Wednesday, December 23, 2009

The Wrist-band

I was made for him..by a roadside vendor of knick knacks.
He asked him- What did he want the beads in the band to spell..?
Basketball, he said..and began to pick the beads himself.
I liked him instantly.
I wouldn’t be exaggerating if I said he lived to play the game- and did I mention he was good, oh he was brilliant!! All those practice sessions in and out of the school gym- when sweat used to pour down his arm like branches of a river, leaving me all wet and dirty and smelly- it grossed me out at first till I understood his immense love and passion for basketball- after that, well it grossed me still but I learned to grin and bear it.
I learnt a lot of things.
I learnt how to flaunt myself on his left wrist every game night- that band of black that flashed every time he leaped for a jump shot, every time he slammed a dunk. I also learned how to blend with the cuffs of his dinner jacket at school formals. In time, he stopped wearing his watch altogether. I was the only accessory he needed. Almost everyone in town knew him. Those who didn’t know him, knew of him, and those ignorant few who didn’t know him at all- were educated thus- “He’s the boy with the black band”- they used to say. It was as though people had no memory of a time when I hadn’t existed- we were inseparable. I was a part of him- not disunited for even a second with his body heat- I raced along as his pulse raced mad beneath me- that first kiss in the backseat of a car after a win, the first brawl, the first breakup-
I saw it all..I was there.
That night he won a game for his team again- it was becoming routine. Celebrations, booze, hooking up with cheerleaders- it looked like a regular affair-except that it wasn’t. I heard the violent screeching of tyres on gravel as he walked home after the party, the sudden impact, the shattering of glass, the crunch of bone-
I heard it all..I was there.
The doctors said he couldn’t play anymore, hell they said he couldn’t walk anymore.
He…he said nothing..
He just ripped me off his wrist and aimed for the trash can in the corner of the room..
Did I mention his three pointer had always been faultless.
Needless to say where I ended up.
Basketball was over.
So was I.

Sunday, September 6, 2009

I didn't know..

Something happened today. An extraordinary example of life's unkindness. A friend is at the receiving end of life's wrath. And that reminded me of the time when I was in the same place. No details- that would make this post too unpleasant and too personal. I'd only reveal this much that I lost a close friend to death and a myriad other things happened to make me lose faith in happiness altogether. And today was like all that choking feeling coming back over me as I saw through a looking-glass. Here's something that I wrote in the wake of my memory of the past and my sensibility of the present.
I didn't know then, that people staring at me were simply trying to understand the fear my eyes betrayed.
I didn't know then, that wisdom was the opposite of love.
I didn't know then, that the last time with him was a test, and I was asking myself whether I had passed it or failed..
I didn't know then, that I would never know.
I didn't know then, that it was possible to love people for the reassuring incandescence of their smiles alone.
I didn't know then, that all my strength was going to be born in those moments.
I didn't know then, that the world would enfold my life within its nightmares- gently but completely.
I didn't know then, that to forget, all I had to do was close my eyes.
I didn't know then, that sorrow could be like a span of night sky.
I didn't know then, that it was impossible to shun someone you truly loved.
I didn't know then, that I was drowning in a sorrow that had no stars, no laughter and no sleep.
I didn't know then, that happiness comes back again, like persistent waves of a glittering sea.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

11:30 Paharganj

This is a script I wrote for my Media Appreciation class.. The title was thrown at us and it was totally our call what we chose to do with it.. Well, this is what I did with it.. Now YOU deal with it ;)
p.s. Paharganj is a crazy crowded locality in Delhi, close to Connaught Place. Though it is better known as one of the entrances to the New Delhi Railway Station, the other being Ajmeri Gate.

R- It’s a weird assignment, if you ask me.
I- Well, since no-one has asked you, why don’t you drop it already?
R- No, but seriously! 11:30 Paharganj? What sense does that title make?
I- Absolute sense, perfect sense, no sense at all-how does that matter?
R- But it does! I mean, why 11:30, and why Paharganj?
I- Because 11:30 works just as well as 10:30 or 12:30..and Paharganj.. I dunno- maybe there’s some history there, or maybe not.. Personally, I think 11:30 Paharganj sounds appealing and impressive.
R- Paharganj makes you think of train stations for God’s sake!
I- What’s so wrong with them, I would like to know!
R- I dunno- train stations are so..so run-of-the-mill you know, so routine. Why couldn’t it have been 11:30 Palam, or 11:30 IGI?? Airports are so much more interesting- nothing ever happens at a train station..
I- That’s your pseudo-bourgeois upbringing talking. What happened to the film-enthusiast inside of you? Where’s your movie sense yaar? Remember "DDLJ"- the film climaxes on a train station-with Shahrukh fighting all those villainous young men and Kajol running the bloody length of the platform to join him- it’s a cult sequence in Bollywood!!
R- I thought you hated Shahrukh?
I- I’ve realized hate is too strong a word- hate leaves no room for an outside chance…but we digress…
R- Yeah, so coming back- I can’t say I’m convinced- 11:30 Paharganj is too vague for my imagination.
I- You’ve been a science student all your life, I can understand this obsessive need for definitiveness. You are designed to feel a little dissatisfied.
R- Maybe. So how do you explain it? The obscurity of the whole thing.. and how are you going to weave sense around it all?
I- I think the obscurity is the USP here.. like you said that the title makes you think trains and train stations- me too- and I have been trying to explore that avenue.. and because everything is so vague it is upto you how you negotiate the various permutations and combinations- the title is subject to individual interpretation- we don’t have to do it the clich├ęd way- we don’t have to construct a common story with a hero and villain and a bag of cash with a railway station as the backdrop- my story could be you and me, taking the metro to North Campus, talking about my assignment and what it means to both of us.
R- That way it might have some potential I can see..
I- Which is exactly why this angle intrigues me so much.. I mean- I’ve never ever thought of it like this before but listen to this- what do films in particular show us- how do they create train stations and by extension trains for us- not merely as sets or props which are there only as background- but almost like characters in the plot with a significant role to play. Like how easily trains and stations become metaphors for coming and going and that little time and space in between- or how stations are used as places where conflict is resolved.
R- Hmm..remember "My Best Friend’s Wedding"? That long overdue confrontation between Julia Roberts and Dermot Mulroney- confession of love and realization that love is lost- yeah, that happens in a train station..
I- Exactly, and "Before Sunrise"? How two strangers meet on a train, talk, feel connected, spend time together and promise to meet again at the same station where they are separating.. I’ve always thought that the anticipation and adrenaline has much to do with being in a place that is essentially suspended- neither here nor there..
R- But isn’t this getting a little philosophical? Like reading too much into things?
I- Yeah, it’s a scattered thought, which is why it makes so much sense.. I mean isn’t all cinema, good cinema a way to convey ideology?
R- Umm..that way you’d have to rope in books as well..you know..like literature?
I- Interesting idea.
R- Like "Harry Potter" for instance. In the last book- how Harry thinks that that in-between-place lodged in the middle of life and death is King’s Cross station- from where one could either move ‘on’ or go back and face one’s demons.
I- Excellent example.. I admit I hadn’t thought of that.
R- And what about recent examples from Bollywood. "Jab We Met" remember?? How Kareena says- It feels like something is going wrong..It feels..
I- ..feels like I’m missing a train!! Yeah!
R- I’m starting to get the drift of it now..
I- Yeah, you’re getting warmed up!
R- Any other interesting angles?
I- There’s one. We were talking about watching "Dolls" in class the other day.. that Japanese movie.. so about that- there is this certain hierarchy in all love relationships in the movie. Like there is this dominant partner and a subservient partner- and it seems that the latter has little to contribute to the love- but in the end it is the dominant partners who realize that for their life to have any meaning they must reconcile with the people they have abandoned..This idea in a strange way operates here as well…
R- Umm..I think I know where you are going- like how between trains and train stations, the former could be the dominant partners because they are more proactive and much action takes place there, I’m thinking "North By Northwest", but they always have to come back to stations because they are the actual binding factors between crisis and catharsis, tragedy and resolution.
I- My thoughts exactly!
R- Okay, I grant you- it’s a great perspective- very thought provoking..
I- It’s something, isn’t it? And imagine, what are the odds of movie-like stuff happening to real-like people- You and I, talking about 11:30 Paharganj and other banal things- in this sparsely occupied metro compartment. Think of the romantic possibility of it all!!
R- That might be a bit far-fetched for me you know!
I- Well, as Cary Grant says in “North By Northwest”- “Sorry Love, I’m sentimental!!"

Sunday, August 9, 2009

Happy Birthday!

My blog turned a year-old today. It is quite unbelievable for me as I wasn't tracking my days or anything. While fiddling with the settings here I just chanced upon the date when I had posted my first thoughts. And lo! and behold! There came the realization! This past year has seen me starting off extremely enthused about this entire blogging business, then sadly getting tied up with the many banalities of existence- hence not being able to fulfil my duties and promises as a regular for an awfully long period, and then snapping back out of my vegetative state(thankfully!). I'd like to say that in this short time I have come across an insane amount of talent and have been bowled over by the creativity present here(I am sorry Saurabh if it sounds like I have borrowed verbatim from your recent post! Whatcha gonna do? It's all true!!). The multitudinous perspectives and the ways people employ to convey them effectively is truly remarkable. I daresay I have some people here whom I already think of as friends and I welcome in advance all the friendships-to-be.
The time is come, the stage is set,
The pen is fit to flow,
My memories are here, my wonder there,
One year is ready to go.
So many days, so many nights,
and yet they seem but few,
when I think back, the numerous thoughts,
those threads you and I did sew.
Countless expressions and multiple views,
your womb has nurtured them all,
you've borne periods of ecstasy, urgency too,
and tantrums both big and small.
So goodbye year, you have been great,
and honest, eventful and true,
It is with pleasure and a little pain,
That I bid thee, a final adieu.

Saturday, August 8, 2009

Do You?

Do you smile when you sometimes hear birds chirping in the wee hours of morning? Do you sing in the shower? Do you sigh when you see happy endings in movies? Do you tip-toe to the refrigerator at one in the night and eat ice-cream straight from the bowl? Do you hum along when you hear an old song you love? Do you keep a special person's picture in your wallet? Do you love talking with somebody late into the night? Do you blow kisses to people across a room? Do you dance like no one is watching? Do you adore rain drops on your skin? Do you feel bliss laying down in a sleepy-drunk state after a tiring day's work? Do you light up when friends turn up to give you surprises? Do you remember your favourite poem by heart? Do you feel nice when someone thanks you? Do you return a smile a stranger passes you? Do you like holding hands while crossing roads? Do you wish you could share a beautiful view with someone? Do you stare at the sunset , or a cascade of rain? Do you like to feel the wind in your face? Do you put your head in your mother's lap so she would ruffle your hair? Do you feel awe when you see cloud formations in the sky? Do you shout your lungs out on a roller-coaster ride? Do you laugh along when you see a baby laughing? Do you dig Tom and Jerry? Do you give a hug all you've got? Do you appreciate the small things in life? Life's small happinesses? Do You?

Monday, July 27, 2009

December Girl

Winter is my birth season. It had to be. Nothing else would have worked for me, I am sure of it. I simply couldn't have been born in summer- wouldn't have survived the blazing, puncturing heat; nor spring- too wishful for my taste. Rains could've actually done the trick except in India they are too temperamental, and autumn- do we really have that season here or is it just another thing we conveniently borrowed from the west and then forgot to return? Anyway, so you see, point proven.
I love winters. Other than the obvious reason cited above it is genuinely a time of the year I eagerly await. If one were to ask what was it I liked best about winters, I would be found fumbling for words, and that would be saying something about me as I do not find myself in similar predicaments often( to cut a long story short, I am a talker). But this shouldn't be understood to mean that I don't have enough things to say, on the contrary, I have too much and simply wouldn't know where to begin and when to end. What do I like best? The onset of the season when the days become pleasant and the nights pleasantly chilly. When the Sun seems like a blessed presence warming our faces and our backs. The chill evenings and warm cups of tea and coffee with friends. Cosy hugs which last forever. Rubbing hands of each-other to keep them warm. Solitary book-reading rituals against a window with sunlight streaming in. Encroaching a warmed blanket. Sticking cold toes amid warm ones. Hot water baths. Foggy mornings. Blowing fake smoke rings in the air. The pleasure of a brisk sunny walk. Breakfast of the richest variety. Not having to bother about power outages. Colorful pullovers knitted by your grandmother...
If you stop to think about it, winters give us the opportunity to cling to each other more, hold on to each other for that much longer. To be able to feel in actuality all the compassion and tenderness that is inherently encased in a human touch is what endears me to the season. The inclement weather and numbing sensations make room for immense warmth. Not just a feeling of it internally, but the uninhibited, unreserved exhibition of the same. Isn't that a wonderful thing?
Winter is my birth season. It had to be. :)

Friday, July 10, 2009

C for College

Chatter, cheer, color, contrast, cafe, cats, corridoor, confusion, cell-phone, courtship, culture, cigarette, classes, catharsis, country-music, colonialism, co-education?, condescension, Columbia, Coleridge, chaos, cahoots, camaraderie, campus...c'est la vie. This is life - or something like it.

This is my tribute to that phenomenal institution called Lady Shri Ram College For Women (don't miss that), which has been the cause of much pride and perturbation, turmoil and trepidation, emotion and excitation, and has filled every nook and cranny of 365*3 number of days with remembrances which refuse to age with time and consciousness that, mercifully, is ageless. When time spent inside campus seemed to fly by and that spent outside it seemed to drag on- I knew that something was going majorly wrong within my system. I couldnt have enough of sauntering in the sun-lit corridoors, lazying around in the lawns, snuggling back to the warm womb of the library, gazing at the notorious owl which lived in the trees overlooking room 27, consuming the excellent food at our in-house cafe graciously offering some of it to the omnipresent cat, spending quality time with friends while bunking classes, watching movies, shopping and attending lectures(in that order), spiritedly absorbing the wise words of much loved professors/spiritedly indulging in illicit day-dreaming et al. Only I know of the terror that was gnawing at my innards as I walked past the front gates, fingering nervously the rows of assorted flowers which lined the periphery of the front lawns on my first day. And only I know how slowly, with each passing day, that nasty feeling dissipated and filled that empty space inside me with something I still can't put a finger to. Perhaps it was relief, or hope, or joy, or excitement- of finally finding one's place under the sun. Perhaps it was all this..and more. The kindness in the teachers, their willingness to go beyond known limits to help students with whatever was causing them agitation, their selfless devotion to their noble vocation- has made me wonder why people always tried to alienate me from expecting a good life at college. All those stories about how one is on one's own, college is the true test before one launches into real life and things like that. Because for me college has meant that there'll be help available whenever and however you need it- not dressed up formally and impersonally, but in flesh-and-blood, alongwith a welcoming smile and kind words, it has meant that differences shall not be ridiculed but embraced, it has meant that the biggest mistakes will be forgiven and the littlest success will be celebrated, it has meant that with every breath and every step something in me is growing- not with the fanfare of epiphany but with ignorance and arrogance slowly gathering their things and walking away in the middle of the night. And most of all, it has meant that no matter if I travel to the other end of the world, no matter how small or big I make in life, the singular connect of familiarity, friendships and fusion that I found behind those walls and beneath that roof, would stay alive in a hallowed corner of my heart for as long as I live and after.

"When envious time, with unrelenting hand, Dissolves the union of some little band, Memory still loves to hover o'er the place, And all our pleasures and our pains retrace."

Thursday, July 9, 2009

For Friends

(Dedicated to soul-brothers and soul-sisters.)

You lent me yours when I ran out of crayon,
And held my hand while crossing dark hallways,
And though those days have passed, yes they’re gone,
I remember your smile-kissed young face, always.
Always, when I’m feeling the blues,
And life seems too tough to bear,
I recall your paintings, with their splash of hues,
You gave me each December, every year.
How, with you around, sunlight always looked too bright,
And how can I forget, dearest, our gazing together at the star-filled night.
All the dreams, hopes, wishes-on-stars and the moon-shine,
Dare I ever let go these wonderful memories I consider all mine?
Friend- you are a pint of beer that tastes like starry skies,
And you, with your eccentricities, are the pineapple of my crazy eyes.
So, promise me, you’ll still be my friend, even if I turn enemy,
And you’ll be something..someone…who’ll always..just be.
Swear that you’ll mean for me, a journey that never ends,
God, where would we be in this world,
If it wouldn’t be for friends.

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Read on..

The single most defining threshold of my life was when utter appreciation and abject reverence for books came to me, luckily it came very early on. This is something that makes me most proud and immensely humble, strangely at the same time- that the power, pleasure and perspicaciousness of books is mine to absorb and instill. That this knowledge is mine to keep, it cannot be taken away, it is indestructible. And it can be summoned in the hour of need, dug out from the deepest recesses of one's heart and soul. So i tell everyone- nothing, nobody can prove to be a better mentor, guide, companion, friend than a good book. You want answers? books will give you those...

(On demand and perpetual insistence from a lot of kind friends, i am happy to share a sort of review of one of my all-time-favourite books.)

It is said about To Kill a Mockingbird, that after reading the book, and knowing that it is Harper Lee’s only written work, one wishes she had published other books as well. This 1961 Pulitzer Prize winning novel, arguably, is one of the best accounts of the hysteria that racial hatred and prejudices could brew in Southern America prior to the Civil Rights era. Told through the eyes of eight year old Jean Louise Finch, better known as Scout, the story weaves the innocence and conflicts which constitute growing up, coming to terms with one’s own fears and reservations, of childish exploits, summers of freedom, town legends, loved/hated relatives, and confrontations with the class structure of Maycomb (their home county) in school; with the larger plot of the racial undercurrent in the community beneath the veneer of normalcy. Scout and Jem are children being brought up in the backyards and lanes of quaint Alabama in the 1930s. Their father, Atticus Finch, a widower, is a well-respected lawyer as well as Congressional representative for the region and has raised the kids with the help of a black nurse/cook, Calpurnia. Atticus is about to take on a case of a black man accused (falsely) of raping a white woman, and that is sure to stress the town and his own family and uncover both the prejudice and the dignity of the people of Maycomb.
The first section of the book builds only the background and character and is an introduction to the Southern way of living- which is extremely relaxed, bordering on being apathetic. The action commences once Atticus is drawn into the trial, it affects the children in many ways, they begin taking insults on account of their father and the tension rises. The already existing class
and race divide in the story becomes more pronounced, and Atticus’ quiet insistence and fortitude regarding the issue of basic worth of a human life becomes more pertinent and poignant. The end of the book ties back to one of the first sub-plots and hints at the town’s return to something approaching the ordinary. The closure gets more personal, closer to home and thus doesn’t feel as significant. It might seem like a bit of a letdown after the extreme emotional value of the trial. But if one would just stay with it, one would quickly realize that Lee has a point to make. In the last few lines, she juxtaposes the desire for action with the inherent humility of humanity by incorporating scenes which, if less grand than the courtroom scenes, have as much profundity.
Inspite of the main plot being highly political, negotiating the stark difference in perspectives determined by the colour of one’s skin, the book manages to not transform into an angry diatribe. Instead it is a story about seeing people as flawed creatures and yet trying to understand them. It is a book about taking small risks in order for things to change. And most importantly it is a book about great personal strength and honour. It tells the reader that things cannot possibly be expected to change overnight. People cannot be expected to rid themselves of deeply entrenched beliefs. But it still tells one to keep hoping, accepting the good and helping to deal with the bad. Lee portrays a heart-warming picture of a widower trying to raise children who are idealistic like him, but who also are capable of standing up for themselves if need be.
It is a book with immense appeal and efficacy, especially in our world of today, when we have a man of African descent holding the office of the President of the United States of America. It reminds one of Martin Luther King, Jr’s theory of the slow moral arc of the universe- which is an appreciation of small gains, the gradual pace which humans take to change, and the dignity which lies in trying for change.
But even if one had to disregard the deeper moral point, this is essentially good story-telling and deserves all the fame it merits, because (taken from the plot synopsis of the Warner books publication) To Kill A Mockingbird takes readers to the roots of human behavior-to innocence and experience, kindness and cruelty, love and hatred, humor and pathos.
Highly Recommended.

blues

I am not proud of this.. this poem is really depressing, I wrote it at an extremely low point in my life.. the only reason I am sharing this is because i think it would prove to be a cathartic and by extension therapeutic exercise..

thinking moments, under a brooding grey sky,

bittersweet memories, the promise and its breaking.

the song of love is long dead and gone by,

tell me what is harder- living life or its taking.

your look is not tender, your touch has turned cold,

so i secret we met, my questions, my fears.

but i shall wait for time to grow old,

and i'll see you again, through silence and tears.

just to be me

The sun is setting on a lonely day
The colours are splitting the perfect way
You're strolling home as you see this too
And I watch from a window thinking of you
From this day on, I'll look forever
That magical sunset, our memories together
To help me through when my life gets tough
And when I feel that I've had enough
The sun you see, makes me think of you
The miracle of it, the wonder too
I see you both everyday as you know
To stop seeing either, I'd have to say no
The bright colours shine from within my heart
The colours of a sunset, a special part
Of a day in my life I wish you could see
Just what's it like, just to be me.