August 29, 2005

The Expectation Of A Return

On a sultry Sunday evening I finally summoned up the courage to sleep on the bed in the other room. It went off well, at least initially it did, leaving me to wonder what the fuss was all about. After all, it was just a room. There were no demons or ghosts in there. What was it that I had to fear in there? It could not be memories. The mind, when forced, is quite adept at tearing down the layers of sentimentality that adorns walls, objects and beings. It could not even be my own shadow; I had lost my fear of that a long time back. When the realisation dawned, it sent the proverbial chill down my spine. I have been waiting, albeit subconsciously, like how a child waits at the stairs for his mother, for a return that was not to be.

In its very worn out catalogue, the mind has been busy arranging all the interesting things that had happened. It was meticulously done, with detailed notes, reminders and addendums, which would then have to be read out and presented in its full glory. Like always, the return should be an emphatic moment. All would be forgiven, the bitterness forgotten and most of the pain would be gone. By the approaching winter's side new plans would be made and life would be beautiful all over again. Even in its persistent imperfection and fleetingness, the return always added a sense of meaning, value and context to an aimless wandering. Only that this time it won't be, for the return is not to be.

Most importantly, from the depths of this emotional squalor, the expectation is not so much for a person, but for the feeling. The feeling of gladly giving up your own tiresome burden, the feeling of being able to hold on to a permeating sense of warmth that makes everything right in a world in which everything is wrong; the feeling of relief from knowing that the coming morning there won't have to be anymore explanations and that you could be whatever that you are. In its essence, the return is more of a concept; a panacea for all that has gone wrong. It is the hypothetical and unrealistic culmination of years of searching for a perfect conclusion. Only that it won't be, for hope is lost on me and the return is not to be, ever.

Ooh Blag!

Guess what? Some bloggers are reclusive, some are even anonymous, some even ask for advice on their blogs! I mean, this is like earth shattering news. I am sure that during his next edit meeting Charles Assisi is going to discover that there are closet gays, call girls (wait, that has been done before), adult video library clerks blogging too and if the mainstream media has its way, even these are going to be stories that will make it to the Monday morning front page anchor slot. Seriously, get over it people. All this has been happening way before blogs were there, if you want to push the intellectually contrarian angle, get a better peg for your story than that there are all kinds of people on the good old interweb. Coming soon: Bloggers have legs!

August 26, 2005

Roadtripped

At least for now, life has transformed itself into pointless meetings, building lots of castles in the air and a whole lot of insane commuting. I was planning to write something substantial on Delhi traffic, only to realize later that it could be best summed up as something on these lines: An insane trapeze act between those who think a red light is NOT where you are supposed to stop your vehicle and those who think they should. Add to this a variety of extras like cows, artificial chicanes the police erect to check and control traffic, which have nothing by means of illumination on them, and an obsessive compulsion to honk where it is totally not needed and not honk when it is needed the most, and you will get the general picture.

The best supporting accolades go to the numerous bus drivers and call center cabbies who seem to have almost a divine inclination to see to it that you are either crushed under their wheels or run off into the nearest gutter/obstacles of a significant physical presence. If you want to have the 'born-again' experience, a few moments of quality time spent trying to dodge two competing DTC buses roaring up behind you is highly recommended. Once you have experienced it, life is never the same. It puts the fear of God, Satan and everything else in between into your mind.

A special mention must go the numerous Jat boys and the likes of Hunny Singh from the Malviya Nagar locality who seem to believe that by introducing a cheap, fake Ferrari sticker and car stereos that can take up the entire rear quarter of the car, their humble Maruti 800s will get transformed into something straight out of Maranello. Yes, that thumping noise you hear from a mile away is the aforesaid Mr Hunny on his evening cruise, make way please. Without all these great people and numerous others like the dhelawalas, tractors, the ever-so omnipresent and ever-so unpredictably swervy autowallahs, my daily 17 kilometers-a-side commute would be oh so uneventful. God bless them all.

August 24, 2005

Please Don't Talk

Everywhere you look, there is only Google and more Google everywhere, I feel like retching every time I look at my aggregator today. Stop press! Google sneezed! While Kottke has gone ahead and written a magnum opus (six screenfuls, that too!) of his 'I-told-you-so' vision for the next couple of years, Krzysztof Kowalczyk complains that there is nothing new about it all and in fact Microsoft had done it way, way back. He also misses a point about the good old Gkrellm (also alternatively known as every Linux geek's idea of his male genitalia) having been there before. While David Card at Jupe sneaks in an interesting tidbit about how Microsoft tried to pre-empt the Google Talk with an announcement of a point release for MSN Messenger. Sanity, obviously, has gone on vacation.

How important is domain knowledge? In another of her exceptional write ups, Sramana Mitra concludes, "Well, raw smarts are tres important, because most likely, things will change, what will need to be called upon is the power and the ability to learn and to think, beyond what is already known, and decisions will need to be made quickly with inadequate and limited information." After having waded in the hazy waters between technology and content for a while now, I agree with her that they are very important, but I disagree with her conclusion that they are important just because decisions are made based on inadequate and limited information. Moreover, if the raw smart is in a set up where he/she cannot loop back effectively into the existing mechanism, it would end up being a pointless exercise.

P.S: There is a story in the NYT today "Relax, Bill Gates; It's Google's Turn as the Villain" and the first quote is from the founder of Paypal who has an obviously large enough bone of contention with the search giant. Lovely!

August 23, 2005

Beastly Mix

Following in the footsteps of Trent Reznor, The Beastie Boys have now released easily remixable versions of their songs on the internet for anyone and everyone to tinker with. The idiotic morons in the music industry of course do not understand online file trading is not the greatest threat they are facing (or CD replication machines, in the latest version of the story), but the relatively lower entry costs to music distribution in the online sphere.

Yahoo! has already dealt a major blow with its flat-rate access Unlimited product, it is just a matter of time before some smart alec is going to make it much easier to legally buy music (popular or esoteric) than to jump on to the pirate alley. Of course, the problem is still there of major artists sticking around with the major labels, but that would change once couple of them jump ship and use the internet alone for distribution.

In any case, record sales only serve to fatten the pockets of the record companies. Other than the top artists very few actually make any decent money (which they deserve) from them. It is the concerts and tours that make most of the money and before soon someone is going to take those two pieces from under the nose of the record companies, bundle them together and present it as a viable alternative. Play on, I say!

August 22, 2005

Commitments

If you try to catch too many bolting horses at the same time, all by yourself, the chances are that you'll catch none at the end of the day. So, I have decided to let them run around for a while, tire themselves out and then catch the best five without killing myself in the process. The horses, of course, are my priorities and I am just going to let them run amok and wreak havoc. For now I am tired with trying; Let them tire out too and then we shall see what can be done.

Last week I met someone whom I was meeting only for the second time in almost five years. I asked him if I had changed much from those times and he replied that I had not and that even from that time what constituted me was set so much in stone that there was hardly any space left for change in me. The observation baffled me for I could not really figure out if I should have been happy hearing that or be scared that I have to live with this crap for the rest of my life.

Apparently, it was a week for answering questions, some asked by me, some asked by others. In an extension of the very befuddling "why do men fear commitments, especially the specific one of marriage" question, I was asked if I feared it in the same way too. All this while I thought I too had the same phobia, of being tied to the same person, the same set of needs, but I figured I was not; I am just mortally scared of being married to the wrong person. Of course, this could all be driven by the sudden reintroduction of loneliness into my life after having lived virtually married for almost a year now.

As you grow older, the degree of flexibility within you, covering both emotional and social needs, deteriorate at an even pace. I can't imagine myself going the distance anymore that I would have gone when I was madly in love for the first time at age eighteen. For better or for worse, to borrow the earlier metaphor, a lot of things about yourself become set in stone. You can lie to yourself and tell yourself that it not that way, but the truth does eventually catch up with you and a marriage is not something you want to mess up on that count. It is something you do for life and it has to hold up for that long, at least you should want it to.

One of the things that I have always envied about people around me is the apparently normal lives they live, of having a regular support system of parents and other things around them. In fact, a lot my life has been wasted in either looking for it or trying to replicate it, but in the most warped ways possible. In the past six months I have come to realize that it is just not on. I am the way I am, whether I like it or not. I have grown way too old now to change; I am just too used to being on my own to be able to stand even a token amount of nagging. There just has to be some other way around it.

Other than the earlier said loneliness, it has been a tough time otherwise too. All of a sudden, a bunch of the people, the ones that I hold very dear and close to, are moving out or have already moved out of Delhi. I have not settled in yet into the new job and there is the perpetual problem of mine of being too tough on myself and having really high and unrealistic expectations when it comes to anything. It is so very tempting to drop everything and run away, but at the same time the challenge in the impossibility of the situation is also quite appealing. But does it have to be this difficult to like something too?

In the meantime I have decided that retail therapy is my best friend. I drove across to Gurgaon and picked up this pair of lovely shoes that I have wanted to buy for a long while now. The agenda had included shirts and probably two more pairs of shoes, but decent clothing for men that do not cost a fair amount of your soul and most of your wallet is hard to find in Delhi. That combined with the godawful weather and the formula one race in the evening meant that I back home with just the shoes. Tomorrow, another long week will start; all I can hope for is that the optimism holds, at least for a couple of days.

August 19, 2005

Fixes

Come to think of it, there is hardly anything surprising about the fact that my life has sneaked out of control, once again, right under my nose. The current scenario is one where it once what was supposed to be a controlled disaster is gradually spiraling out of control and I need to stem the rot somewhere before it gets too late. It is really funny when one of those 'it can't happen to me' moments stares you right in the face, when you least expect it. I am not sure where I would have to start and how, but it does look like everything from eating to sleeping needs fixing and it needs to be fixed soon.

Most of the week has already wafted by me, of which I don't remember much other than cooking some excellent pomfret and the goof up du jour of not checking if there is enough fuel in the motorcycle to take me till office, which led to some really touch-and-go moments that thankfully did not culminate in my having to push the bike to nearest petrol pump. Strangely, I had thought that, after the recent developments, I would have a lot of time on my hands and not much to do with it. Instead, I seem to be even busier than I've ever been, though I have no clue where all that time disappears off to.

Today, after a long time, I'd be making a visit to a Barista outlet in the evening and I could not help but wonder about how Baristas have lost their sheen since their early days. Even with the fancy wifi connections they offer at some select joints, the user experience has practically remained the same since they started and there is hardly anything refreshing about it anymore. In comparison, most kids these days seem to prefer hanging out at Cafe Coffee Days, which is precisely the reason why I don't like them much in the first place. In fact, the coffee culture seems to have been completely lost on me.

August 17, 2005

But why?

Yes, I got back to town early Tuesday morning and I did want to write about the trip and its finer details, only that it just did not happen. After a lot of contemplation, I have come to the conclusion to just fuck it. After all, why should I write about long, ghoulish 400 kilometer a side drives to the hills? Why should I even bother saying any of that?

I could tell you how wonderful all of it was. I could tell you how the clouds turned up in the valley to see us off only hours before we left. I could tell you how wonderful it was to sit around a campfire and sing all those old songs. I could tell you how wonderful it was to push myself to drive an average of 10 hours one side to get to the place and back.

But I would not tell you any of that. In fact I am not sure if I even want to tell myself that it was all that and more. And I won’t tell you a thing about how things are now that I am back. Hell, I am not even sure if you want to know anything at all. In fact, I guess I am pretty sure I am not going to say about it at all.

Poppycock

Every time I get ever-so close to accepting that women are the vainest creatures on earth, I get to be in the company of men and once again experience the pure joy of the game they are so fond of playing: My dick is the longest, biggest, etcetera. Just in case any of you guys have not noticed it, get used to it, it belongs to you. Bigger, better, faster, smaller – it does not really count. Now can we get on with the program please?

August 12, 2005

Postmortem

I do love it when the angelic, self-righteous voice in my head starts with a whisper, as the prelude to a multi-chorus crescendo, “turn it around, turn it around you stupid freak, this is about the best chance you are going to get to turn your life around.” Of course, all the other times it is the really sexy one with the dual pronged pointy ones who whispers sweet nothings like “fuck it, who gives a damn anyway, go ahead, life is nothing but one long fun ride, fuck it all right up and then wallow in things ranging from self-pity to self-adulation before another wave hits you.”

On a more positive note, I can beatmix pretty well now. I am working really hard to leave the crutches of the BPM counter and figure out the track speed only with my ear and I have a long way to go. I can’t quite get the measures and other technical mumbo jumbo right, which means even with an excellently beatmixed transition it can sound quite un-harmonic every now and then. Even then it was a pleasure to play back the mix that started up with a list like this: Deep Dish - Say Hello (Paul van Dyk mix), Mark Otten – So Serene (Original mix), Armin van Buuren – Shivers, Paul van Dyk feat. Wayne Jackson - The Other Side (Deep Dish Other than this Side Mix).

When the city is on fire, where do we head? Of course, for the hills my dear friend and that is where I am headed this weekend. It is a dreadful 340 kilometer drive that awaits me during the early hours of Saturday morning, but the place and two days of peace and quiet should be worth it. Last time I had tried something similar, with a much shorter drive to Ambala, the experience was quite not something to be remembered (at least the drive part of it) and hopefully, (touch wood, crossed fingers) this time the experience should be better, but I am not counting on it. Hell, I have not even packed for it and I’ve already gone past the deadline I’d set for myself.

The days since the long-planned parting have been something of a revelation. For one, I am taking it a lot better than what I thought I would. Then again, I am going nowhere with my plans for charting out a clear course, there are somewhat concrete ideas that can be seen along the road every now and then like dimly lit street lamps, otherwise there is just total darkness. And then there are the explanations, almost everyone asks for one, as to why it worked out this way. Whilst explaining it occurs to me that it all sounds so convoluted and unconvincing, leading me to fall back on “damn it, we wanted it to be over, are you happy now?” But I don’t say that. I just keep explaining, now I am not even sure of what the original line was.

Work is something of an enigma now, the more I try to fix it, the more it runs away from me and pops up behind a different hill as a totally new character. Once again I see the old specter of the execution lagging far behind the idea and there is the constant threat of insignificance hanging over my head like one of those heavy pieces of machinery that adorn the elevated stations that are being built for the Delhi Metro. I mean, we were supposed to have left all this behind and have started afresh. Is it just me or is the Indian technology/media workplace stuffed with people who sadly lack the imagination and purpose to create something that is done right and worthwhile to do after having spent so many years in the industry?

August 07, 2005

Trinkets

While cleaning up a major part of the shoebox house and some of the recent memories attached to it, I came across, in one of my hard-to-open drawers, a case with a considerable amount memorabilia from the past stashed away in it. It had everything from my identity card from the college days back home to doodles, scribbles and a bunch of knick knacks from that time. Incidentally, these are not the only items from the past that I seem to have collected over time.

I still keep old emails stashed away in folders across my numerous email accounts and there is an entire collection of old handwritten letters, my first and only electric shaver, a broken Sony walkman that kept me in touch with music during the early years of non-opulence in Delhi, a folder full of greeting cards, couple of diaries that belonged to lovers from the past and numerous trinkets that have no value other than the person and the occasion associated with it.

Coming back to the case with the old documents, it almost felt like being suddenly flashed back into a period in time that has gone absent without leave from your mind. Even though most of my good friends from that time are still more or less around, most of them have gone their own ways and it is only these trinkets that serve to remind me of those times. Even if it was by purpose, all that I am left with these days to remember the past are the same little nonsensical stuff. No wonder that I feel so lost most of the times.

On a different note, I am slowly beginning to find my feet and bits of my strength again. I dread to write it down though, since every time I make such a pronouncement my life seems to take it as some sort of a cue and decides to bonkers on me. But I do need to organise my time and effort in a much better manner. I need to travel a lot more, get down to finishing off that story whose outline has been lying still-born in my mind and somehow find the non-existent funds to redo my place. Time and money, where have you guys disappeared off to?

August 06, 2005

Convoluted

It should have come as no surprise that, as usual, I went to the railway station to drop my favourite companion of the past two years all by myself. After which I made the customary lonely drive back home, contemplating all that has been, all that could have been and all that should be from that point on. Ignoring the poignancy of the moment, an interesting observation then dawned one me ¬– that, over time, I have always been to these places of travel to receive and send off people I have loved and cared about, but when it comes to seeing me off or receiving me, there is never anyone. I guess that says a lot for itself, does it not?

Of course, more than anyone, I know the drill – that this is not the end, but a new beginning and that life should go on and the other things that people tend to tell you when you have just been through a rough patch. But I believe that in order for that to happen, I must take the fork off from the much-traveled road, be honest to myself about what I want and where I want to get to and who I want to be. Choices, they are the bittersweet bane of the so-called free lives that we strive to live. Mix that with an omnipresent urge to keep pushing ahead to better things from what they are and you get the essential blueprint of my life.

But where is it that one really wants to be? Is it to be a millionaire? Is it to have a family, two kids, trophy wife, dog, really smart house and two cars or is it to look beyond the obvious and already done too many times over and find that bit of real estate on earth where you can be truly yourself and be with someone who would accept and understand you for what you are? The trouble, as you could have guessed by now, is to know what you really are. What if you do not know have the slightest understanding about that? What if you really do require a second party to observe, in a rather objective manner, about how things are proceeding? Being understood was never easy.

Mind fucked is a rather convenient phrase to sum up the above-said phenomenon. You can trace the origins of it to as far back as you can want to. It could be parents, childhood trauma, nuclear testing, global warming and anything else that you can put your finger on. Maybe I never got to play enough cricket as kid when I wanted to do that, maybe I could have done with a bit more support when I was growing up, maybe all I wanted was someone to stand by me and say “it is going to be okay, just hold on to me,” maybe the truth is that I can run as much as I want to but I can’t ever get around to escaping the fact that what I want is a pair of shoes that would no longer fit me. Maybe what I don’t understand is that I am looking for the wrong thing.

August 04, 2005

Lunaresque

I've woken up on the other side of the moon finally. I do not know if it is the drudgery of the empty spaces or if it is the enormity of the task at hand that is harder to come to terms with, still I am slowly feeling my way around like someone learning to walk all over again.

August 01, 2005

Moorings

Even after some excellent company, amazing settings and crazy dancing that went on till five in the morning at the very exquisite Elevate, there is still a sickly haze that hangs over proceedings. I must admit, I am more than a bit winded, unmoored and scraping the bottom of an emotional barrel that won’t survive a lot more of it anymore.

Where I stand right now is not a lot of fun. I am constantly lingering between various states of being an emotional train wreck; I lack any kind of direction in life, I’ve turned alienating myself into a fine art and I am not too sure if I have the keys anymore that open the doors to my mind. Not that it would help a lot, but hey, you could always try.

I guess everyone wants to be rescued, to be granted their peace or purpose by someone else, in life. Or am I just being too presumptuous here? In any case, I don’t have that urge or feel that need anymore. It is not like I don’t really want it, but I am just tired and disgusted by seeing what I don’t want, over and over again. Makes any sense? I guess not.