Thursday, March 10, 2011

Death, and all his friends

“Oh shut UP, I’m serious! Goddamnit, could you for once have an objective dialogue on death without thinking I’m suicidal?” High time, he thought to himself. He’d tried the hardest ever to keep his cool.

It was slightly overcast, with faint signs of rain. It was the kind of weather where you didn’t want it to rain, for that would simply end the beauty of expectation. A book of short stories by R.K. Narayan lay on the table, half open.

“I just care about you, Dan. You scare the living crap outta me with these questions of yours, what the hell do you mean ‘right time to die’? Go catch some sleep!”

Dan had had enough of this. He had to go on talking about it. Someone would understand! “I mean come on, think about it. Attempted suicide is a crime. What justification is there to that? Once you’re an adult, why shouldn’t you be given a choice as to when you wish to terminate your life? Isn’t that messed up, on a scarily fundamental level? They talk about choice in everything else, they talk about freedom like you can buy it in dollar stores, and you don’t have the freedom to choose the point where your life ends? How does that make sense in your world?”

“And shouldn’t there be an optimum time to die? All these critical path theories of the world, they should apply to qualitative things too, right? Wasn’t there some lemma saying most things can be quantized?” He felt a lot lighter. The words were flowing now. He could feel the creases in his thought progression easing out. “Think about it this way. If you die a child, it’s still a bad thing. If you stay old for too long, you become a burden. Is there any time you can die without causing too much pain, or for that matter, without triggering a few sighs of relief around you?”

She looked at him her eyes misty with concern. “Look, Daniel. I have a very high regard for your thought process, you know that. Objective thinking is something you’re so adept at you should really read more about it and write about it too. But this is not a very happy road to go on, love. Think of happier things, will you?”

He broke once more. What was this world where a simple discussion couldn’t be had without assuming emotional involvement? He whacked the book off the table in exasperation.

“Daniel, thoughts don’t just come like that. It’s one of the many things you taught me yourself, it’s a process, remember? I know what you’ve read recently and it’s not coming from there – Douglas Adams and Narayan aren’t exactly promoters of a dystopian world.”

“So what you’re basically trying to tell me”, he was fuming now, “is that there cannot be had a discussion on death, or anything for that matter, without having some sort of attachment to it? Without the discussion stemming from personal feelings? Everyone who’s ever thought of death has killed themselves? Do you even hear yourself? What’s the sodding use of educating yourself so much, then?”

“Stop pretending. Honestly. You’re ALL the bloody same. All of you. Don’t care if you want, but don’t give me the goddamn HOPE that you do. I’m okay with living in a place where nobody cares, just don’t give me the delusions!”

She really was confused. Agreed, Daniel was quite the over-thinker, but it usually stuck to that, didn’t it? He was fiercely objective, and it never strayed to his emotions. This anger business wasn’t him, it wasn’t him at all.

“Where is all this coming from Danny? What are we even talking about? What does caring about you have anything to do with this? You really think I’m pretending to care about you? I’m sorry, but I really don’t think you understand me at all. What the fuck should I do to show that I really love you?”

Then it suddenly dawned upon Daniel. The sheer frivolity of having this discussion at all came and whacked him in the face.

“Yes I read too much into stuff I learn about. Yes, I make unnecessary conclusions, what’s your point?”

How on earth could he put that feeling into words? That place where being treasured was a happy feeling, how could he take someone there without them actually feeling it? How could he possibly tell her this, without offending her feelings? How could he tell her that if she did want to truly love him, she should try and understand him, not just tell him how much she loves him. How could he tell her that this objective discussion was so close to his heart, and her not understanding it hurt him more than so many things?

And all of a sudden, it all became clear. The world didn’t want to understand, it just wanted to go with the flow. The world didn’t want to truly love, it just wanted to lie and fool everyone else that it does. It doesn’t matter if you love, it just matters if you show you do. THIS was the flaw; this was the reason why he could never understand the world. The only thing that he knew, at that moment, is that he could never come to peace with others, and more importantly, with himself. This endless cycle would ensure that he could never be loved. He was alone. The only way out was giving up. The only way was helping the world in its cause to destroy him.

“Yeah, you’re right. I really should stop overanalyzing. Why the hell did I start thinking of death anyway! I’m sorry, I won’t talk about this kinda stuff again. Come, let’s go get coffee.”

Monday, February 21, 2011

Rainy Day, Dream Away

Note: This was written days after the Winter 2009 edition of Waves culminated. This was the festival where my batch was in charge, the festival that was known the most intimately by us. Ironically, life caught on and I never posted it.


The rains pelt on. The blues spread their reign all over. Something that’s been more than half a year in the making just burns itself out in three days. Like one of those quick burning cigarettes my hostel-mates tell me about.


To outsiders, it seemed like a feather in the hat of the art of organization. Yet, I find myself wondering where it all went. Waves is just a blur of damage control and crisis management. Somehow, we rescheduled and negotiated and fought our way through and made it work. And just when our worries seemed behind us, the Gods decided to have one little last laugh, and decided to make it rain. Needless to say, people went to town with jokes about Parikrama and “But it Rained”. When there’s been no sleep and substantial amounts of stress, the best bouts of humour come forth. And what better time for those scenarios than Waves! The best one I heard was an overworked coordinator saying “Parikrama’s so old, they should be called Parikra-grandma”.


In any case, the last thing I want to do is discuss shortcomings here, so I’ll leave it at that. Waves was a grand success overall, and that's all that matters.


I spent quite a while musing about weather changes and whether what we’d learnt of the timing of the arrivals of the “rainy season” and “summer” will probably not be what we teach our kids. Hell, we might not even have the same seasons. Seasons change, they say. Not so funny now is it, you metaphoring elitists.


Nonetheless, in my little world, the rains are always welcome. They slow down your thoughts, they slow down life. Somehow, they give you a license to stand and stare, to step back and look at the big picture. To stand underneath the walkway you take every day and pause to look at the leaves soaking in every bit of the rain. To sit with friends, old and new, and sip that lovely tea that warms you up. To learn to tread carefully, lest you slip in the soggy paths.


Someday, if I write a book, it’ll feature the rain. In all its glory and magnificence, in all its ability to make humans step out of the rat race, temporarily nevertheless, and examine the world for what it is.

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Blossoms Blooming

We’re already a month into the New Year. I read Sugar Magnolia’s bundle-of-sunshine post here, ushering in February with much joy and exuberance and it really did make my day. It’s difficult to see the bright side of things when you’re locked up in an office with practically nobody to talk to and with that messed up work culture your mommy warned you about. The big daddy of a typical core manufacturing firm. Where your card swapping in-out time holds infinitely more importance than the actual work you put in. Where you’re allowed to spend as much time “roaming around on the shopfloor” trying to “learn things”, but when you plug in a pair of earphones to drown out distractions so you can finish your work much faster, oh you are so dead with those looks you’ll get.

Every manufacturing firm has production line down-time, and every single goddamn one of them wants to reduce it. Obviously. And who best to blame for this than the maintenance guys, who’re supposed to wrap up their maintenance duties in infinitesimal amounts of time. The best part is, the boys over at maintenance couldn’t care less. They’ve gotten their minds attuned to the fact that the blokes over at production simply hate their guts and just don’t get it. The end result of this is free-floating hostility all over the place.

With the severe lack of documentation, it’s terribly difficult to actually figure out why this is happening. Enter stage left the intern, who has no regular duty and is meant for bitch-work in general. Give him a pile of 30-odd log books with utterly illegible scribbling of what are allegedly downtime reports, and tell him to sort out the data, channel-wise. Give it a fancy name, and make him document the data in the form of a soft-copy.

What the above rant essentially means is, that I’ve been entering illegible data onto an excel sheet for the last two weeks or so. 8 hours a day. My eyes, neck and other assorted body parts hurt. Which makes it rather difficult for me to see the bright, lustrous, colour-laced season of love that is February.

But what helped, was that post. It hit me in that one split-second, that however relatively dark my world has become, there’s still an insanely beautiful world out there. And the fact that it exists is enough to get me grinning through the day.

Thank you, Sugar Magnolia!

Monday, January 10, 2011

Bookish Knowledge

Not too long ago, I decided to finally pick up Kafka. After enduring enough jibes and accusations ranging from elitist to you’re-planning-your-own-funeral, I finally finished a couple of novels of his. Needless to say, the latter of the said accusations seemed a much quicker reality in the beginning.

The good part about how I read Kafka was, I ended up reading in spurts. A good number of days went in between me reading every 100 odd pages, which meant enough time to ruminate over what I’d read. What ensued was that every time I was neck deep in reading one of his novels or short stories, I’d realize a new facet of the man’s work, and a new reason to like it. Every few days, I could tell people how much I love Kafka’s stuff for a whole different reason. The only common factor was that I loved Kafka’s stuff.

And finally, I realized that this is how truly good books function. If you look at it from a very macro level, this is how it generally is. Books that have been loved and adored by fans whose number goes into six or seven digits always have the external appearance of being liked only for one particular reason. . But if you think about it even a little bit and consider the enormity of the cross-section of people reading these books, this cannot possibly be true. In reality, though, they appeal to different senses and different areas of the brain of people reading it. The reason why they all seem to be appreciated for only one reason, are critics.

Critics are in no way intellectuals functioning on a higher plane, figuring out the true intention of the author behind writing the book. Hell, only the author can tell you the true intention. The only difference between book critics and us normal people is that they can express their views, which somehow leads us all to believe that they’ve understood the true essence of the book better than the common man. Not only is this very untrue, it also gives a very convenient opinion that people can flock towards and conform to. I do not claim to be an observer in this; I have been guilty many-a-times of being biased in a particular direction towards a book after reading a review. Of course, most publishers love the critics for this for boosts in sales and whatnot, but I digress.

The bottom line is, a book is meant to lend perspective. Irrespective of the genre, it is meant to add some value to who you are. Whatever the hell you do, don’t let anybody tell you what and how much value you want a book to add to your life. Because that is direct reflection of every moment you’ve passed by. I’m sure I’ve been beaten to the punch in this realization by countless people and that it’s common knowledge. But it’s a whole different understanding when it springs out on you and shows you that the culmination of your thought process has been what many before have said. And at the risk of sounding very clich├ęd and asking for jokes to be made in my general direction, let yourself decide how you want to enrich your life, not someone else!

Friday, December 3, 2010

Mixed Jazz

Jazz is an absolute thought-swirler. I’d written pick-up agent, but that’s not really it. It just gets your machinery going, gets the cogs moving. The best way to go is to mix your jazz a lot. Too much Coltrane and your head hurts from trying to figure out progressions. Too much Shirley Bassey and you end up being too grinny to get anything good done. And too much Dave Brubeck and you just plainly fall asleep.

Certain revelations just make the whole day worth it.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Graphics

Call me an amateur engineering student, but I absolutely LOVE graphic designers' work! I've seen a few blogs and portfolios over the last few months and few people come close to the levels of creativity those folk inspire. Everything is just so aesthetically correct, precisely in the space it's supposed to be in and just right.

Maybe it's the fact that engineering's forced me to shove my creativity in a little cupboard under an irrelevant staircase in my head (The fact that there's an upcoming Harry Potter movie is clearly affecting my allusions) but I really believe these guys get to really push the limits of thinking, instead of pushing the limits of sheer brain volume. Let's not even go to those dirty tracks of talking about modifications in engineering curricula, but I'm just saying, it ain't fair.

Damn all of you. And damn you too, Bing. You know precisely why.

PS - I must remember to keep a notebook.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

It starts

Inauguration. They had to play the Love Story/Viva La Vida mashup SOMEWHERE. Just didn't expect it to be at the end of the mime. The effect when those swooning violin notes of Viva la Vida hit, however, was just as expected. The song was made, it seems, for this occasion. When all that Waves was would boil down to this edition.

The world isn't ending anytime soon, no, but the world as I know it, is. It had to be something fitting.

And this was just the icing on the cake. The real deal was the music society guys, with Aseem, Sigtia, Anmol, Chinmay and Navjyot performing a medley to be remembered for years after.

The next few days will be disillusioning, to say the least.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Culmination

It all began in the first week of college when we just heard of it. It was nothing more than a mere legend, something that'd happened in the past and was far, far away. Then Big Break 2007 happened, and that life-changing video happened. The video that decided what I'd give a major part of my college life to. Slowly things picked up, with the erstwhile Sponz club inductions, getting to know senior folk and finally deciding to take the plunge in the festival. Ever since, everything became too speedy to notice as discrete events. They're all a proverbial blur.

Cut to today. Day Zero of Waves 2010 - Viva La Vida. The culmination of the efforts of students across seven batches, brought to you by people filled upto the ears with enthusiasm.

The more verbose I make this, the less important it will be for me.

Maybe I'll finally be able to feel nostalgic without guilt.

Sunday, October 3, 2010

Of bulls

"Expecting life to treat you well just because you're a good person is like expecting a bull not to charge at you just because you're vegetarian."

-Unknown

Tangled Up In Blue, I owe you one for this.

Friday, September 17, 2010

Inclined to believe

John Mayer on a rainy midnight with a Journalism exam on the next day with an inkling of a cold and a hope that the inkling stays as what it is now - an inkling.

Someone wise recently said, "When you're unsettled and disturbed, it often takes a sudden burst of chaos to knock you right in place." Wise words indeed. The calm before the storm is overrated, it's the age of the calm after the storm. After the dust settles and all that.

Some moments are so beautifully ordinary in their essence, one must write about them. A chance of diving into the abyss. Being caught by the scruff of your neck and saved by intangible constants of life. Average on the surface, a tad too average on closer scrutiny.

Vague posts that make very less sense to all but yourself. The best part is, that they make a different kind of sense to everyone else. Realizations dawning everywhere, happier world.

Am I living it right?
Am I living it right?
Am I living it right?
Why, why Georgia, why?

Sunday, July 18, 2010

Stepping Stones

There was once a young boy, adventurous and steadfast. He had a simplistic life, with ups and downs, albeit more than the average kid of his age, but remarkably average nonetheless.

And suddenly, there was only failure, failure all 'round. Nothing really seemed to work out, nothing fell into place. No endeavour successful, no achievement added to the roster. He couldn't see clearly, it was all haze and confusion.

But he'd heard failures are stepping stones to success. He'd heard it all gets better and at the end of a long and eventful life, it only matters what your journey has been. Life was the exact opposite of a state function, he was told. It all falls into place, it all becomes okay, as long as you've garnered happiness along the way! That was how things work, he'd heard!

Sadly, it wasn't.

Thursday, April 29, 2010

The finer things

(Note: This was written in the library while around a 100 people were studying around me. It's more of a spillage of thoughts, not a carefully crafted article)

I recently happened to read a rather intriguing article in the editorial page of the Economic Times. Does the name Joshua Bell ring a bell? (heh) He's a grammy-winning violinist who once decided to conduct a social experiment on being prodded by a Washington Post columnist. He donned a t-shirt, a baseball cap, a pair of rugged jeans and played his best compositions outside a Washington metro station, as one of those buskers by on the pavement. Out of over a thousand people who passed by, apparently, only seven stopped to listen, and, amazingly, one recognized him. There's stats on how much cash he collected from the people who stopped to listen (apparently the guy who recognized him payed him $20, i don't know how that's a sign of respect and all) but let's not go there.

Of course, the columnist who came up with this idea and later wrote about it got quite a few accolades for it, including the 2008 Pulitzer prize. (Oh, he won another Pulitzer in 2010. For an article on something along the lines parents killing their children by leaving them in cars. Don't ask) The point of this entire charade was to prove that people have "no time to stand and stare". That they pay substantial amounts, $100 for a half-decent seat, to listen to the same guy at his shows, but they really wouldn't stop for him at the metro station.

The idea stands. Strong and steady. We've all got quite a busy schedule. People don't have time today, there is always something or the other on their minds keeping them tensed and taut. What the columnist wanted to convey was that human relations aren't the key anymore, it's all about alienating yourself from human contact, being alone and calling it competition.

But you've gotta admit there's a better way of proving it. This experiment proves nothing except the author's talent of making 45 minutes sound like an epic.

I discussed this issue with a friend over tea. I honestly didn't see the big deal. Agreed, it's a racy life, nobody has the time to appreciate beauty even when it's staring you in the face. And as for recognizing the guy at the metro station - Thin about it, if Ustad Amjad Ali Khan or some other Indian virtuoso were to be standing in a below-average attire at CST station at 10 AM, how many people would recognize him?

What did come out of it, though, was a realization that there's people who're working on it. Working on trying to show the world how out-of-hands the pace of the world in general has gone. I know I'll get questioning looks and advice that it's a dog-eat-dog world, and survival of the fittest and all that, but I still firmly believe that the finer things of life are seldom appreciated.

But what change do I expect? What are these social experiments going to achieve? There is no way the amount of competition, the insanely workaholic habits of people in general are going to change. I guess all that matters is if one realizes what happiness is for oneself.

Whatever be the case, one thing's for sure. Joshua Bell in a metro station is not the way you prove this.

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Full Monty

Giving in to a whim I had, I recently decided to watch Monty Python and the Holy Grail again. The last time was more than two years ago, as a fresher in college, kicked about the LAN and what not. You could describe my reaction to the movie as "amused" or even "mostly grinning punctuated by occasional laughter."

This time around, though, such blasphemy I did not commit. At the end of an hour and a half of trying not to fall off the chair, not only did my sides ache, I think there's some permanent damage on the sidelines. No episode of any show, no movie has ever got me in splits such as the Pythons did and it would be the lease I could do to just plainly dedicate a post to those geniuses of humour.

And on the walk back to hostel from the night canteen, I discussed this exact issue with Prashant. Our senses of humour have transformed over the last few years, and HOW! From being almost contrasting, to forming this one fuzzy mesh of jokes and one-liners that are completely predictable and more often than not, funny only to us. The bad part is, I can never get around to writing about this. I've tried to put fingers to keyboard and recreate scenarios, but somehow, never happens.

Yeah, that's about it. I don't think I have a point. Thought in transition. Admittedly, all of the above could've been put much better. That for another day.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Shut the hell up, Johnny. Play some other time.

There's something overtly satisfying about switching off the music in the room, turning the lights off and listening to the pattering of the rain outside. On days when you've predicted the rain seeing the weather in the morning, the sound of drops falling onto the hostel lawn is one of the best sounds you could hear on days like these! And it's rain with the entire works, lightning, thunder, gale and all. 

One of the first thought that strikes me whenever it unexpectedly pours, is that the rains are one of the strongest catalysts to nostalgia and brewing up long-lost memories. Our very own Muggle-world pensieve. (Yes, I make Harry Potter references. Literature elitists, die!) 

Somehow, right now I wish I had Bing's knack for writing fantasy literature. It's the ideal thing to write when there's no particular thoughts that you have, and plus there's just so much more potential to write when the weather's so perfect.

And tonight, I absolutely have no sense of anxiety about tomorrow''s early morning tutorial. Like it's all over, like there's no semester with it's inherent impending doom, like I can spend the rest of my time reading and writing and figuring out the intricacies of music in life. 

Just one last thing. I guess Sinatra wrote "Singing in the rain" because he had loads of space to dry his clothes.

I'm getting really rusty.

Monday, December 28, 2009

Ode to a Sunny Day

Warren Mendonsa decides to name his newest album, rather succinctly, The New Album. And without going into a detailed album review, and before the all-encompassing high of the song goes away, let me just say that "Ode to a Sunny Day" is happiness. No deep thoughts behind this one, no thinking about how the song is making me feel the way it is. Just happiness, in its most raw form. Pure exuberance at something this uplifting, something this perfectly woven. Fiery admiration for the guitarist who converted an idea into something this meaningful.

This post arose out of an overflow of unmoderated energy. If I start baptizing every one of these emotions, hundreds will pop up. But I refrain, for I want the musical high to last longer.

No more words. Just hearing. Click here to hear :)