Sunday, March 30

Darn that dream

The space had character.

The outside room was distinguished by wooden floors, formica topped tables around the corners, shelves lined with video tapes & reels, cardboard boxes hiding behind pillars almost in apology, and piles of vouchers, bills, shooting dockets & other documents shuffling around higgledy-piggledy wherever they could. Large, framed prints hung on the walls. The room should have felt crowded and untidy, but it did not. Each of the items had made a place for itself in there, and now looked like it had always belonged.

The inside room was all him... his personality & tastes expressed in a strong, vivacious fashion. The aluminium windows, open more out of rusty compulsion than choice, looked on to a dreary building. An AC rumbled on in a determined fashion, while the water dripping from it made its way down the window grills, into the gullets of crows, sparrows and any other bird that needed a drink. A very hot summer was in the offing.

His table was wooden and solid-looking. It had a large Macintosh, some papers, a notebook and an old pouch. His leather chair promised reassuring comfort. It had to; he was 6 ft. 3 in. A tan Lazy-boy, corpulent in its padding looked like it was snoozing in a corner. The walls were a melange of well-thumbed books, fading movie posters and photographs of actors and movie covers. Behind his chair hid a hand-painted & framed picture of a bull charging at the Matador, the red of the cloth, vivid. Light streaming from the window hit a small silver salver... the kind in which chandoo (finest opium) used to be kept in days gone by.

And then there was the man himself. When authors used the words craggy and rangy to describe men, SSS was the kind of man they were referring to. With the natural confidence possessed by those with royal blood in their veins, wealth, good looks and athletic bodies, he walked into a room like he owned it. And in this case, it was literally true. He did own this part of the building; 2 rooms in an enormous old studio lot, now going to seed. Most of the sound stages had closed, the editing rooms had moved elsewhere and there was talk about an infamous realty group circling like a shark that had smelled blood. SSS had moved into the place 20 years ago. He was still there.

An industry veteran, SSS had worked with big names and agencies and, like all veterans, strongly disdained most of those he'd worked with. He was a born raconteur, with enough skill to tantalise rather than reveal. His voice was clear, his words eloquent and his diction, perfect. His conversations ranged like a wild horse through the landscape of his memories and experiences; yet, the work-related topics were never neglected. As he spoke, he'd open the pouch, take out the rolling paper, a filter, some tobacco and weed. Without a pause, he'd mix, layer, roll and light up. It was a pretty mesmerising performance. And the joint always smelled good.

It was only his eyes that were tired and careworn. Though they usually looked speculative, 20 years was a long time to be behind the camera, direct actors, consider shots & storyboards, yell "Action", "Cut" and "Pack up", and the fatigue came through every now and then. Despite the clear passion for his work and his talent, SSS was exhausted. More than that, he was bored, which was worse. He was reaching the end of his tether; over the lack of organisation at shoots, the lack of professionalism, the quibbles, quarrels, constant client edits... the list went on. There was also the brouhaha over the realty dealer and the sale of the property. Where would he move? How would he take 2 decades of good & bad to another place? How could he abandon the very walls that had supported him all these years?

SSS didn't have any answers. He got up, headed outside his office to a wrought iron bench opposite the door in a long passageway. There he sat, with an ashtray and a joint, staring into nothingness.


Sunday, March 23

Bird on a wire

This weekend, I finally made some time to visit (and I use the word carefully) my feedly subscriptions. There were more than 400 unread articles, dating back to just over a month ago. Which coincidentally was also around the time I wrote my last blog post. Those who know me will get where this is going - that the 400 unread articles are a sign that all is not well in Grinch-land; not just because I read regularly, but also because I am rather particular about not leaving things unfinished. 'Obsessive-compulsive' is the phrase you're reaching for I suspect, though that's neither here nor there. Or perhaps it is.

Either way, for me it isn't and wasn't normal. And therein lies the tale; even by the standards of an abnormal industry anyway, it hasn't been a remotely normal month. This should explain it with far more brevity & humour than yours truly is capable of. And because of it, I have been forced to ignore the other parts of my life. Leave aside books and blog posts, those will always be around, I haven't even seen some of my friends and loved ones in ages. This includes close friends who are a 10 minute auto ride away, and my grandma who lives 3 lanes away, for heaven's sake! Not to mention the fact that since the time I joined the current place, I have totally gone 2 months without visiting Pune, which is not a record I want.   

I took up the new job, full of optimism about doing great work and having more fun. It's been 3 months and all I can say is that my optimism was horribly misplaced. Along with energy, inspiration and hope, I have lost 3 kilos. And I'm pretty pint-sized as it is.

My days are either bad or worse. My weekends are no longer my own. More than once, I've fantasized about resigning and walking away from the shambles that masquerades as my workplace. This past Thursday, I was a 'Send' button click away from doing just that. And yet, here I am typing this, knowing that my hunched and defeated shoulders will present themselves in front of the attendance roster tomorrow.

There are many ways to look at this situation, one of which (and my favourite mantra right now) is that the job market is so bad that quitting without another job would be career suicide. Of course, there are plenty of people who can and do casually toss in the following:
  • Success requires some sacrifices
  • You'll get to learn so much
  • You knew it would be this crazy
  • This is the way it is everywhere
  • It will get better soon
And other similarly pithy catchphrases.

I don't know how to respond to these things. Perhaps that is just as well because right now, a reckless response, whether to hollow maxims or the strains of the job, would do me no good. Instead, it is time I took a leaf out of the book of a friend who, by his own confession, thinks things through.

Now is the time for pause, reflection and then, a decision... not that any decision would be carved in stone, though a little peace and quiet on the job front would be welcome. All I know is that I can't go on like this. On that note, ta for now.

Song for the moment: Walls fall down - Bedouin Soundclash