February 28, 2003

Retreat

Today is day thirteen of my vacation, which also happens to be the last day of my stay in Trivandrum. Tomorrow morning, at 4:30 AM, I catch a rather deserted train for Indore and reach there two days later. I do not even know when it will be the next time that I would see this place again. After a three day halt at Indore, it would be back to Delhi and the graveyard shift on the 8th. Seriously, it does not take much time for twenty days to pass. There should be a law or something against vacations that just rush by.

In a lot of ways this has been anything but a vacation. Okay, it was a vacation from work but nothing more. It was by design though that it worked out that way than due to a lack of choice. Now that I have the time, I did consciously choose to sort out longstanding emotional issues and niggles that should have been dealt with ages back. And it virtually has been a travel through time, things, people and places I have left behind, to see if anything has changed and to let go of statements that had outlived its utility, that one tends to carry over, unnecessarily from a time long gone. And most importantly, to see if conflict was not the only way to move on and let go of the past.

Lots of things still do not make much sense and there is just a hazy feeling for the most part in my mind, as I am still confused, most of the time, about perspectives. Should I totally let go of what I have seen and what I know and embrace the future as an independent entity, that is predominantly influenced by what I know and believe in the present. I know it sounds pretty complicated, but that is the best I can do to explain something that I am grappling with a lot, albeit with little success. But something that I would remember is my folks talking about death, their death that is, if and when it comes. Never seen anyone so scared, so insecure and so much in need of some form of reassurance. The saying "death is the great leveler" holds true to the last bit. I really do wonder what it would feel like to be old. Would I feel the same? Would I still be like this, restless, unsettled and a wanderer for life? Would I even live for that long?

One of the things that irritate me about here is the way the so called educated behave. It makes me wonder what hope really does the the people who live in abject poverty in the so called cow belt have when education and a supposedly more refined culture still does not make any impact in the narrow crevasses called as mind sets here. Most of my female cousins are in the age group of 25 - 28 and I am yet to see one adult speak of one them as an independent person, who should be given her due as far as choosing her life goes. It is sad to see parents who have masters in sociology and home science speak of their daughters as a burden that is to be plonked away on some stranger.

Believe me, I am no feminist nor do I have faith in any other 'isms'. But it is really sad to see kids who have really bright careers feel wasted if they remain unmarried at the age 24-25. It is nothing short of indoctrination that makes it work so beautifully and the crazy lengths to which some of them go get rid of the various 'evils' that stand in the way of their wedding makes me wonder what good really is education and all that jazz if you cannot make any use of it.

The last week or so I have spent here have been quite excellent. Managed to drive a fair bit through the highways here, which is a welcome relief from the monotony of the super-wide roads in Delhi that turn at right angles almost all the time. In the past three days I have been to four different beaches and had my fill of sun, sand and a bit of rain. Of all the beaches I went to, the one at Varkala still remains as my favourite. Can wade in the serene waters there for hours on end and still not have enough. This is one thing that I miss with all my life about this place. And yes, the greenery. Sigh.

Among other tidings, the next seven days, starting tomorrow, would be the longest I would have been offline in a period of maybe three years. I can, of course, check mail and etc from a cyber cafe (Indore is not that bad a town), but for some reason I want to stay away from it all and have three days of peace and quiet there in a house that has arid farmlands all around it and mountains that dot the horizon. Since Airtel condescended to activate roaming on my cell phone a while back, I can always be reached on that, that is if the need to get in touch is really that dire.

Otherwise this should ideally be the last word from me for a week or so, provided I can still withstand the evil allure of the cyber cafe!

February 26, 2003

Divine Comedy

Things that should be done and posts that should be made should be done on time or you end up in a condition that I am in, not knowing where to begin and what to say. So much has happened between this post and the last that it feels as if a lifetime has passed in between.

Bangalore was fun. In fact it turned out to be a trip much nicer than what I thought it would be. Shacked up with Viggy of the Devil on a Black Fiero fame for a day and subjected him to a few of my prime tantrums while trying to fix up a booze party at his new place with a few of the junta from Delhi who were in town. And as you must have read by now we did have an impromptu Blogger meet over mugs of banana shakes at Koramangla and some wonderful music provided by the mosquitoes who were not aware of the magnitude of the page views between the five present there.

We had earlier dropped in at Anand and Suresh's (who shall be referred to as God from now on) place where a mean looking Dalmatian and a dysfunctional door bell strategically placed and engineered to prevent our entry were rendered ineffective by our persistent knocking. Poor Anand was finally forced to assume a vertical orientation from the horizontal one that he was in earlier while following the cricket match on the telly and reluctantly opened the door. A while later there is another knock on the door. And then I saw God. Clad in a Khadi kurta, he gently removed Anand from his restful posture and assumed his place and let go of the first profound thought for the evening, of the zillion that followed later.

A good twenty minutes later we run into Nilesh, who was wearing a thinkgeek tee with the shebang (yuck! off with your gutter minds you filthy lot) line "#!/usr/bin/nilesh" oops.. I mean "#!/usr/bin/perl" (what is the big difference anyway eh? ;-)) prominently printed on it. Introductions were followed by hectic attempts to try and fit the words on the blog to the actual person. All this while God was still busy painting the evening a shade of chalu orange while fending off an intellectual hot pursuit on the same lines by me and Viggy. But alas! God won in the end.

Later in the evening, after a lot of ranting and raving, the party finally happened. During the course of it, the equation of red wine+vodka+nicotine=puke worked out for me with deadly accuracy and considerable amusement for for everyone else. Monday morning arrived at the doorstep with a nice strong hangover and Viggy's brilliant coffee. My bus back home was only in the evening, so spent the time from 11 in the morning till around four in the evening with Pooja at the Barton Center, then caught the bus with a sinking feeling in my heart.

Things that I would remember about Bangalore are 1) Viggy: The dude is really something and notwithstanding the fact that we agree on a lot of things at the macro level and disagree with a lot on the micro level, you just cannot ignore his spirit (Oh yeah the hic! one too ;-)). There is not much by means of complication in him and things are pretty much met on a yes or no basis and he respects your space. Can't really ask for much more from another person right? 2) Pooja: I really wish that I could have spent more time with you pal, you are one of the sweetest people I know and I just hope you get to be as happy as you want to be. 3) Sorting out a few real bad niggles with a very close friend and still be lucky enough to have the friendship survive without much damage 4) Sitting at the Barista at Barton Center and feeling like a prop in the set of The Truman Show as I watched the people walk by.

Getting back home was not something I really was looking forward to. In the very short time I was in Bangalore I had grown to like it a lot and the people I like being there at the same time also contributed a lot. Here I have my seven month old niece as a pleasant distraction. There is something about babies, even the trademark baby smell is so infectious (I love sniffing her head with all the wispy curls all the time) and she has the most beautiful and clear eyes I have ever seen in a kid. And that does not take into account the expression that is there, totally unaffected by the melee that often goes on around her, just hope that sees her through whatever bad times that might come her way in the future. But mark my words, that kid is special.

Otherwise there is a sense of an overwhelming calm. It is driven by finally being able to bring to a closure a lot of things that had admittedly left a lot of bitter emotions in me. It always used to bother me why is it that I could never behave in the same nice way with my folks that I do with others. Gave it a shot this time and it felt nice. I guess it is the final thread that holds me back here just gradually cutting loose, this time with not much strain, just a distant sad sigh of disappointment from them echoes in the air. I really am on my own now and honestly it feels weird and a bit scary, as till date there was the bitterness or the rebellion infused paranoia take refuge in. Now there is nothing, no one is forcing my hand overtly or covertly.

A while back I would have thought of this as the endgame, now I feel differently, feels like life is only beginning now and I am happily poorer for all the conflicts that have passed away. Newer ones are there and as usual I am the joker in the pack by being my own worst enemy, but those are minor niggles that can always be worked out between good friends. And for once I am not missing Delhi whilst I revel in this golden feeling of being truly rootless. It feels good to be alive.

February 17, 2003

Impressions

48 hours into my first vacation in almost two years and I am searching for nice things to say about it, but can't really come up with much. The only good point is food and only food. And you can add 24/7 connectivity to the net via cable to that very 'long' list, but the speeds are so lousy that it is pretty much useless for anything other than chat. Really wanted to write about the journey as soon as I touched down, but I have been so overwhelmingly whiny in the past day or so that I managed to startle even myself and thought that I might spare you, poor reader, of any more torture.

The flight down here was good fun, even though I was at my paranoid best, making up excuses for why I missed the flight, even though I knew I was reasonably within time. I was pleasantly disappointed though when I finally made my way out to the exit with baggage in hand after all my worst case scenarios of the Boeing 737-400 exploding over the ocean, or the flight getting overbooked, or even being detained for questioning at the airport under suspicion of being a terrorist did not materialise. Well, so much for totally not-needed excitement.

There have been very little very good news since. First of all Airtel messes up by not activating roaming on my cell which it should have activated almost a year and a half back. Now I am being told I have to call up the Delhi customer care (yup, long distance) and get it fixed from there. The only problem is that they love to make you listen to a stupid jingle for over 15 mins after being put on hold and they also make it a point to remind you every three minutes or so that you are valuable enough a customer to be treated like shit. It has been past 24 hours now and the mail I sent them has not elicited a response yet. Some nice customer care executive is due for a good screaming come tomorrow.

I really have to wonder what the hell am I doing here. It is not so much the place. To be honest, it is a nice small town and a pleasant change compared to the morass called as the nation's capital, but there is hardly anyone I know here anymore. Most people I have grown up with have gone to other cities to make a living and the rest I do not get along with at all. So here I am on vacation and spending more than 80% of the time on the net talking to people who are more real in the virtual world than the virtual ones in the real world.

Took the old 800 model Maruti for a drive in the evening and met up with an old friend, talked and bitched for a while about the common friends we have and returned home taking a roundabout route so that I could try and see how much the place has changed. I must say I am disappointed with whatever little that has changed because it is a half baked effort. It is neither out and out modern now, nor has it retained any of the old charm it used to have. To cut it short, it is a mess and it is going to end up pretty soon as a totally characterless wannabe city.

One thing all this has done is to make me value my friends I know form Delhi much much more. At least I can scream at their face and not give it a second thought. Here everything has dual meanings, people don't speak their mind, appearances are everything and it has to be kept at all costs, be it even your life. I honestly wished I could see things in a more positive light this time around, but I just cannot and it does not sting as much as it used to. Guess you really do let go a lot earlier than when you finally get around to accepting that you did. The feeling that is left is not even bitterness, it is just cold indifference.

Other than all that, I think I should be able to change this blog to a proper host soon, the prize at the end of the day for configuring a godforsaken Zyxel ADSL router. And I am not complaining for a once :) And also looking forward to the 23rd, when I should hopefully be able to touch down in Bangalore and meet a few friends there. Make up your excuses lads and lasses and make your way out on the double, because I am on my way there.

Update: Off to Bangalore for two days. This man would wish from tomorrow onwards that he never made the offer to allow me a little corner in his hut while I am there. Suffer now.... heheee ;-)

February 12, 2003

Thank You

There are two sentences that I always use to egg my friends on. One is that life is unfair, so keep your chin up and get on with it and the other is you do not always get what you want, it is sad, but that is the way things are. These friends are not ordinary people for me, they are my life, they are the ones who make me the person that I am. And today for them I stand utterly defeated in front of the same two lines. I have been totally robbed of any answers and I am wallowing in my helplessness.

It is nothing short of the worst form of punishment to see the people whom you love and care for suffer and not be able to do anything about it. It has been my curse since day one and even though it had never stopped appearing every now and then from behind the shadows, it had not threatened to consume all I value and care for in such a brutal manner. It kills you to just stand there, yelling, kicking, screaming, coaxing and pleading and see that nothing works, not a single damn thing, it is the front row seat and the nightmare rolls on. If there is someone out there called as God, I sure do have a huge bone to pick with you.

My own life does not amount for much. After a while you realise you are damaged beyond repair and as if that was not bad enough there comes the gala treatment. Bit by bit everything falls apart, you first try and hold a brick and another and yet another, then you start sounding like a broken record and beg and plead for something that will stop it. It never does. You stand there alone in middle amongst all the maimed and the dying with nothing but fancy sounding words for comfort.

Three years back, I was at this same point, I thought I'd never get there again, that if I loved and cared for the ones close to me, history won't repeat itself. How wrong I was. I do not know, I am trying hard, first to coax myself that no a little bit more effort and things can be fixed and later to coax my loved ones on the same lines. But I have read this script before, I know the ending and I distinctly dislike it. Do not even know why I am posting this here, but I had to get it out of my head. And this is for you life, you are one sad, pathetic and sadistic creep, who does not even have the decency to pick on someone of its own size.

Update: I am mobile again, but all my old phone book entries are gone, please mail or message me with your number if I had it in the first place. Yes, the number is still the same.

February 11, 2003

QED

I am in search of another Houdini act. Need to crawl out of this one too, out of the sheer necessity to keep moving more than anything else. Too tired for explanations, too tired for arguments and too tired to subject whatever little bit is left in the piggy bank of beliefs to any kind of test. Just let me be, I really do not have anything to say to anyone, especially due to the fact that I might end up saying things that I do not want to or mean to say.

So most forms of inter-personal communication shall remain suspended till some form of coherence and comprehension can be injected into the bloodstream of reality. This might or might not include the blog. And yes I cannot wait for it to be the 16th when I can get the hell out of here. It is not the best deal by any means, but when did beggars get to choose anyway?

You're like a child with old eyes,
cynical and sensible, always full of surprises
you travel far and wide
looking for the feeling, lost inside you
Hungry by Kosheen

February 10, 2003

Blank

Words in the room died long ago, everyone had their say and I listened attentively, nodded my head in agreement, uttered the usual compassionate two bits. The band is packing up, the bar tender is cleaning up, ash from the last cigarette in the packet gently drops into the tray. It is time to go home, it is time to gather the pretty words in loose change into my wallet to be used on one of them days. It is time to go home and listen to words that no one wants to hear.

Was trying to come up with reasons why I live a few days back and the best ones I could come up with were a few blood-drenched fragile strings and this is funny -- the landlady. Have to pay her every month, you see. I am a virtual conduit between her and the bank and she is my prime motivation for existing. Other than that there is not much, there is nothing much that would miss me. Yeah, I know no one is missed that much, life goes on and yadayada. Can't really score on that point. My mistake, please keep the point to yourself dear quiz master.

Do not know why, but this feeling has been haunting me of late that I am running short on time. No, I do not suffer from any deadly disease or something, it is just the feeling of having reached the end of the line. Somehow everything has fallen into yet another set pattern and I am driven more and more into the arms of quiet, something has to give. I really do not know.

Can't understand why am I writing this even. Enough.

February 04, 2003

Irony

It is amazing how the blocks you thought you had carefully dismantled build up unnoticed as yet another of the selfsame structure right behind you.

Notice: Lost my cell today, if you have been getting the strange "service not available on this number" message while trying to contact me, you now know why.

February 01, 2003

Placid

Every journey and every battle must come to an end. Beyond all the glory of victory and the shame of defeat, someone has to clean up the mess when the jubilant have moved on and the dead have been removed. Life has to go on. The blood stains take time to wash off completely. It is a new day with the same old props. Hand me that brush mate, have a lot of scrubbing in the days to come.