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Showing posts from 2012

Immortality

I want to read.

Every book that I've ever looked at, found interesting but passed on because I knew time could not, or would not, be made for it. Even if it is just the first few chapters; even if I am bored by the Page 10, even if I admit that I can't understand or enjoy something others understand or laud.

Second-hand, yellowing, well-preserved, hardbound.

I want to do this endlessly; never having to worry about the trivialities and mundanities of life. Like the question of food, money or opinions. Or phone calls.

I want to do this curled up on a comfortable sofa, in a room filled with 2-in-the-afternoon & shaded by curtains light, with a gentle breeze swishing through the trees.

I want to do this at night, tucked into a cozy bed, a washcloth tied around my night lamp to soften the light, with just the sound of crickets chirping.   

I want to do this sitting in quiet, dark passages of a library, surrounded by aisles and aisles, and silence.

I want to get lost in the p…

Flip, Flop & Fly

Any friend or family who wishes to deliver my elegy can begin with the words "He didn't go looking for trouble. It found him... often."

As most of you would already know, setting up stuff in a new house is no joke. When you've lived with room mates and semi-furnished houses for as long as I have, you tend to take certain things like sofas, refrigerators and washing machines for granted. My new place had none of these and since I'm not exactly made of money, the furniture and appliances were ranked by necessity and importance.

The stove came first, followed by the fridge, the washing machine and the seating paraphernalia (yes, I don't really encourage visitors). I bought the stove locally and it was delivered without any trouble. I then went fridge shopping at Vijay Sales and blanched a little when I saw the prices. I decided to give Flipkart and their recently launched Home Appliances section a shot.

Flipkart has always delivered my books on time, neatly pac…

Wide open spaces

Space, or at least the idea of it, is a funny thing. Growing up, I never had my own room; I shared it with my younger sibling till I moved abroad. And maybe this is a commentary on the middle-class mentality of my generation - I never felt any urgent need for a room to myself in all that time... even during the 'teenage angst' years. When I think of my parents' childhood and remember the 1 BHKs that each of their sizeable families called home, it made my house seem like a palace. And, even though I didn't know it then, the situation gave me two things. Firstly, the ability to adapt and use any space available. Secondly, the trick of losing myself completely in any book I was reading, no matter what yoga asan type posture I happened to be in at the time. Although the flexibility stunts are no longer possible, time being a nasty old so-and-so, I still retain the two former abilities. And boy, have they come in handy.

When I moved to the States for that wonderfully India…

The Hassle

Now that I've shifted houses, there's a couple of things I'd like to share. Call it advice if you will. Or a warning.
If you're shifting out of a nice home located in a fancyish part of Bombay because you're having issues with the nutter masquerading as your room mate, consider not shifting. There are easier alternatives; one of which would only require you to dispose of the corpse. And as we all know from the papers, there are plenty of places to do that in this city. Unless you're in a financial situation where you're holding down two jobs and considering selling one of your less vital organs, think about investing a few shekels in professional packers and movers. It spares you the vision of your room swamped in a sea of plastic bags containing the surprisingly large trove of your possessions. Of course, you'll miss one or more of the bags in the ensuing melee of moving. And those bags will, by definition, have something you think is very important. L…

The strangest party

Tomorrow, I'm moving out of the house I've lived in for the last 3.5 years. All good things come to an end and all that jazz. As far as this house is concerned, I've been lucky. It has all the amenities I needed, its close to all the places that matter in Bombay (train station, bus depot and Bandra) and it was affordable. I should have left when my previous room mate flew off to foreign parts, but chose to stay because of the incredible convenience of the place. If you read my previous post though, things haven't been that great around the house any more... and I woke up one morning and knew I had to move out.

Except for half a year in Phnom Penh, I've shared accommodations with different people since '06. I know that living with these people has made a positive difference to my life, teaching me to be more tolerant and independent. But it is time to live solo, especially as '30' is creeping ever closer. Even as I mentally went through the logistics of…

Should have known better

So, room mates.

6 years ago, when I first moved to the U.S., they seemed a mysterious species, giving ample opportunities for exasperation, bewilderment and of course, humour. College really is largely about these emotions, and my first roomies left me with a cornucopia of fond memories on strange habits, beliefs, cooking styles, diets and other assorted practices.

When I moved to Bombay in 2009, an assortment of circumstances led me to share a house with my now ex-roomie, A. Having known each other as neighbours in Pune for years prior to moving in together, we weren't called upon to recalibrate our expectations, ideas or living styles. We respected each other's privacy and predilections, most of our communication being thoroughly brusque in typical guys style. After 3.5 years, he went off to phoren parts to study, leaving me to either find a new house or a new room mate. This was in May.

Determined as I was to live by myself for the first time since 2006, there were geograp…

We used to wait

So the day has come.

The team sheet doesn't have the name.

At the usual early wicket (being 100/0 is anathema to our openers, apparently. In India. Against NZ. Heaven help them abroad), the name doesn't appear at number 3 any longer.

No one strides out of the pavilion, practising the straight-drive with metronomic accuracy.

The umpire is not politely asked for the middle-off (lately middle-leg) mark.

The side stance, head back and straight, is gone.

The bat has stopped tapping in an ever-increasing tempo.  

Grace has left.
Technique has bid adieu.
Reassurance has retired.

Test cricket feels strange and incomplete. 

Song for the moment:Who knows where the time goes - Nina Simone

Another ticket

He stares at the screen, mesmerised by the rhythm of the blinking line. The blank page stares back, challenging him to put down something... meaningful. He isn't one of those writers who sit down and pound a steady 1000 words a day. He is not much of a topical writer. Unless someone wants to know about endless local train journeys and the emotional vacuum of a single man's life in Bombay. On that subject, he's close to being an expert. But he's tired of writing about it and his waning audience is no longer interested. Apparently, there are only so many ways to skin a cat. 

So, what kind of writer is he? He doesn't know. At some level, he doesn't care. He only writes when he feels like it. In recent times, he has not wanted to. He catches the faint scent of the idea for a post every now and then, but it drifts away, leaving him with a peculiar hollowness. Like he had something to say, but forgot, and can no longer even remember whether it was important or trivial…

High speed

So, another hiatus from blogging, thanks to work, the house hunt and the inability to resolve the problem of having things to say, but not a satisfactory way to convey them.

The housing situation was resolved, as these things are wont to do, practically by itself. For a couple of weeks after the last post, I manfully roamed around Bandra, Khar and Santacruz with brokers, looking at various decrepit and overpriced 1-room houses. It was a depressing exercise and I caught myself wondering how desperate one would have to get before agreeing to such unfair terms. Fortunately, I was saved the trouble of finding out. A friend of the room mate (now ex-roomie) was new in town and looking for a place. He saw the house, recognised a good deal and moved in. Everyone was satisfied.

Work is... well, work. Aptly named.

 The rains are here, finally. Considering how intermittent they have been, calling them the monsoons would be insulting past seasons.

After staying loyal to the simple Nokia phone s…

Here we go again

Any conversation about Bombay generally includes the following - the unbelievable crowds, the distances people usually have to travel, train schedules, the weather and of course, rents. 

Sometime in the future (assuming the Mayans are wrong), there will be a whole school of finance and architecture dedicated to the hyper-inflated, flagrant violation of decency and humanity that is the Bombay rent scenario. Since the number of people who've discussed, debated and despaired over it is beyond count, I won't waste your time with grandiloquent phrases about it. Bombay rents are inexplicably high. 

A space that, in any other city, would be reserved for the broom cupboard, will, in Bombay, have 2 beds and a desk parked in it, accompanied by an oily-looking broker holding a sign saying "Paying Guest accommodation - strategically located next to Whatchamacallit Station and Stinkstohighheavenwadi". Price negotiable (which means, you could have the bed depending on the sale price…

Tick of the clock

There's a pretty simple test I use to see whether my work+job+workplace is bringing me any semblance of happiness - the morning email emotion.

When I'm remotely satisfied with the state of my employment, checking work email for the first time in the day holds no terrors. It is just something I do every morning. Like brushing my teeth. So ingrained in routine that I don't have to think about it. If new emails appear from colleagues, clients or heaven forbid, bosses, its OK. I'll do what is needed.

But, the moment the job becomes unpleasant, the work email acquires a different hue. To be fair, it takes a fair amount of time and the collapse of a lot of variables before I reach that state of unhappiness. Still, once that line has been crossed, there's almost no going back. Like the classic snowball gag, it can only go downhill, steadily becoming bigger and more destructive until it reaches the bottom where the village that is my career, slumbers uneasily. If remotely fo…

Killing yourself to live

Hello. I won't say "I'm back!" since I never left. Still, its been a month and something since I last posted, so its nice to greet anyone who is still faithfully visiting the site. It has been a torrid April and I don't just mean weather-wise, although most Indians will shrug at that last sentiment and ask - So what's new? Not only is summer officially here, it has arrived with some maha vengeance. Bombay is steaming, and the only way to escape the heat is to get to work dreadfully early and leave well after sunset. 

Funnily enough, my work over the past month has meant exactly that. In fact, the workload at the new place has conditioned me into thinking there's something very wrong on the oft chance that I do leave the office whilst the last shreds of daylight linger on. I've been contributing to some biggie product+brand launch project, so this is the first weekend in 5 that I've not gone to work on a Saturday or Sunday. Yea, it was like that. 

An…

Black and white

This post has been held back, for good reasons. It was written when I read Atul's latest post last week and was struck by the coincidence.

After 20 years, I wrote a letter and posted it on Tuesday. I've been in love with the idea of writing and receiving letters for as long as I can remember. I've even written about it on the blog, a long time ago. The question, easily asked, would be - why take the trouble? After all, email is easily accessible, free, convenient and costs nothing. I'm not anti-technology or anything; plenty of emails have been written to a lot of people and there are days I read through some of the old stuff and wonder about how the serious problems of the past can seem childish, petulant or even laughable in the present. But, such is life. One grows, shrugs off every passing year like a skin, only keeping the lessons. Some of us become older, if not wiser and both age and knowledge can soften the sharpest of experiences.In the 21st centu…

Do nothing till you hear from me

This is not a rant. Or a whine. Just saying. 

A couple of days back, someone put up a flex-poster (that's how specific you get in advertising, apparently) with some of Henry Miller's quotes on writing. By itself, these Commandments are an interesting read. Inspiring even. But, in the context of an ad agency, they seem a little smarmy.

Right off the bat, there's no doubt that Miller knew his onions when it came to writing, and from what I gather from his Wiki page, living a pretty bohemian life. A great writer who knew it. Therefore, when confronted with his thoughts on the subject, the man on the street can safely read, appreciate, agree, admire and move on. Which I did, the first time around. After a couple of days' hard labour, working towards the demands of the nutters passing themselves off as our discerning patrons, the charm wears off. I was tempted to add a little bit of graffiti suggesting that Mr. Miller ought to interact with some of my clients and then appl…

Don't you remember?

Memories need no invitation. They're already inside the house of your mind, unobtrusively living in various nooks, crannies and forgotten attics. You'll run into them every now and then; depending on their personality, you'll feel sad, happy or just wistful. Today seems the kind of day that I'm going to run into songs from my past.

Making some space for myself in a crowded train compartment this morning, I suddenly thought about Nirvana's 'Come as you are', a song that took me back to college, a spring day in Pune, lunch at a friend's place in Lohegaon and Ketan's gutsy attempt to sound like Cobain. We stood around, listening to him give it his all, and none of us had the heart to say out loud that he was woefully off key. Maybe he knew it and didn't care. Who knows? Isn't the spirit of college the freedom to try? And isn't it funny that we only realise how much more we could have done after we've left?

Rushing through various nonde…

Imitation of life

Bombay makes it very easy to get sucked into the rhythm of work and the peculiar energy that permeates every nook and gutter in the city affects people in two ways.

It can, for instance, trick you into thinking that 2 hour commutes to your office are a normal thing. An ex-colleague would come from Vashi to Wadala on one train, take another from Wadala to Andheri and a third from there to Goregaon. Fighting ugly crowds all the way. His other option was to take an auto to the Vashi bus depot, and then take a 2 hour bus ride to Goregaon. He'd sometimes switch between these two hells. For variety, I suppose.

On the other hand, another bloke I know, who could be described as being a shade like the Marquis de Carabas, will refuse any job opportunity that doesn't appear between Bandra and Juhu, because he doesn't like to travel in Bombay. I see his point. Funnily enough, I see both their points of view as being reasonable.

Anyway, because of all this 'work-work-travel-travel-…

Window to the world

The glass walls of the office let him stare at the people on the other side. As a scene, it was not extraordinary. Neither were the people. People were after all, just people. The observer and the observed shared a floor, but they could have been worlds apart.

After many minutes of observation, he understood. Perhaps. Those on the outside looked comfortable. He did not know them. He had no idea about their daily office lives, never mind the ones they led after leaving at the end of the day. But there was no getting around it - they just looked content. Confident. Cheerful. Hopeful. Like they knew they'd be able to handle anything life threw their way.

He felt as aware of this as the people were unaware of him.

They looked alive. He looked like he would never be.

Song for the moment: For what it's worth - Buffalo Springfield

I gave you all

It never fails.

Stress, frustration, angst, ennui, boredom, the stifling, never-ending pile of work... call it what you will. This amalgamated feeling will build, build and build. Sometime in midweek, when you're literally forcing one foot in front of the other out of sheer bloody-mindedness and fatigue, a vision will appear in your mind's eye.

A pub, a beer pitcher, music, and the kind of friends with whom you can stay comfortably silent for any length of time and still call it conversation.

Of course, at that moment, there will be no recourse.

So you'll write this post and take solace in the past. 

Song for the moment:Under the bridge - Red Hot Chili Peppers

Tiny Dancer

I can't think of many advantages to being a short person. If you are no good at sports, you tend to get bullied in school because you can't hack it as an athlete. If your social graces are awkward at best, you tend to get ignored in college for the most part and slink around campus like Gollum. Heck, there's even data suggesting that tall people get paid and treated better, right throughout their lives. So, the 'altitudinally' challenged get the short end of the stick, as it were. Which is consistent, I suppose.

Still, there's one place where you'd think it might be beneficial to be small of stature - the Bombay local to Borivali during the evening rush hour. Look, this is no forum to debate the horrors of train travel at said time. In my previous job, I've taken trains in what is as the 'wrong direction' in Bombay-speak, so I didn't quite understand the nitty-gritties of the situation. My new job is in town, so I finally travel in the same …