Thursday, May 28, 2009

Of emotional farewells, and gratitude for all the paperclips

It's been a long journey, and not one that would've been complete without you. When we first met, I was very young and as unrefined as they come. You were the high society kinds, someone the whole of silicon valley spoke of. I was proud of making it big enough to have you.

I agree, you were the one who changed for me. You even moulded into me, rising and lowering yourself according to my whims and fancies. Hope it wasn't too difficult for you. I also hope that you have loved me as much as I loved you, even though no words were exchanged.

I want to thank you for watching my back and covering my ass. As I move on, I realize what had inherently gone wrong between you and me. You were my comfort zone, and every once in a while, one needs to get out of it to discover the world outside. In a way, you and my possessiveness for you, describes the whys and wherefores of what I am leaving behind.

So yes, as I prepare for what could turn out to be the worst-yet-to-come, dear chair, I will miss you the most. Fare thee well, my friend - hope you find an owner worthy of you. And please, wish me luck.


The cab ride to the farewell-lunch place lasted just about 15 mins, but in those 15 mins I saw the last few years in front of me. You know, like memories scrolling in bright flashy lights in a marquee.

Those two had joined a few months before me, supposedly roughened up by their experience in Army. I believed to have been roughened up by life. Yesterday we remembered all of the last few years.

"Naive", he started.
"Full of hope", I added.
"Well, we still have some hope left", the other said.
"Oh, well, hope of a different kind."
"Grown up hope. Can you believe it?"

"Remember the time when I screamed on the phone and the whole office heard it", I pulled out a fragment of nostalgia.
The other two burst out laughing at the memory of a frizzy haired and firebrand me.

"And how solving little problems made you feel like King of the universe."
"Yeah well, now the EODs (end of days) don't seem like the end of the world."
"Remember how those two fought."
"And how we ducked under the table, trying to control our laughter."
"We have calmed down so much."
"Hmm, yeah", the other two agreed.

Ah, well. All that roughening up was followed by substantial sandpapering, I suppose.
Needless to say, most of yesterday was spent sulking.
Now if only overrated nostalgia could pave the way, I would like to get some real emotions through.

Monday, May 25, 2009

Many things.

These days, I get that feeling of being truly in love. No, it's more like the feeling of falling in love. With something, anything, someone, anyone. I just free fall.

Acutely aware that it has taken over me, I frantically search as to what it is that I want, that I need. It's not attached to anything or anyone, or my immense need to constantly want. In that moment, it's just me and the feeling. And I float, undrunk.

Maybe it's the wait for freedom. Maybe it's all the sunlight. Maybe it's the thoughts you inspire.

You are indeed two steps behind me.
There are some things that I solved a little faster than you.

And take a look around, you'll see what you cant find.
Like the fire that's burning up inside me.

There is this part in Chak de India where SRK says: Neeyat chahiye.
The line always stays in my head.
One can want a million things and all at the same time. One can wish till the world's end, y'know, hazaaron khwahishein aisi ke har khwahish pe dum nikle.
But to get even one, one needs the intent, isn't it?

Thursday, May 21, 2009

What were you doing on May the 21st, 1991?

We were on our way to Mangalore in a bus, Ma and I. We took the bus from Bombay like we always did. The western ghats are tricky, and hence a bunch of buses usually left together. Somewhere near or after Belgaum, our bus slowed down, and then stopped - we couldn't figure the confusion was, nobody told us, just some hints about one of the buses being caught up/delayed and hence this one had to wait. We reached in the morning. Amidst the noise and chaos of the reunion, someone screamed for us to shut up when we heard the heard the words "Rajiv Gandhi was assassinated" on the radio.

What we didn't know was that my uncle was traveling from Bombay on the same day, and on the bus behind and was the one that was caught and torched by rioteers (?), because the news of the assassination had spread by then. It tumbled into a ditch. He reached home 11-12 hours late.

Over the next few days, Doordarshan stopped the broadcast of all their "entertainment" programmes, and it was one of those occasions when noone complained. The entire family, led by my grandmother, wept in front of the TV, openly, as Sonia Gandhi hid behind her giant sunglasses and Priyanka looked suitably in control. Everyone made guesses about the future of the elections and the family.

18 years later, the memories of that time have hit adulthood and some of the details have been lost, but the bus ride the chill in the spine, the ambiance, the lull afterwards, I have never quite forgotten. Since then TV or not, I remember, albeit quietly, every year.

Recently, I was quite surprised when a friend asked me the same question in the midst of much rave-talk about his big backpacking trip to India in '91. It was surprising only because he is not Indian, though he is sufficiently brown on the inside. We swapped the reconstructed bits from our memory, that evening. "Where were you?", "What were you doing?"


Needless to say, everyone misunderstood me when I asked the question today. I wasn't campaigning for any political party, or saying that Rajiv Gandhi was the greatest PM India has ever had, or trying to bring up Bofors or gaping holes in his policy. I have little or no personal interest in the matter. It has little to do with recent death of Prabhakaran.

I was merely experimenting on whether people retroactively attach importance to ordinary goings on in the wake of a "big event". I was also trying to verify whether Rajiv Gandhi's death can be considered one of those "big events" for someone my age, or was it just me who remembers everything so vividly.

I have a substantially accurate memory of time leading to that event. And I wondered if many people could accurately reconstruct the mundane goings-on of a day because something seemingly big has happened. It was a study of how the brain captures memories of a Black Swan event.

It struck me when someone (Oprah, was it?) said about the day Obama won "It is one of those things where you'll tell the future generations - What were you doing that day when Obama won?"

I do believe that ordinariness of a day gets magnified because of a big event, and you retrofit the events leading to the point when the news was broken to you. I was skipping about in the corridor, doing my math, playing hopscotch - when I got the news. Some remember more details (from the start of the day), some less (five minutes before the event). Almost everyone remembers the location. It's almost as if people correlate the ordinariness of the time before to the degree of shock/joy/any-other-emotion experienced.

Right after the event, everything perhaps moves in a sort of slow motion. If the event was the cause for the succeeding chain of non-routine events in an otherwise normal day, for instance, riots, then even the normal circumstances during that day become a part of the memory, even if it's only to connect the dots, the high points, and one remembers every bit of a that train ride in excruciating detail.

Agreed, the importance of the event is subjective, it comes from the buildup, the months preceding, the media, the charisma yada yada. Someone in a small kampong in Malaysia is perhaps not that greatly affected by 9/11. But due to his charisma, or the general Kennedy-esque tragedies that have are attached to the family, Rajiv Gandhi's death seems to have had a great impact on quite a few people of our generation (except you, youth icon Manu). I think the previous generation was impacted by Indira Gandhi's assassination the same way.

So, yes, tell me, what other such events can you remember in this detail? Describe.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Of intelligence, stereotypes and word salads.

Overheard: You get tired of people complimenting you for your intelligence, and hence read trash which insults it.

Monday morning came with the unusual comparison to a very interesting character, a man, from a TV show. Immensely flattered by this compliment, my question was rather simple "Why aren't there any intelligent women to be compared against?". The answer I received was nothing short of a revelation: "Because intelligent women become a stereotype and then proceed to get utterly lost."

The Activist,
the Carrie Bradshaw, the power dresser, the Martha Stewart, the Liberated feminist, the Joni Mitchel, the SAHM, so on and so forth. At some point of time most get slotted, pigeonholed into their parts.

I have heard this before, I think. It never registered. And never before have I been this amused.

Monday, May 11, 2009

Every now and then..

...I do this to myself. Every now and then, I go back there and devour the trite.

Cut into little pieces, rinse-repeated in an infinite loop, the ordinariness of a story is executed in detail. And it's not just executed normally, it's clubbed to death. Then you round up the usual suspects who all go by the last name of Trite. Let me say that once more: TRITE.

Oh, and the drama in a bowl of Chocolate frosted sugar bombs.
Every single time, I put a skeptical spoonful in my mouth, and then I promptly start complaining about it. Ah, how does one resist the incredible urge to throw up.

I really should have no reason to complain. You would tell me, it's a choice I make. There are other people to read, other ideas to live by. I know. And yet, I don't know why I still do it.

I still do it, every single time. Every single time, I hop out of control. Rather, I hope out of control. Maybe it's the curiosity of knowing if something has changed. Maybe it's the insecurity of "Why can't I be like them?". Or the confidence of "Hell, I'll never go that low". The only reasonable explanation of why I go back is because oftentimes you see something really disgusting, and so really disgusting that you can't take your eyes off it.

No, something must be seriously wrong with my planetary alignment that makes me so masochistic. Marquis de Sade Saati.

Oh, don't ask what or who it is..