Day 69: The great Indian madness

The great Indian madness called the roads. Driving home to visit the parents in Coimbatore, and the 6-hour drive has been fun. It’s almost symbolic of our manic lives – a random pedestrian walks across your path, carefree and wanton; a cow parks itself squat in the middle of the highway, oblivious to the high speed travel; an annoying family honks their way past you from behind, unaware that multiple lanes exist for a reason. And through it all, you’re stuck in your little metal bubble, behind the steering wheel, with the false illusion that your control is the reason you’re still alive.

Fish fry… Strange incense… Hot poodle poop… Man not showered in three days… Biriyani, Oooh where was that biriyani. Turn around, S” Scotch

Ban ’em earphones

I am slowly but steadily turning against noise-cancelling devices of any kind. I propose a ban on ear phones, head phones, around-the-head phones, around-the-ear phones, Bluetooth ear pieces and anything else that mankind can stuff in, on or around their ears to kill out external noise.

I want every citizen of the country, traveling on its ‘well-kept’ roads, to listen to every sound that is produced around them and that they are actively contributing to. We’ve become a nation that is so comfortable listening to the nasal drone of Himesh Reshamaiyya and Justin Bieber in our ears that we fail to comprehend the levels of noise that we create on the roads. I drove by a persistent honker today, who made it seem like his car’s brakes were connected to its horn, only to find him comfortable in his air-conditioned little bubble, ear phones plugged hard into both ears. Bleeps!

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A keen cyclist captures a driver using a mobile phone, a laptop and headphones while driving. Phew! Source http://www.dailymail.co.uk

Me and my ears

After spending a few significant years outside the country and after reading a little too many forwards about single women and their safety in the country, I always walk with my ears super attentive. While it would have been too easy to drown out the pains of the world in a beautiful rock ballad, there are the hidden fears lurking in your shadows that you should be aware of. I leave the rock ballads to the comfort of my home, a lavish drink and a book in hand. So, I find it extremely nonchalant on the part of those hailing a cab who sit with their ears plugged away, while their driver drives the machine of death that could give the local ambulance a beat at the race.

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Bleepety-Bloopety-Blaah!

Mean, keen flying machines! Yeah, Right!

Modern day cabs and buses are the major contributors to the increasing noise levels on the road. They use theirs horns like it were a light-saber; a whoosh and they expect all their opponents on the road to vanish. Well, what if I light-saber you back? And that’s where the duel begins. Have you noticed the melee of honks that ensue the nanosecond the signal turns to green? It’s almost like they were expecting the Flying Falcons in front of them to accelerate from 0-60 kmph in 1.6 seconds and now their F-16 is denied reaching the haloed Mach 2. All that mad ravenous blaring only to go 300 meters and stall at the next traffic junction. How myopic a race have we become these days?

Blame those riders

As I think more about the growing doom, I realize that the riders are as responsible as the drivers themselves. Most of them are indifferent to the ruckus that their drivers create, and sit with a glee contentment in knowing that they aren’t the ones going to hell. Well, you know what they say about Karma, don’t you? I myself have asked my cab drivers to stop honking on a number of occasions and on two specific incidents, I’ve stopped my cabbie mid-route because of his incessant honking, rash driving and not heeding to my requests to drive sane.

Why did the honking annoy me and not these thousand other riders, you wonder? Those darned earphones, I tell you!

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Those darned noise-cancelling, bubble-creating, zombielife-inducing earphones!

 

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.

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.