(A) Man’s (Poetic) Search for Meaning

“Yet half a beast is the great god Pan,
To laugh as he sits by the river,
Making a poet out of a man :
The true gods sigh for the cost and pain, —
For the reed which grows nevermore again
As a reed with the reeds in the river.”
A Musical Instrument, Elizabeth Barett Browning
 
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Well, Now I am!

 

It’s been quite some time since I have written anything. Long enough for some people to question if my writing skills were dead, or for some even to ask if I was dead.

Its been a tough few months, and honestly, my willpower and ability to write have been in a downward spiral. As I write this post, there still remains a lingering that this too will be consigned to the darkness of the folder called “Unpublished Drafts”. Frankly speaking, what spurred this post was a late night jaunt into the world of Messrs Shelley, Browning and Whitman and a conversation with a friend at a wedding who asked me to start writing again.

I’ve always been fond of Poetry, the credit to which belongs to one of my teachers back in Class 9, and a textbook called ‘Wings of Poesy’. Those pages were my introduction to fantastic work such as the Forsaken Merman by Matthew Arnold, The Eve of Waterloo by Lord Byron, Ozymandius by Percy Bysse Shelley and my favourite, A Musical Instrument by Elizabeth Browning.

I still remember, one of the first poems I memorized was The Brook by Alfred Tennyson. A poem that I learnt as a rhyme, it gave me a comforting image of a flowing brook going past my house at night, slowly putting me to sleep.

Sleeping has been difficult over the last few months, so much that I’ve been listening to white noise for hours on youtube in the hopes of falling into sleep. Predictably, the sounds that I choose to hear are that of a flowing river or a brook, because it comforts me and lulls me into a false sense of security that’s often broken by rays of sunshine entering the window in the morning.

So, why have I quoted Elizabeth Barett Browning at the start of the post? Well, simply put, I feel like the Reed that Great God Pan moulded into a musical instrument. A reed that grows nevermore again, as a reed with the reeds in the river.

It’s a beautiful poem about making of a musical instrument. I tend to look at it as the shaping of life and destiny. A Life that’s been punctuated with more disappointment than achievements, more sorrow than joy and more hate than love, a life that’s still to make the music that the great God Pan envisaged when he carved out the musical instrument from the reeds in the river.

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I Want to break free!

Mysore has been difficult for the last Year and a half. The four walls I call home are also the four walls that seem to be closing on me, all the time. So, as you’d have noticed in my previous blog posts, when the going gets tough, I turn to books, in the hope of finding some joy, some fear and even some magic. Recently, I finished reading a fantastic book by Viktor Frankl, “Man’s Search for Meaning”. His work is based on his survival in Auschwitz. Frankl’s work formed a cornerstone of Psychotherapeutic Treatment, and how do people go through difficult phases of their lives in a quest of finding some meaning in the overall scheme of things, and in life. I’ve somehow found the study of grief fascinating as well. Maybe my morbid thoughts also have to do with the kind of stuff I’ve been reading of late, but things that do not explore the darker side of the human psyche rarely make good writing.

The darkness in us is not only confined to poems and books, but in games too, with this clip from The Last of Us probably being the only bit in a game that’s almost brought tears to my eyes.

People generally know about the Five Stages of Grief as researched by Elisabeth Kübler-Ross, arising from her work with terminally ill patients in the 60s. From Denial (“No, this can’t be happening to me!”) to Anger (“Why me? What have I done wrong?”), to Bargaining (“If I stop drinking so much, my relationship will mend itself!) to Depression (“I cant do this anymore, so why bother?) and finally to Acceptance (“Whatever happens, It’s going to be Okay”), this model speaks about what people go through when losing a loved one, coming out of a difficult relationship, or simply, dying. It’s so surprising as to how something as complex as Human emotion can be broken down into five stages, and dissected to be studied like an experiment. How being human isn’t about individualism, but about being just the sum of a few parts.

So, coming back to Elizabeth Browning and the great God Pan, its just that life changes you in ways that are unimaginable, and as we see people change in front of us, I’m left to miss the wonderful people I knew, and their imposters that I come across these days.

But all said and done, maybe its time this blog comes back to life. To wind this up, I’ll leave you with a few words by Pink Floyd (and the song, if you wanna hear it!)

 

“I took a heavenly ride through our silence
I knew the moment had arrived
For killing the past and coming back to life”

Catharsis.

So, its been a while. All resolutions for writing something on a regular basis have gone down the drain. Well, the primary reason being that I’ve tried to hit the ground running after moving back into a job.

Working for an organization that relies heavily on written communication has its pitfalls too. Simply put, all creative ideas get drained out by the time you get your hands to a keyboard. And somewhere, the joy of writing was lost. However, there’s been a lot happening at work, and while its very interesting, its for another post. I’ve been posted to the wonderfully boring city of Mysore, which is so quiet, you can hear your own heartbeat most of the time.

I’ve read quite a few books of late, been in a multitude of cities, and made some great new friends while rediscovering some old friends, and forming bonds anew.

So, lets get straight to it. Catharsis, why though? Simply put, I just needed to write. And this time, not a work email.

So, when you work in a high stress environment, what gets you going? What gets you willing to go to work the next day amidst all the madness? What makes you , in simple words, ‘Chill the F*ck out?’

The answer, of course is known to the dark side. (Or that’s what Supreme Leader Snoke would have us believe!). Haha, enough of fooling around, but I personally think that the answer lies in experiencing music, immersing yourself in a superb book and just letting the environment soak into you.

So, let me take you through bits of music, books and places. Seems good? So read on.

I’ve never been a genre person. Anything that appeals is what’s branded in my head. A wonderful memory is a close friend singing the Lootera Song, ‘Sawaar Loon’ after a death defying trek to Garbett point in the first year of TISS. Read more about that here!

The beauty of her voice, coupled with the misty mountains cold (see what I did there!) made me really experience every single emotion the song wanted to continue. So, of late, I’ve tried to replicate beautiful music at home. So, Bose it was. The soundlink is one of the best speakers one can hope to find. If you want to live every beat, every note, every word of a superb song, that’s where you’ll find it.

So a song like Matargashti will fill you up with joy and laughter, and Luka Chuppi will make tears well up in your eyes. And well, Sawaar Loon, reminds me of that trek, and the classmate’s voice at Garbett Point. So yes, that’s how you experience music

There’s something about good music, good speakers, and some alcohol, that lights up all our lives!

Places and books, well they are for another post, very soon.

“Hawa ke jhonke aaj mausamon se rooth gaye
Gulon ki shokhiyaan jo bhanwre aake loot gaye”

Ishiguro’s Love

” When we are scattered, afar and asunder,
Parted are those, who are singing today
When we look back, and forgetfully wonder,
What we were like, in our learning and play
Oh, the great days, will bring distance enchanted,
Days of fresh air in the rain, and the sun
How we rejoiced as we struggled, and panted,
Echoes of dreamland, Hailsham lives on. “

–  Rachel Portman,  Never Let Me Go OST.

The lines above were not written by Ishiguro, but they are exactly like his writing. Because Ishiguro’s writings about love aren’t complex, but so simple, they’re heart rending and they’re funny and they’re inexplicably tragic.

A post by a friend on Social Media prompted me to open all my Ishiguro’s and give them a read. And somewhere between ‘When we were orphans’ and ‘The Remains of the Day’, this post was born.

For the uninitiated (Oh, poor soul you’ve missed out on life itself!), Kazuo Ishiguro is a Japanese-British Novelist, the winner of the Booker Prize in 1989 and the author of seven wonderful books, some of which I’m going to talk about today. Two of his books have been made into excellent movies, The Remains of The Day, by the fabled Merchant-Ivory productions, and Never Let Me go, by Mark Romanek.

The Remains of the next few months?

The Remains of the next few months?

Ishiguro’s writing style is unique. Instead of consciousness awakening to the natual world and its immediacy and immutable nature. subjective memories and thoughts are opened, in a way, layer by layer to expose consciousness. His writings are like ramblings that try to fill the wide chasm of existential angst that has opened up in a being, like a sinkhole, sucking everything, even you, into the vortex.

Ishiguro’s Love is the most pristine, pure and beautiful ever written. Man is often destroyed by the ideas upon which he has built his life. Sometimes, I think we are so occupied by the “greatness” we wish to achieve, and this notion breeds deep resentments for anything that comes in the path, and it is the inarticulacy of emotions that destroy love.

Ishiguro writes the most nightmarish novels I’ve ever read. I read these books the same way as I wake from a disturbing dream with feelings of disorientation and anxiety. Ishiguro says that love has a proper time, a time that may be lost or missied, and then, the rest of our lives we’ll spend wondering. what could have been. That’s  thought which is nightmarish and Ishiguro tells us this with simple sentences, from the words of Stevens, or Kathy H. Very few books can evoke the feeling of Despair. The kind of despair that makes you want t break things, or go out for a run so you can let out the agony bubbling inside you.

The Master Storyteller

The Master Storyteller

His books are about the near impossibility of our being understood by others and yet our endless desire for such understanding. His books are always written in the simplest of prose, but reading them isn’t easy. The beauty of his books is not in the plots, but in its execution.

I’m writing this post in the morning after having a vivid dream, which was very disturbing. It was my subconscious, watching me make all the wrong decisions I did, and all the mistakes I made and struggle helplessly, because the outcome of future events that would transpire were known. It never occurred to me that those people, with whom my life was interwoven, could unravel with such speed. If only I’d known, I’d have kept a tighter hold of them. Being in that dream was like being in an Ishiguro book. Descending down the flight of stairs where she told you, you weren’t the one, and resolutely walked ahead, her steps growing longer than yours till she was past the the horizon. Like those memories buried deep down, where people would sit on rooftops, hands together, their silhouettes drifting apart in dim light, and talk of there being the right time, the right place, the wait.

And then suddenly, when everything falls apart in front of you, you realize what Ishiguro’s Love is. This post is also a commentary to Meera & Vikram, two characters I frequently write about in different settings, two people, who are inexplicably, to their own misfortune, in Ishiguro’s love.

I’m very jobless these days, and this solitude I’ve grown to like. I like curling into a good book, and knowing I’ll have my daydreams, a cold breeze, and test cricket commentary for company.

The Timelessness of Hindi Music

So the last two posts have been works of fiction, and just for a bit of a change, here’s the latest idea that caught my imagination. As my friend Anurag and I were sitting and listening to old Hindi Music (Hemant Kumar, Mohommed Rafi, Geeta Dutt, and the types), when we started talking about the actors, the cinema and what made movies of that bygone era worth a watch.

Concerts and Names of a bygone Era

Concerts and Names of a bygone Era

This takes me back to the days when I’d sit with my mum and try and figure out what kind of movies did she like when she was young. While my mother’s favourite star remins Amitabh Bachchan, she’d always find my interest in Black & White movies surprising. Her obvious questions would be, “Why’re you bothered with things way before your time?”

Conversations with my Dad would be a little different. He’d tell me stories of how Guru Dutt’s acting would be something the new Khans and Kapoors could not even come close to.

So, after recapping these conversations, I thought, why not dedicate the post to the music Old Indian Cinema, and voices of the iconic performers who were able to draw hordes to theatres through word-of-mouth, and not retweets and favourites, paid previews and critic reviews.

I’ve seen quite a lot of Rajesh Khanna, and the way he serenades Sharmila Tagore in Aradhana is something all of us closet romantics would want to do, at some point of time. After all, there’s an honesty in the lyrics, an honesty that ‘Kaka’ conveys through slight shaking of his head, blinking of his eyes, and fighting for the wheel of the Jeep with the famous character actor, Sujit Kumar. A song that wouldn’t even be areound if R.D Burman and Kishore Kumar wouldn’t have collaborated together to come up with one of the most timeless tunes, ever

The Rise of a Star.

The Rise of a Star.

Another favourite was the movie Anand, where it is said that the superstar Rajesh Khanna realized that the next superstar was waiting in the wings, as Babumoshai. A transition that was poetic, with Amitabh Bachchan following up his stupendous performance in Anand with the angry young man in Zanjeer a couple of years later.

Hai Apna Dil, to Awara

Hai Apna Dil, to Awara

But if we rewind the clock a few more years, some beautiful music was pictured in Black & White on Dev Anand. A man who in the words of my grandfather ‘could light up souls with the mischievous twinkle in his eyes’, was a fantastic actor to actually watch. One of my favourite songs with him is ‘Hai apna Dil‘, where Dev Anand brings an entire train compartment to life by singing to Waheeda Rehman, with the beautiful melody of a mouth organ as the only distinctive music. A song sung by Hemant Kumar, there’s a nasal twang, along with the unadulterated Indian accent that puts this song above the songs that star our contemporary artistes.

Lakh dukhon ki ek dawa hai..

Lakh dukhon ki ek dawa hai..

A lot of us would have heard of the ‘Champi’ song starring Johnnie Walker, sung by Mohammed Rafi from the movie ‘Pyaasa’, a Guru Dutt masterpiece, but few of us know, that Johnnie Walker got his name since Guru Dutt loved his acting of drunk characters and named him after his favourite whiskey. Johnnie Walker being a teetotaller was a small detail Guru Dutt chose to ignore.

Since we’re talking about Mr. Walker, another song that all of us will connect to is ‘Ye hai Bombay meri jaan’, which resonates with all of us even today, trying to make it big in this city of dreams. After all, how different are we from Johnnie Walker on marine drive on a tonga singing away to his fortune, his misfortune and the indomitable human spirit, and the indomitable spirit of Bombay.

Cinema. At its best.

Cinema. At its best.

Kishore Kumar’s versatility has never needed introduction, but if you really want to see it on the screen, watch this video, of him absolutely lifting your spirit, just through his actions, and making you want to fall into the old fashioned kind of love. The love of the fifties, not the simple excuse that Aditya Chopra and Co. sell us today, for a fortune. A beautiful song from an iconic movie, it makes you want to spend an evening with your rain drenched sweetheart in a garage, doesn’t it? With the perfect increase and decrease in tempo, like crests and troughs that come together like a range of emotions in your heart, its a song like no other.

‘Mili ek ajnabi se, koi aage na peeche, tum hi kaho ye koi baat hai?’

When you look at legends like Guru Dutt, Meena Kumari and Geeta Dutt, their genius could never ever get them to have a happy personal life. All three of them died near their forties, consumed by alcohol, depression and a lack of love in their lives. The love that they so effortlessly portrayed on screen through, was never present in their lives. Guru Dutt was a strict disciplinarian professionally, but never maintained it in his personal life, ultimately dying at his own hands. Similarly, Meena Kumari’s life was a tragedy, that she tried expressing in poetry, but it never gave her an escape the way alcohol did, and she died a few weeks after her masterpiece, Pakeezah was released.

Just to save the best for the last, I doubt there’s anyone who’s not heard ‘Pyaar Hua Ikraar Hua‘, in the simply stupendous voices of Lata Mangeshkar and Manna Dey, with the acting brilliance of Raj Kapoor and Nargis giving unforgettable images to the melody of those words. Simply magnificent.

There are so many legends, so many movies I haven’t even seen, and this post in no way does any justice to anyone of them, but by writing about them, maybe I’ve been able to adequately express what I feel about them.

A birthday, not too far back!

A birthday, not too far back!

I’m also going to use this post to wish a belated Happy Birthday to one of my closest friends, oldest confidantes and the person who can guess my likes and dislikes with surprising ease, because they match as much, and she likes them as much as I do. Right from Authors, to Music, to the choice in drinks, its all the same. And all brilliant. She’s been a strong bedrock in my life for the past few years Here’s to many more years of awesomeness.

Happy Birthday, Annima.

To close this post, I’m gonna insert 3 videos, which are my absolute favorites. Do listen to them when you can!

1. Hai Apna Dil To Awara – Solva Saal (1958)

2. Mere Sapno Ki Rani – Aaradhana (1969)

3. Pyaar hua Ikraar Hua – Shree 420 (1955)

“Kehta hai Dil, rasta mushkil, Maaloom nahi hai kahaan manzil’

Music & Lyrics

I’ve been planning on writing a Music tribute for very long, but like multiple ideas, it always ends up in the drafts section of my Blog. So yes, at last count there were close to a 125 drafts, all about different things that are gathering cyber-dust. Soon, when I have enough readership, I’ll come up with an anthology of drafts. Till then, the excruciating process of composing half a post, and then not knowing what to do with it, will continue.

My favourite Maiden Album!

My favourite Maiden Album!

I got onto the Heavy Metal bandwagon a little late, and the credit for the same goes to a really good friend, Rahul (who is now a consultant with Deloitte, and almost impossible to trace!). Rahul was a peculiar character back in Engineering. From someone who absolutely refused to study, to a marks hungry, crazy nerd, he was the epitome of the Butterfly from the Caterpillar Story (and if he were to read this, I’d be so dead). Manipal’s a fun place, and there’s a nice hotel, Valley View where I attended my first ever Metal concert, had my first ever Budweiser and found my first favourite band, Iron Maiden.

Any talk of Manipal is incomplete without talking about Iron Maiden, simply because every corridor in the hostels would have their band, and every band would have a signature Iron Maiden Track. some of the less ambitious ones would perfect ‘Fear of the Dark’ while the crazy ones would go any lengths to get ‘Dance of death’ right.

There’s a beauty about Iron Maiden’s music, which is not in the music itself, but the lyrics. Lesser known Songs like Montsegur, which tell the tale of a Cathar Massacre, Paschendale, which speaks of the battle of Paschendale in the first world war are right up there with songs like the Trooper (charge of the light brigade, remember?) and Brave New World, which is about Aldous Huxley’s dystopian masterpiece. It got me into the habit of listening to songs with  history, maybe that’s why, in Contemporary Music, Viva La Vida remains one of my favourite albums. There’s always a mystery in words, a mystery in the music, and a mystery in behind every Maiden Song. They’re all lyrical stories, like the Rime of the Ancient Mariner (which remains one of my favourite poems of all time) and The Wicker Man (which is based on Christopher Lee’s classic movie) which make you search for the backstory. Every single Maiden Song has made me go to wikipedia, (or sometimes even more) and read up on what the song is really about. A lot of you may say that many songs carry Hidden Meanings, but for Maiden, the meanings are not hidden in words, but in the Riffs of Dave Murray and Adrian Smith’s guitars. Its up to the curious metalhead to go look for them.

Another band I absolutely fell in love with back in the college days was AC/DC. And this time, it was because of songs like ‘You Shook Me all night Long!’ and ‘Back in Black!’. The sheer audacity of AC/DC was something that one absolutely loved. The Schoolboy uniforms, the baby walks on stage and the high pitched singing, all totally worth it. AC/DC music was always something that would pick you up, and I remember, I bonded with my ex, Niharika in a big way over AC/DC music. Who’d have thought?

Tenacious D : Epic Music!

All of us totally love Jack Black for his acting, but for his singing? A lot of us wouldn’t have even heard him sing (apart from School of Rock, and trust me, that’s not even close to his best). My friend with the long name, Anantharagavan Subramanian, (subbu) introduced me to a movie, Tenacious D. An inappropriate, nonsensical movie, if there ever was one, but it had me and Subbu singing Tenacious D (which was also the name of the band in the movie) songs throughout Manipal, much to everyone’s annoyance. Good fun, those days were. If you wish to start off with Tenacious D music, i’d say Kickapoo is the best song to start with. A song that has vocals from Meat Loaf, Jack Black and God himself, Ronnie James Dio is totally worth going crazy over.

Scraper, Topper, Flunker.  In that order!

Scraper, Topper, Flunker.
In that order!

My roommate Narasimha had the knack of finding awesome bands from the middle of nowhere. A Pirate if there ever were one, he discovered the band Nationals before they sang ‘The Rains of Castamere’, introduced my to Nightwish and a lot of other fabulous music. The best thing about that chap was, he would keep changing his music players from Songbird to Winamp. And curiously, he’d never get the point that they were all just playing music! I still remember the look of disdain he would give me for using iTunes! (Hey, I had an iPod, come on!). A lot of one hit wonders were his discoveries, and they served us well, with quarters of Old Monk sourced from our very own, Open Bar!

While there have been bigger bands I’ve listened to religiously like Pink Floyd, Led Zeppelin, Queen and Judas Priest, there’s been something about the music I’ve written about, that’s made them attach themselves to memories. Headbanging with Rahul, Irritating the fuck out of people with Subbu, and quietly sipping Blenders’ Pride with Narasimha are fond memories.I haven’t seen too many concerts in Bombay (because of all the work I did over the last few semesters!), but with a relatively chilled out semester up ahead, I think the time is ripe to make up for all the lost days. Mumbai is a fascinating city, teeming with culture, and I think the next few performances at NCPA, some plays at Prithvi, and a few parties in South Bombay is something I have to ensure I add to my CV. Because Life, as I’ve said earlier, isnt all about Competency mapping, and Organization Development.I was at the South Asian Bands festival yesterday, and the music was simply scintillating. Whether it be a Bangladeshi band called Chirkut, Mrigya from Delhi or Zeb from Pakistan, all of them had a message, which was music unites people. While uniting India and Pakistan cannot happen with music alone, music can make some everlasting friendships. Or atleast leave behind some happy memories.

“This music that you play for us, comes from the depths of Hell
Rock ‘n’ roll’s the Devil’s work, he wants you to rebel

You’ll become a mindless puppet, Beelzebub will pull the strings
Your heart will lose direction, and chaos, it will bring!”

P.S. : Here’s wishing a Happy Birthday to a very close friend. May you be as successful as successful can be. Interstellar, is on!

To be (free), or not to be (free), that is the question…

The heavens have opened up in Bombay, (in evenings) and the Jim Morrison’s voice crooning, along with a hot coffee would be a perfect start to this long weekend.

The Doors have created some mind blowing music. And now, after almost a year of crazy committee work, internships, academics, assignments, I have absolutely nothing to do, so what’d be better than hearing Jim & Co. sing ‘Riders on the Storm’ and devouring chocolates, courtesy of my field work organization, Mondelez.

Presents for the festive season!

Presents for the festive season!

So, my insane efforts put in my summer internship at ITC have paid off, and I shall be joining ITC next year after being awarded, what in B-School lexicon is called the ‘Holy Grail’, or in simpler terms, a Pre Placement Offer. All those days spent reading about competencies, Validity and statistics seem to have paid off. And with most of my committee responsibilities done, I can look forward to a relaxing few months ahead before I rejoin corporate life. These few years have been so different. From doing an engineering role at a global industrial powerhouse like GE to a Human Resources role at a true blue Indian FMCG company is a remarkable transformation indeed. Even when it comes to dating, before TISS, I dated a psychology graduate in a whirlwind romance almost half a year, in a relationship like no other. A relationship that does not have too many memories due to its very alcohol induced, hazy nature, but was a great one, none the less.

That's how much weight I've lost!

That’s how much weight I’ve lost!

So, yes, I’m at a happy place in life, and I absolutely cant wait for the coming vacations, because of planned trips to Jim Corbett, travel plans with close friends, and party plans with family. These vacations will probably be the first set of stress free holidays I’ve had. Sometimes, I’d wonder how poets like Wordsworth or Tennyson could immortalize Daffodils or a Brook. Now I know , that you truly need to let nature touch your happy soul, for words like that to emerge from your pen.

'To be or not to be?'

‘To be or not to be?’

I’ve been reading a bit of Shakespeare of late. And this odd choice (today in the world of Rowlings, Martins and Levitts) was because of how impressive I found the trailer of Shahid Kapoor’s upcoming movie, Haider. After all, is an adaptation of Shakespeare’s Hamlet. I remember, my first introduction to Shakespeare was by this 2 hour play I saw in Calcutta at Kala Mandir, which covered all 37 plays of Shakespeare in 120 minutes. An absolutely rip roaring comedy, it made me delve deeper into the writings of the mysterious man from Stratford-upon-Avon.

Hamlet’s brilliance lies not only in its plot (which is full of mystery and intrigue), but also the complexity of human emotions, where love and lust lead to incestuous relationships, ego towers over love and jealousy brings the worst out of men. A potboiler, indeed. One of my favourite plays of Shakespeare however, remains King Lear, maybe because it is a simple story of a father. And it is touching, to say the least.

I’ve been called opinionated, strong headed and on many occasions, unreasonable, but I have a firm set of beliefs (one of them is, be smug!), which I do not compromise on. Of late, I’ve noticed people form judgements and opinions without having complete information. And these very people were characters Shakespeare made legendary. Brutus, Ophelia, Othello, all of these characters made the same mistakes, because they didn’t know what was happening, and they chose not to find out too. My advice to all such peers of mine is to please, form opinions and judgements on complete information.

So moving away from Shakespeare, and back to TISS. TISS is a wonderful place to be in now, for people like me. No effort needed for office, no effort needed for lectures, its just a countdown to the days when I can be back home in Delhi, with close friends, family and good food. This, I think is going to be an absolutely fantastic set of holidays.

I chatter, chatter, as I flow
To join the brimming river,
For men may come and men may go,

But I go on forever.

Screw London, Dilli Thumakda!

I’ve been suffering from a bit of a writer’s block of late and its the first time in almost a year that I went an entire month without writing a post. Maybe it was the lack of inspiration, maybe it was the hunt for a new experience, but there was something that was missing. Something that needed me to come back home and jump into a fresh, new blog post.

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That was today morning, but it still turned out to be a really good day to spend running around Delhi.

Sometimes, the inspiration takes the form of a person, and I happened to have lunch today with a friend who helped me recap all of my first year at TISS. It was after ages that I really felt comfortable being myself, without bothering about the world. It’s an amazing feeling, for sure.

So, a typical visitor in Delhi runs around India Gate, goes to a few memorials, and misses the real Delhi, which I thought I should take her around, considering she’s in the big bad city for the first time alone, and despite the glare of her neon phone, we both had a great time.

While a few hours are too little to experience this beautiful city, every Delhi boy (yes the ones that your mothers warn you about) knows there’s some way to capture the essence of this city. I happened to choose lunch at Khan Market, a stroll around CP, dessert at Elma’s Bakery in Hauz Khas Village, with the sunset at the lake. A nice TISS reunion at a friend’s place ended up being an added bonus.

There are some things about a day which get stuck in your head, whether it be conversations about weight gained (apparently, I have), rushing through gnats, and having fabulous thin crust pizza (Amici, you’re a wonder!), or just finding people to click our pictures, it was quite the day. 🙂

 

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Elma’s : We both loved the cake and the place. So much to catch up on! PC : Menon

Elma’s has always been special, because of how much I grew to love Red Velvet and Rainbow cakes they make. From a small little eatry tucked into Hauz Khas Village, its become a bustling crazy huge eatery that’s worth every bit of its exorbitant prices!

The first thing we realized today was how much we loved the seats, and I think we took forever to finish off the dessert because we were just loving it there. Absolutely fabulous.

A beautiful Sunset. PC : Menon

There’s always an element of magic about sunsets. Right from mythological days where Krishna played with the sun, to today, when watching it go down was absolutely brilliant, I completely love the sun setting. Its phenomenal. Cleanses you soul, in my opinion. One of my favourite movies remains Richard Linklater’s ‘Before Sunset’, which is absolutely fabulous to watch, and connect with, for everyone who’s been absolutely crazy about someone, yet stayed away fro them due to no control over fate and circumstances.

The next few months are going to be crazy, with my Football Club Chelsea in the race for both the league title and the Champions league (Go Jose!) , my internship, and the second year of college coming up!

I’ve started interning this summer at ITC’s Lifestyle Retailing Business Division, and while I cannot divulge project details due to sensitivity of the project, its been an absolutely fabulous experience. The people are amazing, there are new insights to be found everyday, there’s a lot to learn and the fashion industry is a totally different ball game all together. I’m hoping I have an enriching two months up ahead of me.

While walking back home today after meeting a set of fabulous people, I passed a wedding procession where ‘London Thumakda’ had people dancing in unadulterated and absolute joy. Looking at them, and back at the day I’d had, my insides did a little jig, and I thought to myself, ‘Screw London, Dilli Thumakda’

“He was still too young to know that the heart’s memory eliminates the bad and magnifies the good, and that thanks to this artifice we manage to endure the burden of the past” (Marquez Gabriel G, 1985), RIP.

When Menon can't find her way home.

When Menon can’t find her way home.

P.S. : Calvin and Suzy are sometimes the best analogies for crazy friendships, dont you think?

Two Things.

Purgatory and Paradise.

‘Spiral path leads through the maze
Down into the fiery underworld below
Fire breathing, lead the way
Lucifer was just an angel led astray’    

Fact of life? There’s a good and a bad in everyone? If Angels can be led astray, aren’t we mere mortals? I was reading a beautifully written book by Manu Joseph titled ‘The Illicit Happiness of Other People’ which says that ages back, there was a war between good and evil, and good suffered a humiliating, complete, absolute defeat. Evil being, well, evil, split itself into two parts, evil and apparently good. Fair argument I’d say. There is no absolute good in the world anymore, with people giving into what is good for themselves, or what is good for society. But there’s always a loser, a victim, a disappointed man. For people like these, descending into the fiery underworld is not difficult at all. The Spiral paths, the mazes all clear up. Because the road to evil is not tough, its easy. It is Paradise that’s hard to find, and everyone must pass through Purgatory before that.

In search of Paradise

In search of Paradise

I have days when things get unbearably hard, or unbearably easy. Last night, a friend jokingly pointed out my lack of social interaction. While I’m sure she meant it as a joke, it made me introspect a lot of decisions I’ve taken in life, and all of them have been about running away from people, not talking about what’s in my head, and simply put, not forging those strong friendships or relationships.  Introspection is playing your own devil’s advocate, and its not easy. However, there’s always hope, for after Purgatory, there is paradise.

Rebecca, a haunting tale about  lady who faced her own demons.

Rebecca, a haunting tale about lady who faced her own demons.

For someone who spent a lot of his childhood growing up alone, I’ve found a lot of meaning in music, literature and movies. I’ve always written about love as a theme on this blog, because my notion of love is shaped from these. Bruce Willis dying to save the planet his daughter lives on (Armageddon), The fascination of Walter Mitty and his adventures (The Secret life of Walter Mitty), the craziness of the Manderley estate in Rebecca’s tale (Rebecca) or the brilliance of Atticus Finch (To kill a Mockingbird), these have all shaped me up into the person I am, in some way or another. Though I did get screamed at by Dad for reading Nabokov’s ‘Lotlita’ in my quest to apply meaning to life, I  have had some great experiences while reading. I immerse myself in the situation, such that the girl I have a crush on becomes Jamie while I see myself as Landon. Its a beautiful experience, the ability to see patterns in real life, the smiling to yourself at something endearing someone does, the walking alone humming songs by John Mayer while your insides jump with joy.

‘Who says I can’t be free
From all of the things that I used to be?
Rewrite my history
Who says I can’t be free?’

Everybody Dies.

Everybody Dies.

But then, there’s a catch. There’s a simple underlying philosophy to life, that most human beings are inescapably alone, and therein lies their tragedy. This is further reinforced by Hugh Laurie’s portrayal of Dr. Gregory House, where he simply says, ‘Everybody Lies’ and ‘Everybody Dies’, simply reinforcing Richard Yates’ thoughts from his masterpiece, Revolutionary Road. I’ve mentioned in a couple of my earlier posts how I find the movie ‘Love Actually’ one of the finest romantic movies ever, because it has this same theme of loneliness running though it.

I’ve been told that the Insides of my head are scary, but then, the demons are mine to face, and the purgatory is mine to trudge through, for the paradise is mine to find.

‘Don’t get too close
It’s dark inside
It’s where my demons hide
It’s where my demons hide’

The Music of Life

‘Lights will guide you home
And ignite your bones
And I will try to fix you’

A friend of mine told me a few days back, that I don’t smile as much as I used to before, and I had a very simple explanation about that, which is I don’t listen to as much music as I used to before, hence.

If only they would compose the OST to my life. :)

If only they would compose the OST to my life. 🙂

I’m a very bad writer of verse, and all of my close friends will agree to the same, because everytime I write an email, a birthday message, a blog post, instead of composing my own verse, I just copy song lyrics, shamelessly. The effort of composing verse is something I’d rather put into finding relevant lyrics. But let me come to the subject of this post, Music.

I’m known to have an eclectic taste in music, from Pink Floyd to Lady Gaga, everyone has something in them that I like. I have this grand concept in my head which I like to call the OST of life, and my tastes in music are based on how they’d fit into the soundtrack of my life.

The Beatles, Mariah Carey, Dido and Norah Jones. what more do we want?

The Beatles, Mariah Carey, Dido and Norah Jones. what more do we want?

To explain more clearly, imagine if your life were a movie, what would be the music you’d want accompanying it? There was this phase once, when a friend and I drew up a list of songs we’d want playing at our Funeral, and Freebird by Lynyrd Skynyrd was our unanimous pick for the top of the playlist. My pallbearers, please do refer to this post. 😀

‘If I leave here tomorrow
Would you still remember me?
For I must be travelling on, now,
‘Cause there’s too many places I’ve got to see’

There’s are songs that plays in my head when I’m happy, there are songs that play in my head when I’m down, songs that pick me up, songs that give me a push, and being the romantic I am, there are the violins that set off in my head when that someone makes my heart skip a beat. A friend of mine, who we all lovingly call ‘Panda’ because of obvious behaviors, says that the first thing I do every morning is listen to crazy soundtracks from Pacific Rim, The Hobbit among other songs. Crazy, yeah? What ticked Panda off the most probably was the transition. The song that’d follow something like ‘Phir le aaya dil’ by Arijit Singh would be ‘Kinslayer’ by a band called Nightwish (Nordic Metal band, for those who were wondering).

There’s a beautiful restaurant in Delhi called ‘Nu Delhi’ in Malcha Marg, Chanakyapuri. Last year, they had a Filipino band called ‘The Big Band Theory’ playing. The restaurant would have these Tent Cards, where you could send in request. It was a seven member line up, and I’ve never heard anyone perform Adele’s songs as close to perfection as they did. I remember getting drunk with one of my friends there and requesting music all night long. So, yes, that’s how life is, musical.

There’s a friend who calls my smile is what ‘Normal people call a grimace, a tweaking of lips, at best’. That’s probably because there’s music in my head, music I’m enjoying . Well, if you ever see me smiling to myself, do ask me which song is on repeat in there. Because I’m sure there’ll be something that you’ll want to listen to.

‘And while Lenin read a book on Marx
The quartet practiced in the park
And we sang dirges in the dark
The day the music died’

PS : Today happens to be the birthday of a good friend. Best Wishes. May you keep ‘Staring straight into the shining sun’

Vacations, Redux.

True Beauty : From the Cover of Vikram Chandra's 'Sacred Games'

True Beauty : From the Cover of Vikram Chandra’s ‘Sacred Games’

The reason you see a beautiful woman on the left is because I wish to announce her as my girlfriend to the world. Met  her recently at a Reception Barack Obama hosted for me the other day. Right. How I wish the reception bit were true. As  a very dear friend of mine puts it, my palm shows strong indications of fame (or infamy, and knowing me, it’s probably  the latter). With regards to the woman, beautiful as she may be, my tastes are better, and different.

The photo is of an unidentified model on the cover of Vikram Chandra’s Magnum Opus, ‘Sacred Games’, and what I love  about this picture is how effortlessly it captures the beauty of the woman. No jazzy dress, no over the top make up, just  plain simple perfection. Perfection lies in simplicity. Harder to screw up when you’re just a very simple person, isn’t it?

After a hectic semester of having people around me, all the time, in committee meetings, in impromptu soirées, I’m  finally getting some time to myself, and while it feels alien, it’s in no way unwelcome. I’ve however had some beautiful  conversations, in the most unlikeliest of places and situations. Whether it be giving a pep talk to people before crucial  interviews, or it be staring up at the stars, talking about the sem gone by, I think I’ve had a few intense, gripping,  enriching conversations I’ll forever cherish and be grateful for.

The MBA season is kicking off again, and a lot of students out there are thinking whether they’re good enough or not.   Trust me, unlike IIT-JEE (yeah, I’ve been through the painful 2 years of Engineering Coaching, absolute nightmare), MBA   preps are simple. There’s no intellectual difference in people who score a 97 & a 99 percentile, in my opinion. However, the sins of your past shall continue to haunt you. For me, it was the grades I got in class 12, which did me in for a lot of colleges. I still managed to ace the CAT, get through a few top colleges like SP and MDI, and still choose TISS over the rest. This is not self glorification, but a realistic portrayal of the kind of influence luck has on selection. Your panel, your test, your atmosphere, none of it is under your control, only your preparation is. And writing these exams back to back can be tough, as one of my friends told me, that in her final year of college, going in and coming out of papers was what she found the toughest thing to deal with. And it can get nauseating towards the end. The same kind of questions, the same scramble against time, the intense amount of concentration needed for a mock, all of these things, simply put, are exhausting.

So, now that I’m done dishing out advice, I’ll go back to talking about vacations. Vacations are by far one of the worst times of the year for me. The lack of something going on to keep you occupied gnaws me from the inside. One day of being alone, and I’m already restless, have gone through one book at breakneck speed and have been looking for things to do around the house. Simply put, vacations suck. However, I also use vacations to cut off fro the world I’m a part of for most of the year. There are some times when you need to get away from everything, whether it be your responsibilities, whether it be your friends or whether it be your family. And unless people are persistent, I can be difficult to trace down. So yes, in a lot of ways, I’m a bundle of contradictions.

No boundaries of language.

No boundaries of language.

The last movie I saw was ‘Love Actually’. A little to soft for someone who writes entire blogposts about Pacific Rim & Marshal Stacker Pentecost (love that name), you’d think, right? But there are some beautifully wound up love stories in what I’d call Richard Curtis’ masterpiece. The one that struck me the most was Jamie (Colin Firth) & Aurelia’s (Lucia Moniz) love story where they fall in love across the boundaries drawn by languages. Sometimes, love can be so heart warming, that the inadequacies of the other person don’t put you off, don’t make you unsure, but more determined to carry on. Life’s gt a strange way of throwing up challenges, and humans have a stranger way of answering them.

Also, October’s been a good month for this blog, with this being the 4th post for the month. While not in the same vein of intensity as the other posts, I think this post talks about a different side of me. And why shouldn’t it? The real me is on Holiday.

‘I beg to dream and differ from the hollow lies
This is the dawning of the rest of our lives
This is our lives on holiday’