Monday, March 30

Disconnect the Dots

Mondays following a long weekend have no hope in hell of being viewed in a positive light & today is no different. What makes it seem like more of a burden is the fact that I spent some time playing cricket over the last 3 days.

In itself, that remark is not meant to suggest anything sinister. What cannot be denied is that playing any sport, never mind cricket, vigorously every 6 months or so, is asking for trouble. Predictably enough, today has been an interesting day, in that I've spent the past 10 or so hours discovering exactly how sorely my muscles can protest. Added to this, I had to wake up at the crack of dawn or some such godforsaken hour to ensure that I did not miss the bus from Pune to Bombay and arrive late at the office.

Were this the only thing on my mind, I'd still have been okay today, probably coming up with new ways and expressions to convince all & sundry that I am 'working'. However, I've had a strong feeling all day that something is amiss. Restlessness, coupled with the frustration of not knowing what exactly that is, means that my mood is becoming more sombre by the minute.

It's like that feeling - you find yourself at a party where everyone is familiar but no one is friendly. You don't want to stay, but for some reason, you are reluctant to leave. The music is mediocre and the beer, flat. You feel a very, very strong urge to listen to a powerful, soulful voice SING... with all the passion and fury that seems missing from your life. Instead you are left with a heavy feeling of claustrophobia strangling you ever so complacently. Yea... I feel like that.

Song for the moment: Piece of my heart - Janis Joplin

Monday, March 23

Endless highway

Tis' a strange situation.

How so?

The mountain relentlessly pursues the sky and yet...

And yet?

It is the ocean crashing against her feet in tempestuous despair, that loves her.

The price you pay for chasing that which cannot be caught.

What is their fate?

She will crumble, eventually.

And he?

Even as he embraces what remains, his query will remain unrequited.

You are terrible.

I am indifferent.


Song for the moment: Numb - Linkin' Park

Tuesday, March 17

Present Tense

It is 5:30 pm on a Saturday evening. The creaking bus has stopped at Bremen Square, the conductor plaintively & rather hopefully announcing the stop as Parihar Chowk. Resisting the urge to sarcastically question that, the guy steps off. He is loaded down with two bags; one filled with clothes to be washed, the other containing his laptop. Even having travelled in what passes for air-conditioned comfort, he is tired. His bedraggled clothes and tousled hair suggest as much. Thanking the heavens for sunglasses, he crosses the road and takes the Workshop road.

At first, he is slightly disconcerted by both the absence of humidity & lack of need to jostle anyone. Then he gives a slight smile... residual expectations and habits. The sunglasses do not prevent him from noticing how the setting sun burnishes the kadappah on the footpath. The murmuring rustle from the trees lining the road send a relaxing shiver down his spine. The sky to the south is blue, the blue that weaves dreams of long-faded idyllic Spring afternoons. The smell of wet earth hangs heavy and a pang of regret whispers that he has missed the first rain of the year.

At the end of the road he turns right, then left. The building is cool and dark, making the glasses superfluous now. The bags have begun to weigh him down but he bounds up the two flights of steps anyway. Using his set of keys, he lets himself into the house. The silence that greets him suggests that no one is home, but he does not care. Today, he prefers it that way. A cup of tea and a dish of sabudana khichadi steam contentedly on the dining table. Dumping the bags in a corner of his room, he catches his reflection in the mirror and realizes that he has been smiling unwittingly. It feels so terribly good to be in Pune.

Song for the moment: Leaves that are green - Simon & Garfunkel

Thursday, March 12

Life for rent

She liked that he listened to her. She adored that he seemed to keep up effortlessly while she prattled on about everything under the sun. She appreciated that he'd consider her words for the longest time before asking his questions... always the right ones. It told her that he thought about her ideas and empathised with her emotions. That he read between the lines. She admired that he had not once offered her pity. No one else could be there on that day. On her day.

She asked him to be the witness at her wedding.

He stared silently like he was seeing her for the first time...

"What time should I be there?"

Always the right question.

Song for the moment: Dreams be dreams - Jack Johnson

Wednesday, March 11

Sparks

What arrested every eye in the room was how simple they made it look. The steps to which they spun around the dance-floor were uncomplicated. Perhaps that was the reason. Or maybe it was the joy each step seemed to evoke; the confidence of two people who knew how gracefully they moved together & did not care if the watching world noticed them.

She dispaired that she was not in the arms of the one she loved.

He dispaired that he was.

Song for the moment: Human - The Killers

Friday, March 6

Fortune of the night

So there you are, pleasantly buzzed.The crowd mills around you & there's a feeling of mild claustrophobia in the air. You can feel cold beads of sweat meandering ever so slowly down your spine & your heart is pounding.

You are not quite sure why but your eyes rake the room, searching anxiously. Then, you see her. And just like that, time stops or slows down to do a waltz in time to your heartbeats. You can't explain it but there's a funny, compressed exaltation in the pit of your stomach. All you are doing is watching her. She slides a lock of her hair behind her ear & the simplicity of the gesture thrills you. She is unaware of your eyes, that you are watching, that every particle of your being depends on living just that movement.

She smiles...

And you realize you are in love.

Song for the moment:
9 Crimes - Damien Rice

Monday, March 2

All that I'm allowed

I remember writing a paper in college on mythology and culture. Specifically, I pontificated on the theme of the hero’s quest and the allegory provided by the failed quests. 4 years on, I find myself seemingly living that allegory. And I’m not a hero by any stretch of the imagination.


Not exactly the poster-boy for optimism, I nevertheless came to Bombay with a specific amount of doubloons in mind that I’d part with to rent a place. Crusty old sea-salts, bitten more than once and shy with dubious alacrity warned me that Bombay’s rent logic was a riddle even the Sphinx would not dare go near. When I, with a zealously gleaming eye, informed them of my resolve to live on my terms, and live well to boot, they quietly chuckled and gave up the ghost.


I blame Bandra, really. It’s a ‘twilight zone’ sort of nice place to stay, with a perfect blend of the bourgeoisie and proletariat world. One teases you to take a taste of the good life while the other reminds you starkly that you are lucky enough to have some sort of bank balance. Mammon of course is impassive and being on the black or the white side of his fence simplifies the choices one is faced with. The ones on the fence, in the grey zone, are ‘effed since they live with both fear and longing dancing merrily on their shoulders. Naturally, I am in the grey zone.


My quest to find a place marrying aesthetic expectations and monetary realities started out cheerfully enough. I believe the voyage of the Titanic started out in the same atmosphere. I got a list of the who’s-who in brokerage, called them up, met up with them, explained my situation and waited, confident that they’d be calling me back the very next day with a bouquet of places on offer. That was 3 weeks ago. In that time, the ocular luminescence has noticeably dulled & the “Arrey Sir… ideal for your budget, sir” places on offer I’ve had the misfortune to inspect have shattered any fanciful notions I may have harboured. On occasion, I’ve resorted to pointing out to the broker and his hangers-on that closing the front door cuts off ventilation to a degree wherein the police will be the next people to enter and find my oxygen-deprived corpse. I know this seems exaggerated but people have mausoleums bigger than some of the rooms I’ve seen. I kid you not.


Now, I’ve not been brought up with any sort of spoon in my mouth, never mind a silver one. So, I thought my expectations were not ludicrous when I first came here. I wasn’t asking for much. And, to give the broker some credit, I’ve been told about a few places… just out of the reach of my budget, of course. I knew my salary would be a bit of a sticky spot to living the high life, but the fact that it would be reluctant to let me live even a remotely decent life did not figure in my machinations.


After speaking with an old sea-salt, now ensconced safely in his slice of housing heaven (far away from this city, obviously), one pertinent point emerged – how does one looking for a place to rent, view it? That is, is it a place you want to ‘live’ in or is it a ‘shower-sleep’ setup. Therein lies the Gordian knot facing those living on the Mammonian fence. The solution decides whether one lives in Bombay or exists here.


And yes, I allow for living elsewhere in the city, paying suitable rent for a suitably comfortable place. To which I suggest a week commuting to work from the suitable place, most likely in trains or as an added bonus, a combination of buses and trains.


Song for the moment:
A rush of blood to the head - Coldplay