Friday, December 31, 2004

Roadtrip and Return of a friend

Its been a while since we last met. And I am running out of opening lines to begin all my not-on-time blogs. But I promise to be more regular here on…or atleast I shall try!

Lots have happened since the last installment of the Solitude series, which I must confess was given a reception that I didn’t even dream about. As Kamal says in the movie Nammavar, the essence of any sentence can never be fully realized until a full stop has been written. Similarly I felt the need to stop my Solitude series despite my promises of a third. Frankly, I didn’t want to end up like the Matrix – which extended to two installments too much!

Ok, where did I sign off the last time? I was getting ready to leave for a 3-day trip to Madras. It was an event-filled 3 days with expensive dinners at ITC Park Sheraton, Dahlia and a not so expensive lunch at Murugan Idli Shop. I would recommend this place to anyone who likes good South Indian tiffin…and 5 different kinds of chutney.

Oh btw, all these days were spent with Kaushik and I had a good chance to show him some of the charms of Madras – movies & the beach. He hadn’t been to these places during his one year stay there. Quite shameful eh?

The Eagle (as Kaushik likes to call himself) was leaving Madras for good and thus began our road-trip on his Honda City. He attempted to equal his record of 155 km/h, but fell short by 3 km/h. What a tragedy! I was the DJ dishing out all the gaana songs from my iPod. We started off with Naatu Sarakku (the song) and finished off with Site Adippom (again the song).

Well, college resumed once again and I became a true, pure-bred day scholar as a result of my 2 day week. Ahh…there is nothing like a 5-day weekend.

This coincided with the return of Ahalya, a close friend of mine from the US. She hasn’t made an appearance in my blog since my 3rd post. But she is back here for a month and we met up yesterday. She hasn’t changed one bit (apart from losing a bit of weight) and still continues to holler loudly on the phones. I wouldn’t be surprised if I turn up deaf by the end of her stay.

We caught up with old times, interim incidents and recent happenings during a 3 hour conversation at Coffee Day. Then went to Swades, a movie I had been wanting to see for quite some time (I shall be giving a detailed review of it in a later post). Given my poor knowledge of Hindi, Ahalya had the misfortune of being my interpreter…and she was lousy at that. I think I might know more Hindi than her. :) To be fair to her, I gave her a horrid time with my jokes and made her miss most of the dialogues. Oh yes, just before entering the hall she proclaimed very proudly “Why do they need to clean the theatre after very show? I surely wont dirty it…but anyway others will. So whats the point!”. And she was the prime offender by strewing popcorn all around her seat. I doubt she would ever be allowed to enter the premises of PVR.

Hmm…today is New Year’s Eve. The guys will be here soon.
There is nothing sweeter than friendship.

Happy New Year to one and all!

Sunday, December 05, 2004

Solitude - II

Back from dinner at Nandini’s. I don’t know what is it that attracts me to Andhra food. Real tasty.

But the entire experience was spoiled by some jackass screaming his ass off at the waiters.
“Yenri idhu! I have been waiting for 35 mins!”. Looks at his watch, turns out to it is actually 15 mins. Continues yelling..

I hate such people (not as much as I hate cunning hypocrites)…but these people do occupy quite an exalted position in my list. I agree that you are paying money for the food. But does that mean you treat them like servants?!

Treat them like servants: Doesn’t that statement smack of a sick bias? I think it does. Why is it that we treat servants so? I’ve seen people who forbid the servants from entering their homes when a religious function is in progress. I guess the “sanctity” and “purity” of the place would be spoilt beyond repair!

We see parents use sentences such as “If you don’t study, you will be fit only for rearing animals!”. Yet another stereotypical bias. Are the parents trying to imply that the people who are actually rearing animals some kind of losers? A set of people who look longingly at the hotshot bankers trussed up in their choking formal wear, swinging their cases and raking in the money? I doubt it. Just as how a software engineer considers his job noble, a doctor his, a lawyer his, so will the cowherd. It would be a shame if it were otherwise.

I remember this incident that happened almost 2 years ago. Avinash and me were coming back from the Infy parking lot, and I had a flat tyre. We went to this shop opposite Lifestyle. If there is ever an epitome of a person who enjoys his job to the fullest, carries it out with the utmost dedication, it has to be this guy! His name was Shanmugam. He took an hour to set right the tyre tube (other people take 5 mins!). But each minute spent there was worth it. He treats it like his baby. He does it with such precision in his hands and happiness in his face, it makes me worry whether I would ever be so contented with my job! He even has a mechanism where his initials are etched onto the stuck tube!! A genius!!! Avi & me were moved tremendously by him. (Shanmugam master also did his job the entire time holding a cigarette in his left hand – ala Rajni!)

The next time you hear someone saying “Dei, screw the job. You need to go to a bigger company…earn in the millions. Do you want to live like a guy on the street?” just mull over the guy on the street – Shanmugam. I would give up a million dollars and half my life to live like him. I mean it. God Promise! :)

Nazar (a rich industrialist): God Promise I…
Kamal: Why do you drag God into this? Have you ever stood in a queue and worshipped god? You keep the queue waiting outside and get yourself a personal darshan. You commit all your sins, and pour a part of the money into the hundi. And God forgives you? If that is so, such a God isn’t a God at all. He is a coolie – because he also takes money and works!

Another piece of genius from Anbe Sivam. I am sorry, but I keep lapsing into these AnbeSivamisms. No movie has moved me as much as this. And you can see why, from the brief glimpses I have shown. I earnestly request you all to watch this movie atleast once. (I have the original VCD with me and would gladly lend it to any eager soul.)

I am sure a sizeable proportion of my readers fear/rejoice that I have begun to side toward the atheists. Not true. I am still the same old opportunistic religious theist. But that is my private space. It is the tactic of God being thrown out into the open and used as a mass-mobilizing tool that sickens me.
Screw the VHP, BJP, RSS, Shiv Sena, Bajrang Dal.
Screw the Islamic fundamental organizations.
Screw the other puerile parties that follow these tactics.

And while we are on the subject of screwing, screw Times of India as well. There was this crack-report in their paper a month back about how gravediggers in Bangalore sell the skulls, bones of the dead. That was the last straw!!!
Don’t we have more pressing issues in this city than to spend ourselves worrying on this grave issue. I would like to add a “no pun intended” but somehow Times overkill of that phrase sickeningly cloys me. I would even appreciate an effort where they rake up issues about people making money out of someone’s loss. But the dead aren’t really going to miss much. Nor are the near ones. So if there are people who do conduct such business, let them do so. They aren’t harming anybody, apart from their conscience. And I think that is punishment enough.
But media coverage?! Not at all!

Introspection exercises seem to bring out incoherence. But I also feel there is an underlying current of commonality in my ramblings.

If not…well…there is nothing much I can do. I listen to the song of my heart and write. If it's bad, blame the water, not the pipe that carries it. :)

I was hoping to end Solitude with this part…but doesn’t seem so.
Hmm…more to come.

Saturday, December 04, 2004

Solitude - I

Madhavan: This is a land where, even if you give money, you wont be able to get luxury. That’s India for you!
Kamal: As long as there are people who think that with money, they can get anything they want, whenever they want, that WILL be India for you.

I woke up with these lines ringing in my head. Was it my subconscious indicating that it wished to see Anbe Sivam again? Anbe Sivam is, without an iota of doubt, the BEST movie ever made…Indian or otherwise.

Now, when I say the “best movie”, I obviously mean the best movie that I have ever seen. Isn’t that what everyone means? Because, nothing can be considered the best until and unless we’ve had a taste of each and every other piece in that field. But saying “best movie I’ve ever seen” lacks the punch of a “best movie ever made”. It sound a tad apologetic. So I shall stick to my original statement.

Well I did fulfill the wish of my subconscious by watching the movie yet again. This was right after my parents left for a 10-day trip.

Solitude..hmm..that old mongel – which is a cross between a monster and an angel – does so many things to you. Luck is always a lady. Envy is always a green monster. But what is solitude? It is asexual, not completely god-like, nor completely monster-like. That is the reason for the usage of mongel, for lack of a better word (or vocabulary).

Bouts of depression interleaved with crests of joy – that seems to be my routine for the past 5-6 hours. Almost through the Dark Tower by Stephen King, and the happenings in the book have definitely a major role to play in my depression. (More on the book in a later post).

Introspection is the hardest task in the world. It is almost akin to trying to find bugs in a computer program that is very dear to you. No matter how you will your mind to find an error, your heart takes over the controls of the dogan (control-room). Your mistakes, weaknesses are like a bar of soap on the wet floor of a bathroom. You see it very clearly, grasp it…but it always manages to slip away. If you actually manage to get the soap into your hands, its definitely not a clean job. You have twisted the bar out of shape and your hands soggy. You drop it in the box, wash your hands, and treat the bar with a bit more care. That is exactly what I do during introspection.
(Whew! Thank god for that…for a moment there I was sure that I would lose track of what I was talking about and instead harp on the other day-to-day ablutions.)

The results of an insincere introspection are pretty easy to guess – “There is nothing wrong with me!! Whatever foibles that the world perceives me to have are just not my department. I leave it to the man upstairs…”

God. What can I say about Him?

Madhavan: “No..I am not like you. I DO have belief in God”
Kamal: “Who said I didn’t?”
M: “Oh..since when did this change of heart happen?”
K: “For quite some time..”
M: “Who is this God?”
K: “You. A person who can shed a true tear of anguish for someone he has never met before..that heart..that is a God for me!”

Another excerpt from Anbe Sivam. The answer is simple – any person who cares truly for another person is a God. Though the movie doesn’t suggest it, I think unconditional is a qualifier that is implied.

Unconditional – doing what you would do normally to a person regardless of what he/she does.

Aja: Why do you put up with coming to pubs? I would never have accepted if I had been in your place. I feel so bored.

This innocent (or was it?) question put forth by Aja at the pub Styx opened a huge can of worms – within my head.
Why DO I go to pubs?
It cant be the music.
I sound like a grumpy old man when I say “Yikes! This is too loud. How on earth can anyone on earth enjoy it?!” But I don’t. Not because it makes me look outdated. Simply because I respect the people who listen to it. I respect their tastes. And the least I can do is to keep my mouth shut.
Five years ago I would have kept my mouth shut. But time has taught me to unleash a few wisecracks. Otherwise, all I would be doing in the pub is giving my best imitation of a flower-pot (one that sips quietly on its mocktail).

It cant be the drinks.
I do not drink alcohol. Why? No idea. Or rather I have a very abstract idea. It is definitely NOT because drinking is harmful. I know that I have my share of unhygienic habits.
It is not out of any kind of fear of my parents finding out (in fact, I tell them that I do drink, and smoke..). As I told Aja that day, it is simply a matter of principles. What do I plan on doing with these principles? That’s a toughie; maybe on the day of judgement I can throw these at God and try to get away. :)

It cant be the crowd (there is just enough light to see your nose, and that is pretty much the boundary of visibility).

Insecurity is a thought that definitely popped into my head. Not because that is the actual truth. But simply because it is one of the possible logical answers. Insecurity of not being in a gang. Not able to be together with friends. Well, all this could be the reasons for some guy. But not me!

The actual truth is that I do not want to be the cause of my friends NOT being able to have fun. Simple. Well – that is one question out of the way. :)

When I began this post, I definitely did not think that it would sustain itself for so long. But I seem to have reached a stage where I need to split my Solitude into multiple parts.
And here ends the First.