Monday, April 24

What's on my mind

The 10th anniversary of this blog went by in March. I'd thought of writing something on the day, about the occasion but was defeated by a score of genuine reasons and a handful of lazy excuses. I cannot actually comprehend just how much the world has changed since the afternoon I tentatively began typing the title of my first ever post. I don't even remember why.

There I was, proverbially dazed and confused in a university city in the deep South of the US. Lonely, homesick and unable to overcome the feeling that I'd committed a ghastly mistake by picking Birmingham. I was halfway through my second semester and filled with regret that I'd taken on an unbelievably difficult Law course (that I'd never use). That Spring, I'd visited friends and family in NYC, which added to the black depression I was under. NYC was everything Birmingham was not; loud, lively and crowded. Since I barely had the money to cover rent every month, taking an impromptu trip home was out of the question. So, I took comfort in the written word.

How different things were! Facebook was a brand new phenomenon, tentatively creeping across college campuses throughout the country. My roommates and friends, always more enthusiastic than me about anything except beer, dove into the experience with gusto. Heck, Google itself was only working its way to a state of omniscience. Phone cards were zealously compared and hoarded, Indian food was bought by walking 5 kilometers to a Chinese store and songs from the film Gangster and others by Himesh ruled many a private music play-list. Yep, truly bizarre. We had no cars and depended on the University bus service or the charity of senior Indian students to visit the far away Walmart and Sam's Club. And boy did we have to make those trips count.

We gave each other haircuts, cooked langar-scale meals and got wasted on weekends. It was a mindbogglingly simple life, yet filled with struggles every day. Some of my friends found their courses tough while others needed to work off-campus at night to make ends meet and have enough left over to pay their student loans. We had left our homes behind and had no idea what lay ahead. The horizon of the future seemed so far away then, I can honestly say that being 34, single and working as a copywriter in Bombay was not in the top 200 scenarios I'd considered. I'm sure I'd never even thought of so many possibilities. We were living day to day and everything seemed an adventure.

And what was I? A mix of too many things, most of which were temporary coping behaviours. I felt like a marionette, my every move and decision made in a stupefying haze. The US was a shock to my system but it was also the freedom to shake off the deadweight of who I'd been and find out who I actually could be.

Sometimes, I reread my old posts. Some make me cringe. Others bring a teary smile. And there's always a sentence or a turn of phrase so amazing, I wonder how I had the chops to write it.

Of course, over time my writing has changed. I have experimented with different styles, tried to please my audience occasionally and even poured my heart out using heavy doses of euphemism. There have been posts I have loved and those I have disliked. Many I should have not published and some I never did write. This blog is a chronicle of 10 years of me and my experiences and memories of the US, Cambodia, Pune and Bombay. It was started by a 24 year old boy in the computer lab of his department building on a Spring evening so sunny and beautiful, his heart ached. Today, it is being written by a 34 year old... someone, in the middle of the night in his home city. And, in a way his heart is still aching.  

This is blog post number 300. Only a handful of you may have read every one of them. Thank you for that. And, I am also grateful to the set of circumstances that led me to start this blog. It hasn't been the greatest ride. But it isn't over yet.

Song for the moment: Wish you were here - Pink Floyd