Sunday, December 27, 2015

The calm before the storm

I was hyperventilating all day before my departure for Bangladesh for some reason beyond comprehension. I had the sense of something being wrong and that nagging feeling just didn't leave me that entire day. I was strung out for most parts and the feeling only escalated as the time of my departure neared. I couldn't sleep that night.

Landing in Kolkata made me feel much better. I had never been to the city. Since it was my first time there, I wanted to absorb as much as I could in the knowledge that my time here was limited. Music muted, senses enhanced, the adventurer in me awoke.

The first thing I was hit by was the distinct scent of paan - something that I found is all around the city. I got on to a bus asking him if it would go to Park Street. He said something in Bengali that I couldn’t make head or tail of but he nodded, which was enough cue to hop on. I asked the girl beside me where I should be getting off. She suggested MG Road Metro Station and then asked me to take the rail to where I wanted to go. I liked the idea of having something else to check out after a bus ride, so I did.

That being India's first underground metro rail system came as little surprise given the stark difference between that and the one that I'm accustomed to in Bangalore. At first, I was taken aback by the crowd hustling in and out of the rail - that was packed to the brim - at that station. The crowd intimidated me. I thought it was a bad idea and tried to exit the station. Eventually I decided to go through with it. I got into a relatively emptier train that came along after a while. A friend had suggested I go to Edesia for brunch. I got off at Rabindra Sadan and began walking along the streets and was quite marvelled by the old-street charm that it was adorned with.

Walking past hordes of street hawkers catering to the many who depended on them for their breakfast, I didn't bother looking at Google maps for directions. Instead, I asked people in the good old way that it used to be done before the invention of smartphones. Around me were students scurrying to college, office-goers fighting a race against time to get to work, children being forced to go to school and some lovely looking food - which I regret not tasting in hindsight. (I thought I would on my way back from Bangladesh, which was a grave mistake as I never got the chance!)

On my way to the eatery, I stumbled upon St Joseph's Old Age Home. I ventured in and asked the matron if I could spend some time there; she was more than happy. I spent a couple of hours there, chatting with different people who were thrilled to have someone to talk to about life, their experiences and families. It was extremely satisfying and filled me up with loads of inspiration. If love is found in the most unexpected corners, so is inspiration.

After brunch, I headed towards Park Street where I was supposed to meet a friend. I strolled around the area more so to stay awake than kill time. I finally met her (for the first time!), we had some lovely steak at a local joint and a great time before I had to leave for the airport. Albeit being tired, I was thrilled with how my day had panned out; I loved travelling alone in a city that was alien to me.

If travelling alone for most parts in a city I had never visited was such a great experience, how different could Bangladesh be? I was all set for Bangladesh, or so I thought. 

Saturday, August 15, 2015

The memory of magic

Too beautiful not to share.

“You know, I do believe in magic. I was born and raised in a magic time, in a magic town, among magicians. Oh, most everybody else didn’t realize we lived in that web of magic, connected by silver filaments of chance and circumstance. But I knew it all along. When I was twelve years old, the world was my magic lantern, and by its green spirit glow I saw the past, the present and into the future. You probably did too; you just don’t recall it. See, this is my opinion: we all start out knowing magic. We are born with whirlwinds, forest fires, and comets inside us. We are born able to sing to birds and read the clouds and see our destiny in grains of sand. But then we get the magic educated right out of our souls. We get it churched out, spanked out, washed out, and combed out. We get put on the straight and narrow and told to be responsible. Told to act our age. Told to grow up, for God’s sake. And you know why we were told that? Because the people doing the telling were afraid of our wildness and youth, and because the magic we knew made them ashamed and sad of what they’d allowed to wither in themselves.

After you go so far away from it, though, you can’t really get it back. You can have seconds of it. Just seconds of knowing and remembering. When people get weepy at movies, it’s because in that dark theater the golden pool of magic is touched, just briefly. Then they come out into the hard sun of logic and reason again and it dries up, and they’re left feeling a little heartsad and not knowing why. When a song stirs a memory, when motes of dust turning in a shaft of light takes your attention from the world, when you listen to a train passing on a track at night in the distance and wonder where it might be going, you step beyond who you are and where you are. For the briefest of instants, you have stepped into the magic realm.

That’s what I believe.

The truth of life is that every year we get farther away from the essence that is born within us. We get shouldered with burdens, some of them good, some of them not so good. Things happen to us. Loved ones die. People get in wrecks and get crippled. People lose their way, for one reason or another. It’s not hard to do, in this world of crazy mazes. Life itself does its best to take that memory of magic away from us. You don’t know it’s happening until one day you feel you’ve lost something but you’re not sure what it is. It’s like smiling at a pretty girl and she calls you “sir.” It just happens.

These memories of who I was and where I lived are important to me. They make up a large part of who I’m going to be when my journey winds down. I need the memory of magic if I am ever going to conjure magic again. I need to know and remember, and I want to tell you.”

― Robert McCammon, Boy's Life

Thursday, July 9, 2015

Whiskey in hand, endorphins swarming my system, I write this with a smile. Sometimes your own grief has no significance when compared to the joy of your loved ones. It is not an everyday occurrence that you lose something dear to but gain something that means more, much more. Today was one such day.

Today will go down as a day I might never forget, which is why it warrants this post... and because it is about a couple of people I adore to bits. It is not about me. Never was. Never will be. I've come to figure the best things in life are never about you. They're about the people that complete you. 

Friday, May 1, 2015

Cure for the itch

Beneath his veil I saw his demons
I held him close hoping to shield him
They gradually trickled past my defences
Leaving my timidities unearthed.
Vulnerable, we battled through
Petrified to watch the inevitable
For demons exposed the inescapable:
The congruence of our blemishes.
We failed given the novelty of the path
And gave up hope of salvage
Until the stars flickered in the dark one night
And showed us credence in bondage.
But the walls were failing, our bruises aching,
Leaving us bare and undraped,
We were inmates of our own demented souls
Yet were each other's cure. 

Wednesday, March 11, 2015

Unleashing the make-believe

Have you been so bored that you just stared into the infinite expanse of the skies above and watched the arbitrarily shaped clouds float by? Have you thought they resembled an animal or an object which eventually transfigured into another form? I have, heaps of times. Have you also tried to convince someone accompanying you how that looked like a lopsided rabbit and gotten a response that it looked like an inverted umbrella?

When I was little, I used color to unleash bottled expressions to form various non-figurative forms that had concealed significances; none that I could make anything of. The menial choices I was to make then were to single out the colors to be picked or whether pencils outline would do the job better in contrast to the stroke of a brush - they were a product of my whims and fancy. Every stroke was unthought-of, purely instinctive and the picture on the paper was only the artifact of what was visualized in my head.

As time passed by, the hidden forms started evolving to structures that started making sense, gradually, eventually. Every stroke and color had a meaning; a deeper veiled reason. I then began configuring life around those deeper meanings, but was that really me? Time and situations demanded more choices that were to be made. Unsure and unquestionably naïve, some were made. Dithering as I was about a lot of them, I still made them.

Were those the result of an intrepid unleashing of make-believe? Perhaps. 

Friday, February 20, 2015

Chasing pavements

Seconds turn to minutes, minutes to hours, hours to days and days to months. You lose the concept and essence of time when you’re caught in between “should” and “need”. You “need” to do a lot of things as rationale may state, but what do you do when every fiber of your being screams otherwise? The want transcends the need and the need is in turn skewed.  

What can you do to silence that voice inside your head that asks you to hope, believe and hold on? What can you do to fight your gut feeling? Sometimes, the best antidote to fighting it is to hang onto it. It may hurt, but hurting is inevitable in such a situation. But won't you rather cling onto hope than hurt in despair and then wonder ‘what if’ somewhere down the path.

Call me stupid, call me blind, call me naïve, but you can’t kill the idealist in me. Whether that utopian scenario makes or breaks, time will tell, but either way, lessons will be learnt.