Day 60: 2 months of Journaling

It’s Day 60. Except for a few days where I had to hold off the blogging for another day, because of work, stress or lack of motivation, I’ve written (or ranted) consistently for the last 2 months. I is definitely been fun. I think I see enough value in this little project to keep going.

They say old habits die hard and there are a number of these ‘old habits’ from my past life that have followed me into this new one. They’ve been mostly received with appreciation, and some amount of awe, and I think I’m not letting go of those in the near future.

So, I decided to run one of those process – oriented tools on my blog. I went ahead and did a Start-Stop-Continue analysis on the journal.

Start

  • Writing on a daily basis
  • Including more research-based data (yes, even day to day observations can be backed by research)
  • Observing and reporting on the little things that matter

Stop

  • Putting off for tomorrow what can be done today
  • Making every post sound like a rant
  • Chasing Scotch around with a phone camera

Continue

  • Chasing Scotch around with a phone camera
  • Using Scotch as the anti-ego to all posts
  • Having fun while blogging.

What surprised me the most about the blog is the readership, something that I did not anticipate when I started off. Some of you have been regulars, following me, reading every post and sharing your thoughts and opinions on what I write about. You’re my new best friends. Hang around and I promise to give you that fast pass into my thoughts. Some of you have popped in once in a while, caught up on things that matter to you and me both, and left your love behind. Do keep coming back.

A strange aspect of my Indian upbringing, something that I wrote about as early as Day 2, is the importance I seem to associate, albeit unknowingly,  to competition. I see this part of my psyche act up when I look into the Insights section and see a spike in the visitors. I am slowly getting out of the mindset that a quantitative assessment or a number can help judge the value associated with an act. I am trying to slowly look away from the Insights feed, and qualify my experience through the few that do go on this journey with me and the kind of relationships we build over time.

So, here’s to 60 days of journaling, and at least 60 more to come.

Yes, Fun! Journaling! Exciting! Whatever! Can you get those kids off the water tank, Please? Irresponsible parenting, I say. I’m going to bark my tail off until they get down from there.” Scotch

Woof!

The best snow angel, ever.

tring…tring…tring…tring…

Heyy! Wassup?

Yo! Wanted to say a final GoodBye. Just in case you know. *smile*

What’s wrong? Final already?

Well! I am breaking up with my ex today, all over again. Over dinner. So if something does happen to me and I don’t see the tomorrow to come, might as well let you know, you’ve been great.

Shut up! You are kidding, right? You din’t tell me he was homicidal.

I don’t know…Chalo, Gotta run. Bye.

She sat up, the prediction was spot on, again. It was going to be the first snow of the season. The incessant rain over the last month, hadn’t helped the mood either. But she had dreaded the snow for a good while now. No, she din’t hate the snow, it was quite the contrary in fact. It made her senses reel and feel fresh; alive. It was the perfect way to prettify the world, consummate and lasting. But all the snow around reminded her of the past; nostalgic and painful memories were rekindled. And thoughts are creatures that one has little control over. Yes! It was going to be a tough winter.

The chill sinfully kicked her out of her world of thoughts. She adjusted herself atop the little wall, tried better at staying warm and went back to her thoughts. The events of the evening had not turned out the exact way she had pictured it. But then, they weren’t what she would have called miserably bad either. They had sat in a little table, the mad rush of the restaurant beating around in all directions. As inappropriate as the location may be, she spilled her worst nightmares. They had grown apart over time anyway, things hadn’t been the same. The energy for those midnight phone calls and five hour long conversations had seeped out of their lives. The distance between them hadn’t been all that favorable either. Since their lives had picked different wave lengths to beat on, might as well let go of the little strings. She felt the words tumble out of her lips awkwardly; all the rehearsing lay wasted. She’d looked up, in anticipation. Of what? She wasn’t really sure.

Tucked in doors, she watched the first flakes of snow drift down, prop a leaf near by and wait for its companions. A few more followed and before she could tell, they were everywhere. The barren tree had new friends now, the prodigal leaves can wait till spring to return. Man made machines lay helpless, for once powerless, against nature’s ways. Ones smitten by the distinguished bug walked out, hand in hand, breathing winds of love from across the worlds. Children, with their unending chirpy ways and padded layers to the foot, welcomed the snow with tongues out in the snow and angels in the making. The sight of foot prints in the fresh snow is poetic in a strange sense; our fleeting five seconds of leaving a mark on this wide planet. Yielding to the wily temptation, she pulls over a jacket and jumps into those boots. She quietly walks to the front door and opens it; a strong gush catches her off guard and forces out a tear.

She nimbly wiped off the tear before the neighbors in the little shack caught up. She felt a wave of fatigue catch over, and swarm her from all directions. Numb to the last nerve. She’d expectantly looked up, armed and yet unprepared for the counter attack from the person across the table. There had been melancholy in his voice, anger in his tone, hatred in his breath. A melange of emotions were thrown at her and she seemed to have lost track of the best way to react in such an inopportune moment. She’d fought back, argued, pleaded and tried her best hand at logical reasonings. She’d let out a huge sigh and looked up at the skies; why hadn’t anybody invented a sober way to break up as yet. It was going to be a long night after all.

She looked up at the skies and watched tiny flakes fly toward her, gently flowing with the breeze and finally settling on the most wayward strand of her hair. It felt as new and fresh as her first snowfall ever. She had run out frantically, ignoring the pros in the yard. She’d convinced friends into building their first snowman ever. She remembered the taste of fresh snow on her tongue, the way it quickly melted and left behind a chill. She put her tongue out again; Yes, the same taste all over again.

A couple of hours and many more drinks later, he seemed to have resigned to what lay ahead. He slumped gingerly on his chair, as words slurred out of his mouth. He promised to talk hours long, about their love affair, to his wife that dint exist yet; swore that he’d name his first born girl after her. He claimed that he’d never stop loving her ever, would only retire to the life his parents dreamed for him. She sensed a fabricated effort in the entire conversation. Bade quick, subdued goodbyes; promised to keep in touch for ever and left speedily. Not once did she look back, not once did she regret what she’d just done.

She looked back and not once lamented about all the places she’d been to. Every by-lane, ally and highway had given her something new to learn from, something memorable to take back. She’d had her share of burns, hits and bruises, but she’d fought them back with a strong mind. She knew that she had the best bunch of rocks to support her, fasten her to the roots, whenever she’d slipped. She remembered people with worse states of mind than hers. She was very lucky indeed.

A smile began to surface, as the realization dawned. She’d cleared her vision, rid of any noise, comforted her wound, was ready to move on.

She thumped down on the snow and wielded her numb hands and legs in new found revelry. Her snow angel was going to be the best one of the season.


Reliving Diwalis of the past.

*aakhon mein teri…ajab si ajab si adaye hain…* tune plays on…

on for another thirty seconds…Bad mistake. You should hang up now…

there: err…helloo…?

here: God..? Hii… Did I wake you up..? So sorry…

there: No. That’s..ahmm..OK…what’s up..?

here: Iniya deepawali nalvaazthukkal..(Happy Diwali!)

there: Oh..OK OK…Thank you…arr…what time is it.?

here: Ahmm..Around 4 30 AM? Am soo sorry, I had to wake you up. I thought you guys would be up and running.

there: Nah!! It’s not even 5 30 yet. Wait. Let me wake Goddess up.

here: Oh no no… I will call you guys back when it’s time.

there: OK. Take care. Good night.

here: Bye.

*hang up*

I downed another cup of  white chocolate to nullify the 4C around me.

The preparations usually began weeks before the actual date of Diwali, multi fold in the true sense. The ladies in the house spent the week churning out the best sweets and savories, that could be made at home. The last little clause is to rule out the intriguing rossogolla, you see? Ingredients are consolidated from the markets specializing in each, jaggery from that dingy hidden joint, milk and sugar in kilos, vegetables and fruits from the mandi, as an arrangement for the big feast on the pooja day.

Meanwhile, the men handled the logistics behind all these activities; driving the ladies to the market and coordinating the house cleaning. The most crucial part, which they took ample help from the youngsters in the house for, was purchasing the firecrackers. They visited the temporary shacks put up in open grounds turned to shopping malls, shouted and yelled over the crowd to be heard and bought home the best in class, state of the art fireworks. 10,000 wala crackers, the multi-colored ‘1000 gems in the sky’, fancy rockets and ‘butterflies’ were bought in time, before the rest of the town lay their hands on them. The assortment of bombs and sparklers were the common ones across every Diwali. They were what kept the kids engaged through the day, when the elders had their post lunch conversations.

Schools realized that Diwali was the biggest festival of the year, the perfect time for some family bonding. Holidays were ample and all cousins flew in from different parts of the country, to set up fort in the ancestral home. We had spent most of our toddler and growing up years in that house; so nooks and knacks for mischief abounded. Most of the noise and the ruckus was accepted and ignored during the festive season. It was once in a year after all.

There was a preparation for this visit as well, something that began weeks before the actual departure; there by months before the actual date of the festival. A list of every known cousin, uncle and aunt was consolidated and gifts were bought for each. There were strict and yet hidden guidelines around the act of buying. You always had to make sure that everybody got something, everybody got something equivalent and no gift to one could offend another by virtue of quality, quantity or value. How the mothers managed it is still a surprise to me, but there were very few squabbles at the end of it.

Added to these gifts were the new crackers local to the place of origin, something that put fireworks set x different from the set y that was already present at the destination. Again, the logic of repetition here beats me, but there was no reason for us kids to complain. More the merrier.

New clothes were a must, a good omen of sorts. If you wore a new dress on this auspicious day, you were supposed to be blessed with new ones through the rest of the year, I guess. Then again, who’s complaining? There were usually more than one sets bought, one to be worn early in the morning, immediately after the bath. It was usually something intricate, heavy and closely treading on the gaudy territory. Then there was the play dress, ones convenient for all the running around you had to do with the fireworks. A little less complicated, these were worn more often in the rest of the year than the first one, and are the ones that could be compromised in case of a cracker-accident. There was usually an evening wear too, you couldn’t visit all the aunts and uncles in the same dress you wore for lunch, could you? If I remember right, all this complicated buying was only for the girls and ladies in the family. The boys chose to buy different kinds of t-shirts, while the men simply changed from veshtis (the dhoti) to trousers.

The main pooja room was cleaned and every moorthi sparkled from the fresh bath and dressing. The day before Diwali, the men in the family would visit the dedicated flower market, to pick up the best flowers in town. Multi colored garlands and loose flowers were bought back, to be put up on every available picture of any available God in the house. Some were saved carefully in the fridge, to be reluctantly clipped into the hair of the girls, only to eventually end up with their mothers.

All the new dresses bought were stacked in front of the Gods, to be blessed by the pooja before being worn. Each pair of cloth had to be religiously adorned with a pinch of sandal, highlighted by an equal sized pinch of vermillion. I still remember those dresses from where the mark would not wash off, even months after Diwali. Dresses bought for the occasion had to stand out, dint they? The stack of dresses would then be flanked by vessels and containers with all the sweets prepared. I love Diwali for being the only festival where you could eat the prasadam before the actual pooja. Waiting for the neyvedyam in the end was always a test of the power of devotion over sheer hunger.

Once everything was in place for the Diwali day, we all went to bed (pretty late in itself), with a mental note to wake up as early as 4 in the morning. The aim was to be the first family in the neighborhood to burst the crackers. The loudest and longest running fireworks would be saved for this early morning ritual. The sound of the lone cracker in the wee hours of the morning still rings in my head. Technically, this early morning affair of fireworks was supposed to signify the victory of light over all the dark around the world. I understand it now, who really cared about trivial technicalities then!

We would wake up groggy eyed and run to the pooja room, where a quick set of matras would be chanted, arati sung and a handful of oil emptied on our heads. Seeta kalyanammm..vaibogame…Castor oil (equally viscous as its automotive counterpart), heated with some black pepper, was specially prepared for this early morning ritual and we had our hair oiled in order of our seniority. The production line process consisted of us getting our hair oiled by Super Goddess, waiting for ten minutes to let any good of it soak in and then running to have our bath, where a bucket of hot water and freshly ground shampoo powder (of sorts) waited.

Once done, we went back to the pooja room, collected our new dress, gathered any little bit of blessing and good will. Once ready, we would be made to eat a spoonful of ‘the medicine‘; a home made remedy to counter any ill effects that the over eating of sweets, over a very short span (a day, literally), would cause. It had multiple herbs and spices in it, went down with a burn in your throat and you knew you had grown up when you began to savor its taste. It was a huge parameter of comparison between different households and aunts discussed the secrets of the extra zing in theirs over others’.

Under strict adult supervision, the comparatively older kids would step out and light the dawn breaker cracker, while the smaller ones would stand around, ears and eyes shut hard. With the incense stick still in hand and hand covering both ears tightly, the first round of fireworks would signal dawn, a new diwali dawn. Sounds from fireworks from nearby streets would slowly get louder and the day would be on full swing.

Lunch was an intricate affair, a typical feast served on banana leaves and comprising of multiple courses over rice. The ladies usually served in the first round, while the men and the children ate. It would then be the turn for the older girls in the family to serve the women and clean up, a tough act after the sumptuous meal that one had just consumed. Post lunch, the kids would go back to fight their battle against the world, armed with crackers appropriately named atom bombs and hydrogen bombs. The bijilis were the little temptresses, urging us to tread on the forbidden path. Meanwhile, the elders would settle on the house floors, reminiscing weddings and past love affairs. It was their chance to be young again, to relive the days where electricity and an uninterrupted supply of water was a luxury.

Evenings were usually spent visiting families of friends and exchanging sweets. There would be subsequent rounds of fireworks when there. The fireworks in the night were the more elite and elegant ones. The whole family would gather in the terrace, children excited about the new choices of crackers. The women, still light from their conversations, would slowly trickle in, in time for the stage to be set. That’s when the rockets and fancy air-launching fireworks would be set off, one by one, giving each enough time to bask in the colors up above us.

This is also when youngsters, bored with all the crackers, would prod their mothers to the sparklers and ‘snakes’, too static and dull for the young minds. There would be memories caught on tape and film, framed for years to come. There would be singing and games to liven the evening, only to be followed by a comprehensive dinner. Based on the number of people and the space available, it would span across different rounds, but not once lacking in options of dishes.

Late in the night, gifts would be opened and their details revealed, goodbyes and pleasantries exchanged and we’d head back home. I don’t really remember any part of post-Diwali. I guess we would have woken up the next day, with a hangover from the saccharine overdose. A day or two later, gone back to our individual towns and flaunted the diwali exploits in school. I don’t know.

A Happy Deepavali to all of you and your near and dear ones.

Welcome home (Sanitarium)

Airports make me sick. Modern airports leave the walker-by with so many things to gape at, stare at and drool over, that one loses hold of the actual scene in hand. And before you know it you have lost a friend, and a companion, to miles of ocean between you. You have not waved that picture-perfect goodbye that you had practiced all week, you have not said those award worthy lines of parting and you have not smiled once all morning. The shops, the general ambiance, the artwork skewed all across, are very distracting. Someone please take a note, airports should henceforth be designed like hospitals; crisp white walls and dirty floors that ensure that your mind is hung on nothing other than the tragedy that lies ahead of you.

[….]

I was speeding down the highway, a sudden urgency to get back to my current camp. OK! for all those already pointing fingers at me, for being the road-rage consumed beef, I wasn’t driving anything above speed limits, its fast enough to get around in time. The recent loss of my sensible music had left me listening to “classic” rock from The City, whenever did Stayin’ Alive count as classic rock. Now, now, don’t get me wrong again. I love the Bee gees for their pop feel and Stayin’ Alive is unarguably one of the classics that catapulted a bunch of people into stardom, but I digress. So, back to my driving in to town and listening to some mind numbing music. I usually give myself the leeway of letting my thoughts out loose while driving back, especially now that I know the route and the bumps and exits like second trait. It was during one of those thought flooded moments, that I almost jumped off my seat. I must have definitely scared the driver behind me, with that little sway, but the rising moon, up ahead, was a beauty beyond words.

It was comic-book material, huge and crisp white, enhanced by the light blue of the sky. The craters were as clear as pictures in Science text books and the size definitely got me off guard. The moon hadn’t obviously grown in size over the last month, so it was clearly one of those sights I had never seen before. I had to put my camera to some better use right away. I followed the moon down the next half a mile, waiting for the next service area up ahead. I parked in unstated urgency, jumped off my car and frantically looked up above for that bright spot.

It was missing alright. The tree cover and the thick canopy din’t help much either, but I could not locate even the bright light in the sky. I looked around at other passengers, getting off their vehicles to get a drink. Had anybody else seen it at all? Was I hallucinating after all? It had been a tough weekend indeed. But I wasn’t that bad, especially not when I was driving. Right? I walked all across the perimeter of the service station, staring at all directions above me, waiting for that body to come to view.

Unknown to me then, a thick cloud cover had formed above the area, rain laden and dark. Heavy with all its material, it slowly sank closer to ground, engulfing any bright blue of the sky in its stocky grey. I got back on the road, disillusioned by my recent folly. I watched the last streak of blue give in to the rain clouds, and realized that I had seen the first few seconds of the moon rise, before clouds shrouded everything above and beyond.

The whole incident left me stunned and sad in more ways than one. It was like one of those sunrises I had woken up early to watch, only to be met by the thick, dull grey of the clouds. It was a feeling of meeting negatives at every turn we take, every act countered by a stronger, all encompassing force. I felt too mortals for words and rode the rest of my journey in a bewildered silence.

[…]

I slowly sneaked out of my room, bare foot, quickly aware of the wind chill. The drizzle had left the pavements still wet and that added to the wintry feel. I quietly sat down on the steps, snuggled up against the railings, and yet letting the wind freeze me out. There were too many things on my head and the running nose, with its splitting headache hadn’t helped much either. I sat there and stared out aimlessly at the dimly lit parking lot.

First day, two down. That much at least is progressing well enough. I need to keep off all that though. Will need to keep reminding myself of those days and then those other days and that person. That should be enough to fuel me forward steadily. Note to self: Check on how H is doing in this front. First day, twenty new. Decent start. But its time to realize that there are million others out there. So twenty at a time, on a regular basis in required. I verified that the piece of code works. Now I need to check other places where the similar issue exists. Will also need to make sure that the sheet is up to date. That post processing still lacks that one zing I am looking for. Need to start from scratch and check if I get there. Is it time to start P365 already? The weekend deadline is finally here. Don’t want to rush things in the last minute right. Will need to wait for the reviews, spruce up the last one and get going with the filing. Man ghazals make you very introspective!

I let out a deep sigh, collected the complete self together and walked back indoors. Rang the bell to my apartment, opened the door and locked it behind me.

Sometimes we love with nothing more than hope.

Sometimes we cry with everything except tears.

In the end that’s all there is: love and its duty, sorrow and its truth.

In the end that’s all we have: to hold on tight, until the dawn.

– Shantaram.

India Calling…

I would’ve safely assumed it to be me dreaming, about all my favorites together in the same fantasy, had I not known better. A recent tragedy left Switch, DShah and me shopping all weekend, something that took us across seas and to a world we had grown up in. And yet, so close home.

Edison, New Jersey, should be called Little India or something more desi, Edisonpur or Edisonabad maybe. It beats and breathes the lives of  the countless Indians who migrated to greener pastures back in the flourishing days. It symbolizes man’s quest to find home around any surrounding that he is thrust into, and if not successful at that, the drive to create it.

The glistening jewelers, with brilliant creations adoring their window showcases, line both sides of the strip. Eateries flaunt their melange of sweets and savories; sugar cane juice made to perfection, complete with the ginger pieces and pinch of spice, is worth every last drink. The pan shops have everything from calcutta sada to the stuffed meetha. If you woke up from a slumber and found yourself amidst these saree shops and salons, you would have a strange familiarity of waking up in a suburb in Mumbai. The ben-jis and babus, saree or kurta clad and conversing in fluent, authentic gujarati wouldn’t help much in judging your bearings either. I could have sworn this little town was the sister of some lost town had a sister in Modi-land.

The jewelery market here is bountiful with wings spanning into gold ornaments, raw gold and a dozen precious stones. Every visitor travelling back home stocks up on these goodies, a ‘loss-proof’ investment I hear. Not only do the adroit jewelers make sure you buy three times your intended purchase, but they provide unsolicited advice on handling Indian Customs as well (pun intended!). Make sure to keep your ears open when those special jewels rain down. With a strict cash-only policy, it is definitely a world in itself.

But none of these stores and the shopping came close in satisfaction quotient to what a foodie derived from the numerous options here. The Saravanaa Bhavan here, one of the four in the country, and many across the world, is a mouth watering treat for any lover of South Indian food. We found ourselves wanting to order at least four items from each page of the colorful menu. A true to its roots sambar vadai and bona fide mini idly were the perfect start for our lunch. For the main course, between us we managed to order a mysore masala dosai, adai aviyal and kara dosai. The special meals were the typical home made feast, thorough to the point of having the mango chutney and appalams.

The climax was the genuine filter coffee, nursed to perfection in their stainless steel tumbler and davara ;) I don’t know what it is between us South Indians and Coffee. Tea is always the travel drink, the compromise you force yourself to, when you don’t have the luxury of home made filter coffee. But coffee is the drink of the kings, OK, I can argue with you for an hour on that one.

I still debate the actual source of the flavor; I know it’s somewhere in space between the coffee powder, that strong chicory, that filter that gets passed down generations and the davara-tumbler. The aroma that floods the vicinity, the minute the hot water starts to seep through the freshly ground powder, is out of this world in all senses. Contrary to the now-hyped latte or cappuccino’s smooth and delicate froth, the filter coffee has a rusty, bubbled froth. No coffee is complete without that froth, balanced precariously, an inch beyond the tumbler top. The trick lies in pouring the coffee from the highest point your hands can reach. And it is this little white dream that separates the tea from the coffee, the luxurious from the mundane.

The filter coffees in hotels added all the glitz and the glamor within these basic requirements; the inverted-tumbler-trick is still my favorite. Sitting miles and years away, thinking about our visits to Annapoorna and picturing God mix the sugar and coffee in his slick movements, I emptied the coffee into the dabara and peeped in, anticipating the ingeniously placed extra serving of sugar down there. I was expecting too much after all.

The meal had been etched in memory for days to come; the adai aviyal after two long years was not going to be let go off that soon, was it?

The touching finale was the rain drenched dandiya in JC. While we stood, tucked under the comfort of the shades, and gorged on the bhel puris , the hundreds of staunch Gujaratis went around the circle, with ritual-like dedication, making the drizzle all too trivial. Dames dressed in flowery dresses danced about, while their better halves tried being up to the expectations in more senses than one. The sheer mix of ages in that group astounded me; old women, jackets over their saree to beat the cold, danced about not missing a step. The entire scene, the whole day, had been too mystic to be real,  and yet thousands of eyes had blinked through it.

I saw pot holed roads and got bitten by mosquitoes; drank genuine filter coffee and ate fresh vadu maanga. Would they let me miss home at all?

Sahana, Santana and beyond.

It all came back in rushes, that one doomed day.

It was either the fact that I was up since 4AM (somehow reminded my brain of the old Diwali days, I guess) or a recent conversation that I had with pEePeE, that got me hooked on to a totally different wavelength of music. Definitely not a genre new to me, since it is customary for every Iyer household to make sure their daughters learnt carnatic music or Bharatnatyam and their sons knew how to play the mridangam. But I surprised myself by listening to M S Subbulakshmi, K J Yesudas, and the likes, all day, reeling in the memories attached to each of those songs.

The earliest memories are brought to life by Yesudas’ rendition of Harivarasanam and SPB’s Aayar Paadi Maaligaiyil. They some how remind me of early days in the Rock City, when I was too young to comprehend good from bad. These “had to be” the tunes the Gods sang to put us to sleep each night, tired from vandalising the neighborhood. It is the same tranquilizing calm I feel every time I listen to these songs. I close my eyes and see myself running through tiny rooms, the walls distinctively highlighted by our crayon artwork. There is a baby-swing hanging bang in the center of the bedroom with the life size mirror in one corner. Bang Center? Wait! Where would that place the fan? Interesting! Heck that’s how I remember it, so it stays. I run out into the make-shift portico and stare out of the grilled partition. God’s Yezdi stands under the neem tree, three, or was it four, floors down. Or was it peepul? Was there a tree at all?

Pancharatna Kritis, unquestionably, remind me of days in the Garden City. Summers in the at-home summer camp, with mid noon walks up to the temple, only to practise for the umteenth time. I remember all the coloring books, action figures and the ingenious games waiting for us, with dimple studded faces, while we sat there singing the same lines over, till we got the perfect twist and got it in unison, as a group. Those gruelling sessions definitely helped the ones who eventually took their art to the stage. But for poor disinterested me, they were but distractions, the bridges between me and my interests; surprisingly similar to work in today’s mindset.

Entharo gets specific mention among the others in the set. Not as much for being the sweet kriti, marking the end of the long and tiresome lineup, as for being the one that reminds me of God, every single time. I can still picture him in every other place that he would tune it up and sing along, head rocking in every direction, hands zestfully tapping along.  We could see him get the same degree of pleasure listening to it, as H would out of Santana. Or is it Metallica now?

Snap! and I was back to triage calls and post deploy validation. The wheel keeps on turning doesn’t it! This is where the day stands clear in my mind. As I listened to each song, humming along and redoing some of those almost forgotten tricks with the tunes, I realized that deep down inside I missed it. All of this felt like an integral part of who I was, what my upbringing was and I was worried that with each passing generation, this rich tradition was going to slowly fade away. Would that leave me with grand children in thrash bands?

Had I listened to God’s Ma’s wishes and given up studies to take up her passion, would I have made it big? Would I have had records to my credit and a fan following to live for? We would never know. Would I have had the pleasure of turning to something apart from the lame work I go to everyday? Would this have kept me going through some dark, gloomy days? Would this have earned me a new boy friend? We would never know that, either.

Would all these questions stop me from listening to them again? No. That much I was sure; for at the end of the day, I had enjoyed myself thoroughly, not once missing the Maidens and Metallicas of the other world.

So I live a king’s life indeed; Vishnu sahasranamam to wake me up and Dire Straits to lull me to sleep. Rich in all the music around me after all. And who is not!

The idealized past, A teaser

This is one of those posts lying in my iTouch Notes, as a draft, for a really long time now. I remember the day I started it and the snow storm that had hit us the previous night. It was the first time in months that our car had to be ploughed free of snow and it was the first time that there were only the two of us, instead of the usual crowd. Quite a workout, it had been, and sweating-it-out always gets me thinking.

If you have followed my posts at all, or have sat through any of my conversations (God bless you few), you would recall my reminisces from the past, those F1 races, and midnight walks. If both those statements are untrue, fret not, they are definitely going to be in one of the upcoming posts. Till then, sit tight, read on and remember, Michael Schumacher ruled F1, in the times mentioned in this post. Oh wait, he still rules, doesn’t he? Light at the end of the tunnel, here.

We had spent an complete hour sweating it out together. We had pushed each other into it and we were in it together after all. As we alternated between watching and shoving around, we realized how little we knew of each other, how little it really mattered and yet how we were forced into being the strangers we were then. Job done, sweat wiped out, we walked back to the house; car free from all the snow we had just shoveled out.

As we sat by the window, gazing into the ocean ahead, a steaming soup bowl to warm our frosted fingers, I remembered the times that had been. Earlier in the day I had bumped into something that made total sense now: The notion of a satisfactory future for a lot of us is, in fact, a return to the idealized past.

The ideal past where we spent the weekends lying on the house floor, God and H in stowe, fighting and fisting over the latest moto racing result, while the Goddess pitched in with the hot and spicy counterparts. That ideal time where we spent the nights racing each other in our walks around the airport. The past where we ran back into the hostel as the gates shut behind us, brimming at the turn of the evening, and the respite that those trips had from the hell within. The moments where, after having panted an hour or two uphill, we lay in the grass up there, letting the wind chill the sweat away and listening to verses from a saint who claimed that ‘nothing else matters’.

I still see images of a past where the house was a hullaboo, with tempers rising and egos getting flustered. The days when a lone tear was shed, to soothe a crying heart. The nights spent in dreamless sleep. The times when the volcanic outburst let all the entertainment to the hours going by.

Yes, the ideal past.