Livinghigh: July 2004
It doesn't take hydrogen gas. Or riding a shuttle.
Or snorting on the whitest, finest powder this side of La-la-land.
(It might take an extra spoonful of sugar, but maybe that's just me.)
Say hello, shutterbug
Fiction, I write
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Once Upon A Time
Friday, July 30, 2004
Terrifying how things have a propensity to change. You'd think you should get used to all of that, but you never do. I never do.
Come September, and it's time for Delhi to pack up its bags and leave me. If I was given to theatrics, I'd talk of funny holes in weird hearts - gawd, I AM so theatrical! ;-) Wouldn't have it any other way.
But it's sooooo true - theatrics and all - I've come to love this city, I've been staying in for the last three months! Once upon a time, I was nervous like hell of coming to this place, the big bad world of politics and summer heat - so much so that I even debated not taking up this job, preferring to journey straight on to sultry Mumbai for a spin... and here I am now, in love with West Patel Nagar... or what West Patel Nagar embodies for me.
From the frying pan of answers to the fire-kind of definitions - what did it embody for me exactly...? Love, yes... there simply is no use of trying to cover that up, since most of my closest friends already know that I was involved with someone here in Delhi. But, love and heartbreak come together, and that eluded me this time - I had the joy and the tumult of love, but when we broke up, none of the anguish - am I lucky or am I deprived? Whatever it is, WPN seems none the worse for it! ;-)
Bonding, above all - and in this respect, WPN is a far cry. I travelled miles in Delhi (and why on earth is that song Miles to go before I sleep in my head now?) ... Kalkaji and Nehru Place and Saket and Malviya Nagar and Greater Kailash and Gurgaon and Janakpuri and Punjabi Bagh and Pitampura and Dev Nagar and South Extension and Dhaula Kuan and Connaught Place and Mehrauli and New Mangalapuri and Timbuktoo. Somebody bought me a flying carpet in Delhi, and I hid it under the bed.
And it's terrifying to leave all that behind you. Always exhilarating to hope and wish and pray that you're not lost in a big bad city like Mumbai - but the funny thing is, Mumbai was actually this paradise of cool people and cool things before you actually LIVED in Delhi... paradoxical illusion, but who really gives a damn?
Apart from me, I mean.
Terrifying how things have a propensity to change. I'd think I would get used to all of that, but I never do.
Monday, July 26, 2004
Falling out of love is as big an eye-opener as falling in love. Actually, even more so. There you are one day, sitting under a gigantic tree, and all sorts of doubts come creeping up on you. Do you see yourself spending your whole life with this one person, does she actually see spending her whole life with you? If she doesn't then you ask yourself why you ever wasted so much time, and so many sighs on her, - and even if she does, then you feel scared. Insecurity is very much a part of love, at least in the beginning and at the end, but then someone wise enough may quip that, if you're insecure, then there was never enough love to begin with.
But it's an emotion that you felt, a rollercoaster ride you've never been on for quite so long, or for quite such a distance. There was a time you swore never to leave her, to come back to her, whatever the odds. There was a time when a night without her was torture, and a night with her was a tease of more beautiful things to come. It was a question of being hungry all the time for her, of wanting to love her with every beat of your heart. But then, someone wise enough may quip that if you were ever that hungry, then there was probably too much lust to begin with.
What you have now is a strange state of mind. You still love her, and yet cannot see yourself spending your whole life with her. You want to be with her, and hold her hand, and nuzzle her neck, and feel safe in her arms, but no, not a whole lifetime - a night will do, maybe two at the most. Maybe telephone calls, maybe sms messages, maybe sweet, soft kisses in the dead of night. But it is an unwritten understanding between the two of you: not a whole lifetime, a moment is good enough for the both of you. But then, someone wise enough might say, a moment was all you ever had, really.
Sunday, July 25, 2004
Saw two amazing movies yesterday at the OSIAN festival, at the India Habitat Centre, so I thought I'd say a little something about them.
1. Beyond Gibraltar
Karim Ben Omar has lived in Brussels for ten years, since his father moved the family there from Morocca. He has newly received an accountant's diploma, but has to face the harsh truth that even in modern-day Brussels, racial segregation is very much real, and few firms want an immigrant accountant. Meanwhile, he falls in love with Sophie, who works at a travel agency. Things come to a head when his brother Farid is killed in a car crash, caught up in gang violence, and Karim returns to Morocco with his father. He feels that life beyond Gibraltar is hollow, and he must return to tell Sophie it is all over between them. But of course, that is easier said than done, and by a twist of fate, as both Karim and Sophie's families brush by tragedy, the cultural divide seems weak on both sides.
The subject is one of those cliched cross-cultural love stories, but the treatment is much more refined, and the underlying theme is not so much the love story, but the idea: how far will you go, and how much are you prepared to give up, to make something of your dreams?
Tsering's father is killed while the caravan is abroad, and his grandfather, the village chief Tinle blames his helper, Karma, for his death. But the caravan, carrying salt to be traded in the 'land of grain', is the life-blood of this remote Nepali village, and it needs a leader. Karma leaves with the younger men of the village, and Tinle follows soon after, with his daughter-in-law Pema, and Tsering. It is a race to reach the land of grain first, to demonstrate strength and authority, and the fact that Tsering respects Karma, while Pema falls in love with him, complicates matters for Tinle. In the end. both Tinle and Karma learn lessons from each other, and learn to work with each other, for the sake of the village.
An engrossing tale. I knew that, eventually, the caravan must reach its destination - but it was one of the movies in which the journey mattered the most.
(I actually switched my cell-phone off)
Wednesday, July 21, 2004
I wonder why they don't have a mechanism for weight-loss while you're under... wait-loss (?).
I have officially lost my marbles today.
Waiting, waiting, waiting, waiting, and still waiting for some crummy bytes to come back to me so that I can write a crummy story on the transaction tax clarifications, and this has to happen (but naturally) on the day I wanted to leave early. But naturally, I'm almost plucking my hair out, making faces at the ugly anchors on TV, typing furiously at my keyboard.
I'm bored, I'm frustrated, I'm agitated, I'm late.
And yes, I'm still waiting.
Tuesday, July 20, 2004
Whatever compells you to stay behind at work, when you clearly have much better things to do, namely, much better music to listen to and much better books to read? But here I am, typing at a blog that is supposed to teach me (eventually) how to live high, whatever that's supposed to mean, after having laboured over an online crossword with two other guys, and now sitting plugged in, with a song that goes like 'You're in the army now...!!!'
I'm in CNBC... which, I guess, is close enough, for singing purposes.
The answer to the above question, before it was hastily smudged with a whole lot of unimportant adjectives and what-ifs, is quite simply the lack of a companion to go home with... for better or for worse, through good times and bad, snipy auto-drivers and polite ones, over-charging ones and the cheap ones, through smog and health, till home do us part... just think of splitting the auto bill as a make-shift divorce.
Sigh... I must stop telling myself that I'm clever...
And, as if on cue, the song I'm playing is crooning 'Cocaine' into my ears.
Monday, July 19, 2004
Climb a stair and ring the doorbell.
Enter through and smile in joy.
Wonder, whatever happened while you were gone..
Whatever happened to change your song.
You can barely hear the tune now,
The words are slurred and strung
Nothing romantic, fantastic, idiomatic any more
And you wonder why.
Climb a stair and ring the doorbell
Enter through and smile in joy.
Wonder, at the strange soft melody taking wings now..
Barely audible over the dying din now
But confident of release soon.
The old song is finished, the echoes are done,
If you prick your ears, you can hum along now
And you wonder how.
Which is it then?
Saturday, July 17, 2004
Popular demand wins, and I have increased the font size of this blog. Marginally, yes, but a concession on my part, nevertheless.
Doubtless, the ones with the demand will be satisfied only to a miniscule extent, but that is as far as I will go. No bigger, no bigger. Small is beautiful.
I sounded like a recalcitrant Delhi auto driver who has decided to lower his price for the stubborn mule prospective customer who will pay Rs 20, and no more, for West Patel Nagar (home) to Jhandwalan (office).
... Except for that last part about 'small is beautiful' - that spells out horny old wife who desperately wants a diamond ring for her anniversary, and is hinting none too subtly to hubby dearest.
Surprisingly, I'm not drunk.
Wednesday, July 14, 2004
Show me the money!!! (say it like you mean it)
Money, money, money
must be funny
in a rich man's world...
- ABBA, circa 1970s
It's like the seven ages of man.
In the first stage, you don't even understand the concept of money. It's just... there, and if it's not, then it's not. You care about the latest GI Joe fighter plane, and if you don't get it, you bawl your brains out, to be pacified by a chocolate, or maybe some other thing much less flashy.
In the second stage, you were suddenly aware of wads of currency that your dad had in his wallet - but they were still perepheral in your Grand Scheme of Things. You were more concerned about the fat wads of bills and useless cards and slips of paper that made your dad's wallet bulge out so humongously that he found it difficult to sit with his wallet in his back pocket.
Maybe it was in that stage that you made that unconscious, infallible and unassailable decision to carry your own wallet - whenever you got one, in the unforeseaable future - in your front pocket.
In the third stage, you suddenly realised there was this phenomenon called pocket money, but that you had never beheld this strange wonder. A wallet was now very much a part of your reality - you even got a couple for some birthdays - but it was still very much empty, and neatly packed up in its wrapping inside the cupboard. To all your entreaties and pleadings, the answer you got was the same: You don't need the money, son. You just ask us for whatever you want, and we'll buy it for you.
Actually, it made some sense... at some 3rd stage level of thinking.
In the fourth stage, you graduated to college, and now, it was very clear that Pocket Money would finally be yours. So, the mildew was dusted of one of those wrapped-up wallets in your cupboard, and you were granted currency. Or... not. You were shown an envelope stuffed with ten-rupee notes in the cupboard, and you were to use those notes everyday for your daily expenses - travel, and some food at college, and maybe, if you saved enough, you could even go and chill out at Coffee Day.
As archaic as the system may sound, I actually did pretty well with it. The freedom involved was actually quite great, and in case I wanted some cassettes or whatever, I could still go to mum/ dad, and they would buy it for me - quite independent of the wad of ten-rupee stack in the cupboard.
In the fifth stage, it was time to say 'hello' to sunny Chennai, and I got my very own super-cupboard - a bank account of my own at ICICI Bank. Thereby began trips to the ATM on Nelly's bike, sometimes free-wheeling, sometimes free-dealing, sometimes chattering with Kunal, sometimes just maintaining silence... It was a carefully budgeted experience, however, and weekly trips to Sweet Chariot, or monthly binges on Cornucopia, had to be well-balanced with idli-vada at Vasanta Bhavan - all in a neat little shoe-string of Rs 4000 per month.
(Actually, not so very shoe-string at all, when you come to think of it!)
But it was a phase - the end of innocence perhaps in these matters. The realisation that money mattered, and managing it right mattered the most. It was the phase that saw you wanting to put money in your spanking new ICICI account yourself - and not your dad, sitting half-way across the country. It was the time when you shed a lot of heart tears and asked yourself a lot of questions, whether you could subsist on a meagre amount, whether you could be happy, and whether or not, money really wasn't at all that funny - but quite, quite important...
In the sixth stage, you found yourself in a strange new city with a strange new job, with a pay packet that delighted you at times, and depressed you at others.
But it was the beginning of responsibility and earning your own life. There was another spanking new ICICI account made in your name, and each time you withdrew money - your money - you smiled inwards at the knowledge that the money left-over in your Chennai account was still untouched and sparkling old. It felt good... as much as to hoard it, as to fritter it away of Rs 250 vodka-sprite combos and Rs 850 Globus shirts. It felt wonderful to tell your mum at night that you went shopping that morning, and you had bought a pair of khaki pants at a steal. It felt wonderful to take your parents out for dinner to a fancy restaurant and quibble over who was going to pay the bill. Of course, your days were now scheduled for the Punjabi-version of Vasanta Bhavan, a-la Gupta da Dhaba and Mitra da Dhaba, and each of those spending binges was balanced with Rs 8 aloo paranthas and Rs 20 thaalis.
It was a phase.
All you need in the seventh stage is a roof over your head, and the hope that that you don't get into any trouble with the mafia for arranging it.
Making sense of Kylie
Suddenly, a lot of Kylie songs make sense to me, as senseless as this may sound. For instance, I'm spinning around, move outta my way... is what she must have thought after sleeping for only four hours one night, and hopping on a long distance bus from Gurgaon to Karol Bagh, if she ever did make that godforsaken trip to Gurgaon in the first place. Nothing personal against Gurgawa - but why, o why, does it have to be so frikkin' far?!
Then, there's the other one - I just can't get you outta my head, na na na.. nanananana.. na na na... whatever. Like you're whizzing past wide country roads on a bike at something rivalling the speed of light, when you spy all these familiar sights - a bus stop where you stood waiting for someone, or a coffee shop meeting that you were late for, or an apartment you always planned on visiting but never had a chance to step in. And when you tell the person who's driving you all the mushy little remembrances that you just can't get out of your head, you feel guiltily conscious that you're acting like a love-sick sap.
Monday, July 12, 2004
Mad eclectic somethings
So I went shopping yesterday, after a long hiatus. Something uncannily eclectic, something irrepressibly myself, and something smart enough for work - those are my priorities these days, and so, off I went. The days of fingering through piles of black-stringed pendants for just the right one to fit around my neck seemed eons back, though it was only perhaps last week. A lot of stares at office - who is that gay guy with the 'om' around his neck - and it was relegated back on the side table next to my bed. The 'om' can wait for Mantra, or Agni, or Mojo... perhaps, by the time I hit Incognito, it won't be so hopelessly out of style, so completely cliched? Maybe I'll have to fish out a swastika in that case.
The something uncannily eclectic took care of itself after rummaging through price tags and size slips that would fit both my wallet and me, necessarily in that order. Something white, something long sleeves, something striped, something form fitting... something deliciously at a 40% discount. I love you, Globus.
Something smart enough for work took slightly longer, however. In a shop, out a shop, and the several phone calls from my companion telling me to hurry up not really helping. Stripes are good, checks are good, but bold stripes and red stripes are definitely out, and big checks in bright oranges make my skin turn purple. Something white and thin stripes again turned out to be the savior, and the 30% discount deserved a 'praise the lord' as very few others ever did.
The something irrepressibly myself however eluded me on my binge trip. I probably could not have got it at a discount, anyway.
Friday, July 09, 2004
The pitter-patter of feet would sound delicious in the early morning, when you wake up with the smell of newly fallen rain wafting past your lazy nostrils. Open one eye, and then the other, and breathe in deeply, but remember not to rise up from within your slumber.
Just listen to the tiny raindrops tinkling like glass crystals on the lawn outside, and picture yourself somewhere there, somewhere within those multiple-headed fluid crystals, or somewhere without those drops of heaven. No longer sweet dew, and no longer God's tears, but something magical about them al the same, in the sense that they are now somehow yours - so completely yours to love and revel in.
Wrap yourself snugger in your sheet, and press your ear to the cool cotton of the pillow that lays to rest your dreams, and focus on those pitter-pattering tiny feet again. They seem muted now, almost as if they were never there, almost as if they were something you willed to hear: tiny feet, and tiny laughter and tiny things that would somehow be things for you to love.
That's the wonder and the danger of your dream.
Thursday, July 08, 2004
Born to Budget
I think of the Budget and can actually see that cliched image of a Re 1 coin rattling on a dark floor. No one for company, but so much riding on its back - heads, or tails? I suppose every market analyst in the country (and many more abroad) look at it like that - or perhaps hardly in the same quasi-poetic kind of a way. It's money.
It's bloody shitty hard work.
Bloody shitty hard work, combined with a lot of hardcore adrenaline and testosterone run amock, screaming instructions, checking newswires, correcting tickers, and in general, screaming bloody murder, if not half a step away from actually committing it. The rush of a newsroom - I adore it, and miss it, and deplore it, all at the same time. After i stepped out through those momentous portals of Chennai, I longed to walk through and live through those taxing times, and yet, always hated the idea of having a blood anuerysm at the tender age of 22. So the Fates listened to part of my prayer, and gave me a cushy job with all the perks and a relatively good pay packet, minus the rush of adrenaline and the head rush, heart flush that Nelly simulates so admirably on his bike.
So, I'm left to plumb events like Election Day and Budget Day to dress up in an official-looking, crisp white shirt and grey flat-front formals, and run my fingers like crazy on the keyboard, even as I'm gulping in huge amounts of oxygen from the air to attempt to balance the steady rise of adrenaline. It's a losing battle I'm half-heartedly fighting, of course, but I know I love it, all the same. Another hour probably would see a blood vessel or two on my forehead popping tiny rivulets of gorgeously red blood onto the floor, and yet, when it's all over, and I'm just sitting at my computer with nary a thing to do, I start wishing that the goddam blood vessel would just go ahead and POP!
Excuse me while I get a glass of water.
Wednesday, July 07, 2004
I'm TIRED of dancing all night
Sleep deprivation drives me as only it can. Coffee suddenly seems to have lost that magical aroma, and it seems ages ago that I penned An ode to cafe sitting in the ACJ lecture room back benches - I have absolutely no idea where that dirty scrip of paper with my teeny scrawl wriggling up and down it has disappeared to... suffice to say, not in Delhi.
I'm not quite decided as to whether I'm going to ramble on about coffee here, or my lack of sleep. It seems strange to say that the one thing I long for so much right now is to slip in between my sheets at home, and close my eyes... actually, seems kinda freaky to say that. Seems VERY freaky to say that.
And at the risk of doing the unthinkable and hurting my own ego enormously, I will venture to say that my lack of sleep is telling most unfortunately on the complete lack of style and matter of this blog entry.
Without further adieu then, nightie-night.
Tuesday, July 06, 2004
Commodities for sale
Take a sheep and a wolf, and play haloween-costumes-gone-berserk. Take a dog and a cat and a tree, and watch the sparks fly - and the fur and the leaves. Take a cardboard box, and place it inside out, and see if you can tell the difference.
It's like brushing your teeth. For best results, be sure to try out our formulae at least once, everytime you get those I-am-a-maniac blues. We have sizes and colours and insides-outs to fit anybody. Your every wish is your every command.
Soul-searching, bip-bopping, funky-funneling, joint-jottering, thought-tracking exercises... at only $ 0.00, with gift wrapping and delivery free.
Monday, July 05, 2004
To kill a Mocking CC
Too much mooning around over 'what-ifs', and imagined and reciprocated loves both. Too little time devoted to simple nonsensical whimsy, and I aim to correct that now.
So this one is dedicated to the Cheshire cat - here's to hoping his smile (and mine) never die out.
For some reason, however, I've never liked the Cheshire cat of Lewis Carrol. I've always wondered what on earth was the logic (?) that instigated such an abomination on Carrol's part. Imagine that: an orange cat that hangs on branches, poofs up here and there, when it's totally unwanted, makes all these silly observations that a 13 year old girl would hardy understand, and then poof away again before you could murder it.
If you notice - I mind it's grin least of all. No, the grin... the grin is something I commisserate with, perhaps even empathise with. The grin is perhaps CC's only saving grace, if grace is the word I ought to use.
I wonder if CC ever mooned around over a female CC, or if he was always meant to be... um.. asexual? God knows, in spite of the grin and all, I could NOT take another CC on the sidelines - replete with the possibility that they might mate and the very first litter may see eight or ten mewling, sniveling, giggling, questioning, poofing CCs. It simply boggles the mind.
So, no - one CC is enough. And I'm glad that he/she/it doesn not spend his time mooning around as some of us are apt to do so... The spectacle of CC, for instance, lounging on the ACJ window sill, lost in his thoughts over lady CC, would tempt me overmuch to toss him out, hoping that he doesn't poof away in time.
Due apologies to a certain someone... yada yada yada. ;-)
Friday, July 02, 2004
What, who, where, why, when - what if?
What's more lasting - a brief fling with an attractive person, or a romance to launch a thousand poets' careers?
Working non-stop at your desk all day, and thinking about a certain person, thinking about what might have been, what could have been, what may still be but if it does, it is simply too far away for you to see... Seems like heaven one instant, and then you laugh at yourself and think you're acting all very strange and all very funny over one person with whom you knew it could never work out... You are so completely different, the two of you, and you hardly ever spend time with each other, and yet, when you do, you are so completely comfortable with one another... And then, in those fleeting moments, you realise that you do have some things in common - little things like the way you eat your sandwich, or the way a certain singer sings, or the words that pop out of your mouths so simultaneously.
And then, when you think about all of that, sitting at your humble abode, a parish priest, busily scribbling his scriptures, you can't hide the bare traces of a smile on your face. that horrible, tantalising, energetic question that keeps probing and pushing, searching and squeezing you...
What if pigs had wings and could fly?
What if dragons and unicorns roamed the skies?
What if Atlas ever shrugged, and played football with the world?
What if you only needed some more time to fall in love, but were denied that last instant?