Livinghigh: August 2004
Tuesday, August 31, 2004
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The time of day

In my case, blog content depends on the time of day. Invariably, after an afternoon replete with bond yields and whatnot, when I sit down to blog, that's when the so-called finer side of me manifests itself, so there I sit, typing away about things reflective, the way you feel when you're in love, the kind of joys I want for myself - aspirations, ambitions, and whatnot.

Compare and contrast when I'm bored and I blog, usually in cases like this: early (well, moderately, at any rate) in the morning, when there's not much work to be done and here I am, typing away at random keys for want of better things to do, wondering how on earth CNBC can be persuaded to give me a travel allowance (and then wishing that pigs had wings and could carry me off to Bombay, and thereafter pay my expenses)... in general, vela. That's when I talk nonsense, sometimes bitchy - but then, I'm a reformed man, and I never bitch about anyone (mother swear!) - something quite idiotic.

That's a separate kind of joy, quite apart from the ambition-aspiration class.

Monday, August 30, 2004
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Flirt thought

When I flirt, I float. On a kind of self-induced haze of affected splendour. Little things, little tugs, little heartstrings, and so much riding on them. When you wonder... when on earth you'll meet next, and you remember, all of that ended eons (!) ago, you wonder how on earth you ever had the courage to call it a day.

You are not the kind of person to wonder how on earth you got hitched onto the bandwagon all over again, because that kind of question is not asked by the kind of person you are.

Laugh then, and tilt your head forward, encircle a waist, and inch closer, rest your head on shoulders, watch a movie together, you're on celluloid all of a sudden and you may never get that chance again.

Share a bite together, and make a comment on how much you love the cooking, watch the eyelashes quiver (slightly!) and wonder how easily you could fall in love. What in God's name is holding you back, or have you already walked down that road, unknown even to yourself... ponder, ponder... thinking caps galore, and you can get them pairs, too: HIS and HERS, if you want to make her laugh.

When I flirt, I hope someone else floats with me. I don't want to seem sarcastic, nor manipulative, I don't want to make you twirl, nor dance, nor speak words you never would have. I want to feel light with you, and I want something from you, but I hope you get something from me too.

It's a game of dependency we play, on fairy-swings, tied with gossamer sheets and sprinkled blossoms, and whoever said we didn't? It's a dependency that clings to you, and I want it too.

Thursday, August 26, 2004
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A moment's pause

Animated parrot to animated dog: Squawk!

Animated dog to animated parent: Woof!

Bespectacled and bewildered onlookers (let us presume them to be human this point of time): Oooooooo....

Welcome to the Land of Oz, the banners proclaim, in star-spangled colours: red, yellow, gold and blue/ with shots of crimson shining through, welcome to the world inside your head, where good things become jaded, and new things become old, where skies are full of sunsets and sunrises are full of dew, where rain is always misty, more of touch and sight and sound and feel and smell, and less to do with wet slush.

Animated parrot, wearing bifocals, now says to animated dog: My good friend George Bernard Shaw says -

Animated dog, scratching nose, to bespectacled animated parrot: Now what in heaven's name did I say, or are you merely out to misquote me?

Befuddled and bereaved onlookers (I think we may as well let them be human now): Squawk! Woof!

Tuesday, August 24, 2004
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Not so long

Waiting at the corner, looking in at the glass, eyeing a book, a bag, and a pair of shoes. Light filters through to an arc that just contains your feet, and you notice it a bit, but not consciously. It's obvious, you're waiting.

Emotions. Struggling. To. Make. Themselves. Known. Stifled. Back. To. Incomplete. Sentences. There's. A. Kind. Of. Breathless. Joy. To. That. Also.

You can smell the coffee from the stall next door, and see the light shine on a sinful piece of chocolate dessert you suddenly feel yourself lusting after. Lust for that, imagine it before you, lick your lips, pierce it with your fork, encircle the globule of thick chocolate sauce with the tip of your tongue, ingest heaven.

Feel like a god, feel like a mortal, doomed to Sin, and Hunger, and, yes, even, Wait. (For gods don't have to wait for anything, do they?)

Now you look at the arc of light at your toes, and you wonder at its lightness. It's a golden weight that you bear there upon your feet, and you wonder idly how much longer it will take for you.

To hear a laugh (a salutation), to feel a touch (a whisper), to see a flourish (colour), to end your wait.

Not long now, Something in the golden arc assures you, not so very long at all.


Somebody once said that everybody has a story within him/her. Actually, a lot of people once (twice, thrice,,,) said a lot of things to a whole lot of other people, that they never paid attention to, went in through one ear and out through the other, in the typical way it does when you don't particularly think that the other person deserves any special merit.

Therein dies the saviour of the universe each day, each moment of each day.

People supporting capital punishment are often countered by pacifist idealogoues that sanctify life. Communist manifestos find little space in a world that demonstates so emphatically the supremacy of Darwinian law, and then the manifestations wonder why, why why, why.

I could tell you why, says the bird atop the highest tree of the world, but she doesn't really care either. It's a strange mystery she sees repeated again and again before her, as if for her benefit, a strange and wonderful play that she rejoices in, claps her wings for, preeens herself during the interval, takes successive lovers to the matinee shows with, fans herself in emotion. Yes, I could tell you why, says the magpie, but then, what would I get out of it, and she scoops the diamond of your tale in her beak, and flies away. She's seen all of this before, she reasons, another chase will start, o, the swords and slingshots of outrageous fortune, but then, how else will she manage to accumulate her treaaure trove?

Therein is born the great saviour of the universe each day, each moment of each day, for everybody knows that the greatest thief is the greatest innovator.

Monday, August 23, 2004
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Amazing Grace

Sentiment battles with the sea. It seemed a strange line to suddenly think of, and so I said it. If this be a record, then let it record my words, even the strange, off-beat ones. (The image of a little girl, in a red-and-gold lehenga, with her father on a Chennai bus, is what I'm thinking of now, amid other strange, random thoughts.)

The train to Delhi that I will board tomorrow, the cloud-stricken sky that I shall see outside the window tomorrow, that will give way to a parched patch of air as the train winds it way closer to Delhi.

I'm hoping that it rains in Delhi. I'm hoping I will still have time to wander the pillars of Connaught Place when it is raining torrents, touch the Taj Mahal on a clear day, smile lightly to myself at the green lawns on either side of the India Gate, murmur in awe as I pass South Block.

Thinking of a cafe, warm and dim, a fire billowing somewhere, strains of soft guitar wafting through, laughter and songs, and standing there on the porch. I've never seen it snow, and I hope it does on this particular evening, as I stand there, licking snowflakes with my tongue, listening to an ethereal voice around me sing Amazing Grace.

It has been an amazing life.

Thursday, August 19, 2004
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A novel thing to do

I'm trying to write a novel at the moment, and it all seems to fall in inexplicable, inevitable, places at times. At times, it seems dastardly, this attempt of mine, and I keep on wondering how on earth I'm supposed to catch the attention of anybody (aside from myself) with this narrative of mine. So that's when I try to think up clever one-liners, and try to think of something difficult to say, that's when I go through some of the books I've loved, and some of the pieces I've appreciated, and I try to think what the writers wanted to put forward there.

For instance, when they want to recall a midsummer afternoon, reading a book below a tree, do they talk of the weather first, the colour of the sky first, or do they delve headlong first into the book the character is reading... whether a romance or a mystery or a non-fictional autobiography.

Do you begin with the lemonade they drank on such a midsummer afternoon, to quench their light thirst, and so they recall whether the lemonade was sweet or sour, or in need of something else that the lemon can simply not squeeze enough of...?

Do they vaguely present something of the background - the blue house the character lives in, with the white-painted shutters, and the bright yellow paisley curatins, the mahogany furniture, the old house which has been in the family for generations, and which seems so completely in place in the background of this idyllic midsummer afternoon...?

A thousand things like that.

Monday, August 16, 2004
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A grin in the mirror

The second day of being 23 years of age. Feel older, wiser, and none of that simultaneously again. Welcome to a brand new world, says Celine Dion... welcome to my particular brand of quirks, sings Nature. Another grey hair, another falling follicle... take it all in your stride. Insecure about when you'll finally own that shiny new car, or maybe you'll have to board an over-crowded bus (or train, if Mumbai) to work everyday? Welcome to a brand new style of cynicism. Wondering about when you'll start hungering after more money - hey, look at the bright side, you haven't started doing all that already...

The second day of being 23 years of age, and you're back at home - feels great, feels safe, feels stifling at some level too. You're longing to be back in the fast lane of work, back to meeting people, downing vodkas and trying to wake up in time the next morning in time for work, but hell, you love sleeping till late in your childhood bed, listening to songs you haven't listened to for ages on your very own computer, walking down roads and back-alleys you have romanticised so well and for so long. Duck that old hag called cynicism, and you realise that you're not that bad off as she might try to convince you. Hell, you're (only) 23 years of age... you'll get all that soon enough - the parties and the work, and the vodkas and the waking up and the deadlines - so why not sit back and listen to these old songs of yours one more time again, and let time do what he will... 23 years haven't gone by that badly after all, have they?

Cue for a grin in the mirror.

Friday, August 13, 2004
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Just a note, seeing that I have little time right now. I'm off for a 10 day sojourn to Calcutta - 10 days to lap up parental affection on my birthday, and free from any and all influence of a certain 'Vortal' (check it out) called!

Sayonara, adios, hasta le vista, goodbye.

Wednesday, August 11, 2004
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I'm not in love
It's just a phase I'm going through!

- Enrique Iglesias, 2004

Just a sort of affirmation to all the people who have actually been kind enough to ask me...

Bonding over time

I never thought before how much I've grown seeded into the bond market. Here I was, explaining bond yields, treasury bills, floating rate auctions, repo rates and more of those goblins to Rouhan, ahead of my impending homeward-bound holiday, and I was hearing some part of me chant inexorably: Freak, freak, freak...

Ah, well, I guess it takes you unawares, like the other things that you do so much that you suddenly wake up one fine morning and realise that it's just one of the things you do. Terrifying to think that I could actually have a ten minute conversation with Ashish Vaidya of HDFC Bank and Arun Kaul of PNB (analysts who evoke such heartfelt emotion, believe you me!) about whether or not the RBI will increase repo rates, and actually come out feeling mildly satisfied at the outcome... pretty comical really...

Ah well, like Enrique says, it's just a phase I'm going through.

Tuesday, August 10, 2004
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Welcome to the rehearsal. Pack your bag, lock the door, hail the cab and head out. You're on your way, so why on earth does it feel that you're leaving something behind?

Search your mind for whatever you missed, search your bag for whatever you remembered, and yet, there seems something not quite right, not quite there with you. Not just a face you're leaving behind, not just a laugh you've promised to hear again some time soon, some months hence, not just an idea that you spawned here in this place.

But this is just a rehearsal, you remind yourself, and almost sigh aloud in relief. Not the real thing, hurts like the real thing, laughs like the real thing, but you know it's not. Say a slight 'hallelujah' then, and smile to yourself. Keep on waiting at the station and keep on looking at your watch. You're on your way, you tell yourself, and this is just the rehearsal.

Imagine if it wasn't, and you can sigh. Imagine that it wasn't, and you can reach for your phone right now, and send some frantic messages. I don't want to go, but I so do... complicated, yes, but then you already knew that. Extravagant, but then you already knew that too. Think of a million names to call - sadist, lover, friend, - but then they all come back to haunt you. And then, you tell yourself, this is just the rehearsal.

Imagine if it wasn't.

Monday, August 09, 2004
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Sans blues

Complexity is my middle name. Monday morning, sans blues, cuz there's not too much work right now, and Sharon is back, and I'm actually almost missing not being ploughed under by the stock market. Only momentarily, though - Complexity may well be my middle name, but Stupid hopefully is not. So, out come the headphones, and here I am, blogging away to simple-minded bliss, while listening to a Chalte Chalte number on the radio... laugh with the RJ, live with the RJ, and tap my fingers on the keyboard in tune with the RJ... corny, yes... but hell, a certain kharroos editor is not in today, and I guess that's why the sky looks so sunny.

Actually, to set the point straight, the skies over Delhi are hardly sunny - they're this yummy grey, with the promise of light drizzle and strong wind, the sigh of love and philiosphy that can go blow... made for you to throw your shoes away and walk under the columns at Connaught Place, lick at caramel and honey ice cream at Baskin Robbins, sip on a cup of hot chocolate full of deliciously fattening calories...

I'm happy, deliriously almost - and the song on the radio has changed to a fast Strings number... baadal ke saahil ke saath leheraaygi

Saturday, August 07, 2004
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Get away from the computer, get away from the music, get away from the place you work in, and get a life. Get ahead of the others, get on a bus to Successville, get on to looking around you and not so much deep inside you. Get a home for yourself, get some sense of identity, get some passion, get some anger, get a means of telling people to go take a hike.

What's in it for the blog? What's in it for you? What can it make, or shake or break? Do you see people queuing up before consoles for you, or jiving to beats they think you conjured up, or reading fantasy novellas that you think you cooked up?

Get away from home, get away from safety and security and homeliness and domesticity. Get a foot in the rat race, and for once make sure the other guy falls flat on his face. Get over being nice, and get over calling twice when they don't hear you, and get yourself a raise when they're not looking, by playing dirty when they are looking. Get over it.


Was walking down the road the other day, and soon matched steps with the fair damsel in distress walking a few paces ahead. It seemed strange to be doing that, but I chided myself that it's always good to be taking chances in life. A chance earned is better than a chance lost, and I told myself many other silly things as I matched steps behind her. She may have noticed - I think she did, because she looked back sometimes, and I could see her eyebrows arch upwards slightly. Very Sphinx-like... not that I've ever seen the Sphinx.

So, anyhow, let me desribe her to you. She was one of those women you see on the muggy roads of Delhi every now and then. Very good-looking, and yet, somehow manages to beat that generic curse, if you know what I mean. Anybody who has lived in Delhi will, in fact, know what I mean. This place has the best-looking women anywhere in the country - very well turned out, very sexy, very cat-like, very bitchy - straight hair, peaches-and-cream complexion, but o-so very in-the mould.

But, no, she wasn't like that. There was the standard peaches-and-cream and the hair so straight you'd think she stepped out of one of those computer-generated images Sunsilk employs for their ads, and she had these thick black rimmed spectacles atop her nose. Very fine. Very fine walk, very fine sashay, and I couldn't but help admire her butt, as she walked... and I couldn't but help remember that other girl friend of mine who says all men are hopeless, cuz we rarely progress beyond a woman's boobs and butt. But hell, I chided myself again, it's all a chance, right? and it's good to take a chance once in a while, right? I mean - what could it possibly land me in - some gruelling moments in a police station?

Ho hum, been there, done that.

But no, this babe - she didn't mean to take any business to the police station. She was looking back, like I said, looking back sometimes, with just a wave of her sexy hair, and a slight upturn of her winkly nose. She reminded me of Elizabeth Montgomery - you know, the hottie who used to do "Bewitched' on TV eons ago - and I half expected her to wink her nose at me, and turn me into a frog or something. Whatever... I was going through a phase, and I was having all these weird inclinations... a chance, they say.

So, she turns, this babe.. and with the classical hands-on-hip gesture, I can see her tongue dart out and lick her lips... she's interested, I can tell, and I smile too - one of those beguiling ones, with just a hint of teeth, lips creased back, forming just a hint of dimple. I'm hot too, and she knows that, and I open my mouth -

"Do I know you from somewhere?" she asks, and I'm almost blown away by that voice... the exact tone you'd expect a Perry Mason heroine to use, and of course, that reminds me where I know her from... so I reply, sauvely, smoothly, coming up closer, so that there's only a couple of centimetre's between us, "Only from a novel... But see, we've met now."

Tinkle bells - yea, yea, very cliched, but hey, that's how she was, remember - cliched, but not so... Here she was, just out of that novel, devoid of raincoat and sexily tilted hat, but her lips were ruby-red all the same, and behind those dark-rimmed glasses, her eyes were wide and sexual. I was in heat, and I could feel the heat reverberate of her... and she says, o so coyly, "I'm glad... I thought you were a stranger."

But, o babe, I'm not, am I? So take my hand, will you... Cleverly coloured nails, expertly manicured to a neat oval, not so sharp, not so blunt, and I lead her into the bar... something tells me that it's started to rain, but hell, the drops just splatter away from my shoulders... something tells me, it's late, but hell, I can't hear no wolves howling as yet.

Friday, August 06, 2004
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Twitch, and one eye lazily opens. There's noise emanating from somewhere... somewhere... my roomie is watching some irritating Tamil songs on TV, at 5.30 am IST. He's back from his night shift, and that means it's time for my early morning eye-twitch.


Thank god, I can sleep through a tsunami... Tam music and pelvic thrusts don't stand a chance. One more eye-twitch, and I shift to the other side of the bed. Classic foetal position.

Alarm bells ringing.. in the phone, not my head. A hasty hand reaches out to shut the damn phone alarm. A lazy eye notes, it's 7 am IST now, and roomie is also asleep. Classic foetal position. Twitch and sleep again.

Yawn... both eyes open now, and I try to get up, but head feels heavy, and I don't try anymore. Other side of bed again.

Alarm bells ringing MAJORLY now - in my head, not the phone. It's fucking 8.30 am IST, and I'm due in office by 9.15 am IST. Tornado strikes, but my natural inertia resists as only it can.

Hurry... slow... hurry.. take it easy... hurry... calm down... the schizophrenic in me manifests all its different selves abundantly.

Wonder vaguely what would happen if I cut my throat while shavng... doubtful whether sleeping roomie will wake from slumber. Wonder vaguely while showering what breakfast they'll serve at office - but hell, another voice says, you're so late they'll probably take the food off the table - thank god there's a geyser here in Delhi. The city is marvelously cool this morning.. hallelujah.

Knock knock.. thump on Piyu's door.. knock knock.. thump on Karuna's door. Nopes, K has already left, P is combing her hair.. the promise of a Maggi ad hangs in the air. Two minutes, she says, but it takes us another 15 to finally hail an auto.

Bhaiyya, Jhandewala Extension.., Videocon Tower.. roz pacchees se jaate hain, bhaiyya, aap kaisen tees maang rahe ho?

Placated, persuaded, promised, we head out.. small talk in the rick about discs we haven't checked out, and impending penury in Bombay.. tra la la la, optimism for a new day.

Screech! Thank you bhaiyya... you got a twenty, Piyu? All I have is a fiver... thanks.

Breeze through to the ninth floor... good morning everyone, sorry I'm late... mmm... do they still have paranthas in the canteen?

Gulp. Coffee, not a gasp.

Tuesday, August 03, 2004
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Write a poem, write a conversation, write about what went wrong with your life, or what went right. Write about the walk you took last night, or the bike ride in the rain. The water playing, making you think of what you'd like to do with that person you met last week, the words you'd like to whisper in a brand new ear, hoping they hear you well. You don't want to be mistaken, and you don't want to be left by the wayside.

Nobody does, so tell me something new.

Write a para of thirst and drought, and see if you can co-mingle the two. You should be able to, if only you can look out of the window and see the drizzle. Talk on the telephone, and hear someone tell you how he pines for someone, and you can furrow youe eyebrows... did you ever feel that way for someone, or did you ever even want to?

Write a note, or even a critique, on all those movies you used to see, back home, where the train will carry you. Imagine you're back where you were born, surrounded by all those people you met eons ago, and talked and laughed those years through with. Write a log then, of all that you swore you'd never feel, and all that you did, or all that you swore you'd feel, but never actually did.

Again, tell me something new.

A hard critic is a hard nut to crack. Pour your soul all like gleaming honey. Lick it, taste it, moan in delight, close your eyes, make love to yourself, and still the critic sits there on his armchair, worn and shabby leather, not very bemused, not very moved, not very... anything.

Write a poem, write a conversation -

That does it. Forget anything new.