Day 124: Random musings

The heart is content when it is loved; both by the self and by someone that makes it all worth it.

PS: That was how I started a post, a few weeks back, and never got around to finishing it.

PPS: I’ve slacked off on the Journaling365 project, not for want of ideas or a lack of words to say, but because of an overflow of both. There has been so much going on, and my mind is working through so many emotions, that the hand couldn’t keep up. I’m hoping the next few days will sum it all up.

Pics4mSwiss: Ivy hangs from the entrance facade at the Youth Hostel, Lausanne. 

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Day 122: Journeys

Driving with the OldMan

The short vacation ended sooner than I anticipated and it was time to be back in the TrafficCity. Even before the blues of having to go back set in, the OldMan proposed his plan of coming along to attend some of colleague’s grand event. So, I had a driver.

I thought of a strange conversation I had many many years back, where I told Dodo that he was only my third favorite driver, after my dad, and Michael Schumacher. Driving back, I didn’t feel all that confident anymore? He drove at 140 and was of course completely in control. He braked on time and overtook like a pro. And yet, I wasn’t confident. After a while, I fake slept so that I wouldn’t have to imagine my death at every turn.

Was I relating his drinking habit to his waning driving skills? He himself did mention a reduction in reflexes. Was his age really catching up? Were my biases catching up with me?

As I sat opposite the OldMan at Nagarjuna, quietly observing him lost in thought while eating, I felt an eerie feeling of pity take over me. For the last few years, I have been slowing inching away from him, for reasons I’ve ranted out before. As my principles and ideologies solidified, I realized how opposite they were to his; that automatically made us on opposite camps. But sitting there at lunch, I felt a deep connect to his troubles.

I felt like the weakling in the family, always trying to compete and prove my worth. I felt like the failure son that could never be enough for a stickler father, and now the conservative brothers . I felt like the outcast that fell in love and wanted to marry before an older brother had. I felt the pain of the sole bread winner, lugging three women around, and fending for their every need. I felt the pressure of an underpaid job that kept me on the road for 20 days a month, and still did not give enough. I felt the pinch of the rising prices and the growing needs of the daughters. It hurt me when the teenage daughter rebelled and talked back. It stung when the adolescent called me the worst dad yet. I remembered how my inability to give them a more comfortable life caught on and was discussed much later. It pained me to think that my wife was more comfortable speaking about my troubles to someone else in the family, than to me. It hurt me to think that all three could lead a life on their own now, and didn’t really need me.

I felt the pain. Something inside me stirred a little too deep.

SilverGhoster’s birthday and beyond

SilverGhoster turned a year older and a dinner was due. It felt like a Boondock kinda evening, reveling in the classics of an era gone by. As I look back at the night, and the conversations from the dinner, there is an odd familiarity about it all. It felt like we had been this way for years, and this was just another dinner. We talked about cars, mothers, shitty curriculum, dowry system, growing up, growing old, friends, foes, food and whatnot. I realized that with Switch, H, and Dodo all gone, I missed this the most – the random musings under the sun. In fact, I lost Dodo on that front a long time back. I feel the conversations touch on some mundane topics these days, topics that don’t resonate beyond a basic courtesy level. This night, it felt right.

A little part of me wondered if this could lead to something more than just conversations. A major part of me smacked itself in the head, reminiscent of the heart breaks of the past, and the societal anguishes and the battles that lay ahead. Between us, we had the paradoxes, too alike and yet absolutely different from each other. He was the conformist while I had a rebel blood oozing out of every vein. He was the calculated, capitalist businessman, while I was the dreamer who wanted to move to an island and learn to swim. He wanted the machines and the money, and I’d give it all up for the peace of mind. We were poles apart.

Yet, the other Gemini twin smirked and reminded me of the poles that intertwined within me. If the opposites can co-exist within, why could they not thrive in two bodies outside? The rebel wanted to reach out and see if the connect existed, but the loner drew the shutters down and mourned.

Had my heart aged beyond repair so much that it did not want any more battles? Wouldn’t that leave me alone for the rest of my life; any relationship comes with its heart breaks? Was I ready to be my own support system when all was dark and bleak? Was I just imagining the demons in the shadows when at the end of the day the universe had it all sorted out? It always does sort things out on its own. Was the cosmos smiling animatedly as I shook his hand briefly, got out of the car and ran home, lest I do something stupid?

You don’t really have to be alone, S. What is life without a warm shoulder to lean on during the cold and dull nights? 

Fine, that’s your leg, I know. But you get the point, right?” Scotch 

Day 118: It’s raining ameeras

Speaking of the dead

ChemProf was in town to attend to his familial duties, and I tagged along. We went early in the morning and paid our last respects to a granmy that passed away. It was funny to listen to all the planning, and the beliefs behind them, that went into checking on the dead, in fact on the living left behind. It’s preferable to go in the morning, because you anyway have to come back and shower; so might as well club it with the daily wash. You must have coffee at home and go, because it’s generally not recommended to eat at the house. Once you’re back, you should make sure you don’t touch any item of clothing; or be ready to do a lot of laundry. When leaving their house, you’re not supposed to say goodbye since it would tempt more mourning in the house; we left with a lot of awkward nods.

The conversations there, however, were all over the place. There was a lot of sharing of sob stories of every other oldie that one knows, that suffered more than the one in question. There was some fond reminiscing of the life lived and the love shared. There was a lot of rationalizing the death over the suffering. At the end of it all, the adults seemed like awkward teens at the class party, making small talk and waiting for closing time so they could leave. And like young adults, the men were more out of place in such a setting than the women.

The Kabir within

I dropped ChemProf and the Mrs off at their bus, and was an hour early for today’s kabir session. Unlike the last session where there was a nice quiet before the class, today was mayhem. There was a ballet recital coming up and the overly British-accented tutor was screaming her lungs out to get her students, ranging from 5 year old girls to 25 year old boys to follow instructions. I spent the 45 minutes before the session trying to not listen to her while trying to digest the lyrics for today’s kabir song.

However, the magic from the first session continued when we holed up in the room, the noise of anticipation and eagerness drowning out any external sounds. Tu  peele ameeras dhara, gagan main jhadi lagi – go ahead and drink the stream of nectar, there is a huge downpour in the sky. Yet another wonderful pick for the class, by Vipul. Catchy tune, a much happier number than the last one. The conversations were much deeper than the last, if you asked me. The interpretations for true knowing, a drop vs. the plenty, thirst, and the guru were inspiring to listen to.

In the end, the message that I took away was simple – There is nectar in the guru or the teacher’s words. And do not look for the guru outside you, he resides within. Simple. Indeed.

Sneaking coffees

I had a cross-country trip from South to far East, for the last event of the night. And fancy ideas snuck in a coffee break on the way over. SilverGhoster was free and saturated from the prep for his exams and I needed some filter coffee. So, off we went to grab a cuppa from some good ole Udupi bhavans in Koramangala. As we passed by a couple of CCDs and Costas, brim with their falsified lights and promises of caffeine satiety, I was reaffirmed of my love for pure, simple coffee, the traditional Indian way.

The conversations were haphazard, but I left with a feeling of glee. There was a strange, and yet familiar reaffirmation; the kinds one feels when you know that this would not be a graduate-and-forget kind of a friendship. Not reading too much into what lay within either of us, I felt a platonic comfort that I haven’t formed with another in a while; not since I let MalluMan in and paid for it.

As I drove back to the last event for the day, I wondered what the universe’s grand scheme of things was. Both of us joined the university at the same time, both of us had similar aspirations of leading an educational institution at some point, and both of us loved classic rock in this day and age of the Biebers. And yet, the universe did not put us in the same class. It did not even find reasons for us to meet until an entire year was spent going ahead in the same direction, but on parallel tracks. The logic beats me. If it had put us in the same class, we may have been at each other’s throat by now; there is that commonality of being the loudest in the class between the two of us. If we had met sooner, the circumstances would have made it just another trivial acquaintance.

Whatever it’s strange plans were, or are yet to unfold, I met the SilverGhoster at the apt moment that the universe intended for us to. And we shall wait and watch what lies ahead.

Petting projects

The final event of the day was a dynamite explosion. I was in the company of two, young and overly bright minds – the GardenMan and the ProjectPetter. GardenMan and I were both a little skeptical when ProjectPetter told us of her plans to be in Bangalore, and to meet up. But the first few minutes into the conversation and it made sense. We all loved education, and it’s state in India, how could we not connect?

ProjectPetter told us a lot about the extended personality development program that she was on. I’d probably try it when the timing is right, because the energy levels in the young lass were very evident. Something that she asked me has been plaguing me for a while and could be the answer to a number of the country’s youth hoping to contribute to education. What truly creates the most impact to the education space – working with the government, working for an NGO, or starting a localized program of your own? A worthy thought with no easy answer yet. Do we shoot for quality or quantity? Do the sprout of localized agencies truly justify the impact? The questions are still afresh in me.

Overall, a very eventful day indeed.

Eventful indeed. But is that some interesting food that you gave up there? When are you going to make me taste them?” Scotch 

Day 117: Most of that is the popular impression in media

And semester 3 ended in style, with a short 2 hour paper. This meant that the three of us got up mid-way, disturbed the tranquility of the exam hall, and walked out, in royal fashion. Like I’ve ranted about numerous times in the past, I’m glad this is over and I’m one semester away from graduating.

First time on the couch

The frustration associated with the university and the 3 semesters here poured out as I sat at the therapist’s couch, my first ever. I’d like to think that I was prepared for her deductions since I’d studied Psychology and Advanced psychology in the last year. But who am I kidding? It gave me enough information about mental health to make me realize that I needed to seek professional help. But beyond that, it was an eyewash of a course.

I poured out to the therapist about that, and the hypocrisy of the entire university, and the bureaucracy of the department, and the impending doom of the sector itself being so, and the family scenes, and the relationship conflicts, and then some more about each. She scratched her notes rabidly, while trying to guide me through a sane thought process.

It’s funny how a number of discussions in this preliminary session itself rested on a few key topics – body issues, father, mother and societal independence. As much as I complained about the uni, it was not in the top 3 things that I wanted to work on. Surprising.

What was also surprising is how heavy I felt, walking in to the session, anticipating definite water works, and how relieving the session was on the contrary. That may be the power of speaking to an independent, unrelated entity. Her judgments about me are as third-party as they are about my parents, and that makes it acceptable to the logical mind.

The need for a psyche consult has put me on the backfoot though; looney meds are scary, irrespective of how reassuring her rationale was. But I liked her point, it’s my mind and my medical course to work on it. I would get to choose where I go next. And so, I choose to get a preliminary psychiatric consult for the need for medication and then go back to the psychologist for the next session.

ChemProf Arrives

The house got an extra round of cleaning and prepping today because the ChemProf arrived. Two minutes into return ride, and he was already sighing and fluffing about how Bangalore is bursting from the seams and the Government is just a sham. I have mentally prepared myself for some serious debates on minority-provisions, partitioned India, black pepper’s ill effects and decluttering.

You went to seek external help? But why? We have a comfy couch here. Lie down. Look into my eyes. Tell me all your problems, and I’ll lick them away” – Scotch 

Day 115: And yet we never support our girls

Any trouble in married-land and we are already ready with our guns pointed at the girl. H and her married life has proved to me that marriage is invariably a union of two dysfunctional families, one that makes your own weirdeties seem like the better of the lot. It’s also a union where one party invariably makes more sacrifices than the other and they spend the rest of their lives either making up for it or being morose about it.

What is critical for them to realize is that sacrifices are expected, and are justified as long as they are balanced out. I’d like to see the man live in Bangalore for a month, working from here, while building his social circle here. He would understand exactly what H is going through after moving to KL to start her life with him.

Invariably, the woman is expected to make the grand sacrifices, of her economic, emotional and social stability, and is expected to fit in seamlessly into the newfound circles. Any inability or trouble in doing that is automatically deduced as the girl’s disability and poor upbringing. Any leniency or support from the man’s side is seen as him being a pussy or wife-whipped. He himself walks with the superiority of having done a favor, while a relationship is equal work from both ends.

What got me thinking on these lines today was the conversation with dad, when he almost seemed apologetic for his daughter’s temper and the trouble in the marriage. It’s funny how little they had made an effort to see what might be causing the ill mood, the trigger from the other end. I dared him to tell me one instance where the mother of that son would have accepted his flaws openly. To her, he is the unspoilt unpolished diamond from the lines of South Africa. And on the other side, we let our daughter take the stab for everything, even something like marriage that takes a village to run the show right.

The patriarchy was evident when he justified himself by saying, ‘How can I say that the guy is at fault when I’m sitting in his house and eating his food?’ What happened to the part of the meal that his daughter had paid for? I thought the house automatically became ‘their’ house because what is his is hers. No?

That’s why I say the girls should stay home with their mummies all their lives, S. Then you have the comfort of the same bed all along. Aaah those pleasures.” Scotch

Day 105: Life is so much better with a filter on

He was the Chief of the regiment and had a huge battalion waiting to welcome him. They were all lined up by the lake, with its crystal water and lush green beds all around. Four crisply dressed soldiers held a big chest from all four sides; it was well-decorated with a red velvet sash, and some gold embellishments. He got off his buggy, dressed in a crisp white shirt, with sleeves folded all the way past his elbow. Years of training showed in his sculpted biceps. He had a baseball cap on, bright red, and turned backwards. Chocolate Croissant at Michael’s! Some Chief, to break uniform, no? His briskly walked up to the lake front, not marching, but keeping step with the soldiers leading up front, with the chest. They marched on, into the lake.

He hesitated for a second before laying his foot into the water, looking to his men for a reaffirmation. He got what he was looking for, and followed the men in. As he moved, he casually looked over to our side, peasants lined up far behind the edges of the lake, behind the thorn barricade that set us in our place. I caught his sight, and looked down immediately, almost blinded by the sparkling white of his shirt. I look up as I hear a splash in the water, and a general murmur amidst the crowd. He has nose-dived into the lake, waving his men to return to the bed the usual way. Where did that chest go already? His men quickly step back to the lake shore, and start their regiment song in full furore. Badluram ka badan, zameen ke neeche hai.

 

He swam to the shore nearest to our barricade, hoisted himself up the slope of the lake bed, and reached to the other side of the barricade. He put his right hand on the railing and recoiled immediately; silly man didn’t know how cruel these iron thorns were. He squeezed himself between two rows of the wire, clearly trying to make his way through. The rest of the crowd took a step or three back, suspicious of this man, wet to his toe and yet sparkling in his bright white. I put a strong foot on the lower railing, and muscled the one above, to make a decent pass for this strange man to get through.

He stumbled on to the other side, smiled his shiny whites, stretched an arm out my way, and said, “Ayatoozarooola! Mazi waqawoori Hashitooshiwashi Wooshi

Me: *Confused* “Hello, I am Swetha

Mr. White: *Switching tongues on me* “Hello Swetha. I am Raam!

I get up from my sleep, kicking my feet up in the air, as if I’d seen a ghost.

I remember seeing a bicycle, resting lazily in a narrow, stone pathway, brightly colored houses in the background, a camera framing this beautiful scene for permanence, and me saying “Buoy! Life is so much better with a filter on.

 

 

Homeward bound

I’m sitting in the railway station.
Got a ticket for my destination.
On a tour of one-night stands, my suitcase and guitar in hand.
And ev’ry stop is neatly planned, for a poet and a one-man band.
Homeward bound,
I wish I was, Homeward bound,
Home where my thought’s escaping,
Home where my music’s playing,
Home where my love lies waiting
Silently for me.

No, there was no love; there was no silent waiting, there was no… But wait! I had it all wrong. What I was heading to was not ‘home’. It was not even in the vicinity of being close to home : ) That explained there being no love and no silent waiting. It was a room, me living in that room, a few rooms around this room, a person living in those rooms around this room, it was an arrangement. Far from home!

It’s surprising, that this is the first time in the last few months that I’ve really taken a moment to sit and analyse the situation. When exactly was it, that it had stopped being home? When ideas took different tracks? When priorities in each rooms’ life chnaged? When the split in thoughts meant a split in interests and the being? When each ego available was working on means of ruling over the other? Or somewhere between the realization that it was a mere arrangement and the comprehension that it would not last for long in the same frame of mind?

Either ways, things had taken a turn for the wrong side; each today made me pray harder, to never see such a day again. I had taken it on me to make amends, and a slow process that it turned out to be, was squeezing all the energy out of me. It is indeed tough, to stay strong and stay mean. No wonder we are the ‘social’ animal. We’d rather want ourselves to fit into the cliche, and have the world think good of us, than choose the untrodden path.

So, while I live each day, one step closer to a changed me, about to breath my own life, I turn the volume up to the highest, sing out at the loudest and cry out to heaven the hardest.

Tonight I’ll sing my songs again,
I’ll play the game and pretend.
But all my words come back to me, in shades of mediocrity
Like emptiness in harmony, I need someone to comfort me.
Homeward bound,
I wish I was, Homeward bound,
Home where my thought’s escaping,
Home where my music’s playing,
Home where my love lies waiting
Silently for me.

Silently for me.