Diwali and home

I’ve always carried the whole angst of me not belonging anywhere with a certain pride to it. Everyone I’ve met have been somewhat victimised by the way I’ve always introduced myself, stating ‘I belong nowhere’ with this enormous childish confidence (even though I sound like a complete lunatic doing that). And yet, despite the confidence, my voice seems to crack every single time I say it.

In the past 10 years I’ve lived across 7 different cities, each of them bringing with themselves a unique culture and immense diversity. I am an accumulation of all of these cultures and perhaps more, so much that my unique identity is almost nothing.

I’ve longed for home. God, I guess almost everyone who know me better seem highly aware of the fact. And this sense of alienation tends to be exponential on festive holidays. When people tend to light up their houses and sit on their front porch sipping tea with their loved ones, feeling all nice and comfortable and like they fucking belong there, in that place, at that time (those assholes)

But this year I shifted to a new location where I think I’m going to be for a while. (I guess) After much deliberation, I’ve finally found an apartment (that I’m kind of, sort of overspending on). And to everybody who’s been asking how my new place is, I simply say, with the same childish confidence, “It’s like a dream”.

Which it is, in so many ways. It has a verandah that opens up to the mountains, it’s got a locality full of lovely people. Our neighbours have the most adorable daughter who always tends to play with tummy everytime I pass their place.

And today me and roomie celebrate our first diwali here. We didn’t do much. We just lighted up the place a bit, made tea and sat in our verandah in the evening, letting the breeze do its nothing.

Maybe the people I saw indulge in their own festive celebrations back then probably didn’t do much either, but atleast now I tend to know what it feels like to be one of them.

Now I tend to know what it feels like, to have a home.

Happy Diwali everyone. Wherever you all are, in whichever corner of the world, I hope this festive season you tend to be at home.

Peace and love,

S 🙂

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Ice-creams

As clichéd as it may sound, but I feel in retrospect, if we really look back at all the moments in our life, if we lay them out and spread them flat like feathered patterns on an astonishingly long wallpaper and go through them, one by one, shifting back and forth like a Time traveler in a vestibule, I feel it’s never the moments that had a major impact on the rest of our lives that we remember the most, right?

In the last 8 years, I’ve lived in 4 different cities, came across 5 different languages, and have a bagful of experiences and memories from all of them. I’m 22 and I’ve ended up here, an almost graduate from an Engineering college whose ready to enter the corporate world to slug it out in the rat race just like everybody else, but now that I look back, I don’t remember in much vivid details any of those experiences that led me here in the first place. I don’t remember what it felt like when I gave my engineering entrance exams, I don’t remember in great details how I decided to join the college that I’m now a part of. It just happened. I don’t remember the intricacies or how I felt in those moments. Maybe it was joy, maybe relief with a tinge of sadness. But I’m only guessing here. I can’t relive the same moment even if I wanted to.

Even during my boarding schooldays, I can’t remember in all the clarity the moments that had probably meant the world to me during that time. I don’t remember what it felt like the first time I gave my board exams or the first time I had a major fight with my best friends and we didn’t talk for a month. A month of no interaction with my best friends in a boarding school, and I don’t remember what the reason for the fight was. Maybe it was a girl, I don’t know.

What I do remember, what I still smile at reminiscing every single time, is this one single instance that has etched so finely in my memory, that I couldn’t help but lay it on the table over and over, during bittersweet conversations over a cup of coffee. It was this night when I was in a boarding school in Dehradun and the mess was supposed to serve ice creams for dessert. Naturally, we longed for this meal the entire week. It was Thursdays, (I still remember that see?) and on this one particular night, during dinnertime in the mess, my three other musketeers and I (I know there were only three, but it’s my blog and I can do- okay I’ll shut up now ) had managed to create such a ruckus, laughing our hearts out over some stupid shit that we did the same day, being young and wild and free, that the mess coordinator refused to serve us ice creams for dessert.

I remember clearly the four of us being furious and agitated, storming back to our dormitories (which were right above the mess by the way), cussing and slandering the mess coordinator the entire time. I remember all of us drooling over the taste of the strawberry cup ice cream that couldn’t be ours, the one that got away, and the rest of dormitory assholes mocking us about the same, doing the pretend “WHATTAN ICE CREAM BRO!” *slurp slurp* the whole time. And I remember, at around 2 in the middle of the night, when the entire hostel lay asleep, one of us coming up with this bizzaro idea of breaking into the kitchen (that was just downstairs the boys dormitory) and stealing back what was rightfully ours in entitlement, the cups of ice-cream in the fridge, the ones that got away. And as the crazy fucks that we were, I remember all of us agreeing in unison, like a mob being incited by a union leader. And like a ‘Mission Impossible’ heist sequence, I remember all of us intricately designing the master plan to break into the mess kitchen to take back from the enemies what was ours in the first place, the cups of ice cream, the ones that got away. 

One of us would stand guard outside the warden’s room and would signal if there were much noise or if the other dorm assholes (yes that is what we used to call them) had come out of their rooms in the middle of the night to pee or have a drink from the water cooler. Another guy would stand guard just below the stairs so he could effectively communicate the signal from the first guy to the rest of us and the other two, one of them being me, would break into the kitchen and steal the leftover cups of ice cream, the ones that got away, from the gigantic fridge there.

The kitchen gate was a double door with a knob that was locked in the middle and one of the senior boys had told us that if you kick real hard at the exact center of the double door, it would slam open along with the knob. The only catch here was, it would make a fuckload of noise that could easily wake the rest of the hostel up, but that was a risk we were willing to take (because, you know, crazy) and hence there were the boys that stood guard.

And I remember everything falling in the right place, me kicking open the double door and it, fortunately, not making a lot of noise; us tiptoeing in the kitchen towards the Goliath of a fridge that stood before us and opening it up to find, lo and behold, three completely seal packed cartons of cups of strawberry ice cream, the ones that got away . This moment is so beautifully forged in my memory. We were like explorers who had wandered under the ocean to search for a mermaid, and in the journey to our fortune had been struck upon the entire city of Atlantis. I stared at the cartons, then to my friend, who stared back at me and the two  us again stared back at the cartons of ice cream in front of us, sharing the same words in our mind that were left unsaid in that moment. And we looked back at each other and nodded in agreement. We picked up an entire carton of ice cream and agreed upon leaving the rest so as to dodge the doubt in the minds of the kitchen staff the next day that a burglary might’ve taken place. We then shut the kitchen door and tiptoed back to our rooms. I still get goosebumps reminiscing the same emotions we felt in that moment, emotions of excitement and relief and a sense of adventure. We felt like professional criminals at the end of an Oceans 11 heist who would now share the spoils among themselves.

The problem here, and I remember it as dauntingly as possible, was that the carton had 20 pieces of strawberry ice cream cups. We were 4 people. Each gets a share of 5 cups (yay to my JEE mathematics proficiency). It was around 2 in the middle of the night and the loot had to be consumed in the night itself (because, you know, ice cream). We cannot wake other dorm assholes up in the middle of the night to have ice creams (because, you know, stupid). And we dare not waste it or throw it away (because, you know, hostelites).

So we did what seemed the most logically comprehendible thing at that moment. We each grabbed a spoon and we indulged on an even greater mission, which was to have 5 cups of ice-cream in one go. And I remember, in the most excruciating of details, that after 3 cups, the loot seemed less of a victory spoil and more of a punishment. It was one of those moments where the atheist in me believed in something called the concept of ‘divine justice.’ I remember, and relive, the feeling each of us had when we finished the last cup which was an intoxicating mix of guilt, sore throat and brain-freeze. I remember the bunch of us snorting and coughing the entire time and going to bed raising those bleak promises of “never again” (how naive of us). So cloyed with ice creams had the bunch of us become in that moment, that I remember the next Thursday, when the same dessert was served, we ended up giving our share away to the dorm assholes *sigh*.

I remember all of this in such trivial details as if it were yesterday, and yet what I find to be the most bewildering of things is that, this was perhaps the most insignificant of moments, that would have had no impact whatsoever on the life I’ve led henceforth. I’m not a burglar (I guess), I haven’t even shoplifted thereafter, nor am I sick of ice creams anymore (although mint ice-creams do make me barf a bit but that is beside the point), and yet somehow this remains to be one of the most finely etched footprint in the relics of my mind. I stumble upon it ever so often. During conversations over a cup of tea, on lazy Sunday afternoons, on long drives and on insomniac nights. And yet, not one of these occasions could ever help me remember vividly the details of the moments I thought to be truly significant.

And this is what I learnt, that it’s never those large, significant moments that we truly remember. What we remember, what always stays with us, are those tiny details, those little moments of idiosyncrasies that only we know about- that friend whose laugh was like the yodel of a mountaineer, that girl whose eyes crinkled every time she smiled, the essence of hugging your loved one as it were the very last time and none of you would refuse to let go- this, all of this, remains, right? We set such high priorities for moments in our lives that we probably aren’t going to remember 10 years from now. And as important as these events are, as important as it is to score and good grades in your midterms or to get into a good MBA college, they are but stick doodles on the sand at a beach. So often are we enticed by the pot of gold at the end of rainbow that somehow we refuse to look at how beautiful the colours really are. So why not live in moments that make memories? Why not cherish the trivialities? The chai-time gupshup, the friend who rotates a flick of her hair on her finger, the laughing and remembering and the laughing and forgetting. That is the recipe, the good stuff memories are made up of.

I don’t think I’ll ever get to a point where I’ll look back 10-15 years and go “I once nailed a so and so exam and got such and such salary package”. What I’ll always remember and relive, over and over until I get goosebumps on my arms, is the time I and a bunch of hooligans who meant the world to me, broke into a kitchen in the middle of the night to find 4 or 5 insignificant cups of ice-cream, and ended up stealing a carton full of happiness.

Birds

Once upon a time, in the wide expanse of an everyday metropolitan city, lived a flock of sparrows. The Passer domesticus sparrow of house Passeridae, weighing an approximate of 24-40 grams and stretching at a length of 16 centimeters in measure, had a bright creamy-white belly and chestnut brown wings with a black and gray beak. They communicate via short and incessant chirping calls and feed strictly on a diet of grains, weed, insects and anything else they could lay their hands on. (Claws, I meant claws.) They resided in this highly populated Mediterranean city and developed a healthy fruitful relationship with it’s main inhabitants, the homo sapiens, which was majorly dependant upon the latter who laid down food and water by their balconies for the birds to feed on and the former who, well, chirped.

The flock  of sparrows of this city prided themselves on their ability to remain unified, disciplined and co-ordinated, especially during their everyday morning ritual of hovering above the city in search of food, water and also, well, recreation. At the break of dawn, the birds arranged themselves in a co-ordinated shape of an arrow, that diverged from the very front, each row then containing the amount of birds increasing in an arithmetic progression of 1-3-5-7 and so on and so forth towards the very end. They would then take off  and hover the wide open skies of the city, while constantly maintaining the same arrangement throughout the entirety of their flight.

The flight schedule was a strict, no-tolerance-whatsoever, routine that consisted of the flock taking off from base camp at sharp 0600 hours, hovering towards the Northern direction for a total of 1 hour, then finding a specific location for breakfast; breakfast mostly consisting of a nutritious diet of grains dispersed on the ground by morning joggers,the birds took into account the specific calorie count in order to maintain their BMI;  taking off again at 0715 hours, flying further North; stopping for rest and lunch at 1200 hours, this time the location being an amusement park in the middle of the city; feeding on a nutritious meal of worms under the ground, selectively choosing low calorie, dietary worms; taking off again at 1300 hours, this time the direction being South towards base camp of the flock; stopping at 1600 hours in a field for an evening snack of grass weeds  and worms (again, calorie count to be kept in mind as specified by the flock dietitian) while also storing the same for the little fledglings that rest at base camp; at 1630 hours they leave the field for base camp, flying towards the South, reaching base camp at 1900 hours sharp. All of this, while maintaining the constant arrow shaped co-ordinated arrangement the whole time.

Their Supreme Commander sparrow led the flock from the very front and also maintained a very tight ship under his regime. A 17 bird year old sparrow, he was a stern, cold fellow who always spoke in a rhyming rhetoric such as “Unification of body, unification of mind; Or else you shall be left behind” or “In all winds and in all weather; birds of a feather, flock together;” In a recent interview, when questioned about the rather strict, authoritarian conditions he kept the flock in, he replied, “We, at the Passiridae family, consider every member to be tiny pieces of puzzles that fit in as a whole. This requires every part to be properly and adequately shaped and polished. A bad egg, literally in our case, could spoil the entire flock.”

Each bird, since the very beginning of his/her time in the regiment, had been specially trained to maintain this co-ordinated arrangement of flight. This required them to be collectively conscious of the velocity of all the other birds, to flap their wings at the same time all the other birds did, thus maintaining negligible acceleration and a constant flight velocity. This also required them to be aware of the ever dynamic turbulence of the wind that they had to face everyday during their flight and had to make a collective assessment of all the external forces they would face during the flight in their mind in order to maintain the constant arrangement of the entire flock.

Which basically meant if one single bird was out of place in his/her assessment, it would disrupt the entire flock. So throughout their entire lives the birds had to maintain the same physical and mental structure like everyone else. Which required them to maintain a constant BMI (Body-Mass Index) of 1.3 (which the ASAP (Authorized Sparrow Association of Passiridae) had standardized). They were also taught the same aviation courses in schools and were required to maintain a constant velocity of 46 km/hr (Also standardized by the ASAP). They had the same body structure, the same appearance and the same way of thinking. They were all the same.

All of them, except one.

Weighing at a whooping 30 grams and a mere 8 centimeters inside its egg, the sparrow doctor had predicted that the bird may not make it, but despite all odds and its tremendously high BMI, our sparrow survived and hatched beautifully and was thus named by Mama and Papa sparrow as ‘Hope’.

Although, since then the tiny, wholesome sparrow has had a tough time being a part of the regiment. It has always been difficult for Hope to maintain a BMI of 1.14. Even at the pinnacle of her growth, she was only 5 inches long while weighing roughly 45 pounds making her  BMI reach upto 2 in the overweight category. And while the other birds burnt the midnight oil at the bird gymnasium, our Hope loved to stroll around the base camp, laying down in the grass and watching the multitudes of stars and constellations in the nightsky above her. While the other birds fed on dietary regulations of grains as suggested by the dietitian, Hope ate to her heart’s content (and sometimes even more). While the other birds studied the same route of the Northern direction as specified in the syllabus at the bird school over and over, little Hope went beyond the constraints of the syllabus. She spent most of her time in the library, in the forbidden section, picking out  books about the Eastern and Western directions, while also studying accounts and travelogues of birds who’ve been to other cities.

Also, needless to say the flight schedules were a major (pardon my French) pain-in-the-tail. Hope could never keep up and was thus always kept at the very corner of the arrow. While the others flew around with ease and comfort, their wings flapping with the same co-ordiantion, up-down-up, up-down-up, monotonously, Hope, somehow, always managed to screw up the timing. While the others managed to maintain the constant velocity, the arrangement of the arrow completely intact, Hope struggled to carry her body around with the same speed as everyone else, always being left behind, accelerating and decelerating the whole time.

Anger was an underestimation of the emotion the Supreme Commander felt towards Hope. He was infuriated, maddened, dripping with rage at the very sight of her. “In 7 long sparrow years that I have served; I swear I have never seen a more rotten bird”, he once said to Hope.  And consequently, Hope was bullied, punished and given all the stored food load while returning to the base camp.

Social life was no cakewalk either. Teased and picked upon by the other birds for being overweight, Hope spent most of the time by herself, reading stories and travel diaries of other birds.

She dreamt of becoming a traveler bird herself, migrating all the time, flying off to distant, new skies, meeting new birds, who chirped in new languages, learning about their culture and the lifestyle of their species, and watch the world she hasn’t explored before enfold below her. She wondered if there lay more cities than the one she lived in. During the monotonous flight routines, she would envy the humans below her, free, unconstrained, without any regiment or Supreme Commander or co-ordination to be maintained, they could roam about wherever they wanted to. No boundaries, no restrictions. (Little did she knew though..anyways that’s a different story).

Days turned into weeks turned into months. Hope would wake up everyday at 0500 hours, take a bath, brush her wings and take off with the flock at 0600 hours. Then fly the daily routine, struggling to keep up with the flock throughout the whole flight and come back at 1900 hours back to base camp.

Everyday. All day. Over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over-

Until one Summer evening…

…as the flock was flying South to the base camp after Snacks, at roughly 1800 hours, everything was going as usual. The flock flew at a uniform speed of 46 km/hr in their precisely co-ordinated shape of an arrow in an increasing arithmetic progression of 1-3-5-7 and so on. The Supreme Commander led from the front hurling his regular phrases at the flock of “Northwards and Southwards we shall fly; In any other direction we shall die” and “If you are to serve as a proud sparrow; check your row and column and always maintain the arrow” and the new one “The shape of the arrow if you are unable to maintain; Hope, I swear, you are going to live in a world of pain.”

And all this while Hope, flew in the last row, at the very corner of the arrow strugging to maintain her pace with the others, flapping and piercing through the turbulent winds that lashed her back over and over and over…until she finally did something that noone in the history of the Passer domesticus specie had ever done before.

She shouted at the top of her lungs so loudly that everybody in rows ahead of her, including the Supreme Commander, could hear her, “No more shall I live like any other sparrow; Fuck you Supreme Commander, and fuck your arrow!” And saying this, she broke away from the flock.

She flew Westwards, as fast as her wings could carry her. All the while she could hear the distant shouting of the flock behind her, but she couldn’t make out what they were trying to say. She didn’t want to anyways. She could see the skies above her. Orange and soft, just the way she liked it. She could feel the summer breeze and for the first time in her life she did not feel the urgency to try and overcome it. Rather she let it lash her back a little, let it slow her down, let it ruffle her feathers and tingle her wings. No more constant velocity to maintain. No more arrow to co-ordinate. She could see the wide expanse of the metropolitan city passing by, it’s place now taken by a lush, green countryside. She could see the sun setting at a distance in the horizon. Softly, slowly. Never before had she looked at it directly in the eyes.

Never before had she wondered what journey lay ahead.

 

 

 

 

The colour blue..

Essay topic: India of my dreams

 

As a kid, I used to be deeply perplexed by this one lingering question in my mind, that later on in my life I could perhaps put into better words. The question went something like this- “What do you think if the colour blue, is the same to me as it is to you?” Now taken out of context, this question seems totally unrelated to the topic at hand here, much like perhaps all childhood queries, that remained, for the most part, still queries but let me assure you it bears as much significance to the topic at hand as ‘oxygen does for survival’ or ‘sunlight does for the flower to bloom’ or some other cliche that may fit here.

 

Yet again, I dig up the childhood inquisitive query again and pose this question in front of you- “What do you think if the colour blue, is the same to me as it is to you?” Is the definition of what I see blue, what I justify as blue in my mind, a slightly darker shade of a colour that signifies to me the sky (in it’s lighter shade), the river (in my scenery), the colour of loneliness and the colour of jeans, the same to you? Or is it perhaps, in your perspective, how yellow would seem to me? Because if that is the case, I think this would create a rather awkward situation for both of us. To walk around in pair of yellow jeans (Giorgio Armani would be turning in his grave right now), to imagine a yellow sky and to drink…No. No. Maybe we should not go there for now.

 

In the whole absurd discussion that took place above, there was a word ‘perspective’ that was lodged in somewhere, that is the one word that is going to bring us back on track from this rather distraught discussion. What does the word ‘perspective’ mean to you? Perhaps you may have a different perspective to the definition of ‘perspective’ from the one I have. In my opinion, the word perspective is a point of view of looking at something. It characterises all the different emotions you may be invigorated with when you look at different things. For eg., to you the perspective of looking at a dog would be one filled with adoration whereas for per say a friend of yours who has been bit by one in the past, his/her perspective of looking at a dog may be filled with horror and disgust.

 

Now what really would happen in the above context is that, even though you may seem to disagree with the perspective of your friend, even though you may feel perplexed by even the idea as to how someone as adorable and as harmless as a dog may seem horrific to someone, you still respect the point of view of your friend and would continue to remain friends with him. You have a ‘tolerance’ for his opinions and his comments and you let him have his say despite disagreeing with him. This makes us come across a new word, i.e., ‘tolerance’.

 

Now speaking in terms of India , recently when Shah Rukh Khan was asked the question ‘Is India a tolerant country?’, he went to disagree with it, stating India and Indians are ‘very intolerant’ and that this is something that we should change about ourselves. We showed him our capacity for tolerance by disagreeing with his opinions and perspective of things, hurling abuses at him and also commenting statements like “He should go back to Pakistan!” Now two things are discomforting in this scenario- a). Why should Shah Rukh Khan go ‘back’ to Pakistan? He was born and brought up in India. And b). When Shah Rukh said that we as a country are ‘intolerant’, the definition of the word means that we do not have respect for people’s views and opinions. Now when we hurl abuses at him for saying that, asserting the fact that, “He is wrong. We are tolerant.”, we are basically proving what he was trying to say in the first place.

 

When speaking about intolerance in the country right now, it becomes a mandatory obligation to speak about the recent JNU incident. To be on the same page here, the facts of the incident state that certain “anti-nationalist” comments were said in a crowd full of people by certain students of JNU, some of which uphold Afzal Guru as a ‘national hero’ and a ‘martyr’. They were charged on the grounds of sedition for this and convicted by the police. This, in turn, became an issue of political propaganda that generally all issues in India tend to become. What it did not become, what it should have become, is an issue of civil liberty and an issue of rights and freedom of expression and something that makes 69 years of independence futile. This poses yet another question in front of us ‘On what grounds could you really judge a person to be anti-national? Simply by his views and comments? Isn’t the court of law based on evidences and reaction to an action that has already taken place?’ and perhaps the greatest question of them all ‘Are we as a country tolerant for people’s views and opinions?’

 

Now I do not say I agree with whatever that was stated by the JNU students. To hail Afzal Guru, a terrorist who claimed the lives of innocents to be hailed as a ‘national hero’ is ridiculous and repelling to even think of. They are wrong and they are stupid, but they have every right to be wrong and stupid. This could be reasoned in this way, if you forbid expressing, you forbid thoughts. If you forbid thoughts, you forbid ideas. If you forbid ideas, you may tend to forbid the ridiculous ideas but in that process you end up forbidding the brilliant ones as well.

 

This is what being tolerant as a country gives us, the ability to respect ideas and opinions of different factions despite disagreeing with them. To respect ‘perspectives’ of one and all individuals and to live in mutual harmony. Because god knows, major amount of problems that have risen in the country have been the grounds of intolerance. Riots among religious groups, Hindu-Muslim angst, war with Pakistan, criminalising of Section 377 and stating homosexuality as a crime, all of these have their roots grounded in intolerance among the masses.

 

And this is such beautiful country that we live in that intolerance is a dark mark upon. We’re a country of stories and myths and mythologies and mountains and countless rivers. We’re a country of Gandhi, Buddha, Bhagat Singh and so many more. Do not  subject it to something so disdainful as intolerance. Do not take the one thing from us that all the countless martyrs had laid their lives for- our independence.

 

In the end, I dream of a country where people respect and uphold each other’s opinions. I dream of a country where all factions live in mutual harmony. I dream of a country where war is a myth. I dream of a country where people respect the fact that ‘what is blue to me’ may not be ‘what it is to them’.

 

And so I lay this adult query in front of you- “Can you respect the fact that for me what is blue, is not the same as what it is to you?”

The Prince who will defeat the Whitewalkers . . .

Brilliant, brilliant theory by a friend about the recent game of thrones episodes and the story that lies forward. (WARNING: SPOILERS AHEAD!)

My take on 'The Great Indian Life'

The one thing that has undoubtedly taken the globe by storm is the world of Game of Thrones. Apart from the time when we close our media players when someone walks in on us while we’re watching the series (ahem!), we’ve all binge watched this one for hours! If you’ve not yet seen this work of art, make sure you do!

This post is not so much about my opinion on the series as it is about a theory I feel very strongly about; a theory that will change the way you look at everything. It’s a little long but definitely worth the time, so bear with me. Without further ado, here it goes . . .

By now, we’re all in general consensus that Jon Snow is not Ned Stark’s bastard illegitimate son, but is the son of his deceased sister Lyanna with the crown prince Rhaegar Targaryen. There…

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The Weatherman: Chapter 6

The fire torches on both sides of the corridor made way for the Eye and the Foreseer as they proceeded. There were potraits of the Ancestral Makers that hung on both the sides.

There was Randalph the Great- Creator of the both this Universe and the parallel one. He wore a Corduroy red suit and carried a grey wig, the kind Washington wore. His face was stern and even though the Maker looked well fed, the colour of his skin looked pale. Or maybe it was how the lights made it look.

Then there was Marakh the Destroyer- who was as the name may suggest, was the destructer and plunderer of the Universe and all that was vile in it. He wore a Black silk suit and looked, in the least bit, effeminate. His lips were the colour of blood and his eyes looked as black as the mascara that he wore beneath them.

Then came Legolas the Preserver, the pale-bearer and nurturer of the Universe. He wore a white suit and was the only one who had a bowtie on. A blue bowtie to match with the eyes. His hair were so golden blonde and needless to stay he was perhaps the most handsome of all the three. But was he the noblest? Only time will tell.

Gina and Salem took a left at the end of the corridor and opened a small brown door to enter to enter what now seemed an office workplace. The pale blue coloured room, the size of half a football ground was filled with desks and chairs lined up in rows. There wasn’t any ceiling to the room and Gina could notice the skies turning to blacker by the hour. No, not darker, blacker. There on the hundreds of desks in front of them were hundreds of typewriters, with scrolls of parchments lingering out of them, lying all over the room and typing profusely on them were hundreds of dwarfs. All of them wearing small black suits with black shorts, a white shirt and a red bowtie. One needed to have an exceptional eye to distinguish one from the other. Which, needless to say, The Eye did possess. The type writers managed to slide to the next line on their own. Gina and Salem made their way through one of the rows in the room.

One of the dwarfs in the row slammed his fingers upon the keys of typewriter, as if trying to pierce through its very letters.
“Stupid Jiggletots,  Breezebonkers, Ratskunks, Hankyloaves…” He went on typing forcefully and full of rage.

” Mr. Winklehawks, why so grumpy over the poor typewriter?” asked Gina playfully.

“Oh no, madam, no. It isn’t just a typewriter. It is the evilest of all things created by humans. Stupid Bransneekers…..Bloody Rattle….” He slammed a single key multiple times with his middle finger. “Inconvenient to the fingers, parchments lying around here and there, the incessant clitter-clatter of keys all over the room, I assure Madam Miss Eye, it could drive a dwarf groundnuts!”

The very instant, a gigantic, rectangular slab of cement hovered over them to obscurethe night sky. The colour of the base of the slab was similar to that of the room. The same blue, successfully taking over the black. So black. So blue.

It had the same base dimension as that of the room’s rooftop. It soared in the air for a moment and then settled over the rooftop of the room, accurately covering the whole of it.

“Renovating much?” Gina asked the dwarf?

“Ah yes! His majesty thinks we need a new floor for the coming time. Increasing population and all! More hands to feed more brains.” He turned his gaze towards Salem who stood silently behind Gina. “Ah! Greetings Mr. Foreseer. Never saw you there. So what do you ‘foresee’?” He chortled a bit as he said it. “D’you think we need an extra floor in the coming times?”

Salem, who had the same solemn look on his face, cleared his throat a bit as he went. “Well, if you ask me, as far as the future is concerned, then perhaps we may not even need the very desk you’re sitting on.”

The dwarf smirked and stared at him with his dark green eyes. “So it is true what they say. You have gone completely insane!”

Just then, a man with a shaved head and emerald eyes and a goatee beard made his way towards them. He looked exactly like the Guardsman they had met at the gate. He even wore the same black robe that hid the scabbard under it.

“Miss Gina? Mr.Salem? You’re finally here.” The same unison of voices greeted them “Lord Caliph has been waiting for you.”

They followed him to another room, exquisitely larger than the previous one and instead of the blue, it was draped in velvety red. An array of pillars with peculiar carvings on them paved both the sides of the room. A velvet carpet, again red, led to the other end of the room, marked by row of chairs with noble men and women sitting on them on  both the sides. There was Mundungus, the timekeeper, perhaps with the darkest of all complexions; Augustus, the Lord of light, wearing his yellow robe so bright, it pricked the eyes; there was of course the ever so effeminate looking  Sir Jean, the Lovelord; Regina, the Lady of darkness, her black dress and her red lips; and so on and so forth.

At the end of the carpet lay a flight of steps, above which were the thrones of Lord Caliph, the Lord of life and her majesty, Lady Elsa. Lord Caliph looked everything a king would look. A manly beard and mustache, jet black in colour. A well built structure that symbolized a warrior, and a brave one at that. And  beside him resided Lady Elsa, whose beauty and charm were ever so beguiling, even for a king. She had fluffy blonde hair that held the crown so delicately placed. The ruby studded crown, the same gem engraved on that of the king’s. One incomplete without the other.

And on another seat in a distance, over the same flight of steps, lay a man whose mere presence ran shivering chill down the spine of both the mortals as well as the immortals. His dark grey eyes on his freckled face, white as snow, seemed like they hadn’t blinked in ages. Mandarin, the Deathlord, wore a black robe, and observed the whole procession with his serene demeanor. The demeanor of death.

All of them eyed the one man they had been anticipating for so long. And as the man with the black robe and turban made his way through, fearless and solemn as always; with the Mediterranean looking woman beside him, an indistinct murmuring had begun among the crowd. The two of them stood in front of the King and bent to one knee.

“His majesty”, said Gina, ” I summon to you the accused of treachery and of breaking his vow, Salem, the foreseer. Your judgement and justice shall account his fate.” She rose and gradually made her way joining the rest of the crowd.

The king observed the man for some time, sensing the fearlessness in his eyes. There was no trace of guilt to be found.

“Foreseer!”, he commanded. His voice stern and stern and regal at the same time. “You’ve been accused of betraying the whole kingdom. Your actions could’ve served as exposure of the whole clan. All I ask, mere Foreseer, is why?” He lowered his voice a bit. “Why would you do something like this to your own people? What is it that we have done wrong?”

Salem remained silent. Staring at the floor the whole time.

“Speak or forever hold your peace!”, said Caliph.

“His majesty!”, began Salem, “I fear our whole is on the verge of annihilation.”

There were gasps from the crowd and the murmuring continued.

“Silence!” stormed the King. “And on what grounds do you say that?”

“I have had a vision” said Salem. “Of blood! Of countless lives and innocent souls lingering around the dead carcasses of our world. Of raging storms wiping away the entire  civilization! Of women losing their husbands. Of children losing their childhood…”

“Forgive me my lord” interrupted a shrill voice. A voice so low, it almost whispered. The voice of Mandarin. “But I do not think there are any such indulgences that I have. It is, in a way, a direct attack on my fidelity”

“Then what justifications do you have for the recent disturbances, Lord Mandarin”, said Salem. “Storms in the Arabian countries, Volcano in Japan, earthquakes in Pakistan….”

“All of them necessities for the balance”

“All of them? All at once? Or is there another reason behind tilting the needle of the scale more towards death, Lord Deathlord? Another reason that involves a deal signed with someone perhaps?”

“HOW DARE YOU SPEAK TO ME LIKE THAT, MERE GUARDIAN!”, raged Mandarin. “I’m a guardianhead. I shall behead you this very instance! Do you not fear me? Do you not fear the inevitable?”

“I fear you as much as thundering Griffin fears a tiny elf!”

“ENOUGH!”, interrupted Caliph. “I shall not bear such indiscipline in my court.”

He rose from his throne, followed by every other noble men and women raising from theirs. “Guardsmen! I want you to escort the Foreseer to the Prison of Paradisus. He shall stay there until further trial.”

The guardsmen bowed and escorted Salem out of the room.

“Adjourned!”, commanded the king.

As Salem made his way out of the court, he felt the familiar shiver down his spine. He felt like an old man walking down a distance on snowy, wintry desert. As if the very essence of happiness had vanished from the world.

There were cold, grey eyes observing him from a distance…

Her- A love story

It’s been more than a year since the film hit the Indian theaters and somehow I feel like kicking myself for missing it at that time. It was only recently that I had a chance of catching this film which happens to be recommended by a friend after she read my review of ‘Ruby Sparks’ and found a striking similarity to this film in it. Although both these films are so similar yet so different at the same time, and the feeling after watching both the films was, too some extent, mutual. And all these films made me feel so much, to which my last resort to get rid of this tumultuous wave of emotions is to hamper them down to poor readers( i.e. if I have any). So anyways, better late than never, my thoughts on the film ‘Her’.

‘Her’ is a love story of Theodore and Samantha. No, it’s not a story about a relationship of a man with his computer. She is not his computer. She makes it very clear to him. Its is evident when she playfully makes up a robotic voice when he, a little out of habit, addresses ‘her’ like he addresses ‘them’. It is also not a sci-fi film set in a near yet distant future, with Artificially Intelligent Interactive Operating Systems. It’s a part of the film, but it isn’t mainly what the film is about. Also, the film doesn’t make it evident that the setup is based on the near future. The film could be taking place in our own vicinity. Aren’t we somehow dependant over the operating systems in our phones and computers to such an extent that to somehow imagine a life without them seems inevitable. ‘Siri’, ‘Samantha’, it’s all the same. No wait! It’s not! It’s definitely not. I can’t believe I just said that. Sorry Samantha.

I think a fruitful description would be to state this film as a love story between ‘Theodore’, a loner (which includes nearly 95% of the entire population. The rest of them, well, are Honey Singh fans), somebody who works as a writer of digitized handwritten  letters and who is currently going through a rough seperation period, and ‘Samantha’, an interactive Operating System who has the same tendency of feeling emotions as that of any other human, and perhaps more than any other human. At first glance, the very thought of a man falling in love with an OS seems lonely and disturbing, but the point is that Samantha is all so interactive and understanding an operating system, that falling in love with her(not it) seems justified. I mean think about it, why is it that somehow having a physical body in it’s own all so important. The whole idea of falling in love with an idea of a person rather than a person itself. Isn’t it why we fall in love with realists like Edward Hopper and Da Vinci? And what is it that Samantha couldn’t do that a human in flesh and blood can. For Samantha can interact with him at all times of the day, help him with his daily chores, provide sexual pleasure, and most importantly could do something that most humans of flesh and blood fail to do. Understand.

Another major question that the film raises is how isn’t being poly-amorous not justified? Samantha loves Theodore the same way she loves many different other users. Why is it that our love is somehow confined to only one person in particular? She is talking to Theodore while also talking to several other people at the same time. Aren’t we somehow lost in so many different voices in our head at the same time?

To a major extent, yes, this film is extremely similar to ‘Ruby Sparks’, with the lead actor, again a writer, going through this melancholic seperation phase in life falls in love with a character he wrote and how she somehow comes to life. But what is mainly different is that the lead character in ‘Ruby Sparks’ could manipulate her partner according to his convenience. And she, being a human, feels the repercussions to it. Samantha, on the other hand, isn’t tied down to love Theodore, she willingly does so.

Another similar film would be, also by Spike Jonze, ‘Being John Malkovich’ in which a portal could allow people to be somebody else for some amount of time. To delve inside their minds for some time and to feel what they’re feeling at that precise moment. It reflects how being somebody else, in this case Broadway actor John Malkovich, has this own zen to it. How we fall in love with with the idea of being another person! A person who seems way more interesting than us.

Spike Jonze’s style of film-making is very similar to that of her ex-spouse Sofia Copolla’s. The film-making is very similar to that of ‘Lost in Translation’, how the filmmakers have this ability to use the effect of light and dark and Chiaroscuro to resonate with the mood, their obsession with neon lights from buildings, streetlights, etc., and the music! Ah! The music. How much has it made me fall in love with ‘Arcade Fire’ and with Karen O’s ‘The moon song’. Also I loved how many intricate colours were used in the film. Almost like a Van Gogh.

‘Her’, if looked from a precautionary angle, somehow shows our sad dependancy on artificial form of love, our reliability on our phones straight from waking us up in the morning to lulling us off to sleep. Is it merely sad that we cannot find love and acceptance in the people around us? But the question is why is falling in love with just an idea of a person not justified? Is it only because it isn’t prevalent? That it isn’t the norm of a society to do so? What if we’re in a society where such form of love is accepted? What then? I think the answer to it lies somewhere in a quote from the movie, which might probably stay with me forever “Love is a socially acceptable form of insanity.”

Black Forest Outer-space

The valiant and strong commander Igor Stormbearer of the Samarian clan had fists as large as watermelons and feet as rigid as tree trunks and when his mountainly figure stood lead his fellow soldiers, it dwarfed them. And they followed his shadow as blindly as they’d follow the gods themselves. And when the thrice strong army of the Rohaans’ attacked them in the unaware vicinity of the night, he didn’t shriek or frown or dread or tremble. He banged his wine mug on the table, rose before his fellow men and as he took the sword out of his scabbard, only two words roared from his mouth- “How many?”

The colours faded, the picture dissolved. The humongous commander was now Rudy, the blue jay, with wings that kissed the sunlight and the crest of a king on his head, he soared over the Atlantic, piercing through the clouds, as the chilly breeze almost froze his beak. He rose to the abode of Heaven and lunged into the darkest of abyss only to rise back again, and again and again. With his tiny black eyes he saw clouds of the shape of boots and dogs and sheep and stars…

Only now the clouds weren’t clouds anymore, they were stars; And the sky wasn’t the sky anymore. Or maybe it was. And as Flight Engineer, Max Thrillseeker, of Shuttle no. 177921 Leia, spacewalked in the void of nothingness in the star-studded outer-space, he realized that space is nothing but a huge Black forest pastry spread all around with sugar sprinkled over it. With his spacesuit attached to the spacecraft with a pipe for oxygen, he could see the giant marshmallow they called the moon on one  hand and a piece of blueberry they called the Earth on the other. And he’s floating and floating and floating…

And so is his ship, the Whiteskull. Captain Earl one-eyed Kruger, leader of the Pirates of the Southern Pacific, mean and treacherous yet compassionate and adventurous, decided to hold on to the wheel himself as his beloved tumbled and lunged in the storm. He knew the Oceans at the back of his hand and his one left eye (The right one he lost in a duel with Red Harrington) searched for hidden treasures to recover and enemy ships to plunder. And although the Oceans today were loathsome, he still had the same smirk on his face as he sung- “Fee fie Foe and a bottle of rum”.

And as the little boy woke up on the study table on which he fell asleep last night, he realized that the gigantic Commander had been beaten by the Rohaans. And that the blue jay which soared free as the wind, had fallen into the abyss. And the Astronaut, who had his connecting tube detached from the shuttle while spacewalking, was lost somewhere in space, still floating as there was no Gravity. And even though Captain Earl ‘one-eyed’ Kruger was an excellent sailor, pirate and leader, the Whiteskull that plunged and rose in the furious waters, could not survive the storm…

The little boy’s arm hurt from all the soldiers he’d killed. He suffered from a slight cold because of the freezing Atlantic breeze. He wasn’t still accustomed to the Gravity of the Earth. Perhaps the Earth was a bit too heavy for him to bear. His fingers had shriveled because of all the time he’d spent in the Oceans. He looked out of the window searching for the skies. Searching for the characters. He was all of them. He was none at all…

Just an idea….

This might be one of those randomly insightful midnights full of sleep-deprivation, excess of caffeine, probably a good book (I don’t know, haven’t finished it yet) and the haunt of my existential crisis that lingers (WHAT AM I GOING TO DO WITH LIFE?). There is a little chilly, palpable breeze and the clatter of raindrops, yes, but all too mundane perhaps, nothing unusual, and all your thoughts are somehow so overwhelming that all you have to do is write about them.

So I came across this artwork called ‘Chiaroscuro’ which basically creates, or should I say enlightens the effect of something through appropriate amount of light and darkness and perhaps there was a chain of intricate thoughts and Wikipedia links as I consequently came across the works of Salvador Dali and Andre Breton and his Manifesto of Surrealism (It is brilliant how the internet has done wonders to our lives) and I was wondering perhaps where do all these surreal, obscured yet beautiful ideas come from? Are people perhaps born this way? Or is it something that is perhaps endowed from our genes? Or has it come from widespread exposure?

For it is but strange and ironical in a contrasting way that we have had the privilege of experiencing both Mozart and Beethoven, one who was a childhood prodigy, had over 20 symphonies by the time he was 19 (Me? Umm.. I’m still trying to figure out) whereas there was Beethoven who had been molded from the excruciating heat of a furnace as his father had made the poor, little kid subject to all sorts of mental and physical pressure to excel from the very beginning thereby creating the illusion of him being a childhood prodigy. Both have made inimitable and significant contributions to music. To perhaps compare one to the other would be sacrilegious. Which again leaves us to the question of how did both of them have the same, delightful and significant ideas despite being grown up under different circumstances?

There was once a very profound, intellectual idea I read from somebody (Somebody who might be reading this. Just might be! :)) about how our ideas are our particular home. Interesting, right? I mean somehow it makes sense as perhaps it is the place that we live in no matter where we are. We always carry our home with us. It maybe sparse, sometimes too filled, sometimes full of filth, there might ba sofa abandoned somewhere, roof that leaks, a window that creaks, but it is our very own home and we love it and accept it the way it is. It further dwells on the fact that sometimes we do let others inside our home and maybe then, for a short period of time, it becomes their home as well, and when they leave, there is something so significant of merely their presence that now our home may never be the same again. How, perhaps a certain idea could affect the very foundations of what we believe in and we may turn out to be skeptical, or maybe even enlightened, after the certain encounter. Interesting thought, stranger. Very insightful *wink, wink*.

Sometimes, or maybe it’s just me, it may happen that a lot of different ideas may never surface you know. That perhaps a certain idea, although it may be brilliant, but we’ve thought about it so much and the whole thought of it has been so repetitive in our minds that somehow have lost their meaning. I mean I read this somewhere that a certain writer said that sometimes when you repeat a certain word over and over and over it starts to lose it’s meaning. I mean think about this, a certain amount of significant words are so repetitive in our heads for example- ‘Exams, exams, exams…’ ‘Career, career, career…’ ‘Jobs, jobs, jobs…’ Nothing. See, nothing! Somehow it starts to lose it’s significance in the whole repetition. He further took the example of his parent’s divorce as the whole idea of separation was so frightening in the beginning but then there were ‘Fights, fights, fights…’, ‘Separation, separation, separation….’ and there was nothing! Same goes with ideas I guess. A certain ideas may be so interesting in our heads and then somehow something happens and we have to abandon it for a while and when we come back, the whole idea has been playing in our heads like a vinyl record on a loop, that somehow the music doesn’t feel the same way. Like for eg, I once came across an idea for a story and in the process of it I couldn’t figure out what do you call a doorknocker. I mean now I know that it is called a doorknocker but then at that particular instant I was devoured by the fact that I couldn’t find the appropriate word to fit that I abandoned the idea for quite some time and thought about it over and over and when I came back (After finding the meaning of the word doorknocker, that is) that the whole idea somehow never felt the same way. Does that mean that there are yet many such ideas which do not surface at all? Holy shit! Or maybe it’s just me. It’s just how delusional and neurotic and lost and dreamy and unfocused I am maybe.

But we still haven’t had the answer to our question? Where do all these ideas come from? Do they drop in from the skies like shooting stars? Or do they perhaps grow from the Earth like Dandelions? Does a stork carry them in it’s beak to deliver to out heads. Or maybe they’re just delivered at our doorstep buy a magical owl whose only job is to post ideas? I mean their might be some smarty-pant suggestions to be thrown ‘They come from the brain, dude! Haven’t you figured that out yet?’ Well, no! I haven’t. Because maybe in the world where we live in everybody has a brain right? We don’t use it somehow, but we do. My question is, from where does these ideas originate in the brain? What consequences, in retrospect, lead to its budding?

There is a very whimsical yet somehow insightful thing that comes to mind. Maybe I shouldn’t, it’s a bit too silly! But anyways, there was this random, mundane (yet interesting) thought in the film ‘Before Sunrise’ (Have you guys seen it? You should stop reading further and go watch it! Spoiler alert!) in which the lead character Jesse is asked ‘What a problem is to him?’ to which he very playfully says that he had this idea of reincarnation. That maybe in the beginning of the human evolution there were like 50,000 people, then there were around a million and now there are almost 5 billion people that live and breathe on this Earth. So where do all these specific souls for all these people come from? To actually come up with all these different souls might be a little hectic for the makers. So maybe what happens is that our souls, just like the souls before us, split into these various other souls when we die and so all we are are tiny bits and pieces of the souls of the people that we have split from. And so in this way, our ideas are what come from the ideas of the different people whose souls we have inside of us. Or maybe it isn’t so? See, this is how delusional and lost and…- well you get the drill right?

But maybe what if it’s true you know? What if our souls are split from the different people who’ve lived before us? If that is true, I wish I’d been split from Kurt Cobain man! I mean that’d be so cool, right?

O Captain…. My Captain….

My childhood just died in an apartment in California today. He died of reasons called asphyxiation. Word I couldn’t spell when I was a kid. Word I don’t understand even now. And my childhood died of it.

Peculiar little character, my childhood. Delightfully notorious, painstakingly hilarious and insightfully thoughtful. He taught me the meaning of a whole new word. And no, the word wasn’t asphyxiation. It was hope.

I could still hear him whistling his way through as he came into the classroom. In a world full of educators who made me feel like a deposit fund to be broken someday, he came in as a teacher and showed me that I am not a cheque to be cashed in someday. That I exist! “Carpe Diem”, he said and I believed him.

I remember him as a tall, blue giant, with a funny beard and a funnier demeanor. I remember him sweeping in on his carpet, taking me places I couldn’t imagine existed. He taught me that wishes do come true, all you have to do is believe.

I remember him as a lunatic who lived inside a board game. I remember him taking me far away, in a mystical land with creatures that are both haunting and adorable. Does he still live in the board game? Would he come back if I roll the dice?

I also remember him as the psychologist who never charged me for his time. Who listened to me, who understood me. Who showed me that all my miseries and all my demons aren’t something I have to live with for the rest of my life. “It’s not your fault”, he said to me over and over and over and I believed him.

Where has he gone now? Have any of you seen him? Does he not see me rubbing upon a lamp wishing he’d come back? Or does he not see me rolling the dice over and over until I could get the number that might bring him back? Does he not see me wishing upon a star, waiting for him to come back,because he was the one who taught me that wishes do come true?

How could he manage to give the whole world around him hope and happiness and contentment? How could he not find the same from the world around him? Was he a hypocrite all this time? Or was he a skeptic of his own beliefs?

I wish I could’ve saved my childhood, just like he saved me. If you ever come upon him tell him that I thank him. Also tell him that I forgive him.

Will my childhood come back as the tall, blue giant that I always imagined him to be? Will he grant me 3 wishes? Because if he would, I’d wish for him to come back all the three times…..