Friday, December 14, 2007

Home Coming

Cuz everything I want - is everything that's here
And when when we're all together - there's nothing to fear
And wherever I wander - the one thing I've learned
It's to here - I will always return


Monday, December 10, 2007

The 6th of December

Have you ever woken up one morning and felt nothing can go wrong? Not just on that day... EVER. Felt that everything is beautiful/perfect the way it is, and that was NOT because of the colour of the morning sky or the great day that's ahead of you. Decided that NOTHING would make you unhappy, not as a resolution for the next one week... for EVER. Realized that forever is not really that long a time, and for life as you know it now it's probably too short for you. In that one minute when you've just woken up, in those twenty four thoughts that have changed your every day since then, you finally feel you know yourself more than you ever did before.

Today, I woke up to that morning.

Wednesday, December 05, 2007

Thin Red Line


There's a thin line between friends and acquaintances. Love and not-so-much love. Happiness and thoughtfulness. Enthusiastic and disinterested. Perfect and never-good-enough. Impressive and hard-to-please. Sensible and weird. Logic and speculation. Understanding and amateur. Smooth and difficult. Forever and doubtful. Talks and acknowledgements.

If better was then and worse is now, you've probably crossed the line called Expectation.

Thursday, November 29, 2007

Learning to Say No

Hear the request. Wait for a maximum of four seconds. Look up and say you can't do it.

If you wait any longer you're either going to say Yes or a horribly apologetic version of a No, you'll wish you were a thousand miles away in an empty beer barrel weighted down with an iron ball and sinking to the bottom of the sea when the question was asked.

Friday, November 23, 2007

A Hundred Racecars

"I don't want to play your stupid game!" Kevin had that pout on his lips and his hands on his hips which meant he was not happy at all. The little girl he was staring at was sitting cross-legged on the floor, looking at her dollhouse she had just set up in the middle of their playroom. Her face was red and her hands were shaking a little, and Kevin knew she was about to cry. He hated seeing that.

Still with the pout and his hands on his hips he turned around and stomped down the stairs to the living room. Dad was watching the basketball playoffs. He tried to look sulky, so that Dad would ask him what was wrong. That's how he always got to tell him what he felt.

"What happened Kevin?" This was the time. He had to make sure he got it right the first time. "I hate Susan! I HATE her!" "Why, what did she do this time?" Dad was still focused on the game. "She's always doing things her way, Poppa! She's taking up all my space!"

"But she's just four years old, Kev. She's your little sister... don't you want her to be happy?" Kevin was still sulking. "Mmm yea I guess. But I don't want to drink tea with her stupid dolls... I want to race my car!" Dad turned down the TV volume all the way. "Come here, sit with me."

"You're 7 now, Kev. When I was your age, I didn't have someone younger to take care of..." "Hmph, lucky you!" Kevin pouted his lips even more. Dad laughed softly. "It's wonderful to keep someone happy, Kev. It's the best thing in the world. Just that sometimes you have to understand, that to put her happiness first, you'll have to put yours second. But imagine how you'll feel when you see her happy." Kevin stopped pouting and looked at Dad "Really Poppa?"

"Can I play House with you Susan?" Kevin was standing in front of the dollhouse where Susan was still arranging her little tea cups on the dinner table. Susan didn't look up. Her pretty face was still moist. "But you hate dolls. And you hate House!"

"You can make me like it, Su."

In the bright red glow of the setting sun that filtered through the Plexiglas window, in the little smile that Susan had when she turned her face up and looked at him, Kevin felt happier than racing a hundred cars.

Thursday, November 22, 2007

n Weddings and a Crazy Poem

Hold me tender, kiss me true
Know my sweetheart I love you
Tell me with a voice so true,
Tell me that you love me too!
.
When two thousand miles away
This knotty news it comes my way
I find it tough just to believe
How fast the years they come and leave!
.
I wonder how soon it will be
Before this news will regard me
The thought is scary, as of today
I hope that day's far far away!
.
Yet I love the news, I love it now,
That buddies who their love have found
Have chosen right and chosen true
My blessings always are with you!
.
~ Everyone's getting married!

Sunday, November 18, 2007

Happyness

In your pocket money you saved to buy your first bicycle. In the phone call to an old friend after eleven months. In the movie that brings tears to your eyes. In the smell of the earth the first rain brings. In the hug you give your parents when you return home. In your manager's appreciation for a job well done. In your first ever copy of The Secret Seven. In that chicken recipe you got right the first time. In the cricket match that was won on the last ball. In the realization that God's out there somewhere. In your first paycheck you hold in your hand. In a relationship that's lasted over five years. In the unexpected upgrade to business class. In waking up in the morning after that magical dream. In the Calvin strip that made you smile.

Somewhere along the way in the pursuit of happiness, we all get to have our moment.

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Counting to 10


10. Is it really worth it?
9. Are you thinking only from your point of view?
8. Is this going to help you in any way?
7. Are you being fair to the other person?
6. Is it something you would’ve done and not worried about?
5. Do you think you deserve so much attention?
4. Will things get better or worse with an explanation later?
3. Is there any sense in the way you feel?
2. Do you know that life doesn’t always have to be perfect?
1. Are you even thinking?
0. Get over it. It’s never worth it.

Wednesday, November 07, 2007

Lines and Circles

Life goes on. I've said that like a million times and I still do. But somewhere I know it's really not true. At least it's not entirely true. Most of the time it's just time that goes on. Life just seems to go on because of the relativity. With life, you're probably still where you were a week ago. Or a month ago. Whatever. And usually it's not one of those It always comes around kind of situations. It's a feeling like when you visit the same place again. Sometimes it's a place you like, sometimes you'd rather not be there. But you're still there is the thing.

Like you're running down an endless road, but the sights around you are those you've seen before. The endlessness just tells you you'll be seeing them again. And then you're just looking for a side lane. Not because you're tired of the road, but because you're tired of the sights.

Monday, November 05, 2007

Quote Unquote

Faith in God is like drilling an oilwell. There's nothing to make you see and believe, you just hope you've got your calculations right.

Saturday, October 27, 2007

Sticky Numbers


1234 – The only reason I was spiritual so far from home
2212 - For a freshers' period like no other
3201, 2214, 3215 – For a prof who revived my dying love for Math
3245 – One year that made a lot of right decisions for me
221 – For 12 guys and the simplicity of being friends
115, 116 – Partners in crime, in good times and bad
123, 124 – Two heavy drinkers whose rooms were the perfect refuge the night before a test
224, 113 – The happy well-fed guy whom I’ve irritated more than everyone else put together
2158 – For the best sams and sweet lassis around
2160 – For late nights, burning eyes, crazy conversations and mild steel rods
5101 – For the only course I truly understood during my CDCs

Friday, October 19, 2007

All Good Things

I'll always remember -

- sleepy mornings in classroom 15
- going around France for 6€ a day
- the joy of being under 26
- evenings at 502
- complaining for no reason at all
- the tortilla chips & guacamole combo
- Ratatouille and Amélie
- 6 weeks and 11 friends

All good things have to end sometime. :)

Thursday, October 04, 2007

Yours and Mine


You and I in this beautiful world
Green grass, blue skies in this beautiful world
You and I
Winding lanes as streams go by

You and I in this beautiful world

- From Hutch's You and I

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Beyond Reason


A silent tear in a shattered sky.
An unsure walk through a foreign street.
A day that gives you no excuse.

For you my friend, I pray for strength.

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Objects in the Rear View Mirror

As a kid I loved those Sunday afternoons. Get back from church after Sunday classes, have a long and elaborate lunch, and wait till 4 pm when the regional movie would be played on DD-1. Remember those "handovers" from national to regional television?

"The next transmission from this kendra will be at 8.30 pm.
Over to regional kendras"


But five minutes before a bright blue screen displayed this message, almost every week you would see this:



Then the age of DD-1 passed, and the song lay forgotten like a dusty old book that had fallen down the shelf into the corner near the wall.

Today listening to it brought back a wave of memories, many of those of the good old DD-1 days, when the indo-pak cricket match would be interrupted by the half an hour news I didn't give a damn about. Of tuning my TV over and over again to listen to the Superhit Muqabla countdown on DD-2 even if I couldn't get the video. Of running out of the school bus to watch that children's show at 5 pm every Wednesday. Of Chitrahaar and the "a gift for someone you love" Amul ads. Of the Piyo Glass Full Doodh song.

And that when you're so far away from home, joining everyone together with one voice seems to make a lot more sense than it did ten years ago.

Just a Short-Term Thing

Ever had the experience where you can say anything to people to hardly know? It's not because you suddenly discover some hidden connection that sparks to life. Probably it's knowing the fact that even if they know every dark secret of your life you still wouldn't care.

For me that's the beauty of short-term relationships. You can tell them just about anything and not worry about it. That you smoke 20 cigarettes a day. That you once fell asleep on the college sidewalk after a night of heavy alcohol. That you've fallen in and out of love four times. That the ring on your finger was actually a gift from an ex-girlfriend which you never bothered to return. Pretty much anything you want to say, because you don't care about what they think. And they don't care about what they think either.

Life's good.

Disclaimer: The examples above are just that: examples. I have (probably) never had anyone/most/some of those.

Thursday, August 30, 2007

To Live For

~ Dancin' on the rig floor to Rain Rain Go Away
~ Aloo-mutter masala and chicken tandoori two thousand miles from India
~ Working at 52 degC and 83% humidity
~ gtalk-ing thru a dial-up connection
~ Knowing the right time at seven places in the world without checking timeanddate.com
~ The Afghan cab driver's story on the way to the airport
~ The "call a friend a week" resolution
~ Petrol that's cheaper than water

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

One Voice


I hear the wind call your name
It calls me back home again
It sparks up the fire - a flame that still burns
Oh it's to you I'll always return
I still feel your breath on my skin
I hear your voice deep within
The sound of my lover - a feeling so strong
It's to you - I'll always belong


From Bryan Adams's I Will Always Return

Saturday, August 11, 2007

To Do the Right Thing

I've always thought that I'm a good listener (arguable). But listening to how people who you think have a better time than you place their lives in the pits makes you wonder what to make of your own.

Either you can just sit and stare into space, wondering whether you ever make the right choice.

Or else, you can thank God for giving you memories, good or bad, that'll last forever.

Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Unspoken

On this day, six years ago, we stepped into a world we called our own. A world we loved, a world we shared with so many wonderful people I can't write all their names down.

And between us over three and a half years we were together, we shared an unspoken closeness, never expressed in words or feelings, either to each other or to anyone else. We've never classified each other as best friends, it seems absurd to do so. Just part of a group with changing members: talking about nothing, cribbing about everything, letching at cycling girls from the hostel front wing, calling meetings to discuss "official" events, saying "to hell with grades" when secretly we knew it mattered the most. A hundred other things which still remain part of my best memories.

Felt, but never expressed.

Today when he's leaving, there are no tears to say goodbye. Just a heartfelt smile at the amazing journey we've made.

~ For D ~

Saturday, July 28, 2007

Different Strokes

Oh, Love to some is like a cloud
To some as strong as steel

For some a way of living
For some a way to feel

And some say love is holding on
And some say letting go
And some say love is everything
And some say they don't know


Taken from John Denver's Perhaps Love

Thursday, July 26, 2007

Drip Drip Drip

Water everywhere. I look around me, and I see nothing. Just the thick, heavy air. But it's wet, uncomfortably. Flowing down from your hair, your face, your %$^^#&#.

Water by itself is great. But when it comes out of you, YUCK.

I hate summer and I hate the humidity. (Four months later I'll hate winter as well.)

Monday, July 23, 2007

Buddies of a Time Gone By

For two years when I was aged 16 and 17, I lived in a place which changed my life forever.

Looking back at life, I'm not very fond of myself till I reached 12. Since then I think I've become better [questioning sideward bend of the head to everyone who's known me since then]. But as I heard from AJ recently, I didn't exactly have the good guy image right upto when I was 16.

Six guys in the one school, in two rooms, and in three a little later. A hostel with people starting out on their Class XI thru practising doctors. Each of the other five has taught me, in one way or the other, something that I have carried through all the way till my 24th.


During the times we banged on each others doors to sleepily run to those tuition classes at 6 am. From when we stooped under the barbed wire fence to save two kilometers of walking. From when we ran back to get our breakfast ten minutes before the start of school. The walk through an eternally shaded field of rubber trees on the way to school, talking about how the rubber was processed on one day, how one of us should become Indian President the next.Evening TT and volleyball sessions in the backyard.Trooping down at 7.30 every evening to the mess hall for the best food I've eaten in any hostel to-date. The religiously allocated one hour of TV watching that was permitted each day. The weekend outings to movies or relatives' houses. Talking about girls without talking to them. The "finger-lickin' good" Christmas candlelight dinner in the courtyard. My dear roomie who swore to God he wanted to change the Indian administrative system. The kid from Kuwait who remains till today one of the best dancers I've known. The guy from near my place who had the largest stock of PJs ever. The purebreed mallu who true to his dream, managed to work his way up the CA ladder. And the dude who calls himself DB, who has, unintentonally, taught me a lot about just how to be.

Five friends and two years, that made me who I am today.

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

The Reader

It's a quarter past six. I'm inside a 20' x 10' container. To my right on a laptop screen a series of blue and red numbers run side by side. Each minute of this sequence rakes in approximately USD 10. To my left a little away from my chair a door is partly open, giving me a view of loud machinery and screaming men 30 feet above the gound. In my hand I'm holding a paperback edition of The Namesake, bought on Residency Road, Bangalore for INR 60. 50 more pages to go, and for me it'll take no less than fifty minutes. I've always been a slow reader, even before I lost my close association with books ten years ago.

As a kid I had my own timetable. Never written it down, but more or less followed it religiously. Get back from school at 5 pm. Eat a really late lunch (I normally took sandwiches to school for the "lunch break") with a book beside me, and then flop on the bed beside my study table till the clock hits 7. This is my formal "study time"... till about 9 or 9.30 every evening. Homework, mostly. If there's a test, a little reading. No tuitions (thankfully) so crazy hours of endless assignments my classmates used to have were spared for me. And then back to books again. I had this schedule since I was nine.

Then Class X came, boards came, Plus-2 came, hostel life came, crazy tuition assignments came (yup, to me too!), movie mania came and my reading kind of died, unable to handle the load. Since then till today, I have read at the most ten books.

But when I read them I enjoy them. Like today. Now. As I turn the pages slowly (realizing my reading speed is dropping by the day -- isn't it supposed to go the other way round?), from the corner of my eye I can see the satisfying blue and red train. More money.

In ten minutes I'll have to put on that white hard hat, wear those black-dotted gloves, snap on those uvex safety glasses and walk sixty steps to a crazy floor above, where I have to shout to make myself heard. But till then, I'm in a place two thousand miles away, a time twelve years ago, with the light of a 60W bulb overhead colouring my 3 Investigators paperback yellow, feet propped up against the bedside wall, a bowl of salted peanuts beside me, struggling as always to finish a couple more pages before the news on DD-1 tells me it's time to get up.

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Watch Me



I've been told there are three kinds of people in this world:

1. The ones who watch things happen
2. The ones who wait for things to happen
3. The ones who make things happen

As I sit back and watch the world go by, I wonder if it's OK that I don't regret it.

Thursday, July 12, 2007

Lessons from Life

In 9 months I have learned…

... that in one way or the other, traveling is what life is all about
... that in any job, paperwork is the most important thing
... that some things are meant to change and some others won’t
... that relationships are more about trust than anything else
... to say salaam alaykum without thinking about how it sounds
... to like Avril Lavigne and Christina Aguilera
... that no one works at a rig for “love of the oilfield”
... that there’re a lot more movies to be watched
... to enjoy the kharouf from a plate for six and the laban afterwards
... to put family above everything else
... that everyone has something good to teach you
... that if the problem is not choice, it is because you don’t get to choose
... that most Chinamen are friendlier than what they are made out to be
... that no tears and no speeches make saying goodbye more special (D: This I have to learn from you!)
... that friends will be friends whether they’re right next to you or half way across the world
... that life would have sucked without e-mail
... to enjoy my cooking and the time that goes into it
... that home is where the heart is.

I wonder what the next 9 will teach me.

Saturday, June 16, 2007

Rain

Let the rain fallin’ on your face
Run into your eyes
Can you see the rainbow now
Through the stormy skies

Like two rivers flow
to the open sea
Someday we’ll reunite
for all eternity.

~ For A & G, and what they share
- Taken from Avril Lavigne's Two Rivers

Saturday, May 26, 2007

Dust in the Wind


June 16, 1999

Espresso bars. Man, talk about an idea. Though I’ve never been a coffee freak, this seemed like the right place to be now. The place looked nice, an inviting coffee shade on the walls. Couples sat at the tables, talking, some of them holding hands. Quiet laughter. Happy moments. I walked across them and took a seat at the bar, ordered a Cappuccino. I couldn’t stand black coffee. Dropped a coin for the jukebox and chose an Eagles song. Didn’t really care which song it was. They always played the right songs.

Looking back at life was an easy thing. But today, it seemed painful, almost unwanted.

I close my eyes
Only for a moment and the moment’s gone
All my dreams
Pass before my eyes in curiosity…


Yeah, they always sang the right song. Two years and a traditional break-up later, there really was nothing more to dream about. Somehow all worries come when a woman is on your mind. Mmm… where have I heard that before?

Dust in the wind
All we are is dust in the wind…

Oh, but we were more. I have always felt this whole concept of being a “tiny speck in the universe” is full of bullshit. A term coined by a man who had nothing more to look forward to in life. But right now I couldn’t feel smaller. Inside and outside. The reason seemed smaller and smaller suddenly. You don’t love with permission. Why would you break up for fear of permission? You live your life, why does someone else get to decide who you live it with?

Same old song
Just a drop of water in an endless sea…

No! That’s not what I want to hear!

Aren’t these people who make your choices the ones you owe your entire life to? The ones who brought you up, the ones who appreciated your every decision, the ones who stood by you no matter what happened? Maybe all that doesn’t matter now… but leave them for a minute, what would you do? What would be your choice?

All we do
Crumbles to the ground though we refuse to see
Dust in the wind
All we are is dust in the wind…

It’s I who made it crumble. Not her, not anyone else. I pressed my temples to make the pain go away. But there was a throbbing so intense, and my thoughts were now coming faster than they could be processed.

Not because I have to, but because I want to, she had said once, and I don’t know why I remembered that line now. Maybe it was just one among the million lines I could have picked, but two seconds later, it was the right one. I had to get back. There will be no better choice. Even if there was I didn’t care.

Now don’t hang on
Would nothing last for ever but the earth and sky?

I stood up and dropped a couple of bills to cover my bill.

Nothing will last forever but the earth and sky. But it doesn’t matter if it’s five minutes or fifty years. It’s you who has to live your life fully.

As I walked past the door I was desperately trying to remember the movie which had that line. The song faded to an end.

Dust in the wind
Everything is dust in the wind
… In the wind…

I blocked it out.

***

July 14, 2003

Déjà vu. I couldn’t quite remember when it had happened before or what exactly had happened, but I felt it watching the late night show of If Only at the multiplex. Maybe nothing had actually happened. Or maybe it had just been a thought.

With her head on my shoulder, she was sobbing softly when the movie ended. Girls are such cry babies. As the lights came on I casually brushed a tear forming at the corner of my eye.

As I held her hand and walked to the parking lot, we were talking about tomorrow, how she had to reach office early and how I had to drop her off one hour before our usual morning schedule. A couple of whines from me and around seven from her later, she had got her way. I smiled. Two years into our marriage, holding her hand was more special than ever before.

People do understand. Even though they worry a bit at first, and ask you a hundred questions. But they deserve to ask. They’ve known you since you were born.

Strange how one song can change your life. But it’s stranger, when it’s the wrong song. But probably such things aren’t meant to be understood.

58 Days


4 hours, knowing you are going back.
2 days, feeling life will be worth waiting for.
54 days, more better than worse.
2 days, at crossroads.
4 hours, hoping for the future and wishing for the past.

I’m back now, and praying.

Tuesday, February 06, 2007

The Ride of Your Life


Life is truly a ride. We’re all strapped in and no one can stop it. When the doctor slaps your behind, he’s ripping your ticket and away you go. As you make each passage from youth to adulthood to maturity, sometimes you put your arms up and scream, sometimes you just hang on to that bar in front of you. But the ride is the thing. I think the most you can hope for at the end of life is that your hair’s messed, you’re out of breath, and you didn’t throw up.

Jerry Seinfeld in SeinLanguage

Monday, January 29, 2007

Can't Shut Up


It was a strange conversation. And yet uncannily familiar.

I remember being here before. The time is different, and yet not so different that I don’t remember the last time. Not that we particularly enjoy them. To be honest, it’s not really enjoyable. Probably the word is not enjoy. Come to think of it, I don’t even know what it is. But you keep talking. You have to.

Why?

Thursday, January 25, 2007

Broken Skies

It was a lovely morning. The weather was a pleasant 152 degrees, with the air pressing down on my head at just over 102 times the atmosphere’s. Neat.

I got up and stretched myself, too lazy to start my day. Today was a day off, just like any other day for the past 203,000 years. I had worked really hard to get my life going. And work had not been pretty. Everyday had involved dirt, slush, disembodied body parts, and corpses over a hundred thousand years old. Working at perfecting this technology of mine which had spread so far and wide, it was now almost universal. And I was at the center of this huge revolution, which made our life two miles below the earth so energy rich, that none of us would have to worry about it for at least the next three thousand years. Now we just called it the ocean. It was our mother, our life.

But there had been problems. There still were. We called them intruders. Bandits . Plunderers. Outlaws. Shameless pirates who destroyed our skies and looted our life. We planned and plotted as to how we would destroy them. Take back our rights, and get back what was rightfully ours. Maybe tomorrow…

My thoughts were interrupted by a raging noise from above which was all too familiar to me. It couldn't be. It couldn't! I rushed outside. O God!

The hundreds of us there could only stare in anger and shock as the brown skies rained themselves down. Rock and debris thudded our rooftops, reducing our houses to another chunk in the ocean where we lived. Now they wouldn’t stop till the ocean was dry.


The noise got louder and louder, and in less than ten minutes the skies had shattered. The monster had penetrated it. The monster, with seventy five teeth and three heads, and a neck that was several thousand feet long.

Humans. Goddam you bastards.

***

7,200 feet above the brown skies, the human wiped his forehead. It had been a long month. He walked down wearily to the company man’s office.

“We’re done with the drilling, sir. It’s looking good.”

“Let’s get on with it, Ahmed… start laying down the drill pipe. We need to start producing before the end of the week. This well’s got amazing oil reserves.”