pitfalls are a dime a dozen on the personal front. Also the fact that little bit that I have by means of courage is still recuperating from yet another unnecessary misadventure means that I can't really count much on that too.

I am broodish, I sulk a lot, I am hypersensitive and optimism and me never look each other in the eye and I am not the best person you can ever know. But then, that is me, there is a no return/refund policy on this product, you are stuck with what you have got. Got a good mind to whine my heart out right now, but does it really matter? No, it does not. So will save it for one of those long solitary bike rides.

Who are you stranger? Why are you reading all of this? Do you have a face, a name or a memory I can remember you with? Can I do a funny jig for you? Can I make you laugh? Can I entertain you? Scroll up and down, read carefully from left to right, does it make any sense? It does not, right? My sentiments exactly. These are not puzzles, I am not using any fancy language or analogies to obscure anything right now, but this is as clear as things are to me right now.

My fingers are freezing, can hardly feel them clattering on the keyboard now. During the course of the week, discovered a lovely blog, this chap has a habit of writing really long and in such a way that it almost feels as if he is thinking out loud, but without boring you to death which is what happens when I try to do the same. Speaking of boredom, I must tell you about the "last man standing" record that stands in my name. Every booze party that I have been to, I am always the last one to be left talking. In other words, I talk other people off to sleep. I am your next sleeping pill. Wish they would colour me orange than something like a yucky viagra blue. Pink is a definite no no. Deja vu would not be a bad name too.

There really must be something really wrong. I am listening to Missy Elliot now and actually liking it. Go away!! Where are my ear plugs? Did I mention I am doing hardcore trance too? No, please rest easy I am not doing ecstasy, other than the health warning, something tells me it is not a good idea to be doing news in an overexcited state of mind. But a shot of Vodka with the juice of one fresh lemon, ice and a green chilli split down the middle is a great way to beat the cold. No, not at work again. Did that once and it was a miserable experience that I do not want to remember.

I must wrap this thing up with my second find of the week as I am really short on sleep and the mug of tea is empty now. It is the music of James Asher and the track is called as Natraj Express. The music is basically slotted into the new age category but I really do not give a damn, it just sounds so good. The track has a girl singing this Rajasthani Gujarati folk song (have not verified that) as the main bit and lots of percussion samples and sitar mixed in. Can get you dancing in no time, not that I can, still it does strange things to your limbs.

January 11, 2003

Peak

Sometimes, I wonder if it is worth all the effort to climb up the mountain all over again to see the same scenery all around you and of course the inevitable fall that follows. Guess it is just one of those days when I feel the ground slipping from under my feet and every ounce of air breathed carries with it a million thorns of alienation that stings and bruises as it makes its way through my system.

Today -- I am done with you, you are a lost cause and with wilting shoulders I am waiting for tomorrow and her promise as fake as it might be, it is hope. Just another fickle excuse to get up everyday and look skywards towards the non-existent sunshine. Good morning dear world.

January 04, 2003

Turn the page

Three days into the new year and there is hardly any noticeable difference. Yes, the calendar has to be changed, which after a long time managed to move to December from the preoccupation it had with September. No, I am not complaining at all. Surprised eh? Well, I am not. Life has settled comfortably into a steady rhythm on a macro scale with minor tremors of good and bad dotting the micro scale. All-in-all it has been okay, nothing special, the ends just about meet and the circle completes. In all fairness, it just about evens out.

Minor misunderstandings and major muck ups notwithstanding it has been an eventful year. Learnt and unlearned a lot, with plenty of space left to learn a lot more. There was not much by means of celebration on the D day, just a couple of close friends, the usual alcohol infused moments of joy, messages that never got sent because of the networks getting jammed and a wonderful morning walk on the wet roads at 5:00 AM with a good friend. Not really exciting I agree, but who was asking for excitement anyway? Compared to the unparalleled disaster it was last year, this one was good, measured and maybe finally it is settling in for good into the cranial space that things have slowed down.

At age twenty four life really is at the crossroads. The tales of the past years have to be given a decent burial, they have outlived their usefulness and is nothing but excess baggage now. It is funny how it has become sort of impossible to identify with some of the emotions that have meant a lot till a while back. Frankly, it has become boring. Maybe it is because I have changed a lot in the past year. Did a lot of things that would have been unthinkable a couple of years ago. Experimented a lot, some of them came off, some did not, but one thing is for sure -- it was nothing like what they said in the books, that was just their truth and you just have to make your own. At least I won't die wondering now. Guess that is all what matters in the end, to leave nothing unsaid and no stone unturned about things that mean anything to you, irrespective of what the results might be. You can't win 'em all, you see.

Looking ahead, I have to enforce some changes in a few things. It has been more than two years on this job now, way beyond what I myself or anyone would have thought I would last here. I am doing pretty well, all things considered, but there is always the threat of stagnating. The only issue is to find an area that would be worth trying to push the limits again. Let us hope time has the answers. Relationshipswise too it is an open road, there is nothing binding anywhere, still the few that are there are pretty special, tied together with invisible strings that have often taken a lot of beating. In some of them I have pulled back a bit, in others I am sticking it out way much more than I would and should normally have. Then again, did I not mention I have changed?

The most memorable thing about the New Year yet? Hmm.. it was riding home two days back through the thick fog with almost zilch visibility and the early morning walk. There is something about winter mornings. Is it not? If not for anything else, Delhi is more than worth all the trouble for just that. To round things off, I got a wonderful gift for the New Year, a friend whom I thought I had lost due to the cold indifference I can show at times got back in touch today. Had been trying to apologise to her for while now, but with no luck as far as getting in touch goes. She called to wish me today and I apologised for my moronic behaviour and now things are back to normal. Life is stinky, but I have to admit it is good. So, let me stop before I change my mind about it.

Happy New Year to all.