Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Be possessive

Please let me be cynical. That's the least you can do for me. In fact, you don't have to do anything. Just don't be yourself and nag. Is that too much to ask for? I guess not. And i hope you realize sooner (if not later) that we are alive not because death is difficult but because we somehow find excuses to breathe a bit longer. Our pursuit of happiness is just a trick. We don't really understand why we're glad about things that most probably won't matter after a certain period of time. What's the point? All this chasing the impossible dream and everything that comes in between. What i can posit is we kill time as long as we can, before getting massacred by it. Even philosophy can't keep us from falling into own own dungeon. Now, once you are in such darkness, everything else seems bright. And you start learning to hope. It's called reflex. Like the jerking seconds hand of a clock. Time manifesting itself into yesterdays, todays and then tomorrows. Oh, yes, tomorrow is always going to be brighter. In our head. You know why? Because we are natural born procrastinators and the only living creatures who procrastinate. No other being can afford to procrastinate. Apart from all these theories, cynicism prevails hand in hand with your nagging skills. But then I let you win because i'm cynical for a reason.

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

The legend of the fallen

Ever seen a horde of crows encircling just one woman on the street? I did. Yesterday. It was a scene straight out of a Hitchcock film. The only difference was these crows weren't keen on hurting her. They maintained a respectable distance. Maybe they knew that the lady in question is deranged and somebody who lives on the footpath—fending for herself. So in a way, she was a lot like them. But they didn't like what they saw. This woman in tattered clothes and with an unwashed face was holding a dead crow by its neck in her left hand and a small stone in her right; tapping the dead bird's head with it and laughing to herself. The crows may have nothing against human food but they don't like human contact. What ensued last afternoon was a demonstration of what happens when one of their kind is desecrated in public. They show concern. And how. Cacophony is too timid a word to describe the noise they created. Not sure what happened to that electrocuted crow in the end but am yet to witness a similar reaction in humans for the death of a complete stranger.

Thursday, May 23, 2013

My Celluloid Man

In our village, more than half a century ago, there was this chap named Timmappanna. People, including my grandparents, thought he was crazy. This soft-spoken man was known for working all day on the field without a word of complaint in his shirt and a komana which is a basically a piece of cloth tinier than a loincloth. Well, things were simpler then and skin was respected so no worries there. Anyway, Timmu had an obsession with cinema. He was the only one of his kind in the entire taluka. Nobody, and i mean nobody, came close to his passion for the celluloid. In fact, my grandpa never watched a movie in his entire life. People like my mom never watched one until she was 24. Coming back to our very own Celluloid Man, after toiling the entire day under the sun, he used to have his dinner in advance and set out to walk 18 kilometers to this crappy cinema hall and watch whatever they had on display. The language didn't matter, be it Kannada, Tamil, Hindi or English. It is apparent that he loved the idea of moving pictures. After all, that dark room was the only place he ever knew where life forms metamorphosed into another life forms with a little bit of sound effects and visual treats. Where else could he find such magic? Life is darn boring in a village in any case. And we are talking about the early socialist '50s and '60s here. OK. After watching the reels, the midnights awaited him. Usually what he did was doze off on the grassy earth nearby and then wake up around 4 in the morning and set out home. Literally famished, his thin figure covered with an off-white shirt and a veshti trudging alone on the street would have been a sight. He quite certainly didn't understand film-making but what mattered to him was the few minutes of escape that movies guaranteed. They took him to places he never visited and introduced him to people he'll never meet. He stayed unmarried (funny how none of my heroes do!) and remained a curio in our village. Today when i pretend to be a film journalist, i ask myself whether i'd walk 18 kilometers once with my stomach full and then again with my eyes empty.

Thursday, May 16, 2013

Rest in world peace

In their quest to wear the tiara, the beauty queens often lie. And the most obvious act of falsehood takes place when they promise to work towards world peace PROVIDED they win the title. It's like an old adage which refuses to go out of fashion. As for the audience, nobody sits down to wonder why world peace and not anything else. Well, the reason is pretty simple. World peace, at its purest form, is an idea. And a noble one at that. Also, because we'll never attain it no matter how hard we try. That never happened before nor shall it happen as the world is already at peace. Just that our collective perception of world peace is slightly different from the way it was meant to be. We love to fiddle with our thoughts and let our imagination lose control. However, just imagine our planet with everything plain, unchaotic, simple and turbulentless. No clashes to begin at or a decay to end with. Sounds stale, doesn't it? Yes, there are human factors that needs to be reined but we prefer to overlook them in our pursuit of something greater. No surprise we fail. It's always been about personal outlook. For instance, tigers are not dying. We're killing them. And there's a difference. Will it go extinct? Most probably. Why does it affect us? We are part of nature. How many insects with no posters to save them are going to bid goodbye for good? We don't really care nor do we know as our knowledge is limited. They might be small but they are here on a purpose too, right? They are also part of the ecosystem. Similarly, who are at war? Humans. Why so? Hmmmm...we can't stand each other. Will world peace return if we got rid of our weapons? Sounds promising but that's not going to happen either. The world is an overstretched canvas of time and space and it operates within a compromising design. A perfect world where nobody kills or cheats or derides others would be the end of it. How would a planet like that function? What will drive the imbalance and thus the need to find a balance? Constant is a dirty word. A day has to give birth to night and seasons, along with people, have to change. Just like the crown that keeps shifting from one head to another.

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Over the road

Call them hawkers or vendors or peddlers or whatever you deem appropriate but there's something about them that could stir you. Brave souls who face the crowd and the noise that accompanies such venture. It takes guts and true mettle to flourish under the harsh sun, amid unforgiving public and get your job done by screaming your larynx out. Wouldn't it be weird to get noticed by an old schoolfriend on the street? It's almost like facing a rolling camera and act. For real. Intriguingly, none of them care about others' perception or the clothes that they are wearing or the social status they might be implying. To them, what really matters is they sell their wares and earn some cash. They are not stealing anybody's money nor are they doing anything wrong. Yes, they might be unwelcome on the footpath which—given a choice—people won't use anyway and stick to roads. Bargaining is everyone's right and if you are wronged, it's your fault. The camera could be metaphorical but they do indeed keep the economy rolling.

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

How are you?

Her: You seem very happy. How are you?
Him: Remember Brad Pitt in Legend of the Fall?
Her: Huh-uh. 
Him: There's this particular scene in that film where Brad Pitt's character Tristan comes across a cow who is badly trapped in barbed wire. The poor creature is obviously in pain and utterly helpless. So what Tristan does is he tries to get it out of the excruciating chain and save its life. But while doing so, he sees that the cow is suffering and there's very little he can do to keep it alive. Nevertheless, in spite of the cattle's non-cooperation, Tristan makes several attempts. To add pain to his conscience, the cow keeps mooing loudly. In the end, our hero appears in more turmoil than the tormented extra. So he promptly takes his gun out and shoots the cow—relieving both him as well as his hoofed acquaintance of all the emotions that has held them together for a short while. I wonder how that must have felt like!
Her: So you're feeling like Tristan with his gun?
Him: Na, i'm feeling like that cow with his bullet. 

Friday, May 3, 2013

Professional dreaming

If i fall asleep tonight, i'd love to wake up as Lionel Messi. Minus the hamstring injury though. Yes, a bit taller. That's it. Perfect. On a second thought, i won't mind waking up as any other footballer who is plying his trade in top-flight European football clubs. Unlike cricketers, 10 out of 10 footballers are fit and in the best of shape. And did i mention the kind of money they make? Well, it's in crores, not lacs. This info is enticing enough. Of course, you're expected to perform every time you hit the field. But then which job doesn't expect you to do the same? On the perkier side, does your current job allow you to pretend as if you are a kid and turn up at your workplace in shorts? Or do complete strangers (fans, by the way) chant your name while you're busy typing out an e-mail? The answer to the last two questions is a firm no. Also the reason why i want to wake up beside Antonella Roccuzzo tomorrow morning.

Wednesday, May 1, 2013

Moments of silence

Isn't it marvelous how some of the most beautiful moments happen without any exchange of words? Of course, conversation has its own ring to it but still, when compared to sound, silence lasts a bit longer. We humans take things for granted and if one of those things is silence, then lesser we say about it the better. I can go on and on about how i've seen beauty manifest itself in a soundless backdrop. But i won't. I've got just two such instances for now. And both have to do with my childhood.
1991: We were new to Bombay. My mother had recently lost my brother's twin to death in our village so my dad decided to move us to his city. There weren't many sentences spoken between the two of them. However, it was alright. Silence works part-time as a balm when actions fail. One particular day, we were traveling in a local train and our station was approaching. I remember my dad guiding the way out for us. He was standing near the footboard and my ma was standing right behind him on his left with my brother in her arms. I was on her right. What i remember vividly is her holding on to my dad's untucked shirt for support. Those subtle moments taught me that everything was indeed alright between them.
1994: A grandmother's love for her grandkids is nothing extraordinary. They are put on earth to bide time and make life cheerful for their ungrateful kids' kids. At least for the major part. My grandma was a person of few words but she absolutely adored me. I only remember her talking to us through stories. But what i distinctly recollect of her personality is that afternoon we went to this old temple in Mangalore. Hindus priests have this custom of handing out prasadam after the devotees are done with darshan. I guess it was my lucky day because i received a laadu from the janeu-wearing gentleman. But i was in for much more. My grandma decided to share her share of spoil and earnestly handed me the sweet she got along with the rest of us. All i remember her doing was pointing her index finger to her lips with a smile trapped behind it.