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.

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Day 119: The solid crunch of bones cracking shattered me

Semester done and the extra day complete, Scotch and I squeezed ourselves, and a lot of amma’s demands, into the RedBeast and we were off on our way to Coimbatore. The start was much slower than I’d planned, the wee hours of the morning were spent sleeping instead. The detour route through Sarjapur was a pleasant change considering the standard traffic blocks on the usual route.

I was cruising at a fairly decent speed, until I was shocked out of the comfort of driving. I was tailing a small truck in the middle lane, when I decided to move over to the right lane and overtake him. Between looking behind at the passing lane and the truck in front of me, I did not see a dog dash over from the left lane at all. I sped into the right lane, and immediately saw the brown colored, black nosed dog run frantically into my lane. The back was clear and I floored the brakes, hoping to miss the little guy and let him pass through. He, however, did not know my intent, and was of course shocked at finding me on his way.

Instinct made him turn back to the center lane instead of running ahead. The truck’s speeding tyres lay behind him, and crushed him as he turned back into that lane. The truck wavered on his way, as the little fellow gave his life under it. As I looked back at the mishap in my rear view mirror, the half-chopped body shivered, the dog raised its head one last time to look at the massacre of blood around it.

I couldn’t drive any further.

I had killed a dog, directly or indirectly, and it pained me. I looked back at Scotch and asked for some forgiveness, and drove along. That is a feeling I will never forget for life.

He died a dog’s death, S, and you were just an agent for what was already destined. It was meant to go and there wasn’t much you could have. May that pupper have fun beyond the rainbow bridge.” Scotch

Day 79: Stand-still

Traffic in bangalore has been progressively worsening and today was rock bottom. One of these giant trees near the university fell down, smack in the middle of the road. A temporary shanty was destroyed, as was the bus stop right by it. And that meant hour-long traffic snarls.

The previous day had been a mess too. But I thankfully had a premonition about it the minute I reached Agara, my half-way point. A quick detour and I saved myself some traffic blocks and reached on time. The Danseuse had been stuck at Agara till college time and had to eventually take one of the rape buses. Today, she drove with me, and the tree issue happened.

10 to 9 and we were still about a 20mins walk from the uni, almost an hour and a half into our journey. Some strange premonition again told me that things wouldn’t get any better in the next few minutes. I swerved into a lane nearby, and parked the car at someone’s door front. The gentleman was thankfully nice and allowed me to park at a more safer spot, despite it being on top of a garbage bin. Danseuse and I ran to college through A-town and were in class on time. Traffic issues do bring this entire city to a stand-still and is such a pity.

People and their chatty ideas

Anyway, we got an overview of the project needs and realized that we had to create a jingle for the radio show that we would be hosting. A half-assed effort ensued because TallSwiss and I were double-timing between this and the work for New Delhi. It seemed like the other two would work when we were around and the minute we went to the other project, there would be nothing happening at all. Very unfortunate. If only people took pride in the work they did!

The reality sunk in when we listened to the others’ jingles and they were all pretty cool and ours was only a little Meh! Sometimes, the most chatty ones have the most stupid ideas and the whole team’s ideas are derailed. Chatty and the lazy ones.

Chatty and lazy? What about the most hungry ones? We always get punished, but we get the most interesting ideas when we are hungry” Scotch

Day 9: Of growing women and sex education

It has always pricked my mind to ride a car to college all by myself. For someone trying to be considerate about one’s impact on the environment, avoiding this selfish, fuel-guzzling mode of travel seems like the least one could do. But when circumstances forced that to be the only feasible mode of transport for me, I started exploring options to car pool, so that we are at least sharing the load on poor mother earth. While this might make me come off as overly clingy (doesn’t she have other friends!), or a little psychopathic tending towards a sex offender (Cmon! Who offers a car ride without some ulterior motive, right?), I was doing it purely to share the ride with another.

And so, Tooti and I drove back from college together. She is a peppy kid pursuing her undergraduate course in bio-technology, and a great bharatnatyam dancer. I’ve noticed her before for her quirky whatsapp status messages and that’s exactly what got the conversation going today. “You reveal more than me and yet I’m always criticized. Why? A distressed crop-top asked a saree

There began our ride talk and it went from the culture stereotype that a saree brings in, to even the 9 yard revealing more than what it should, to teachers always having to confine to the stereotype of being saree clad for being taken seriously. This was some ten minutes into the ride and I completely lost track of time or the flow of thoughta after that.

We spoke about sex education in schools, or the lack of it entirely. It seems that even now, the tenth graders get a gist of sex education, through a gruesome video that is cringe-worthy. We commented about our mutual disbelief at how little our parents are ready to talk to us about sex, and how most girls learn about sex from their friends or cousins, or the all-knowing porn industry.

We realized that the problem was worse with men, who are barely given information about menstruation and the associated problems. Most men see their mothers, sisters and even wives go through it and yet it’s a topic of utmost taboo to talk about. Imagine the quality of life of a married couple, where an entire perspective of the wife is unknown to the man, and they choose to not even talk about it.

All my friends are making out for at least 40 minutes every day“, she said, wondering aloud if she did a mistake by breaking up with her boyfriend of three years. That led us to talking about pop culture and peer pressure and how it drives our relationships these days. Girls flaunt the ‘bases’ that they progressed with their partner, like a baseball trophy to be proud of. This peer and media-induced pressure is making girls like Tooti wonder if they were wrong by holding their ground and not putting out. “What if it was really love, and I should have allowed him to experiment?“, she questions herself.

We laughed at our parents and how unsure they are about talking to us about these sensitive topics. While her generation seems to have progressed and her father was okay about her watching a kissing scene on TV, I only remember awkward side-glances when someone on TV got cost when I was growing up.

All this talk made me realize that a major gap in Indian education system is the lack of awareness given about these real-world issues. What if each school had an S, for the Tootis and others in the school to go and ask their doubts to, and get answers alone – not judgements? What if the counselors in schools are able to build such a rapport with the students that they are able to have such ride talks, and walk out with a smile and a ‘we definitely have to talk some more’? What if the education system broke all stereotypes in the society and let children be children?

Deep, man! I’m just gonna lie here while you rant about sex ed and what not. Poor lasses like me don’t have to worry about such things. 

For us, the struggle is more real: like will I get 1 egg for lunch or 2.” Scotch 

Napping, leaving the worries to the world. 

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!

your-earphones-could-kill-you

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