Day 126: SoulSurfer I

A million thoughts run through my head and the SoulSurfer has been a major partner in all of that. What started off as a reality check for the SilverGhoster turned into a crucial inward journey for me. Was I ready to let another in after all the pain of the past? When I had finally accepted that I might be by myself for the rest of my life, for lack of another with a similar mindset, was the universe sending me a message through this company? For all that I complain about the society and its unwarranted needs, was I truly ready to stand against it and fight every triviality that it worries itself with? Was any of this worth it?

  • Midnight babbles from Valley school eased me into the novelty that came with the environment. As we spoke about strange topics that mattered, and that did not, there was a strange comfort in knowing that there was someone to listen to me at the end of the day. We worked through the major disagreements after the birthday night, and it felt like I had someone in my corner. As discussions about each evident difference in us popped up, it seemed like I was talking to a sorted individual, influenced by the checklist and affected by a plan. The babbles made sense.
  • There is apparently a car whose review completely fit me. The all-white Civic Type R was the kind of city-road sports car that was a bumpy and a choppy ride, one which would make any passenger question the buyer’s intent. But ask the driver, and you’d know exactly what the car meant, and where it stood out from the crowd. Coming from a car guy, this felt like a great proclamation of the thoughts the SoulSurfer had for me. And who can complain! The sweet ride has VTEC.
  • At the end of week 1 at Valley school, I was craving an entirely different palate from what I was eating every day. I wanted a biriyani, and some dosa vada, and a pani puri, and maybe some parathas. But what did I  crave the most? An ice cream. I got cornered when I invited SoulSurfer along for a trip to the House. We found the quieter version of the store, cosy enough for a conversation, and yet with the same amazing DBC. There was a mirth and glee in the light banter that was refreshing.
    • I sensed a certain unraveling in the SilverGhoster that was comforting. I could sense certain layers getting pulled off. As we walked around neighborhoods familiar to the man, it felt like homecoming; walking through familiar roads with an unfamiliar face. I felt a need in the SoulSurfer to share his life, his stories, his roads and his streets.
    • I also perceived an evident hesitation in the SoulSurfer when walking the streets. Hands locked up in the back, a safe one-arm distance from me, and an instant apology in case of any unintended brush against me were all signs of a certain refrain in the man. And, I was surprised by how little I felt any of it.
  • Considering how close traveling is to my heart, it seemed like the right time to put the SoulSurfer through the second litmus test – the day trip. A lot of planning went into deciding the destination, the pitstops and the ride – the SilverGhost, and there was a mutual excitement going into the weekend. And come Friday, Mt Vesuvius erupted. There was some major argument, a more major disagreement, and the plan was off. It only seemed apt for me to propose to cancel, and it hurt a wee bit that the SoulSurfer was all too quick to jump on the plan. A general consensus that came out was that the universe worked on its own schedule, and you couldn’t force it to be any faster or slower than what it actually is.
  • Back at the Valley, and there was a sense of newfound calm in me that I hadn’t felt in a while. The conversations at the school had moved to them wanting to have me join them. And, on the personal front also, there was a meaningful turn of events; discussions with the OldMan were not too confrontational; and the SilverGhoster had started digging a little too deep into my soul. It was getting easy to let him open the book, read a few pages, and maybe recommend a few corrections too. The dark side of the moon was slowly unraveling and it was not going to be such a scary event after all. The SilverGhoster was slowly, but surely becoming the SoulSurfer.
  • Research wrapped up and a surprise road trip popped into my schedule. A holiday in the middle of the week meant that SoulSurfer and I could head out of town, in the RedBeast nonetheless, and with a curfew at 1 PM for the Cinderella turned SoulSurfer. I headed out late, he brought in a detour to an ancient building, but soon enough we hit the road. Turns out our music interests matched and both of us didn’t mind singing at the top of our voices. Turns out I was comfortable letting the SoulSurfer drive, while I unwinded up front. Breakfast at Shivalli was nice; we picked the more quieter, more ancient one, than the more loud, noisy and refurbished one.
    • SoulSurfer popped the biggest surprise of the day by proposing that we change plan and head out to Mysore. As we pulled up at Shivalli, I felt a sense of regret for the trip already ending. So, when the man suggested something off, which meant that we’d be on the road for longer, I jumped in immediately. The element of surprise was amplified when I only wanted to go to the city, and return back, where as he thought of a little trip to the temple up the hill.
    • The temple trip itself was a spiritual experience beyond me. It was crowded, as expected; there was a huge mess and a rush, as expected; and yet, there was a certain peace in me that I hadn’t felt in a while. The SoulSurfer was surprised that I would behave ‘normal’ in a temple. And I was surprised by how pleased he was with me in the temple. I approached the lady of the house, and I asked her to take care of the uncertainty ahead, and to give me strength to put up with what she had planned for me. As we sat in the temple, the SoulSurfer a breath away, and the mad rush of the temple all around us, I knew that there was something more to this trip than just a day trip between pals.
    • As we drove back, I was ready to hold a pinkie and just ‘that’ was an elevating feeling. As I held a bony, skeletal hand, I realized a strange connection, a young lady waiting to be led, a grown man looking for company, a friend lost at sea.
    • Pulling into Cinderella’s castle, it became evident that the SoulSurfer had never been in such company before and the filter of what to share and what not to was still developing. It also became evident that my impression of my own body, and my insecurities were going to hold me back more than I anticipated. I reached out and held his hand, he commented on how dry my palm was, and I immediately withdrew into my little bubble. All under 15 seconds. It took a long drawn discussion about this to slowly find my way out from that corner. I wondered what previous experience would prepare the man for such events, and what prior hurt would have etched in deep, and dark places in my heart.

The transition from the SilverGhoster to the SoulSurfer was sudden, considering the few days that we have been talking and getting to know each other. The suddenness brought with it an element of surprise, of spontaneity that the Gemini in me craves. He was noticing things often ignored, he was saying things often considered silly or inappropriate and we were talking about things that I presumed were universally understood.

It was novel. Novel, at 33.

Pics4mswiss: The town of Lausanne, enveloping the hills, and looking over the grand lake.

Advertisements

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 114: You broke my heart, then I took my revenge 

Dodo’s trip to India happened and like every other instance, I was left with a milieu of conflicts in my mind. What sinister plot was the universe playing on me? Why bring in someone into your life, plan for you to share each other’s lives unlike any before, push you to think of the happily ever afters a little too soon, instill strange fears in the other enough to make him run away, commit you to the deepest and darkest dungeons from whence there was no return, provide you with a support system that left you stronger, point you to a life that would sustain without him, bless you with enough strength to live without him, only to bring him back? Bring him back not once, but twice all over.

The universe didn’t just bring him back, but covered him in so many wounds, blood oozing out of every gash, that it was difficult to not care. It seemed that the universe was now playing a silly joke on me, picking up someone that I cared for deeply, brandishing him in front of my face, before throwing him out to the mad rabid dogs to feed on him. And it taunts me for my inaction. It mocks me for reacting the exact same way that I had years back, many scars and wounds back. As he recounted his worrisome tales, I saw the anguish and pain in his eyes, and my mind immediately started its tally – how many of these were my doing?

I strongly believe that everybody walks into our lives to teach us something; to cater to our role as a lifelong learner. They are invariably the Most Knowledgeable Other from Vygotsky’s Social Interaction Theory. I’ve learnt about relationships, the goods and the bads, from Dodo. As have I about taking life easy and enjoying it. Through his persistence over the years I’ve learnt that some loves never die. He’s taught me to stare misfortune in the eye and attack it head on. He’s also taught me to take a stand in life and own up for every decision that one has taken. All through his inability to do so. He’s made me realize that it’s too easy to find escape routes from our decisions and go pick scapegoats to blame for what should have been our decisions. He did it eight years back, and he’s doing it right now.

I wonder what is the drive for the universe to bring him back. What new learning is in store for me through the this phase 2? So far, it has only brought along the ghosts of the past, has unearthed many skeletons hidden in both our closets and has caused the family to raise their guards all over again. Does it intend to only bring more pain?

Or is this one of those instances, where you’ve been brought into someone’s life simply to teach them something, and settle with the hurt in your heart?

You want my opinion? Take each day as it goes, sister. No point in digging too deep into the mud, when there may or may not be a bone under it. 

Move. On. Time will anyway tell you all it’s plans. Eventually.” Scotch 

Day 123: Bumps 

Early morning bump

The OldMan decided to head back home much sooner than originally planned; Daddyma needed him more. I shudder thinking of the midnight conversation with him, when he caught me up with his newly made plan, with his slurring words. I knew I wouldn’t have been able to put up with another day of conflicting emotions anyway. So, I was up at 4, and he drew himself to the station while I sat along.

He managed to find an unreserved ticket, and a seat, with sufficient time for the train. So I headed out, slowly inching out of the train station and a cabbie in front of me navigates the hump very poorly and rolls back into me. Great start to the day!

A little argument and some yelling on my part down, and I no longer had a front number plate. For the rest of the way, I drove more watchful than before.

Mid-day bump

Since heading home from the dinner last night, I had a strange unease about the whole thing with SilverGhoster. That unease, coupled with the early morning train run, meant I slept poorly all night. All I wanted was to catch a decent snooze during the day, to recoup, and yet it failed me. At some point mid day, SilverGhoster and I connected, and the entire reason for my unease became evident; there were ill vibes coming my way and the universe has a way with such things anyway. Turns out that post dinner, he had met his pals, and updated them on the dinner. What followed was a barrage of teenage mockery, directed at my age, my body, my life choices and everything that lay in between. Like that wasn’t enough, he went home and a similar tirade came from the mother.

I accept that body, age or fat shaming is not new to me anymore and I’ve seen more than my fair share growing up. But I would be kidding if I said that it did not affect me. While one can put up a straight face, or laugh off the comment, something inside crumbles. In fact, as I think about it, something inside you builds another wall. Another layer of fortification is added, and you push yourself deeper behind shut doors. If you didnt face such negativity, you wouldn’t be hurt in the first place.

What annoys me is the triviality of the world. For one to be a friend with another, why would gender, age, orientation, or any such factor be of any importance? And who gave mankind the authority to always play the role of the high-horse, judging others as if it were their birth right? A 30 year old is not married yet, and something HAS to be wrong with her. She quits an enticing career, and she MUST have been kicked out for poor performance. Four years into her marriage and she still hasn’t popped a baby, and it HAS to be her fault. She finds a friend in a younger man and she HAS to be a cougar. The man is more well-off than her and she HAS to be after his empire. She is chubbier than the society approved size zero and she MUST have an eating problem.

If only we all spent our days looking into the mirror and judging, as much as we do otherwise, we’d be more gentle on others.

Dusk drive bump

All that riddling and puzzling left me in a dizzy all day, and I left for Valley School much later than I’d planned. I’m looking forward to spending the next week or so at the school, observing from close quarters the functioning of an alternative school. I started the drive on a great mood, knowing that running away from civilization, and toward such an environment might be the answer to all my problems.

Chatted with SilverGhoster on the way to Valley, talking about the complexities of relationships. It amused me to think of how certain relationships complicate our lives by simply caring too much. By being overbearing, you invariably push someone away. By being overly snoopy, you unconsciously force them to life. Little things that you don’t realize until you’re deep into it.

It was relieving to hear SilverGhoster revalidate my theory on the universe and its strange mysterious ways. It’s something that I’ve internalized over the years of heartbreaks and of talking to random men for the arranged marriage scenes. If the timing is not right, if the universe hasn’t sorted its plan for you, come what may, your trials would go in vain. And the opposite is true too. In that comfort, I rest for another day.

Wait a minute! You’ve gone back to bangalore already? Means I’m with dad and mom now? And I can beg for food to the entire neighborhood? 

Guffaaaw!” Scotch

Day 35: BFFs

While it started off looking like a typical eat, sleep, clean kind of day, the Sunday was made interesting by a visit from an age old friend. As we sat at a quiet tea room, sipping on our kadak chais and catching up on the years gone by, I recall the way we met and became the thickest of friends.

He was in my class for three long years, two or three roll numbers behind me, and I barely spoke more than 10 times to him. Well, neither did he. He was getting awfully close to my ex-BFF in college, and as she and I started growing apart, he seemed to be at the center of it all; the attention hogger that took my BFF from me. Flash-forward to after graduation, and we go to the same abandoned town for our training, exchange a few pleasantries and before I know it, we’re hanging out most of the time. It surprised me how much we had in common and how littler we spoke about it during college days. This was 2005. We’ve come a long way since then. Stayed across continents and in the same continent, across cities and in the same city, and he’s even gotten married, and yet we continue to stay in touch, sharing each other’s lives when time permits.

As I drove back home, after a quick catch-up with Switch, I realized that we’ve grown out of our teenager phase of the friendship, and into the adult version of it. We spoke about investments, and savings and property to buy. We did not talk about the latest movies or the newest book read. We spoke about in-laws and families, ours and theirs. We did not talk about the latest photography gear to oogle at. We spoke about pain in the joints, and the latest gym sessions. We did not talk about the next travel adventure to be planned, the rock concert to attend or the newest gadget in town. Somehow, over the course of growing up, life’s struggles had come out the winner and we had lost our interests, it seems. There were promises of a new location, bringing in newer changes to life. But how effective are these changes, only time will tell.

If it was these interests that got us together in the first place, and if these interests no longer exist, then what binds us together now?

“Thanks to this old pal of yours, I got to ride in the car after a whole week and…what now!? Was that a cat?” Scotch


Day 13: Of sustainability and old pals

Sustainability

I was at a wonderful conference, in a beautiful campus, lush green and yet in the city. Bhoomi College and Prakriya Green Wisdom school gave some life mission about the place that I eventually want to open on my own.

The conversation with Derrick Jensen at the start of the day was very inspiring. There is a group of revolutionaries, working parallel to all governments and policies, that are actually concerned about the environment and impact of man’s greed on it. As the number in this group grows, there might be a saving grave for this generation after all. Ask the planet, or anybody around you, ‘What does it feel like to be you?’, and with that answer you will build empathy for the soul around. Powerful!

With the clay statues at Bhoomi

Small world

Who should come sit next to me but a friend of SP! As we got talking about each other and she told me about her TFI past, I asked if she knew him and she roared ‘Oh! I love Surya! ‘. That’s how I want people to remember me. Life goals indeed.

bty

Dear Fiona

Lost acquaintances

I last saw her in 2005, when we left for our respective postings at TCS. Now when I saw her, sitting by herself, having tea, it was like the years had suddenly vanished and we were back at that sodden ILP in Bhubaneshwar.

Shiuli and I

We caught up on our lives and she seemed like my soul sister. Went through the same phase of utter disinterest in the field, quit for a year to try other things. She, unfortunately, had to go back since she out down some roots that needed upkeep.

A good thing I didn’t, eh?

For fun and tribal learning

I also met this fun gang of interns from a company called Selco, working on creating content for tribal students in Odisha. Doing good while enjoying their way. While one spoke about her confusions about what to do next and the life she had at Isha Home School, the other fingered out the 4-finger technique to eat with the hand. Great company.

Looks like you had a lot of fun and met interesting people, S. When do I go on a confluence for dogs?” Scotch 

IMG_20170608_172317.jpg