Thursday, December 30

My ship isn't pretty

With a birthday so close to the new year, any wishes and resolutions I make tend to sound oddly similar or rather, symbiotic. Of course, any positive sentiment I'd attach to them is scuttled in moments because a sardonic voice in my head immediately says "Yea, right". My conscience is consistent like that.

Bringing in the birthday this year turned out to be streets ahead of 2009. Last year, I was jolted awake by phone calls a little past 12 am, a custom I still don't understand. Okay so maybe a boatload of people stay awake and bring in their birthdays, but I support the 'be asleep at midnight' philosophy of life. Anyway, the point is, last year I was woken at that ungodly hour by the phone ringing, and then left with the wonderful realisation that I was alone on my birthday, a feeling magnified by the dark silence of night. Then again, it was a crappy year all around, so it stayed uniform till the finish. This year though, friends were in Bombay, so much drinking and merriment was ensured and executed. If birthdays are any indicator of the year to come, could 2011 turn out to be a decently tolerable one ?

In the last couple of weeks, a motley collection of old friends having been making their way into India after years; while I've stayed in touch with them through mail and G-talk, the spontaneity and magic of personal interaction has always been missed. And here's something voice chat doesn't allow for - the pauses and silences that cushion conversation, being insightful without disrupting its soul. While I don't exactly prescribe to the stoic school of Clint Eastwood and Cormac McCarthy, I still fail magnificently at small talk. So, with friends moving away and / or living in foreign parts,  I've missed that... the opportunity to converse, letting the mood take the ideas and words where they will. In a Facebook world, I'm still old-school that way.

I thought about doing another graphical post to end the year, but couldn't quite get it together and gave up. With a demanding new job and trips to Bangalore, Panchgani and Pune for some memorable get-togethers, 2010 feels like the echo of empty rooms the day after an excellent house party. There were some good times and some flat ones. People came, left or were asked to leave.

Like after the party, its time to pick up the pieces, clear the trash, spruce up the place and brace myself for another day, another year. I did not make any birthday wish this year. So, I don't know about hopes, but at least 2011 doesn't hold any false promises.

Have a good year everyone.

Song for the moment: Love is no big truth - Kings of Convenience

Wednesday, December 22

No more, no more

One of my oldest memories of Mumbai is of the time I had chicken pox. At 2 years of age, the only feeling I could connect to illness was pain. So I vividly remember the heavy, burning rasp of the sore throat and the sticky discomfort of a raging fever. But I also remember the merciful coolness of the floor, the pleasantly soapy smell of 501 soap perfuming my grandma's sari as I rest my head in her lap and the lemon tang of milagu rasam (pepper rasam) washed over me, soothing me into sleep. My grandma's work-callused hands gently brushed my forehead and I knew I was safe.

Yesterday, I found myself in the throes of my holy trinity - fever, flu and a Force 10 migraine from hell. My throat having given out the previous day itself, I spent hours seeking comfort in the overwhelming cool silence of a pitch black room. I cooked rasam by myself and rested my head on a pillow when exhaustion took over. My keyboard-softened fingers massaged my forehead and I knew I was alone.

Song for the moment: Naima - John Coltrane 

Thursday, December 9

All good things

Maybe I'm reading too much into this. Perhaps the boredom of routine is being reflected in seeing patterns where they don't exist. But thus lies the fact. The moment I add someone to my Google Reader list or add their name to the homepage list on my blog, their output drops alarmingly. Some previously prolific bloggers do write on and off; however the names of those still hitting that 'publish post' button is dropping by the day. And, it isn't limited to those who write. Even the sites of some of the photographers whose works I look out for stay stubbornly silent.

Thankfully, not having reached that stage of loony where I think I'm somehow responsible for it, I do wonder what is going on. Have the writers reached an existential plateau, not allowing themselves to draw on daily experiences and write about them? Have the photographers stilled their mind's eye, forbidding themselves to distinguish the inconspicuous ? Is there something wrong with my Google Reader subscription ?

Speaking for myself, when I started writing this blog, it was a refreshing release from a chaotic life in foreign parts. I guess I didn't realise that the hullabaloo was fuelling the posts. Living a single guy's life in Mumbai should, technically, have provided a new surge to the writing. But, apart from a very brief window last year when I thought my social life had changed for the better (it hadn't), I can't recall a time when I was truly inspired to write. This reflects accurately in the number of posts written for the year, which has declined as surely as eggs are eggs.

Yes, the odd post inspired by pub talk, nostalgia and cricket made some sort of splash. On the whole though, the tone of the writing has stayed static. Routine can only be blamed for so much.

In a recent post, a friend wrote a rant, if that's possible. Changing environments doesn't necessarily translate into changes in oneself. Experiences across the spectrum - love lives and professional lives (and lack of success thereof) - stay pretty much the same. Recognising that we don't, won't or can't change, may make things easier. Patching up the ragged heart, quietening that dull roar in the mind... yea, all of that steadily requires less effort.  

When you boil it down, writing a post and/or taking a photograph is, for me, still a creative effort. It needs imagination. It should not be forced. But it feels like the more time passes, the harder it is for us to be inspired.

I wonder how long before every blog post feels forcefully contrived. 

Song for the moment: We never change - Coldplay