Wednesday, November 28, 2012

.

It is often said we should celebrate the life that one has lived and cherish the good times. After he has transcended this earth to a place where they hopefully serve kuska and butter chicken, today, a year after his departure, the rest of us must make some time to remember him.

I met him first at a gig where I think I was playing a few notes on the keyboard which we all hoped would compensate for the lack of a bass player. It was that grating Staind song about being outside and looking in, or some similar junk which I feel too old to recollect now. He was playing with another band - some power metal type sound. After the gig, he came up and started talking to me about music - turned out we didn't have a single band in common - and thus began the frantic exchange of CDs and hard disks.

I realised quickly that he was smart - in an understated, unaffected way. He had a mind that broke down things into little bits - he was completely logic-driven and I was at the other end of the spectrum - completely emotion-driven. Which is why I ran to him for relationship advice and he saw me through lots of ups and downs on the graph, even (somewhat unwillingly) playing mediator at times. We spent hours talking earnestly about life and its meaning like most almost/early twenty-somethings do.

He was a man of few words. But when he said something, it made a lot of sense. How many of us sought him when things went wrong? And he would calmly listen, smoking his Gold Flake and grinning that lopsided grin. Sometimes you could hear him grin that grin on the phone. How many of us remember that song he composed on the guitar? He'd play that over and over again, the main tune neatly worked out, but always getting stuck at a point, always looking for lyrics, always ending up looking frustrated!

We had a crazy friendship - we called each other names, we judged, we were hilariously sarcastic (okay, he was), we were tough. I'm reading some old chats now and they make me laugh out loud (me: hey I got a raise! he: you're a rich bitch). He knew exactly where I went wrong. He would skip all the in-betweens and get straight to the point, forcing me to step back and find fresh perspective. He never told me what to do - he left it for me to decide, except when he got tired of my whining. But he said what he had to say, and I have to admit that he was mostly right.

Six years he formed an inseparable part of my life, a constant part. Steady in between months of no contact, when priorities changed, when we lost touch with other friends, when we had a hundred other things to do. But at the end of the day, we made time for each other, we stayed connected, and that's what makes a beautiful friendship.

Rest in peace. Your favourite Extreme song.

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

the budday post - on popular demand!


SILVER JUBILEE!!!
Must celebrate this quarter with many quarters, halves and fulls!
So many people called and wished and gifted...
I know it's the thought that counts and all that but I love getting gifts.

I was asked by a bunch of people to write the budday post this year.
Wow, people actually read this stuff.

They did interviews and put me off in the papers last year - it was all very fascinating.
They asked me to pose and all - tilt head this side maydum, put hand there, smile more, leave hair, pose behind those leaves, etc.
It was great fun.

All the sudden publicity this year has been a bit scary..
So I'm deciding to be all mysterious and inaccessible from now on. Ha.

Last year, I learnt to say no.
I also learnt to say fuck off very politely.
I've grown thick skin. 
I don't dwell on things anymore.
Dealing with things is much easier now because I've learnt that nothing is the end of the world.
Wait - I'll say that in 2013.

Last year, I said I should become a travel writer.
This year, I did!

I lost a close friend this year.
The permanency of the loss is awful.

I moved forward last year and I am proud to have left behind all the baggage.
Which reminds me, I lost my luggage (containing valuables) at Singapore airport and, till the time they found it, all I could think about was the stuff that were gifted to me by various people.
I am clearer, more focussed and (maybe sadly) less sensitive.
I have learnt to be picky about those I let in.

I don't understand abstinence.
Why be miserable without eating the stuff you like when you can afford to?
I love Egg Factory.
I love all manifestations of egg except the egg itself in whatever-boiled form.

I have been deliriously happy.
Comic Con was an exhilarating experience and I was touched by the number of people who supported me.
I am an expressionist.
I don't care if your perspective is wrong or your limbs are misshapen as long as the drawing speaks to me.
It's a convenient excuse for me cuz I can't draw.

I get excited by code. I would have made a good coder.
Website design could totally be my thing.
I surprise myself every time I frame a sentence or draw a drawing that says exactly what I want to say.

I get irritated by inefficiency.
I hate slowness.
I know what I'm good at and what I'm not good at.
I am spoilt, pampered and very very lucky.
Having good friends at work is important.

In a guy, I admire confidence, focus and kindness.
In a person, contentment is what I believe is a beautiful, essential quality.
I look up to people who are driven.
I am hopelessly attracted to guys who are good with animals.
Beards are another thing.

No matter what the situation, my dad is always right.
Always.

I have fulfilled my dream of getting a (purple) two-wheeler. Vroom.
I thought it was filful in school - like fill till it's full, you know? Makes more sense.
Until last month, I always thought "many happy returns of the day" referred to return gifts at parties. 
Clearly, there's no guessing who's the clown in the family.

A friend taught me the importance of distraction.
You cannot be sad forever and you cannot sulk forever.
You have got to do things that make you happy cuz you're the only one in control.

You have to do things that aren't you, just to see what it feels like.
And so I discovered gym! It really helps mental fitness.
I also danced in front of other people but thankfully nobody remembers.

I am repetitive.
I am blessed with a wide circle of friends ranging from engineers and doctors to artists and hippies (even engineer-hippies) and all of them have something to teach me.

In art, I like detail only if it is meaningful.
No matter how many friends you have, school friends will always be in that wonderfully special zone where you can automatically pick up where you left of.
I have more than a handful of friends whom I have met online and gone on to meet in person.
Bangalore still remains my happy city.

I am emotionally a lot more independent than I used to be.
I think KKHH can still make me cry - the part where Rahul tells Anjali he loves her when he actually is rehearsing to tell Tina.
I'm going to write a picture book some day.
I warm to white space.
Bryan Adams can still make me sing along to him.

Travel consoles. That going going going feeling - it's peaceful.
The only series I've ever been addicted to is Grey's Anatomy.
I even dreamt that I had lost my job, but no worries! I got offered a position at Seattle Grace, and the cast welcomed me warmly on board.

I miss rain. Real, hard, pouring, cleansing rain.
I miss the mad, crazy, adventurous person I was in Vellore.
I'm learning to say goodbye to grey areas and, while I'm proud of it, it makes me feel grown-up in a slightly sad way.
But there are a great many other wonderful things to look forward to.

If you have any questions about life, please ask me and I will share some of the gyan.
I'm 25 now you know.

Monday, July 16, 2012

To be or not to be in the mighty Himalayas

Eight of us stood in the midst of the Himalayas in Sikkim, Northeast India, looking uncertainly at the landslide before us. The storm had moved great chunks of mud and rock downwards, birthing a gushing waterfall that blocked the road and surged down the mountain with a resounding roar. The travel agency had told us there would be a jeep waiting for us on the other side. If we get to the other side at all, I thought to myself, looking at the steep drop. Army men had gathered at the site to help travellers across. 

A loud bang suddenly shook all of us, and instinctively, we ducked behind the jeeps. ‘Terrorists!’ screamed my mother. Slightly amused by this dramatic outburst, the army guys explained to us that an alternative way was being built and that was the sound of the dynamite. We stood a few feet away from the waterfall, the spray already starting to wet our clothes. Our cook, a tall, burly man, who was accompanying us on our journey from Gangtok to Lachung, went first. He accidentally knocked his bottle of kerosene against a rock and the lid disappeared, demonstrating to us a possible fate. My brother, adventure-hungry as always, started heroically wading across the water. I, mumbling prayers to myself, gingerly stepped forward on a mossy rock. I slipped, and of that one second, I only remember the noise and the horror of finding nothing to hold on to. But almost immediately, I felt myself being hauled up quickly by a pair of strong arms and I found (to the delight of my 13-year old mind) myself looking into the eyes of an army jawan. There was no time for a fairytale romance, though--I was deftly carried across and deposited on the other side--he got back to business. By then, my brother had managed to get my parents, my aunt and uncle across. Our guide, a Gorkha man, lightly skipped across the slippery rocks like it was child's play. 

Once on the other side, we spent some time grinning stupidly at each other, triumph and relief reflected on all our faces. We swapped stories and pleasantries with other travellers. While we waited for our pick-ups, we took in the scene once again, slowly and in awe. Rugged mountains surrounded us, with white streams of water surging through them. Snow-capped peaks lay in the distance and there was an ominous stillness in the air. We sat by the side of the road on our suitcases, and watched the crowd disappear in lots into their vehicles. An hour passed and there was no sign of our jeep. We were the only ones left. My dad and uncle walked down the road but didn't come across any signs of civilization. Our unspoken fears manifested themselves in irate exchanges. ‘The kerosene smells,’ said my dad crossly. ‘The lid fell off,’ I informed him. ‘It smells terrible,’ he complained, ‘Close it.’ ‘We're going to get eaten up by wild animals,’ whispered my mother. ‘You never know what's gonna come out of the trees.’ I hoped for a yeti. The clouds darkened and hung above us threateningly. It was still early evening, but we were enveloped in the thickest of greys. Strange unfamiliar sounds penetrated the air--birds, animals and insects--adding to our nervousness. ‘There may be tigers around,’ my mother said. ‘No tigers here,' our guide supplied helpfully. 'Only bears.' 

We huddled together miserably, lost in reveries of our sane, safe lives at home. A couple of hours later, we heard a dull drone in the distance. It grew louder and an army jeep appeared. We flagged it down frantically and explained our situation to the driver. He was on duty and was going downhill. Looking at our desperate faces, he offered to hitch us a ride, provided we didn't reveal ourselves at the check-points. We all crammed into the backseat, the giant of a cook stepping on my little toe. All through the journey, I scowled at him. He, in turn, held the kerosene bottle close to dad’s nose and our Gorkha man hummed Nepali songs cheerfully. A good five hours later, we reached Lachung, a sleeping village that welcomed us into an idyllic cottage with the river Teesta rippling through the frontyard. Our cook, forgetting his sullenness, beamed at all of us and went on to prepare a delightful, warm and well-deserved dinner.

Friday, July 13, 2012

bittersweet

It's been three years since  I left Chennai, a city that has meant various things to me at various points in time. From family weddings, nadaswarams and crowded marriage halls, it suddenly transformed itself into a hub for gigs, hordes of friends and house parties. It also meant different people at different points in time. I've always been attached to places I've lived in but Chennai had a different kind of power - it was a place which could make me ecstatic, afraid, content and lonely. Very unlike the standard happy high Bangalore offers.

It used to be Madras for the longest time. A Madras of endless tongue-twister names of neighbourhoods. Of having to wear mallipoo at weddings. Of cousins and well, lots of cousins. Of a favourite uncle and Marina beach. And then it was about hurried, calculated train rides. To eat pizza. It became Chennai of - Chennai train eppo? - at the Katpadi station. Short trips were followed by longer visits for Saarang, JRO, Festember and the other inter-college fests. We all did the same things, I think. Many of us girls bought silver rings at Spencers. We all went to Sparky's. We all went to Landmark. We all went to Fruit Shop on  Greams Road everywhere but on Greams Road. Some made their presence felt in the party scene. Those of us who didn't listened to fascinating stories of R's beach house and the events that took place there. Gradually, the city grew important to me because of less than a handful of people,  2 or 3 regular eating joints, one street, one bookshop and about two familiar routes.

Loyola brought all kinds of change. There was joy in meeting new people, whole sets of new friends - and then there was the confusion and the angst of a twenty something. There were fun train rides and there were sleepless nights. There was the grand thrill which the Loyola air offered - a grand big college sitting among grand tall trees - with all sorts of grand activities taking place inside as well as outside the gates of the campus. There was the excitement of the new, but the apprehensions as well. My whole life revolved in and around Nungambakkam - and it took me around in circles with its maddening one-ways.  Endless walks in the area usually ended in mallu food at Crescent, a peep into Just Casuals or a stop to buy groceries - usually a comforting packet of curds. There was chaos.

Chennai forced separate worlds to converge and clash -- my memories alternate between dreamlike and nightmarish. Every day saw an emotional graph akin to the temple border of a silk saree.There were happy times, like those on the beach, with water swirling around my feet, cleansing and therapeutic. But the aftermath remained - the nagging, uncomfortable feeling of sand adamantly sticking in between my toes. When I left, I left with the feeling of not having made peace with the city. I haven't gone back since and I am yet to find out what now might be like.

I seem to have a love-hate relationship with Chennai. And revisiting that place would mean another layer formed over pre-existing lasagna-like layers. Despite what the new brings,  I hope not to forget -- even a little -- the ones buried beneath.

But that's inevitable.

Tuesday, June 05, 2012

Fresh

Feels good to be back.

Monday, March 12, 2012

fork

You've got two options.

1. Be happy
2. Keep others happy

Pick wisely.

Friday, January 13, 2012

happy hours

from the terrace you could see the most beautiful colours -- golden pink and orange lending a sunset backdrop to the tall airtel tower.

it was a pale green house, nestled in the thick overgrowth that fringed the railway tracks.  an alarmingly tall weed plant once sprung up near the compound wall, growing to fame very quickly, and disappearing as suspiciously as it had appeared. when it rained, the ground would get muddy and slushy, and the mud would suck in the rolling wheels adamantly.

all the residents of the house had great big hearts, including the dog, who had a special online presence. we ate, drank, watched movies, laughed, philosophised, tripped. all of us who went in came out with stories. chappals were chewed up by the friendly neighbourhood cow (who was accused of eating up the weed plant too), monkeys stole chocolates off the window ledge, five computers mysteriously disappeared one day.

there was the familiar noise of people playing dota/cs, there was music playing on the comp outside, there was somebody watching a movie, everybody chilling. there was a nice, cosy drinking spot near the water tank that always overflowed. there was peace lazing around and it was contagious.

the house is painted purple now, the weeds cleared up.

Tuesday, January 03, 2012

under this ficus tree

lesson learnt last year: beauty is attachment. if we were all detached we might as well be inanimate. 


we've been put here in this world to be worldly.
what's the point in withdrawing?
what's the point of trying to find reasons? 
what's the point of trying to find a beyond? 
life's too short.
there is only here and now. 
take at face value, i say. be materialistic, be happy.

this year, i shall strive towards being horrifyingly superficial and delightfully shallow.