Day 108: You should never meet your superheroes

I don’t know whether I should blame the sociology paper or the extended conversations with SilverGhoster, on everything under the roof, but I have a strange cloud hanging over my head today. Some of the points of discussion during the leeching episode stayed with me and that kicked off our next big rant about relationships.

Black or White

Between the SilverGhoster and the DubaiCassanova, I see the two extremes that define the young men of today.

On one end of the spectrum are those that still believe in chivalry, address even women their own age as ‘Madam’ no matter how awkward it sounds to the modern ear, and prefer the clinical perspective on life, where superheroes exist only in fan fiction. They believe that trying to live the fancy life of glitter and glam painted by mass media will only result in heart break, and nothing is worth a lost peace of mind. They will settle with the charming damsel their mother, and the stars, pick for them, and will love that lady to the end of their life.

On the far blue corner, are the partyholics, who define the quality of life based on the glamour shown on their Instagram page. Their badges of accomplishments vary from the number of men/women one has slept with, to their varying sexualities, to the ability to fool the system entirely. They flout rules like their fathers owned the world, and if money was sufficient to build a social repute, ideologies could be dumped into the farthest shelves of living.

Neutral Ground

Does the world stay in stability because of the two extremities that abound in it? Or is the reason for all these doldrums in the world the very fact that such opposites try to co-exist?

As I continued probing and questioning the life choices on one of these extremities, my natural tendency was to advice him to loosen up, and enjoy the world for what it was. My recommendations were for a more loosely bound life-system, where it was acceptable to put oneself out there, to love and to crash and burn. I asked him to look at those on the other side, their learnings, and realize that he was missing out on so many interesting experiences just because of his principles of life.

And then, I stopped myself short. Was this just my human tendency to change anything that exists and to alter its natural state? If I had been talking to the DubaiCassanova, would I have instead advised him to look at the other end and be more sensitive? Now, wouldn’t this whole process, of advising one to become like the other, define my hypocrisy. While I profess hatred towards any form of advice, especially the uncalled ones that are very generously dished out by the society, wasn’t I doing the same thing by asking the SilverGhoster to let his ghosts of the past lay to rest and explore the world’s colors?

I still stand by what I said about my hatred for advice; any man that has a girl child will give you advice on how to raise a girl; anyone that has loved and lost will start dishing out relationship advice; anyone that has written a competitive examination is now your guide on how to crack it; and anyone that has raised a child, albeit a crack addict, will turn parental coach. What qualifies them to wear the superior cape of a guide, shaping your opinions and experiences, based on theirs? For me, someone that truly qualifies to advice another would be one that has seen that person in their entirety – at their massive highs, their utmost vulnerabilities, and knows the truest principles that shape their life. Or, is a qualified, certified psychological practitioner.

Anyone else is just using their number of years on the earth, their supposed experience, to place themselves at a position of power over you; the holy I’ve-been-there-I-know-it position.

The elusive karma

My barrage of counters on why he didn’t do a lot of things a typical 27 year old would do increased, and the sober SilverGhoster brought in the elusive karma. He said his interpretation of karma was that ‘anything that was meant to happen, would happen anyway, without any known push from your end‘. So, in love and life, he let things take their own course and watched how they evolved.

Funny how I think that’s the pop culture interpretation of karma while the true intent behind it is the opposite. From up his holy chariot, Lord Krishna said ‘कर्मण्येवाधिकारस्ते मा फलेषु कदाचन। मा कर्मफलहेतुर्भूर्मा ते सङ्गोऽस्त्वकर्मणि॥ २-४७’, or, ‘Karmanyevadhikaraste Ma Phaleshu Kadacha na. Ma Karmaphalaheturbhurma Te Sangostvakarmani’. With this background, I see karma as the duty that you have to do for any result to come by. And inaction, or letting the universe do its thing, doesn’t count for karma.

So, when we say ‘What will be will be’ and use that as a reason for not doing something about it, we are basically doing anti-karma, and not the reverse.

That’s some deep stuff brewing, S. If you ask me, the man is right. Just relax, smell the rain in the winds, and things will fall into their place. And maybe that idea of relaxing and having fun is the karma we are all chasing. 

What say?” Scotch

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Day 100: You don’t have to sing like me, you only have to sing like you

PsychGoddess showed up fresh in the morning, and the Sunday was worth it all.  We started the day off with some dosa, coffee and loads of life. Scotch was the most excited of the lot though. Having spent so many months with only me, she was all out of bounds for another company.

Adopt, Don’t shop

Since the trip to Bhor, I was in awe of PsychGoddess and her perspectives on life. That awe transformed into respect, and one of a different level, when I found out that her son was an adopted child. H and I have had conversations about adoption in the past; it’s been a decider for me on a number of prospectives. But they’ve typically sounded wishful thinking, and something that we’d have to battle against the world to see it through. Talking to her about it made it seem very relatable; doable of sorts.

It’s clearly a big decision to choose to give life to a child that has been abandoned. But a few things she said will stay with me if I get to that point of having to make that decision.

  • It’s not your right to have a child, especially to adopt one. It’s the child’s right to have a decent life. And that always trumps every other justification you might have in your head.
  • If you’re a married couple adopting, each of you has to decide for yourself, if you, as an individual, wants to have a child.
  • Every child reacts differently to the knowledge of her adopted status. Know your child enough before having that conversation. And even then, anything might happen. Be there.
  • Do not overcompensate for the status of the child. At the end of the day he’s your son. And he needs to realize that being adopted doesn’t give him extra goodies than any other child around.
  • Be open and speak about it in the house. The more hushed the conversations are, the more the child feels different.
  • Leave no opportunity to remind the child that she is loved and wanted in the family. It is all that matters.

Marriage

It’s always refreshing to hear PsychGoddess’ perspective on marriage. It changes you, she says, and warns me to be prepared for even the most sensitive men to give up their views when in this institution. It’s very uplifting to hear men, and boys, like SPD and GardenMan talk about the status of women, and to see them empathize with the lopsided role of women in the society. But to imagine that all this would change when they get married makes it seem like the soul sucking institution that I’m imagining it to be.

I believe more in the idea of spending time together, living through the good and the ugly. None of the pain and the joy would be changed by the fact that you’re legally bound by marriage or not. Not being married, but living together somehow puts you on an even scale. Societal expectations from the roles of the man and the woman no longer seem to apply. And it seems less stressful to explain why the man stays at home to cook or why the woman wears pants all day.

And if marriage seems like a logical celebration to the past, the time that you’ve spent together, then by all means – do get married.

Finding Ram in Kabir

A great perspective that PsychGoddeas introduced me to this time around is the Kabir Project. What started off as a project to find Kabir, as the opposite of finding Ram, ended in a beautiful collection of hymns and poems that seem to talk about life more than religion.

She signed us up for a Kabir singing workshop today and I was excited to try out something I’d normally never do. We reached the studio, Shoonya, early enough to soak in the beauty of how the terrace had been transformed into a positive living space. Mental note made for future terrace spaces.

When the event started, a group of 28 very different people got talking and singing about Kabir. The group was led by Vipul Rikhi, who worked as a translator at the Kabir Project. The song for the day was called ‘Haalo ri mori sajni’ and it deserves a post of its own. The workshop was well conducted, and we spent enough time talking about the lyrics, and listening to him sing it that a number of the participants were singing the song like naturals at the end of the 3 hours.

What caught me off guard was the silence that I felt inside me when the whole group finished singing the song one last time. We’d talked about detachment and the palace of colors, had laughed at each other’s singing voices, and had held each other’s hands through the stress of singing in smaller groups. But in the end, as we all sang together, I felt a strange attachment with the idea of the group while still feeling extremely detached from it.

Oh! And Vipul was super hot with his salt and pepper and the beard. ❤

Singing or not, I’m happy that she is here. She made me a special batch of upma, anf I had it with a side of amma’s mango pickle. She even bought me fresh dates for dessert. It’s only weird she left it all on the kitchen counter, and it was a little tough reaching them all. But I managed.

Can we keep her, please?” Scotch

Rich God, Poor Man

These three little boys are extremely curious about everything in life and wandered into my gated house searching for my six year old dog. The oldest is 10 and is the responsible big brother and the youngest notes, “Even I am 6 yrs old“, when I tell him how old the Scotch is.

As I sit them on the sofa and bring them an apple each, they stare at all the gadgets in the house with awe.

How much is the TV, akka? Must be very costly no? Oh! Small computer! Oh! It’s called an iPad? How much does it cost? Must be a lot of money no? Nice mobile (cell phone). Look! I managed to unlock the phone. How much does it cost, akka?

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I fend off their inquisitiveness with answers that I believe are appropriate for their age. As the oldest and the youngest pet Scotch and enjoy their apples, the middle one wanders off to more apples kept at the puja area.

[It’s customary for most Indian households, especially Hindus, to have a little temple in the house; a collection of idols and pictures to bless the house. These idols are traditionally worshiped by lighting lamps and incense sticks and with offerings of flowers, vermilion, rice flakes or money.]

He carefully stares at the many colorful idols on the various sections and his eyes eventually rest on an idol that has been recently worshiped on. He fixates on an idol that sits smack at the center of a small podium, and has mounds of Rs. 5 coins lying around it.

Why is there so much of money put there, akka?“, he quizzes me, while settling back on the sofa.
It’s for the God. My mom must have done a puja with the coins.“, I respond.
But, God already has so much money. So, why are we giving him more money?“, he retorts, catching me off guard.
Umm…I…don’t… How old did you say you are, again?“, I ask my quizzer.

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I am 8“, he responds, ” and Mani anna is 10. My mama came home drunk last night and threw quite a fit. It was very funny, you know!” and he continues to munch on his apple.

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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.


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.

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!

A new road, a new beginning…

A world full of blogs and blogging awaits. Correction: A world awaits. I’ve never really been first time lucky. So I migrate from elsewhere to here, in hope, in want, in utter desperation to pull my strings together and find meaning around me. How successful am I in doing that? how much of a mess do I leave behind? Stick around as the story unfolds.

Some ground rules to set before we embark on this journey.

For me, the self:

– blog like noone is reading.

– blog like the whole world is watching.

– blackmail (emotionally, ofcourse) at least two people-a-day to read your blog.

For you, the reader:

– ahmm. hang in tight.

– please be vocal, bouquets or brickbats, bring em on. Am all ears.!!