Tuesday, July 27, 2010

vellore calling

I've found that I'd rather revisit a place that I've been a part of than visit a new place. There's no place in the world I want to go to more than I want to go back to vellore. I can feel it so strongly. Sometimes you just know. (Whales in the wild, wait for some more time.)

Firstly, Kasam beckons. I remember the kids - loud, shy, curious - their smiles, their endless stream of questions. It's a calling. There's a magic in their spirit which is contagious. There's a certainty in my wanting which I haven't felt often. Out of the gazillion feelings that make up life - Kasam roused a feeling that I can cannot replay in my head. It was only when I went there with a friend of mine who agreed to teach photosynthesis to a class of ten-year olds that I realised, as I stood watching, how much I loved the place. And the children. And their blissful, naughty-happy faces. I recall clearly the cheeky boy in class who got tired of me talking about the states of India and tried to convince me that he's from Africa instead. It makes me smile every time. I know I have to go back to Kasam and fulfil the promise.

I discovered in Vellore my love for long walks. Morning walks, afternoon sun-scorching walks, evening walks, walks in the dark, rainy walks. Grassy walks, highway walks, happy walks, angry walks, teary walks, lonely walks. Walks to Brahmapuram, walks on Gandhi Road, walks to the station, walks to nowhere in particular.

I think of the cows sometimes - the one with the big red horns that I'd fondly called Red Bull, the small frail one under the dark-leaved tree, and the one with dark circles around its eyes. I think of the beetles - even those became special after I learnt that they were harmless and only pretended to be intimidating. I think of the hills and the secrets they harboured - from bird's nests to broken bottles. The dry summer fields, the morning mist and biting chill. The unexpected ponds during monsoon which always surprised even though I knew where exactly they were; it always felt like the first time.

I'm not in love with Vellore for the memories. There's something in the air that is addictive, something that got me hooked. It was a place I knew. The brown of it's soil, the green of it's grass, the blue-grey of CMC. I want to know what it would be like to go back there as a different person, feel like the same person, and come out differently again. I want its change.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

he says

It was that oscillation between feeling traumatically low and excitedly high that sank me in gloom, making me sceptical about living out life with an emotional gas regulator, always checking on how much feeling to let flow, how high to keep the flame without burning other people or burning out, how much of myself to express without feeling vulnerable, exposed, misunderstood.

- from Death by Music by Rukun Advani

Sunday, July 18, 2010


He was extraordinarily sensitive and his reflexes were always quick but not sudden. Outdoors, his energy never ran out; indoors, the weed and music kept him going. Life warmed to him - dogs, cats, birds, mice, lizards - they seemed to speak his language. He climbed hills with ease, and liked to wrap himself around a tree branch and swing upside down. He wasn't in the least bit shy - sometimes I felt like he was closer to early man and thought to myself that this boy couldn't have eaten the apple. There was something raw in his manners, yet there was grace. He was clever, though not very strong; he could work out the physics for better efficiency. He found his way mostly on foot and I suspect he was slightly uncomfortable with other modes of transport. He understood directions by following the sky, the hills and his intuition. He learnt through experience and experiments of his own, through feel, touch, taste, smell, sight and sound.

Sunday, July 11, 2010


In spite of having walked back to his house so many times after midnight he was always a bit shaky when he did. The cold would bite into his flesh through his heavy jacket and he would think of the comforting warmth that his home country offered -- to both her own and others -- in the form of a tea shop at every street corner. The chill back home was bearable -- winters were a time when women would gracefully drape their pashmina shawls around them and schoolkids wore monkey caps and looked just as silly as he once had. Here, shadows of large, tall buildings fell in dark alien shapes and sizes -- he nervously tried to look up, down and all around at the same time. A group of drunk students stood in a circle of loud laughter and threw a racist comment or two his way. A familiar fear gripped him tightly and he quickened his pace.

Strangely, he did not miss home much but the comfort of home. Life was hard here. He knew that he was a seeker. But he wasn't sure what he was seeking. He knew that there was meaning in his study and his work, that there was a purpose to his coming to this place. Yet an emptiness burned within him and alcohol neither fueled it nor suppressed it. In any case, it was too expensive. He was used to drinking bad quality roadside liquor -- the kind that transports you quickly and easily. It had been his constant companion throughout college, along with his usual pack of gold flake, but now he had not place for either. He remembered how she had hated the smell of gold flake in particular; the way she'd frown and reproachfully tell him to smoke another brand. He smiled at the recollection.

Family, friends and lovers -- all seemed to belong to a surreal world from which he seemed to be missing. They seemed to belong to the external now, not to the within. Sometimes he didn't take calls for days; some days he hated facebook with an intensity that surprised him; he stopped using skype. He didn't feel any better after the long distance mechanical communication -- if anything, it made him feel more detached. Questions of meaning and meaninglessness bothered him when he was not working in the lab or playing music. Which was most of the time, because he was the kind whose thought processes worked on different dimensions that were mutually exclusive and always multitasking. On some days he felt sick, as sick as the steel grey surroundings, and he'd throw up the little dinner that he'd had.

He had called her once, and she hadn't taken the call. By the time she'd called back he'd lost the mood.

He got home, relieved, and realised that he'd forgotten dinner. He could hear the couple in the next room clearly so he pulled on a pair of headphones and shut his door. He absorbed himself in studying the chords that he'd been trying to pick up for so long. Sometimes he spoke to his guitar; sometimes he heard it speak back to him.

Slowly he realised that he'd been alone for so long that he quite liked it.