Friday, November 29, 2013

Rock, stones and pebbles

Millions of years ago, there was a rock lying somewhere. To protect its interest, we won't disclose the location. Regardless of the geography, the sun shined on it for months before it finally cave in. Or cave out, not so sure. It developed a number of cracks in any case. Just a matter of wind before it fully disintegrated. It had to crumble, thus giving birth to heavy smooth stones. The comparatively little ones rolled away from one another, each trying to create its own identity under the sky. But then, how far can stones travel? They had to stop somewhere. And wait. Something what their mother did long ago. It was their turn now. So, they waited. The sun did what it was good at and the wind blew whenever it felt like. The stones family stood where they were hoping to move an inch away. But it never did so. The whole exercise was a pitiless harness of patience. Insofar the amount of hope invested, something noteworthy had to take place. Hence, after a long interval of days turning to night and summer turning to winter, they too found reincarnation by transforming into shiny pebbles. The pebbles seemed smarter though as they harboured no wish to move. They were glad with where they were. Neither the sun bothered them nor the wind or the weather. Being at peace with themselves helped—a luxury that eluded their ancestors.

Thursday, November 28, 2013

Across the boundary

Some friends i met last week, 
which happened to be the first time ever!
Though we've known each other for a long time.
— more than three years now, actually.
Would have been impossible to interact,
and keep in touch constantly,
recognize each others' face and voice,
share videos, verses and songs...
if it weren't for Internet.
Anywhichway, we finally came face-to-face
in a rather strange city.
No melodrama. Pure excitement. Simple broad hugs.
Silly jokes to start with and political debates to end.
Otherwise done via online messages.
It could have been home though.
If not mine, then theirs
— Bombay, Karachi, Islamabad, Pindi or Lahore.
But that's now how it works perhaps.
Bureaucracy sucks.
Big time.
As a subcontinental past scratches the present. 
By two nations separated at rebirth.
So near, yet so far.
Too big a price paid for being neighbors.

Monday, November 25, 2013

Culture matters

It's only when you travel that you realise the importance of getting lost and finding yourself. Those who indeed travel—not just fly around—know what i'm talking about. I happened to visit Thailand last week. Not the entire country, just two cities to be precise. Bangkok was fastidious and Pattaya, avid. What connected both of them was the civic sense so prevalent amongst Thais. The stuff they do to English could be the worst form of torture but it's worth accepting that they know how to keep the tourists in. How they manage to do that despite their allergy to Angrezi is mind boggling? Oh wait, it's the cheap(er) currency. And during my stay, i couldn't help notice how their cities are so well-planned and maintained. Vehicles wait for you to cross the street first. Honking is a rare phenomenon there. Unlike ours, their footpaths are meant for walking and people don't litter. For a country filled with Sanskrit titles, it was nothing less than a surprise. I was expecting a few lapses in infrastructure but i was utterly disappointed. Throughout my stay, i couldn't locate a single pothole. Compare that to Mumbai where all roads lead to huge ugly craters. It's depressing, actually. A nation that was struggling not so long ago is now doing so well for itself. They have their share of problems—the ongoing anti-government protests being the least of them—but at least they are working towards finding a solution. In retrospect, our sexagenarian independence seems like a series of lost opportunities. On top of that, we haven't been lucky enough to find ourselves yet either.

Monday, November 18, 2013

What you see is what you read

There's a poem hidden somewhere in this blog post.

If you can't see it, you obviously don't deserve poetry. Sorry.

Saturday, November 16, 2013

The perfect farewell

India's favouritest son is leaving the battleground. For good. There have been several strong voices postulating that he should have retired immediately after our World Cup triumph. Well, you can't blame him. The man that he is today and the boy that he was have only one thing in common: they see themselves doing nothing else but playing cricket. He's 40 now and there is very little doubt left in anybody's mind that we'll never be able to replace him. Interestingly, his meteoric rise coincided with the economic liberation of early '90s and it's a fitting tribute to his endurance that he has had his highs and lows just like our humble Rupee did over the years. But he always made a comeback. Unlike our Rupee. Although his 100th century tested our patience like nothing else, he made sure he dictated his own exit. In style. The way he played the game. With respect. So it's OK to go overboard with his swan song. However, is it perfectly fine for the media to go overboard with Sachin's valediction? For argument's sake, let them have a field day on his past, present and future. Besides, the sort of impact this pint-sized sportsman had on our psyche is beyond quantification. I used to be a huge cricket fan during my school days and to me, Sachin was greater than God. (And this was before Mathew Hayden called Sachin God and the phrase struck.) Akin to millions of my countrypeople, i often used to watch matches only to witness his innings. I remember having this huge lump in my throat when Shoaib Akhtar castled him on his very first delivery to the maestro. I don't think i would have felt that much sadness for anybody else's failure. Moreover, he wasn't anyone else. He was Namma Sachin, to borrow my dad's words. (After so many years, that grief is being successfully being gifted by Roger Federer every other month.) As a consolation, Sachin went back to the pavilion. Head held high with a bit of disbelief—sans theatrics—touched with a tiny grin that said it all. But then, the kind of pressure he performed under was unrivaled. Try going to work assuming that your output is going to affect a billion unknown souls. He did that for nearly a quarter of a century. There are several more reasons why it's perfectly fine, even for the media, to go overboard with a farewell that we deeply feared. For a nation that not only lacks but also needs heroes, he's a rarity. To those who don't think so, find a replacement and then we'll talk. He may not be a saint so to speak (not that he claimed to be, anyway) but at least he never once tweeted during working hours. Unlike the rest of us.

Friday, November 15, 2013

Unusual distractions

Yesterday, Deepika Padukone and Ranveer Singh visited our office for the promotion of their upcoming film. In the conference hall, all the team members gathered for the usual group Q&A, around the long oval table. I've personally met the gorgeous Mangalorean (so what if she grew up in Bangalore?) beauty before but this time around, she appeared like a dream-come-true. I didn't ask a single question during the hour-long audience. Later, my colleague pointed out that i seemed way too much in awe of her. Truth be told, i wasn't. I was just enamored by her ears. Yes, that organ through which we hear. Hers have a personality of their own. They literally stick out but not like Dev Patel's bunny pair does. Deepika's ears are pointed and pulled back, a bit like those Na'vi characters. Maybe there's a reason why almost all her photoshoots hide her ears à la Hrithik Roshan did with his double-thumbs. Or maybe i should concentrate on better things in life. Like her deep eyes, for instance. Or her heartbreaking smile. Or maybe i should have done my job and asked: "Don't you think Bollywood stars—not all actors—in our country are ridiculously overpaid?"

Sunday, November 10, 2013

The burden of distinction

I don't get art. It's much easier to understand artists though. I can't call myself an expert yet but i carry a hunch when it comes to cinema and poetry. The former undoubtedly qualifies for art but i'm not so sure about the latter. However, i also feel that the exact opposite should be true about the two. In my spaced-out eyes, art has to create noise despite being absolutely silent. And it's pretty obvious that cinema took birth out of silence before turning noisy while poetry came out of voice before becoming mute. It's quite an interesting development. Since i haven't made any attempt towards film-making, i wouldn't know how close to art it is. I'm an unaccomplished former poet so i know a bit about verses and metre. As a viewer, i can tell that a movie is originally made in a director's head—no, not the writer's—and from that moment onwards, the whole effort is to convert that vision into reality. Henceforth, the concept of art suffers a bit as too many people are involved. On the contrary, poetry is a one-man-standing-against-nobody exercise. So where exactly do you place art in a poem? In the core selfishness of words or the gaps left by phrases and punctuations? Wherever you please. At least the purity of an idea is maintained. Furthermore, art is not a pursuit but a creative journey to find respite in the end. Like the act of masturbation, for lack of a terribler example. You know when it has to end and there's no such thing as perfection in it. What could be finesse for one could be an interval for another. A poet has nothing to prove while a filmmaker has a lot. Precisely why a poem can never be perfect. Precisely why a film can.

Friday, November 8, 2013

After decline

When times change, new faces take over. Somebody is going to replace someone. Nobody can be the sun of a team. Steve Ballmer is moving out. Alex Ferguson has moved out. NR Murthy has moved in. It's all in the family now. Similarly, Kasturis of The Hindu are witnessing upheavals in their setup. On an individual level, all one has to do is look at sports and the ranking system. Nothing is constant there. Messi, by his standards, is suffering a rough patch. There's no doubt left that CR7 and Zlatan are having better days at office than the little genius. Even Aaron Ramsey is making hay of his brilliant form. And so is Arsène Wenger. These are the very guys thanks to whom football-related Internet memes flourished last season. The same is true about Rohit Sharma as far as cricket is concerned. Now they are at the top of their league. As an unbiased fan, you crack silly jokes now and then revere them later. There are exceptions too. You never throw a jibe at a legend like Federer. The Swiss ballerina-turned-tennis-player is currently going through the worst phase of his illustrious career. Even lower-rung players are proving to be massive challenge to this otherwise invincible 32-year-old. However, he can take heart from how his arch-rival from Mallorca resurfaced during this calendar year. Let's hope RF doesn't cave into maudlin and hang up his racquets prematurely. Justin Timberlake plays the lead in a Coen Brothers movie. Who could have thought? It's all about time. Sometimes, you succeed and sometimes, it takes a bit longer. The trick is to never give up. Even Jesus Christ took three days to resurrect himself, right?

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

What's in a gender?

On one hand, you have a name that is probably one of the most popular words in the country. And on another, you have a name that so often fails the sex determination test.

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Vehicle, aaj aur kal

As little children, we used to play this game called gaadi-gaadi. Nothing exceptionally innovative about it. We had this oversize rope which we tied at the ends so as to create a circle and then we got in it creating an imaginative vehicle. Once inside, the driver would be at the forefront while the others held on to each others' back of the shirt—beginning with the driver's—creating a queue. And then the driver will take us around. Of course, we had to trudge along 'cause there was no motor involved. To paraphrase Gabbar Singh's quote, Jab tak hamare pair challenge tab tak gaadi challengi. Being the driver of such deluxe automobile was a huge honour during those days. Apart from enjoying the forward view during an automobilic thrill, s/he was also the one who'd steer as per her/his liking. It was totally up to the person behind the non-existent wheels to take the rest, wherever, within the allotted time. Needless to add, i used to crave for my turn to be that person. 
At breakfast, my amma taunts me that while my best friend bought himself a car on Dhanteras, i don't even know how to drive at the age of 27.

Monday, November 4, 2013

Nirvana by accident

In movies, the screen is at times decelerated to bring in the effect of how time can be manipulated. During these instances, actors move with a grace otherwise unnoticed. The same theory is applied in sports entertainment. You can even count the number of revolutions a football completed before it skewered in to kiss the back of the net. Slo-mo, they call it. In real world, this shit happens to you whenever you bang your head into a wall or a glass door. As soon as the stars clouding your eyes are gone, everything starts to make sense. But not before everything slows down like a glacier succumbing to global warming. Even your thought process takes a beating. It's an interesting phenomena. The only trouble is you've got to be fast enough to die down a bit and young enough to live again.

Friday, November 1, 2013

A rare specimen

As i'm growing older and seeing my hair grey and teeth decay, i'm understanding how this world really functions. The element of surprise is lost on us. Maybe because we've stopped looking for it. Much against the ongoing trend, i recently bumped into a fellow commuter who exemplified coolness. He wasn't this look-at-me-i-am-so-cool cool. He was far better. Must be in his early 20s, he was standing near the door with his concentration locked on his smartphone. And as the train approached Kurla, the crowd got panicky as nobody wants to land up in Virar or wherever they think the train will take them if they don't behave like they're about to be set free by their masters. Coming back to our guy, he got pushed and as bad luck would have it, he lost grip on his phone. The poor thing flew and crashed on the platform. I couldn't feel the pain of such horror unfolding in front of my eyes but i could relate to his upcoming grief. The only catch here is he wasn't sad. Or anything close to it. He didn't even lose his temper. On top of that, he didn't even bother to look back to see who really pushed him. He calmly got down, collected the scattered chassis of his phone and reassembled it. There was a smile on his face throughout. And off he went shaking his head. Either he thought he was at fault for not being able to take care of his non-living friend or he's about to buy a new model so wouldn't mind any less. Whichever way you look at it, that was a rare sight in a city where people just need a reason to valve off their long-accumulated fury.