Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Truth comes from the most unexpected places...



An sms from an old friend in a different city, living a separate life and yet trying to keep in touch, bracing to keep the distance away...

Life means:
A winter evening,
Four friends,
Mild Rain,
Four pegs of whisky...

Life means:
100 bucks for petrol,
Two rusty old bikes,
An open road...

Life means:
Maggi noodles,
3:25 a.m.,
Rafi song on vividhbharati...

Life means:
1 prep leave,
1 night,
1 book,
8 duffers...

Life means:

*some text missing*

Yes, the truth hits you at the most unexpected moments.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

The popularity index

I sat myself down and spared a few minutes (which stretched into a whole afternoon) thinking what is more important to us popularity or to be right? It is a thin line that divides the two and quite easy to cross that divide.

What is it that makes us not see the glaring difference between the truth and the fake. I remember the strained smile that hurts at the corner of my lips, the unwanted enthusiasm that left me tired the end of the meeting, that expression of joy that holds no meaning, a familiarity with people where nothing such exists. But no, I find it difficult to do that every time.

Does that get me anywhere? I am still trying to figure out. Does the blatant truth hurt my friend or will that fake assurance make me a better friend? Should I let the thought of losing a friend over power my sense of right and wrong or should I be the one to bring that friend closer to the reality?

Well the fact that I am not that popular either should tell me something.

I am told that it is the art of social networking. A kind of investment of time and energy to build an image that I myself don't identify. So I see two identical figures standing side by side looking at each other with an expression of uncertainty and fear. Is it the fear that we all share when it comes to encountering the truth about ourselves? What shall we see in the mirror? Not the me I am supposed to look at - but the me I have built myself into. I don't find the me in that reflection. I wonder, is that me?
No, I cannot bear the thought of looking at anybody else in my mirror!

What should I do? Should I laugh?
Is it the desperation to be seen and known by the seen and known so important in life? As Milton said: "They also serve, those who stand and wait."
What is it that stops humanity to serve as they stand and wait? I think.

The words 'happening', 'in', 'popularity index', 'famous'... crowd my thoughts. I try to search for the me in that. I look hard. I see a vague image, pushed by people... to become the truth. But the sight scares me. I run away.

What have I lost? Not much. Just a few passersby who did not mean much in my life... but they sure did try to be someone. And then where would I have been. Again the thought scares me.

Monday, September 22, 2008

when things go wrong

Things couldn't have gone any more wrong, any more worse. After the many humanly hurdles,the elements threw the last and the toughest of hurdles.
The rains came...
An emergency meeting was called to salvage the situation.

Onam celebrations did happen. With a blast. Wonderful performances.
But hey where did things go wrong?
After the rains it was the soggy lawn. Sitting on it was out of the question. Thus over 100 chairs were carried out of the classrooms to the lawn. It was a moment to remember when everyone pitched in to make the evening 'happen'.
The time had to be shifted to post-dinner.
The usual CIEFL delays...
The programme starts with Sneha cracking the saddest joke she could come up with till date... but she still pulled it off.
Sharika had a wardrobe malfunction in both the traditional dances.
Vrinda got an electric shock because of the wet stage and the wires that were running underneath it. Hence, Thiruvathirakalli had to started again, and then the sound man forgot to increase the faders. So after two missed shots the dance finally happened. And all this going onstage and coming off did some good to the jittery nerves of the dancers.
The rest of the programme went smoothly with the high point being the play.
And then the chain of disasters started after everything got over. Two cases of cramps and faints.
That entailed a second round of running around...
But all said and done we all went to bed with the happy thought that despite everything we have pulled it off!

Sunday, September 21, 2008

just doesn't give up

The sky is overcast again. The countdown continues. The last few minutes have to be made full use of… just like one makes the best of her waking hours. All are running around to get everything into perfection. The dancers. The decorating committee. The actors. The sound team. The masters of the ceremony. The technician. There is an underlying tension inside all.
And in the midst of this hurly burly I suddenly find myself having nothing to do. I wait as the clock ticks. In a few minutes the room will be filled by the rustles of the fabric that will crowd this space that I prefer to call my own.
As I sit pondering I recall what I have done the whole day. Fairly a huge amount of work but nothing very concrete though. But the company was good. So time flowed as if it has wings. My first venture outside the room (after the late breakfast of maggi with coffee and a sad effort at studying) led me to the path of gossip. Then took up the brave front of a friend who stands by another. Threatened and coaxed people to come and help me in the deed. Lunch was another round of the serpentine maggi.
And then the rains came…
First in tokens and then as cats and dogs.
Nature betrayed us or were we too confident of its mood swings?
But man just doesn’t give up.

Friday, September 19, 2008

Good ol' Calcutta



This is the illustration of the old Calcutta featuring the Howrah Bridge in Geoffrey Moorhouse's book 'Calcutta'

Thursday, September 18, 2008

surprises

So who does not like a little bit surprise in one's life? We all want to spice up our lives with something new and something different. But what happens when even surprises become a norm, a cliché - that is - it no more remains a surprise, but becomes an aberrance to its definition? Let me give a hint – I’m talking about birthdays in CIEFL. Birthdays are always fun. Not because one gets a chance to be ‘special’, rather the often unsuccessful efforts that goes into planning a surprise party. Staying away from homes friends try to make one's birthday somewhat memorable. But one remembers those birthdays, not because of the expression of surprise on the birthday gal or guy’s face, but the eleventh hour plans and the execution of that plan beginning from 11:55! Many can fondly recollect the sight of friends trying to scramble up to the destined location before the birthday gal actually reaches there... Then there is another getting locked out of her room/quarter - all because the organizers were still running all over the place trying to get things in place... And the there was one who made one of the organizers go around the campus in circles... The easiest way to put up something is to get the person out of the room with some excuse and get everything ready. So the commonest and oldest line is - "Let's go out for a walk." You say it and it is a dead giveaway. And yet people still use it. You go for a walk either to get the person out of the way or to take the person till there. The hilarity of the situation does not end. There are some innovative friends who actually come up with treasure hunts. So one is also not surprised to find people out on an expedition, hunting for clues that take one for a wild goose chase around the campus only to lead one back to one's own room!!

Surprises in my life have been very few. Yeah… you can kind of say that my life’s been pretty much predictable – leaving aside the exam results and grades – having spent the larger part of my life in one city, cocooned by family and relatives, same set of friends, whom I believe were always going to be there (operational word being ‘believed’).
Way back in primary school the pleasurable surprise of getting a present from Santa was broken the very next day when my parents explained that there is nothing such as Santa coming and giving you presents. It was Dad who put it there the night before. However, I was not one to give up so easily. Thus Dad became my Santa, which in a way made it easier for me to make my wishes heard during Christmas! Hence I don’t complain that I was forced to grow up early, only that I was made closer to reality. Even today, so many years after Santa Clause was erased out of my fantasies, my Dad fails to hold his enthusiasm to give me the gift he has got for my birthday. Well, the actual incident was, he forgot the most important part – that birthday gifts are kept as a surprise!

But that doesn’t stop me from surprising others, especially people I care about and friends who are close to me. I act impulsively. I get a gift because I want to convey my warmest regards – not thinking whether that’s what and how I should give. It hits me later when I see the expression on my friends’ face change or when not a single muscle flinched in reaction – that it wasn’t really a good idea. It has always been wonderful to surprise my mum. How can I ever forget her face breaking into a wide smile? Mums… they are always such a boost to your ego!

Sunday, September 14, 2008

Losing it

Woke up with a blasting headache. It is a Sunday and there is this sinking feeling inside that another weekend has come to an end. So, even if Sunday means I can wake up late (which I did today) it also brings in a depressing feeling about the week that lies ahead.
Another series of blasts have rocked the capital. The gory picture on the front page hit me, the first thing I picked up the paper. Scrat walked in when I was helping myself into a huge mug of coffee, insisting that I wish a GOOD morning.

I realized that I wake up nowadays with this sinking feeling that I am losing out the battle with life. What battle... I have no idea... but that's how people put it, right?

It hits you hard when you realize that what you thought is not actually how it is. A gift that depresses you, the gift - the thought of which - takes the smile away from the face. A deadpan expression greets when there should have been a smile... Or am I wrong? Am I dreaming?
Too many voices speak inside my head. But strain my ear for sanity. It seems to have been trampled over by the unnecessary. Am I losing it?
Losing is such a depressing process... lose a game, lose a quarrel, lose a friend, lose a life. Am I scared to face the truth?
The events of a year gone by sails passed me. The same events being repeated... with certain changes in character. It is a scary feeling. I want to shut myself out of this reality. I want to get away. Yes, I want to escape... if that calms my unsettled reality.

My my.... myself

1. LAST MOVIE I SAW IN A THEATER:
Bachna Ae Hasino. And if the University film club screenings count, then Lolita (the Adrian Lyne version)

2. WHAT BOOK AM I READING?
I have the habit of reading multiple books at a time.
Erich Segal’s Acts of Faith.
Other reference books related to my present courses.

3. FAVORITE BOARD GAME?

My all time favourite – Scrabble

4. FAVORITE MAGAZINE?
Readers’ Digest and of course the EFL-U campus magazine that is a product of our personal initiative (and I shall not accept anything otherwise)


5. FAVORITE SMELLS?

I love the smell of the freshly soaked earth after the first monsoon showers.

6. FAVORITE SOUND?
My mum’s voice… the first thing I hear when I wake up in the morning… Miss ya lots, Ma.

7. WORST FEELING IN THE WORLD?
Desertion

8. WHAT IS THE FIRST THING YOU THINK OF WHEN YOU WAKE?

Umm… Where exactly am I? What day is today? When is my first class? The three questions pop into my mind at the same time, creating quite a havoc in my mind.

9. FAVORITE FAST FOOD PLACE?
Fairly new to the city… not much of a venturer either. But nothing can beat Park Café fish fry and cutlet near my house.

10. FUTURE CHILD'S NAME?
Er…….

11. FINISH THIS STATEMENT. "IF I HAD A LOT OF MONEY I'D...?
Well, I’m not much of an optimist. Like to keep life simple and take one day at a time. Don’t indulge in hallucination…!!!

12. DO I DRIVE FAST?
The fact that I don’t yet have a license should speak loads.

13. DO I SLEEP WITH A STUFFED ANIMAL?
A violent negative!

14. STORMS-COOL OR SCARY?
Cool

15. WHAT WAS MY FIRST CAR?
Never was a car fanatic. First car to have taken a ride in and worth remembering is when my uncle let me hold the steering while he took care of the gear, clutch, accelerator and brakes.

16. FAVORITE DRINK?
Big time coffee person… some say that one day if they have to draw blood form my system, all they will get is caffeine.

17. FINISH THIS STATEMENT, "IF I HAD THE TIME I WOULD .....
Re-live some of the memorable moments of my life… I know it is too difficult to go back to the not-so-memorable ones and try to set it right. Rather, they are the ones that make life worth living.

18. DO I EAT THE STEMS ON BROCCOLI?
Yeah… why not.

19. IF I COULD DYE MY HAIR ANY COLOR, WHAT WOULD BE YOUR CHOICE?
Purple streaks.

20. NAME ALL THE DIFFERENT CITIES/TOWNS I HAVE LIVED IN
Was born in Calcutta (now Kolkata). Have lived there, grown up there and will most probably settle there. There was of course a little dash of a couple of wonderful years spent in Hyderabad.

21. FAVORITE SPORTS TO WATCH?
Cricekt without a shade of doubt.

22. WHAT'S UNDER MY BED?
Nothing really.

23. WOULD I LIKE TO BE BORN AS MYSELF AGAIN?

Yes... And I would prefer it if I could remember this life… creepy but I’m being frank.

24. MORNING PERSON, OR NIGHT OWL?
Was a morning person, till I came to this place called CIEFL and everything went for a toss… right now, I’m kind of both..


25. OVER EASY, OR SUNNY SIDE UP?

Sunny side up..!!

26. FAVORITE PLACE TO RELAX?
I feel like a vagabond without a home… Is it the room that lies vacant back in Kolkata my own, or the present one that I share with my roommate and in which I spend most of my time.

27. FAVORITE PIE?
All American Pie movies

28. FAVORITE ICE CREAM FLAVOR?
Chocolate… any time!

Saturday, September 13, 2008

Revelations III

OF SMELLS AND OTHER SENSITIVITIES

I associate things more through sounds and smell. It was something I had from a very young age. I was always close to my Uncle. Whenever he would enter the house, no matter which part of the house I was in, even if I hadn’t seen him enter, I would be able to tell that he was here, just by the smell with which I associate even to this day. This has proved true more than once till a very old age.

However, more than my smell I am stronger by my ear. If I hear a tune, even if I did not know the language, I will be able to identify the song even after a long time. I use pick up tunes like an ‘automatic machine’ as my friends use say. I never write down the notes of the songs I played, even if it is a competition.

In that way, I remembered a lot of things by the picture of that particular moment that had got stuck in my memory. I still vaguely remember the picture of that day in the hospital when I was admitted because of high fever, 22 years back. I remember the long room with many beds around and the nurse pulling up the protective rails on the sides of my bed.
I still remember the face of my mother crying when I said goodbye for the day, when she was in the hospital because of an accident.
I remember the embarrassing moment when I cracked the most idiotic jokes and was laughed at - their laughter still rings in my ears
I remember the afternoon when I reacted to an emergency - the concern written all over my aunt's face when I opened the door to her.
I remember the mornings when I recited the mathematical tables to my mum as I waited for the school bus to come.
I remember the night we spent with my Grand ma's body, waiting for my Uncle to come to perform the last rites - the smell of the incense still lingering in my memory.
I remember the moment when I sprained my ankle - the fall and what led to it - all like a movie in slow motion.
I remember the day I got busted for coming late from school as I was caught up in the practice for an important match - mum's voice still rings in my ears.
I remember the day I first dove into the water for my first competition. I remember feeling the sweat trickling down my forehead even in water, as I graduated to advanced swimming - all like a camera that is running in front of my eyes.
I remember the bus ride to St. Stephens from Palam - the Hum Tum song is still etched in my memory and that's what I associate that song with.

But I realize that I hardly remember anything with me in it. I have always loathed my photographs being taken. Videography was not a matter of everyday parlance. So as I hold the memory of the world around me, nowhere in them m I able to place myself.
Is that the reason I never see myself in a dream or more importantly, I hardly remember any of my dreams or may be I don't dream at all!

Revelations II

MY MIND:
As a kid I had the habit of speaking, not myself, but to imaginary others, whom most of the time I knew, but were not actually present when I was addressing them. Usually these others are people who were part of my immediate life – my swimming coach, a friend, a new member in the family. However, this did not mean that I talked to them all the same. This happened in my imaginary world. The funniest part is that when I was in front of them, I may not even speak a word to them. The very person, with whom I had talked in my imagination, became a stranger to me.

Monday, September 8, 2008

Revelations

The next few posts will be very self revealing. I decided that I will write something about myself, not for the benefit of others, but to try and work things out for myself.

DAY DREAMS:
Ever since the day I have been going to the nursery school, I remember sometimes going into another world. It was a world where I perceived things differently. One might ask what I meant by this term ‘different’. But who should answer - the kid who used to tug at her father’s arm, giving the last shot of not making to school or this present me. Not that I did not like school. I loved going to school. I had always been quite lucky (at least in the early years of my school life) to have gotten wonderful teachers. I was always the kind of person (I am using the word person because I am still like that even now) who did not like too many changes too often. I wanted to stay rooted to one place till I get tired of that place. After which I will start looking around for opportunities to change. This does not mean that I forget the past. Absolutely not! Contradictory as it may seem, I like to hold on to every part of my life that I have lived so far. Some people live for the moment. I do that too. Only I re-live every moment of my life. I am the person who saves all my messages and mails, which I consider holds a piece of my life. I would go back to them and read them over and over again, recalling the very moment, the mood or the previous conversations that provoked that message or mail. That is when I go into another world. A completely different zone altogether. But I must clarify this to my readers that come what may I do not wallow in the sad memories which I very often recall. I kind of become a distant observer of my own self.
I remember when I was a kid, I used to sit in my class and look around at what my friends are doing. The surrounding sounds used to get muffled into one big indistinguishable sound. I particularly remember one day in my kindergarten school. This was just the year before I got admitted into a bigger school. The teacher was taking the class attendance. I was in one of those inexplicable zones of mine. The boys were lost in their stupid games, there was one girl with long hair. She was already prying open her Tiffin box. I remember, it was a green transparent plastic Tiffin box. She had brought boiled egg. She was all engrossed in her precious Tiffin Box. There was another girl (I must mention that both of them would later become my schoolmates in the bigger school) who slept while the teacher kept on calling out her name. She would finally wake up at the end of the roll call and go up to the teacher to make her presence felt. I cannot vouch whether this happened everyday. I remember only this particular day.
All these recollections had its toll on me too. As I grew older I would not only recollect but constantly judge my actions. I always had a very low opinion of me. I thought myself to be a poor writer even when there were articles that were getting published one after another. I was always conscious (for reasons unknown to me) that I did not know the perfect grammar, neither in English nor in my mother tongue. In fact, I believe that hadn’t I always judged myself I would have taken things/ situation for granted and stopped taking them seriously. It made me conscious and clumsy at times. Well, I was just following the ways of the universe. I know what to do in a situation. But I would find myself making the silliest of mistakes that made me go red to the ears! After that, I would go over that incident over and over in my mind, till I reached a point when I could not take the shame of having embarrassed myself.
My day dreams consists of people I may not even know. But one thing for sure, the idea of day dream always reminds me of one of my friends back in school, whom we called 'daydreamer'. No it was not me.