October 28, 2003

Of maps

What I love most about the new job is the ride to and from office and the return trip is the best of the two. Threading your way through hazy Delhi roads at eight in the night has its own magical rhythm and the evening traffic rarely ever has the edge the morning one is notorious for. After a hard day's work there is nothing like the ride back home, stopping at the numerous red lights, only to get moving again with nothing but your own thoughts and the looks on the faces of strangers for company.

As time moves on at its merry rate, something that I have come to realise is that I have crossed the peak where I can afford to keep accumulating new things or live with extraordinary levels in anything. Somehow it is more now about being ordinary. It is not unique though, everyone makes these choices, some choose career, others choose family and children, while for others it might be adventure. I guess I have made mine too, no more fooling around, I need some consistency, be it even an ordinary one.

Mind you, the ordinary bit is not something that is new to me. I was not born into poverty, but to just ordinary middle class working folk who worked their way up from owning just a bicycle to things considerably grander than that. I have never been excellent at studies, never won any competitions or sports, nor have I ever done anything that anyone would remember five weeks after I am dead. For all practical purposes, I am just a nobody. And from that point of view I have done pretty okay I guess. Cannot really ask for more, can I?

See, it is something like being handicapped, just that mine is purely emotional. Other than the odd moment or two when I kid myself with rather extravagant fantasies of what would be "normal" life to other people I just do not feel the need to share my life with anyone and more importantly I cannot see where is the space that I can fit another person in. I am much more comfortable being on my own, living with my own little idiosyncrasies and never having to ask another's permission before I do something.

Yes, It does feel bad at times, when you see people walking hand in hand, there are times when you wish there was some reliable amount of warmth you could count on. But I just cannot deliver on the other part of the deal. I just won't be there for you when you need me the most. It is not something fool proof though, I still have not figured out what can be done about keeping company just for the sake of the physicality of things or even something as vain as killing time. It is not like I can totally do away with people too. Well, all I can hope is that I picked the right door.

I honestly have no idea where my life is headed, for that matter I have never known something like that in all of my life. For the most part it has been running away from something or hiding from something. It is just that I need to stop to try and make sense of it, like I said, I need to drop a few things. I do not have the old strength anymore and living all by yourself is not exactly a cakewalk. And really, it does not matter which way I classify it, when ignorance would be the best knowledge I have about my about my own life.

October 26, 2003

Blindfold

So how do you manage it? How do you make it work? How is it that you believe strongly in something or the other? How do you get all those things right that I cannot ever seem to? How do you know you have loved too little or you have loved too much, or even just about enough? How is it that you know so much, while I know nothing even after years and years of being a student? Why is it that a single expression on your face says volumes more than what I can ever say with even a million words?

Cross-purposes, I keep seeing that everywhere these days. I keep busy most of the time in hiding me from myself, only to find that I cannot often find myself when it is needed the most. And once I find it, we go back to square one as it has no place or importance in this world. Unrelated incidents often set off chains of thought like coils of blue ink in water. They spiral up from the hidden depths to the surface acting as painful reminders of the very rare presence of colour from the past.

Work is the only thing that keeps me from falling apart. It has gradually become my most favoured choice of rock to smash against in the same way that waves do in the ocean. I have passed the critical one week period and I am slowly finding my way around the new place. It is absolutely monstrous in scale, things take its own time and the job has way much greater visibility than the previous one. So there won't be any entries here related to it. Being an unknown goes a long way in getting people to talk.

It has become a matter of considerable amusement for me to now try and figure out ways of not being 'different' or 'special'. That too after years of trying to be precisely the opposite. Cross-purposes, remember? But why? It is very simple. When you have contorted yourself in every aspect into shapes different from everyone else, there is nothing in common to refer to. And if I ever write an autobiography, it would surely be tilted "My Life: The Endless Damage Limitation Operation".

No, it is not that I regret anything. I would not do most things differently if I had another chance. But what bothers me is that with time the degree of understanding I have of any damn thing has only gone down and right now it is hovering somewhere near zero. What tires me is to dig deep into my soul's empty pockets and have nothing but bits and pieces of emotions turn up. I do not know what is more scary, that you do not feel anything most times or that it does not seem to bother you that you do not feel anything.

And that is what infuriates me. That, I cannot seem to make it work either way. That, me as the public face is still as high maintenance as me just by myself. But I guess that is the price you end up paying for having a extraordinarily high quota of intensity in your blood stream. It is a 24/7 operation then to save yourself and others from yourself. It just gets way too tiring at times and once in a while you do wish for some reprieve from it. Some corner where you can be yourself for even just a little while. It is as simple as that.

Most of the time, life in its present continuos sense feels like being surrounded in a holographic image. The elements that it consists of, like people, memories, places, voices are almost like stars in them. And I am the man with the magic brush who puts together constellations from these same pieces. It all feels so artificial at times. Especially when you have to remind yourself at times what you are supposed to feel with regard to a certain star. And at times the real people just fall away, but the stars remain in their place.

I am very adept at pointing out to others the element of fantasy in their lives, especially the degree of make believe in most relationships, but like every other bad thing I throw around, that too comes back at me later. My life is nothing but a case of extreme make believe, a castle of cards of complicated constructs with a 20, 000 page operating manual. And the crowning glory is that it is mostly my own making and I have only myself to blame for it. Bravo. Well done. What a spectacular mess.

October 19, 2003

Haze

It has been a collage of psychedelic colours, staccato images and ambient voices set to the background of the predictable arpeggio of a round trip of 34 kilometres. To coax oneself out of the detachedness takes an effort, only to shudder, shrink and coil up like a scared reptile, when it gives in finally. Sensitivity is tricky game of hide and seek. It is a game I will never understand. It is a game i will never win.

Sometimes you wish that you could reach deep inside and listen to that voice not heard in ages, to try and grasp at those faint flashes of feelings not polished to levels of slippery smoothness by time and see if it still feels the same. It does. But it feels alien. It feels like baby skin, tender and very unlike mine. To endure and celebrate the joy in mourning the loss of yourself is the prize.

Is it just total blindness or a vision that is too perfect? Why is it that you wind up alone with those very thoughts and feelings after years and years of running away from it? Why is it that for you there is no peace, be it in purity or at the impurest? Why is it that everything is perfect and beautiful, like a flock of pigeons in a park, till you reach out for it? Why can't I just give up?

As a new routine settles in, I strive the most to recreate the old. I go in way too early, so that I do not have to look rude, high-brow and sophisticated by default. The flooring creaks under my step as I work up the courage to face the day with a renewed lease of fake ambition. This is unfamiliar territory and I change roles by the dozen during the course of the day. At the end of which I wonder: Who am I trying to kid?

Orange Gerberas do not look half as good as the bright yellow ones that I usually buy. They have become five rupees more expensive by the bunch. If you feel for it, the traffic here has its own pulse too, like how crowded localities seem to breathe and sigh together if you look at them from a point of height in the night. At times it is nasty, at times it considerate. Most times I am just glad to make it home. Or am I?

As usual I lie to you about things personal. It does not really bother me much since I am past caring what happens on that count. I just wish the numbness would be more consistent and constant, so that I could concentrate on having just one kind of problem than two that are at loggerheads with each other. But I have not yet mastered the art of lying to myself. I am trying hard though.

October 13, 2003

Nascent Navigation

I really thought I had worked out a perfect analysis of what was wrong with the world and superbly identified the single point of failure, which if we could overcome would make the world a much better place to live in. I went over it once again and found myself laughing at it, for I could not figure out if it was just too right or just way too stupid. But the moment has passed, I have disowned whatever little seriousness I could attribute to it and moved on to more mundane and routine problems related to the daily drag.

Actually, I have been wanting to buy candles. Candles, a lamp shade and a lava lamp for reasons of pure self-indulgence. I need to buy a new quilt too. The old one is wasted. Winter is gently making its overtures felt in the air, by early morning, night and late evening. By six the light is dull, with a mild orange hue, masses in search of warmth, group. While, above a mild haze gathers. Roasted peanut and boiled egg sellers shall set up shop soon, selling warmth in search of a living while we make a living to expend ourselves in search of warmth.

I am a fly-by-night operator, I am your choicest hit-and-run thug, pay me loose change and I am your man for all occasions, only if you do not ask me to stay for long. I always have to keep moving. I am your long-distance truck-driver with genuinely bogus delivery schedules. I am just driving round and round in the city, while pretending to be on the highway and I cannot find my exit route. Twenty-thousand miles I know by-heart, I know every nook and cranny, every by lane that ever existed, I have a full tank, all I have ever needed is a destination.

I can't call you tainted, I can't call you imperfect, I can't call you ugly, I can't call you a sinner, I am all that and more, in degrees that are worse. My silence is not one of understanding, but of guilt and I smile not out of joy but to get a temporary reprieve from the constant onslaught of boredom born at the edifice of pain. You are the cast that I mold myself on, the newborn skin I paint on myself to fake a better appearance. You are the being that gives form, albeit temporary, to my nothingness. You are my fickle measure of time, in my sentence of eternity.

Or we could just run, I could hold your hand, run across the land with wind-swept waist-high grass till the edge of time and watch the rocks fall into the deep dark unknown. Just moments before the sun rises above the horizon casting another of its daily spells on the landscape, changing the tall grass into buildings and the interim into their ugly shadows. And to turn around to find the feeling of your gentle strands of hair caressing my face had long transformed itself into another of the cold gusts from the alleyways, which I will take again for that flight again in search of the light of darkness.

October 06, 2003

Muse: Bovine, gasoline & others

What would you remember a person for? The best of his qualities or the worst? And even if you were to make a conscious choice, how would you weigh a good in relation to a bad or vice versa. And that, my friend, is the key to amazingly complicated puzzle called as relationship, be it romantic or otherwise. Time to get off the soapbox. Your turn now.

On a festive night, inebriated, the man had no reason to budge from where he lay. The middle of the road, semi-conscious and a constant stream of decked out crowd passing by without wanting to even find out if he was dead or alive. Confession: even I did not want to. My friends did, they shook and slapped him and he came around for a while. We ended up picking him up from the middle of the road and left him on the pavement. Contrary to popular perception, compassion still does survive, at least in the hearts of people I know.

We were singing as we walked down the road from market one to market two. To be honest, I was pretending to, since what sounds like orgasm induced braying does not really embellish the better, and in a few cases really good, singing qualities of the rest of the rowdy gang. For those few hours I was granted freedom from being whatever I have transformed myself into these days. Almost felt like a kid with his hand in the cookie jar to be in the college frame of mind again. Do not worry, I am very much inclined to being a repeat offender.

One high on grass, another high on his ego trip, a couple of couples and us a single couple in a mass of humanity, living out the ultimate manifestation of the herd mentality. First impression of the puja pandals: Everyone looking at everyone else in anticipation of spotting that elusive embodiment of perfection. Other than the odd undocumented case, success is not known to be spotted often enough. Anticipation and expectation, though, have a field day. And I had a nice time.

Back home at six in the morning for a day-long wrestling match with the 2.6 series Linux kernel. Blame it on the impromptu ride, alone and at the break of dawn towards the Tughlakabad fort on the rickety old bike with the ever-enthusiastic two stroke hum and the odd long distance trucks's monstrous roar for company in the audible entertainment category. One of these days I will just fill up my tank and ride alone all the way to Alwar or Jaipur.