Saturday, December 26, 2009

Its Poe!

Discovered this book at Saurav's. And the memories came rushing in.

I first heard Poe (and also heard "of" Poe) in class 7, when Noel Pinto (Podgy) bellowed and thumped and mesmerized us all, to win the English Elocution Contest of 1996. And Tell-Tale-Heart became my first Poe experience. At that point of time, I was merely interested in the recitation opportunities of his works. I guess, I wanted to emulate Noel, and couldn't think of a better source, to start looking for prose that would catapult me into the world of hot, desirable, high school elocution heroes! Ummm ok, so that was a little exaggerated, but you get the drift.

After about a year, by when my wild fantasies of hitting the popularity charts by way of Poe's works had all but dissipated, I got reacquainted with his writing. Some folks had set up a small book exhibition in the school library, and I gave them the money I had diligently saved up for the last coupla months to buy something nice and impressive for the girl I had a crush on, in exchange of a collection of Poe's writings. Though, I must admit, that there were a lot of mixed feelings, when I was parting with my hard earned money!

And my interest in him, has not waned since. There is something in his writing that I can't quite explain. But everytime I get back to it, there's something new in there for me to discover. Whether be it Dupin's ratiocination, or the guilty beating of the tale telling heart, Poe's stories always had me reading breathlessly, transported into the world he weaved for his readers. Immeresed in the feelings that he wants us to feel. There has never been a dull moment while reading his works.

So, as I start reading a work of fiction, based on the events leading up to, and causing his untimely death, I couldn't help but remember one of the heroes of my childhood. It is amusing, how some lost memories, insignificant thoughts, come rushing in without any notice and give you a moment of unadulterated joy!

Wednesday, December 09, 2009

All Over Again!

The last two weeks or so, have been characterized by a very painfully apparent loneliness. No prizes for guessing, that this also coincided with D's London visit. Long hours of giggly, loud, happy telephone conversations were replaced by the drone of snoring. Excessive, or rather Obsessive (yes, that sounds more appropriate) flips of the phone to check for messages, have given way to utter apathy towards the same device. And I am hitting the Refresh button of my mail windows, atleast 95% fewer times! Welcome to my world of Long Distance Frrraandship, getting even longer.

But NO. This post is not about feeling lonely, or blue, or anything bad. On the contrary, this is about Hope. This is about the skip of my heartbeat, everytime I realize that its less than a week now. This is about the evil, presumptuous pleasure, of Anticipation.

Yes. Right now, there are very few things that are so constantly, totally, overwhelmingly running through my mind. And the idea of having D back to a more approachable and available location, is pretty high up, among them! Yes, I think I am just about ready to start getting to know D, all over again!

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Mortality And RD!

Its been quite an atypical Sunday for me! Well, not only did I make an honest attempt at cleaning up my room, I also had these very weird, morbid thoughts of what happens to my dreams, my people, my passion, if tomorrow, suddenly I were to die?!? You know, just like that. In the blink of an eye! Whoosh! Gone! What happens then, to everyone and everything that's left behind?

Couldn't really find any concrete answers, really. There were none, and I kept going around in circles, which obviously didn't help. But what did happen, was that I realized that I need to really start to make the most out of each and every moment of my life. Steve Jobs had said the same, in his now famous speech, but it didn't really make much sense to me, till today.

Time really is running out for everyone, and the worst part is, you never know, how much of it is left. If you gotta do something, NOW is the best time to do it. You wanna go learn that musical instrument? Start today. Always wanted to touch the remains of Machu Picchu? Don't wait till your retired at 60. Wanted to start that company? Been waiting to tell her how you feel about her? Go on. Now is as good a time as any, if not better. Don't wait. Who knows, it might never come to pass, if you wait too long...

Thursday, November 26, 2009

U Turn?

Had a wonderful ride in the morning. From home to my dayjob. It was cold, it was foggy, and somehow, it reminded me of Cal. Home. Thoughts, that somehow, inevitably manage to bring a smile to my face! ALWAYS!

So it was, that with these thoughts of home in my mind, I turned on the radio, and caught them playing The Black Eyed Peas - Meet Me Halfway. And there was something in that sound, that totally managed to transport me back in time. Effortlessly. It was, as if, I had woken up, and found myself in class 3, Mrs. Meena Mukherjee's class. Alongside Rupak and Rupesh. Enthusiastic about life. Almost expectant. Happy.

Those of you who have followed these mindless rants of mine, are no stranger to my almost compulsive Pastophobia! Weird, because though I had a self confessed misspent youth, nothing really warrants such an extreme negative reaction towards the past. No jail term, no substance abuse charges, no parental discord, no illegitimate biological offsprings. And yet, something about the life gone by, makes me not want to look back at it, with any fondness, that most people my age feel. And everytime I come across someone who talks well of his past, it makes me feel weird. As if, a chunk of my own life disappeared into a coma or something!

So, when today I felt I had travelled back in time, I almost, involuntarily braced myself up for one of the heavier bouts of pastophobia to hit home. But surprisingly, it didn't. I didn't feel any remorse at spending time in class3 doing the things I did. None at all. Infact, I had this warm, good, happy feeling! Strange. Strange! This phenomenon definitely demanded further investigation. After all, its unnatural for RD to feel this way!

I warily started to walk down the proverbial memory lane. Tentative at first. Small little steps. Not overreaching. Not pushing my luck, over this surprisingly happy discovery, too far... And well, I was happy I did. Realized, there ARE parts of my life, that I wouldn't mind revisiting. Happy moments. Good times. And after all these years of believing that I couldn't have come up with a montage of Hey That's ME! That's ME! moments from the last 20 odd years, it was a positively enlightening realization. Really was. And before I relapsed into my usual self flagellating self, decided to document this unnatural phenomenon, to be remembered by RD Followers, into eternity...

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Logic Is Not Always The Best Yardstick, Or So Says RD!

So, am sitting here, staring out of the window at the grey, overcast skies. These few days (hopefully my last) at my current day job, have been very unproductive in all counts. Nothing, Absolutely Nothing of value has been created, solved, or worked upon, as far as I am concerned. Frequent mood swings, and restless habits that take time to shrug off, have contributed to this, in no small extent.

Anyways, my latest crib about the world around me, has less to do with the event that triggered it, and more with another, much deeper inner conflict, that has bothered me over the years. I guess, the incident was just the proverbial last straw that broke the camel's back. Though the phrasing has an ominous sound to it, be rest assured, all is well.

So The D will be visiting family, and the trip details have all worked out and all. Was pretty excited about it, as she had to wait long and hard, to get things done. And then, had this sudden urge to surprise her with a visit. You know, the typical RD Thinga! Pack a set of clothes, get on a bus, get to her house and ring the bell, while trying hard to keep the "So-Whose-The-Man-Huh-Huh" grin, on! Called up the trusted duo of M and P to arrange for the finances and the logistics. That's when, it occured to me, that staying in D's city is a problem. And no matter how hard I tried, couldn't come up with a hack to that. Eventually, decided to give up on the Surprise Factor, and spoke to her about it. I was already planning ahead, working out the logistics in my head. Certain, that asking The D to work out a solution, was a mere formality. She'd be resourceful enough to come up with a hack.

And that's when things played out, against the script. Realized, that she wouldn't really want me around. No. That's not entirely correct. Ok, let me rephrase that. She would surely love to have me around, but given the whole scenario, the answer to RD's being there or not, was a hesitant, reluctant, No. Hesitant and reluctant. But a No, nonetheless.

And it hurt. RD is quite sensitive about not imposing on someone. Stigma, from a past, better left forgotten. So, he makes an extra effort, to ensure that he doesn't get himself into a situation that even mildly makes him feel unwanted. And here, due to a gross miscalculation, for which there was no one else to blame, he was in a situation that he tries very hard, to avoid. The realization was so sudden, that there was no time to make a graceful exit either. It was a rout, without even a vestige of dignity!

Even by my biased interpretation of facts, its obvious that it was a mistake at my end. It is totally unacceptable, to presume reactions of others. It more often than not, results in impending disaster. And if I were to logically analyze it, I'd rubbish the whole incident as a trivial conversation, to be forgotten pretty much as soon as its over.

But that is where the conflict plays up. The conflict between what you should do, and what you eventually end up doing. The D has impeccable logic on her side. No doubt about it. I'd have suggested the same, given the constraints at hand. I'd arrive at the same conclusion, without an iota of doubt. But at the same time, I can't help feeling a little empty inside. Wondering, if I'd have done the same, had I been in her shoes.

That line in itself betrays a flawed logic. Even without giving it considerable thought, I can think of a number of counter arguments, to prove that its selfish, illogical, egotistical, to say the very least. And yet, I find no solace in that. It still hurts. It does.

Monday, November 16, 2009


How long does it take you, to become the guy you hated to be? A Year? A coupla years? Half a lifetime? Take your pick. But don't you deny the fact, that sometimes, in your own comfortable, cozy, little world, you too have become a monster you Never, Ever thought you could become.

Lately, this thought has been haunting me. I have good enough reasons to believe, that slowly, yet surely, I am turning into the person, I had vowed not to become, as a child. And strangely, I feel helpless in stopping this juggernaut!

Today I was giving some gyaan to Deepti (Bose), about the need to verbalize things that bother us. This supposedly helps us sort them out. And well, if you are slightly "touched" in the head, like Yours Truly, you can actually look back after years, and laugh at all the things that bothered you, back in the day. So, I thought, well, why not talk about all the things that I have been thinking about lately, that have been making me miserable. Atleast, that way, if I ever discover the wisdom to learn from my past, I will have something to fall back on.
  1. Stop bothering D about moving. I have put myself in her shoes, and honestly, I am surprised that she hasn't hit out at me, yet! I know, I would have. So, STOP. Things have fallen into place quite nicely, till now. No particular reason to believe that they won't, in the near future. By pushing her, I only increase the probability of alienating her, disillusioning her about a relatively big and important decision in her life.
  2. Stop taking Madhudi and Pintuda for granted. This has been on the agenda for a while now, and to give some credit to myself, I think I have also succeeded, to a small extent. Just gotta carry on with the good work.
  3. Start to extensively live, breathe, eat, drink, sleep CN! For a while, looking around for alternative day job opportunities had distracted me. And now, when I feel that my day has been incomplete and empty, I realize what I have been missing. The sooner I can get back to My Baby, the better it will be, for all concerned.
  4. Stop worrying about things that are beyond my control. There has been some undue pressure from the latest employer, that has got me worried. Can't remember a time in the past, when I was so worried about such trivial things. So, why should I lose sleep over it now? No point in giving more importance to things, than they truly deserve. Have a Goal. Gotta keep moving towards it. Rest is all happenstance!
I guess, if I could work on these, for the next coupla weeks, I should be doing fine. And while I was writing this, I remembered, that a while back, I had written this, and it brought a smile to my face, to realize, that I have managed to mend most of those things, that were broken in my life, back then. There IS Hope yet. This too shall pass, am sure of that.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Back To The Blues

Well, it seems like no matter how hard I try, I am never too far from the next Depression Cycle. Though this was a pretty long run that I had, as is evident from the date of the last blog post. And yes, I am one of those fatalistic Fraud Bongs (do I have to be politically correct in my own blog???) who only feels like writing when things are down in the dumps!

So, well, its that time of the year again, when I get very edgy. Pujas are around, and there's a feeling in the air. Can't explain, but something's different. The sunshine feels warmer, the wind is not chilly but it is refereshingly cold, the birds chirp that bit sweeter. Nature seems poised to welcome the Goddess, and yet, the contrast with what I feel inside, couldn't have been starker! Felt similar, last year round. But then, I managed to crash in at Rommel's. That was some relief. But now that I AM at Rommel's, what now? Where do I run to now?

When I try and look inside, all I can see is the desire to run away. Run far, far away. One part of me, simply disgusts me. The fact that I am even writing this here, spewing all the dark, blue inside, when everyone around me is so happy and cheerful, is reason enough. While another, just watches, amused by the stupidity of it all.

If I can't run away, can't I atleast hide under the bed and sulk? Please? With comfort in the knowledge that MnP are just sitting around in another room, and D is only a couple of minutes away? Please? Please? Please? I don't wanna be alone this Pujas. I don't wanna try and fill up the empty loneliness inside, with empty crowds outside. It doesn't work for me. It JUST DOESN'T WORK FOR ME!

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Relief @ 3 Goddamn AM!

Usually, by 3AM on any given day, I am so far gone that the only thing that I can possibly do apart from work, is laugh hysterically (like here and here)! Its too much to expect RD to do much else at that God forsaken hour! However, last night was an exception. Last night, I felt relief. Well, yes. The dud that I am, things took a little time to hit home. But when they did, whoa! What a relief it was. Had me grinning ear to ear for no apparent reason, and I was so definitely not complaining!

I have always felt that the biggest flaw of startups is the inherent romanticism associated with them. And I dare say, at the same time, it is also their biggest draw! For that guy whose running low on confidence while chasing his dreams, desperately looking around for something to hold on to when things are looking really bad around him, its this romanticism of doing a startup that keeps him afloat! The idea of doing something that you want to do from the bottom of your heart, and not just because, can be an amazing upper! Add to that the rebellious angle to it all, and you have a feeling not very different from a RockNRoll band.

But that’s all very nice and good for the person who wants to do the startup. But for people around him, the same romanticism can be quite disillusioning. It might seem very cool initially, but as soon as the shine wears off, and the dust, sweat and grime of a startup begins to get apparent, the romanticism fades. And a lot of dynamics get affected and this in turn leads to inevitable disharmony.

So, last night when it finally hit me that some of the people in my life, who really matter, have crossed the mental barrier of looking only at the rosy side of the startup scene, there was a sudden sense of extreme relief. Lately my conscience has been eating at me. Call it the Roller Coaster ride if you will, but I felt guilty. For what exact reason, I don’t know. But there was this feeling that I was misleading people who were probably betting high on me. And their trust was something I didn’t want to break.

But now that little niggle at the back of my mind is gone. M, P and D, all understand how it could all end up in chaos, and if, inspite of this, they decide to bet on RD, I think its only fair that RD stops worrying about them, and works his back off, to ensure that things work out!

The Romanticism is dead and gone, Long live the evergreen Romanticism!

Monday, May 25, 2009

Rains, Voices And My 2 Cents Worth

"I think its something about the water" - famous line spoken by a famous woman, on a hot Saturday afternoon, in a distant city. And that is what I found myself telling RD, last evening. The city is back to the "Vintage Bangalore" weather. Overcast in the morning, slightly sunny in the noon, drizzles in mid to late afternoon, rains in the evening, to climax into nice cool nights! If this isn't purrrfect, I don't know what is. Add to that, hot spicy piyanjis, strong Earl Grey, dependable friends, and never ending conversations. I wish things wouldn't ever change. (sigh)!

Ever since I was a kid, hovering around the stage, yearning to be in the limelight, trying hard to break out of the shadow of a Wannabe, I have been fascinated by people's Voices. I am struggling to find the right words to articulate my thoughts on this, but what I am trying to say is that people's voices play quite a major role in the impression that I form of them, in my mind. I may not admit it at a conscious level, because it sounds too frivolous, but I know, somewhere deep down, its true.

And so, when I heard this woman's voice, late last night, I was, to put it mildly, "charmed". It was surreal. Take a dollop of vanilla ice cream, and slowly pour a generous scoop of hot chocolate sauce over it. Now tell me how you feel. I was feeling the same, when I heard her speak. Or, imagine sitting around a fire in the middle of a cold lonely desert, you light up on your last cigarette, and the slow burning crackle that you hear when you pull on your first drag. The insane melody of that lone comforting sound was as close a parallel as I can think of, to her voice as it floated down the phone line. I felt like I was wading through pink, formless clouds, drifting along, floating along, following the sound of her voice. Not caring where, not worrying how. Just as long as that voice would go on speaking to me, soothing, caring, tantalizing, sometimes inviting, sometimes distant, but always tempting, always there, I could go to the moon and back, and not know about it.

Yes, "charmed" really is an understatement.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

The Showman

(This was a mail to Chi, on a boring workday)

Whoa! Had an awesome experience just a coupla moments back. You know, my day was coming along pretty bad. Bored with this guy who is training us, frustrated with the way things are shaping up with The Baby back home, irritated with my own lack of intelligence in solving simple problems.

Went out to the cafeteria for a cuppa (you wouldn't ever dare drink chai in Bangalore, it SUCKS). I have this thing about always occupying the last table, looking out of the windows, with my back to the rest of the world. Yeah, talk about being UnSocial! So, I was walking to the rear of the cafeteria, with my cup of coffee, and they started playing The Calling - Wherever You Will Go. Pata nahin, there's something about that song which gets my adrenaline pumping. For the next coupla minutes I was transformed into another world, Totally! I was looking outta the window (this is on the 10th floor of the building), banging my head, playing my air guitar, sipping my coffee, mouthing the lyrics, tapping my feet! It was magical. An extraordinary feeling, bang in the middle of a very ordinary environment. Awesome!

Unfortunately, the song got over soon. And as I turned back to face the mundane reality of my life, realised I had an amused audience of 5-6 people. The Drama Queen in me was too far gone by then, for any form of restraint. So, I gave them an elaborate bow! ;) It was freaky! They probably haven't met an RD in their whole lives! The ShowMan in me was grinning from ear to ear! ;)

Anyways, back now. Sitting here, doodling, looking blankly through the presentations, periodically nodding to the instructor without knowing what he's talking about. Gosh! What a contrast!

Saturday, April 25, 2009

Amaze Me, Before You Teach Me

Have you seen Spirit, The Stallion Of Cimmaron? Its a nice animated movie about the life of a stallion who is born into the wild, taken into captivity, abused and mistreated, and who finally finds redemption. I can't explain what exactly it is about the stallion, but everytime I watch that movie (yes, its one of my favourites, and yes, I still love to watch animated movies), I find myself completely relating to its spirit, its attitude.

I admit I am a stubborn person. I am not really as smart or as intelligent as I like to think I am. But that doesn't stop me from not having much respect for The Establishment. I know my abilities, and I am fiercely protective about them. I respect myself, just as much as I respect someone else. I have never really given in to most of the pretenders who have come into my life, demanding my respect. No sir. That is one thing, you just can't demand from RD, and expect him to give in meekly. You have to command RD's respect. You have to earn RD's respect. I don't dish it around to anyone who just happens to be passing by. I think my respect for someone is precious. And so, I don't dole it out to people as alms for the poor of character. Absolutely NOT.

And my respect is one thing you totally need, before you can hope to teach me. I steadfastly revolt against people who have tried to get some stuff into my head, typically in a classroom setting, without first having me in awe of them. Ask some of the teachers at AG, or PESIT, or some of the trainers at my current day job. High Bozocity Quotient and Teaching RD, just don't gel too well.

And that's exactly what happened the other day, when I went in for a 3 day training session. It started off disastrously, and well, it went further downhill, from there on. The gentleman who had come over, knew less about the subject, than I did. He was definitely not competent enough to be training/teaching a bunch of people. Overall, he did nothing to put me in awe of him. Big mistake on his part.

I ploughed through two sessions, but then the devil got the better of me. I started disrupting the class with questions I knew he couldn't answer. Ofcourse, they were all valid questions. But I could have taken them up with him later. However, I didn't. I was in such an insane rage, for this total disrespect for my time, my abilities, that all I wanted to do then, was humiliate him. To let him know, that he can't get away with mediocrity. To send a message across to the Establishment, that they can't get away with shoving shit down our throats.

Ofcourse it didn't quite work out the way I wanted it to. What is worse than an incompetent man, is a nice and decent incompetent man. Before long, I was feeling so bad at having hurt someone who just couldn't hit back at me, that I couldn't carry on with the onslaught. But at the same time, letting him off the hook, meant that I had to sit through the rest of the sessions, and bear with him! A choice between the devil and the deep sea. Ended up sitting through the rest of the sessions, without any more interruptions.

But later, it got me thinking. This surely is a flaw in my attitude. A considerably damaging flaw, given the fact that most people are not flamboyant enough, to impress me with their knowledge/abilities. However, that also doesn't mean that they don't have anything that I couldn't learn from them. Moreover, at heart most folks are good and decent. Doesn't make me feel like a Superhero, being mean to them.

But at the same time, I hate rewarding mediocrity in any form. It is detrimental to human society in the long run. We should always aspire for perfection, even if we may not attain it. But aspire we must. We shouldn't settle for anything less. Else, it sets a trend and then, we start to compromise on things, where we shouldn't have had the need to, earlier.

I am still divided on this. Don't think I can change my attitude in a day or two. No, that aint happening. But I think this requires further retrospection. I only hope, that I have adequate courage and will, to act on whatever it is that I decide upon, after I have reached a conclusion.

To end this post, can't help but post a couple of lines, which I think I etched on my heart, mind and soul, the day I read them. Ayn Rand - Anthem.

What is my joy if all hands, even the unclean, can reach into it?
What is my wisdom, if even the fools can dictate to me?
What is my freedom, if all creatures, even the botched and impotent, are my masters?
What is my life, if I am but to bow, to agree, and to obey?

Friday, April 24, 2009

A Lazy, Nostalgic Saturday Morning

Am so totally in a mood to waste today. Eakdam se dont' feel like working! :( And there is loadz to do! However, what I do feel like doing today, is to keep singing along to the songs playing in my WinAmp now. When I looked through the playlist, I was amused. These are songs I haven't listened to, in a long, long while. Most are a throwback to my AG days. Times when MP3 was oh so cool and new. English music was just beginning to make its presence felt in my world. Life was peppered with abundant opportunities. A 166MHz computer with a 2.1GB hard disk, was equivalent to a Porsche Boxster to me. It couldn't get better than that. And probably, it never did.

Anyways, making a list of the songs that I am listening to now. Maybe you can go oh, I'd like to listen to that too! ;)

A-Ha - Take On Me
A-Ha - Crying In The Rain
Cat Stevens - Wild World
Chumbawumba - Tub Thumping
Del Amitri - Roll To Me
Eagle Eye Cherry - Save Tonight
Enigma - Return To Innocence
Enigma - Gravity Of Love
Fear Factory - Cars
Glen Campbell - Rhinestone Cowboy
Lighthouse Family - Aint No Sunshine When She's Gone (cover)
Lyte Funky Ones - Girl On TV
Real McCoy - Come And Get Your Love
Roxette - How Do You Do
Roxette - Sleeping In My Car
Roxette - The Look
Sasha - I Feel Lonely
Seal - Kiss From A Rose
Stevie Wonder - I Just Called To Say I Love You
Stevie Wonder - Part Time Lover
Take That - Back For Good
The Wonders - That Thing You Do
Tom Jones - You Sexy Thing
Toploader - Dancing In The Moonlight

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

I Hope You Dance

The other day, on my way back from another depressing day at my day job, this song started playing on the radio. The music wasn't extraordinary, nor was the voice of the singer. But what grabbed me, were the lyrics. By the time the song was over, I was back to my usual hopelessly optimistic and loving it, self!

I think when am breathing my last, if I can honestly look back at my life and say with conviction that I lived my life by this song, I'd die a happy man. And on that optimistic and cheerful note, let me end this short post, right here.

I hope you never lose your sense of wonder
You get your fill to eat
But always keep that hunger
May you never take one single breath for granted
God forbid love ever leave you empty handed
I hope you still feel small
When you stand by the ocean
Whenever one door closes, I hope one more opens
Promise me you'll give faith a fighting chance

And when you get the choice to sit it out or dance
I hope you dance
I hope you dance

I hope you never fear those mountains in the distance
Never settle for the path of least resistance
Living might mean taking chances
But they're worth taking
Lovin' might be a mistake
But it's worth making
Don't let some hell bent heart
Leave you bitter
When you come close to selling out
Give the heavens above
More than just a passing glance

And when you get the choice to sit it out or dance
I hope you dance
I hope you dance

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Suckers For Acceptance

If you've travelled by 3 tier (class???) in trains, as much as I have over the last couple of years, or commuted on the streets of Bombay (and NO, I will not call it Mumbai), you are probably not affected by the eunuchs, the third gender any more. You have been desensitized to them, just like the handicapped children, the blind beggar, or the man lost in the big city needing some money to get back home. But while travelling by train the last time round, I couldn't help thinking about them. And that is how, this post, came into being.

A very typical scenario, involving a group of eunuchs in a train, goes something like this : You are sleeping/dozing unaware. Suddenly you are awakened by a loud clap. You open your eyes in haste, and see a garishly dressed (wo)man, standing in front of you, speaking in horribly lilting tones with an unmistakable male undertone, asking you for money! Here, one of the three scenario's unfolds : You either quietly pay up and be done with it. You try and ignore them for a while till they either try to kiss you or touch your body in a way which would have been seductive, if it weren't downright revolting, and you hurriedly part with some money to end the harassment. And sometimes, though rarely, you just manage to wriggle your way out, without having to pay.

I fall in the last category.

I have never paid any money to them, in all these years of travelling 3 tier (And no, I haven't been to Bombay). And yet, my solution doesn't involve any rudeness, cheap threats, or snide mean comments on their sexuality (or lack thereof). Its just a small, sweetly told lie, smeared with a generous helping of manipulative psychology.

I look at them (direct eye contact is preferable), screw up my face to feign helplessness (or rather, what I think helplessness looks like), fold my hands, and utter something in the line of "Amma, student hain" (with extra emphasis on the first word). And believe you me, it has worked each and every time, for the last 8 odd years. There were few, who did ask a second time, but when I repeated the same line, with all the more emphasis on the Amma bit, they just quietly let me be.

It was incredible, as a psychological test case. Here you have a bunch of people who are unmoved by pretty much any insult that you can throw at them, actually reacting to something as simple as this! It was manipulative on my part, Yes. But nothing that they couldn't handle. Nothing that their collective frustration of being social outcasts for centuries, couldn't easily have overwhelmed. And so, the more I thought about it, the deeper I wanted to get into its mechanics. What exactly was it, that prompted such a reaction from them? Which part of their psyche, was this touching so deep.

My conclusion is, that it is the Need for Acceptance, that is at the root of this. What could have started out as a craving for social parity, now degenerated by the constant battering from a rigid society, to something as basic as a desire for mere acceptance. And this is not just restricted to the members of the third sex. I believe that this need for acceptance, is a basic need in all human beings. Though, it might be predominantly acute in any group which is a social minority. From the Rock'n'Roll wannabe who indulges in various forms of excesses to conform to an image to gain acceptance in his peer group, to the socially retarded geek who makes awkward attempts at conversation with the girl sitting beside him, and everyone else in between (which includes most of us, mere mortals). We all crave for attention from others. We all like to be a part of a group. An unexplainable urge to be cocooned in the comfort of the knowledge that there are people who accept us, just as we are. After all, at the end of the day we are all suckers for acceptance, aint we?

Sunday, April 12, 2009

Embracing The Past, And Loving The Future

It isn't easy to just wake up one day, and do something that you have been evading for the better part of the last 8 odd years. The inertia holds you back, if for no other reason, but just because. And if you are an RD, well, you also have to get over the innumerable self doubts, that you have cultivated, in all those hours spent alone, introspecting. And so, it wasn't easy for me to agree meeting up with Chini, when she suddenly called up Sunday morning, to let me know she was in town!

I have spent a lot of time evading my past, to put it lightly. For no apparent reason. I find excuses not to meet people, I was once great friends with. I deliberately forget to return calls from folks I once spent hours talking over the phone with. And in some extreme cases, I quite avoid passing by neighbourhoods, I once spent a majority of my evenings in. Yeah, yeah. I am your typical slime ball, scum bag, in person!

But there was something about Chini (or was it Mary??? [;)] ). There was always, something about Chini. She was comfortable to be around with, disarming warm smile, and an interesting thought process. I should know. After all, I spent countless afternoons, balancing math on one hand, and her and Ranga's idea of Lets Have Some Fun With The Geek, on the other.

And so, I decided to make an exception to the rule, and meet up with her. Though I spent the entire travelling time, from my home to the mall, thinking of all the things that could go wrong. The awkward unpleasant silences after pretty much having exhausted asking about all the common friends and acquaintances. The foot in the mouth moment while making small talk. The uncomfortable questions about what I am doing with my life. And these were the good scenarios! No wonder, it was with mild misgivings, that I entered Crosswords, looking for my old friend.

But the moment I met her, it was almost as if I had stepped into another world. Just two good, old friends, meeting up after ages. There we were, sitting at a Barista, talkng, laughing, joking, grossing each other out, and doing everything possible to be generally obnoxious to people around us. And surprisingly, I was Loving It! It was almost as if I was back in school! Below Mr. D's house, on hot, sweaty summer afternoons, sitting on a wooden charpoi, chatting away to glory without a care in the world, trying hard to be funny, grateful for everytime I could get Chi to laugh. I was back in my elements. I was back to being the good, old vintage me.

The next couple of hours were delightful. I realized that although she has changed quite a bit in these last couple of years, the changes were not bothering me at all. We could still chat for hours, laugh over silly jokes, and have a good time. None of the good things had changed.

Chini's train was delayed by a couple of hours. And as worrisome as she is, we ended up spending 3 odd hours at the station. And this was when, I got to know a new Chi. We were done talking about all the people we knew, back at AG. All the news had been traded. We were eerily close to the point I dread, when meeting old friends. The so what else, part. When all the conversation has dried up, and you are down to uncomfortable small talk.

But instead, we just found so many different things to talk about. In between a million cups of chai, with the setting sun and the transient ambiance of a partially busy railway station, I discovered a new person in her. I discovered a woman with dreams and aspirations. A girl with anxieties and insecurities about her future, much like my own. But above all, I rediscovered a friend. Sitting there on the platform, comfortably yapping away, happy at being a center of lethargy, bang in the middle of all the usual hustle and bustle, I wanted time to pause a while, so I could catch a breather, and soak it all in. Soak it all in, long enough, deep enough.

As I waved Chi goodbye and was walking back to the parking lot, I realized that all my insecurities, my self doubts, had miraculously resurfaced. No sooner had I turned around, I was wondering if she was more relieved than sorry, at finally getting rid of me. If I had been entertaining enough. Or worse, if I had failed to do anything that is expected of a friend. I guess, some things just don't change that much after all. However, I also found myself humming a couple of lines of a Boyzone song.

An old friend called the other day
And wasn't quite sure what to say
Didn't seem to know me anymore
And I said
Don't treat me like I'm someone new
I'm still the same one you used to talk to
But all I need from you friend
Is good conversation
Is good conversation
To put my mind at ease

Sunday, February 08, 2009

Anti Social

Been thinking about getting registered on Facebook, for quite a while now. No. Not because I wanna stay connected with friends. Quite on the contrary. I heard they have a great platform to build widgets on, and I wanna try it out. Sounds exciting. But just couldn't get myself to register.

The reason is simple. Everytime I try to, the whole idea of connecting with so many people, scares the hell out of me. Totally. I don't know, how this started, but I have slowly but surely developed a phobia of people. The repercussions are too scary to even think. I try not to think about it too much, but sometimes, it catches up with me. And that's when the blues hit home. Hard.

Glad am going home soon. I always get a lot of clarity when I spend a coupla weeks there. But lately, even that clarity, hasn't been lasting me long enough! Damn! I so need to find a permanent fix to this. I so, so, so need to.

Saturday, February 07, 2009

Wendy And Lucy

I just watched Wendy And Lucy. A wonderful movie. Really is. There were two particular instances, that I could so totally relate to.

In the first, Wendy is at the garage, asking about the repairs needed for her car. She is on the tightest of budgets, and has no means of generating extra cash. And yet, her car is essential, to even give her a decent chance of reaching her destination. That helplessness, that desperation, almost reeked of verisimilitude.

The other day, when I was running around, to get the lappie up and running, I so totally went through the same motions, myself. And what you feel, when you are caught in that scenario, cannot really be expressed in words. It almost felt like being trapped in a glass cage, when every second you feel that you can easily punch your way out of it, and yet, with each punch you realize the futility of it all.

The second, is when Wendy asks the Security Guard for change, to call from a pay phone. And he offers his phone to her, telling her that nobody uses a pay phone nowadays. A coupla days back, when Romit had dozed off in his room, and I couldn't find any way of waking him up, and opening the door for me, I was about to trudge off to the nearest pay phone. That's when the caretaker of the building, offered to call him from his phone. It was kind of embarrassing, when he was amused that I couldn't call out from my phone.

I can't really be certain, how I feel after having watched the movie. But I know, I certainly don't feel disheartened, about relating to a character in Wendy's predicament. I feel anything, but that. Yes, these are a little troubled times. Yes, a lot of things that I had taken for granted all along, I have now come to appreciate and cherish. But by no means, do I feel down in the dumps. They say, the night is darkest, just before the dawn. And inspite of all my defiance for conventional wisdom, this one time, I think I will believe them.