Monday, December 30, 2013

At our own mercy

How does one gauge slavery? Is it even possible in today's timeframe? I've never been jailed though amma often locked us up so that we weren't subjected to scorching summer sun. But that doesn't come close to what a slave must feel under his/her master's command. For reasons plausible, slavery is attached to people with darker skin shade although people across the spectrum—irrespective of their race—suffered at the hands of those who were comparatively more powerful. And in some parts of the world, continue to. 
Wait a minute. 
We are all slaves, right? We might be the captain of our souls but we don't always win the toss. We are captivated by the desire to gain something even at the cost of losing our sanity. We often get ourselves in such a goddamn hurry that we don't even realize where we're heading towards. It's a strange world and our species, stranger. With the change in era, we've become our own whiplashing masters. Aren't we the victims of our accomplished milestones and unaccomplished dreams? I don't know about you but i'm engauged now.

Sunday, December 29, 2013

On the seventh day...

  • God took to music.
  • God said, "Screw this experiment! It's not working."
  • God laughed at the mystery that engulfed nothing.
  • God already knew what everybody was going to do on their first summer. 
  • God rested to figure out what drove him on the first day to such madness.
  • God said "Let there be light" instead of "Let there be delight."
  • God got irritated and reminded us to thank him for Sunday too.
  • God lost count of her mistakes.
  • God went to LA and got wasted.
  • God created a competitor in the form of a short cricketer.
  • God finally stopped procrastinating.
  • God turned pro and declared himself infinite.
  • God missed humour. 
  • God felt loneliness.
  • God grinned in between.
  • God wondered why weren't there any Udupi hotels yet. 
  • God took a break and thought for a while - "WHY ME?"
  • God took early retirement.

Saturday, December 28, 2013

That underrated actor

If Farooque Shaikh were alive, he'd have disapproved of what i'm going to write. Not because it's false but because of his nature. The endearing actor cautiously stayed away from accolades and made sure he was as stardom-free as humanly possible. However, interestingly enough, he cared about his films and how they turned out in their essence compared to box-office figures. And this is from what i know of him. Having met him twice and having spoken on phone more, i'm pretty sure that there are very few actors around who ponder about the kind of work they are doing than the consequences it's going to have. With him gone now, that precious number has dwindled further. Remember that climactic scene in Shanghai where he's unable to enjoy his food after Abhay Deol's rebellious character has left him with no choice? Or throughout Club 60 where he balanced Sarika? Well, these are instances from his second innings (although he denied ever going back to the pavilion) and there are a lot more from his younger days. The range he exhibited was par excellence—be it the so-called middle-of-the-road cinema, theatre or television. Come to think of it, his Jeena Isi Ka Naam Hai brought us closer to Bollywood stars long before KJo's caffeine did. He kept moving from one platform to another. The most impressive thing about him was he didn't take himself seriously throughout and admitted that he was painfully lazy. Always the first one to poke fun at himself, i remember him telling me "Yeh Jawaani Hai Deewani did so well despite me being in it!" with deadpan expression. I don't know about others but these are the kind of folks i look forward to in my day-to-day existence. They don't own a car but are happy doing what they love. On top of that, they don't harbour bitterness for the boats they missed. They address you with warmth and respect unseen in most of their contemporaries. They are a rare specimen and it's an utter shock to wake up to rude news of their departure. I can only wish him a peaceful second innings.

Friday, December 27, 2013

Eyes and lows

Every single day, we learn something about ourselves. Something we overlooked otherwise. Something others saw but we somehow failed to. Yesterday, a colleague pointed out that i walk in the office with my eyes fixed on the floor as if i'm searching for a lost coin. Until he brought this to my notice, i had no idea that i walked like that. That sounded like the walking posture of a serial killer with a day job. In my head, i walked like Brad Pitt or Ryan Gosling or both. But in reality, turns out i walk like...err.. me. For an introvert briefly experimenting with extorvertism, it was a mixed epiphany: "Wow, 27+ years on this planet spent avoiding as many eye contacts as possible!" 
Well done, me.

Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Being bipolar

Do you get that feeling you're way too awesome for this planet? If you do, congrats! You must be a modern-day messiah. You are exactly what humankind has been waiting for so long. You're the reason why aliens never landed on our soil. Not that they'll do anytime soon but at least they'll have a good enough excuse to. You're the Moses of legs and the Muhammad of chastity. Our species deserves to be delivered by you and it's high time you converted water to beer. Speaking of which, we want you to moonwalk on water. In return, we promise to celebrate your birthday according to your birth certificate, not by some folklore. There's much more in store. So don't waste time and let's get cracking. To begin with, why not provide you with what Jesse had two millennia ago?

Sunday, December 22, 2013

Cardinal assassin

Don't you wish you did something that'd touch lives all around? And there are several ways to do that and all of them require time, effort and the ability to accept failure with as much zeal as success. Some people don't fall in this category although they pursue the same procedure for a living. They change lives too. When a contract killer is assigned a task (no, not the Bigg Boss-types), doesn't he achieve something life-changing? He's going to bump off someone and that person's life is bound to change. In fact, change way too drastically. Life will change to death. It can't possibly get more drastic than that! I was flooded with these thoughts after reading a piece on Ahmed Ali Khan, a social activist from Cheeta Camp. He had been constantly raising his voice against drug peddlers in the locality and even threatened annshan if police remained indifferent to his pleas. Unfortunately, he was attacked by an unidentified guy last Friday. What's worth noting (at least for the assailant) is that the crusader was struck on his left buttock with a knife. Khan sustained injuries as expected but what does it say of the wannabe-murderer. He ran away from the scene creating a bloody mess but i wonder what must be going through his head. How disappointed must he be with himself? His companions must be laughing at him. After all, who mistakes gluteus for guts? Even if he's not a trained professional, who does that! Maybe he watches too much porn and took the "Stab me in the ass" line way too seriously.

Saturday, December 21, 2013

On the defense

Lately, sentiments spend a lot of time getting hurt. 
ABC said something in jest. DEF, GHI, MNO, STU and YZA get offended. PQR, VWX and JKL don't because they happen to be ABC's friends and know that s/he was just trying to be funny. The point being Justine Sacco is an international figure now. 24 hours ago, nobody cared whether she existed. One lousy *white* tweet and the lady (because of the way she conducted herself post that stupid tweet) has turned jobless, facing online harassment while providing free fodder for viral news.
Let's gear back a bit.
The issue here, at least for those who are offended (or want to be offended), is the utter generalization on Justine's part. She cracks a joke insinuating AIDS is restricted to Africans or blacks in general. Of course, she's grossly mistaken—factually speaking. At the same time, one can't dismiss the fact that she's white. If the offenders say that not all Africans suffer from AIDS, then she can rebut that not all whites suffer from AIDS either. For argument's sake of course. The prism remains the same. Perception differs. 
The real reason why her case got highlighted is because of the sensitivity attached to AIDS and its correlation to Africa. She would have had it difficult if she were to associate a country/continent with a joke on cancer. She was simply idiotic enough to choose the wrong disease. She should have gone for depression. Nobody flinches a bit while hearing a terrible gag on depression. On the contrary, people laugh along. Always. Which itself is a joke because depression is so damn neglected while it silently does the damage. Perhaps ignorance and humour work for each other. 
Let's gear forward a bit. 
Ironically, the aforesaid furore took place on an online platform. A mythical place where you could say anything and get away with it. Unless you fail to get away with it. Like Ms Sacco recently learnt. She just didn't realize the extent of poor souls she might hurt by her words. You see, the thing is these wounded folks never cracked a clichéd/chauvinist/jingoist/sexist/biased joke in their life, let alone posted something equally dumb on Twitter. They love each other like biblical God meant them to. They never post an offensive one-liner about a country they don't approve of or a football club they don't support. Just pure love trending everywhere. In such a scenario, it's hard to understand how sentiments end up injuring themselves so much. 
Oh, i forgot to mention the word racism above. How insensitive of me!

Friday, December 20, 2013

Request of the day

Stay where you are, not because that place needs you but this moment expects you to. Between now and later, here and there, yes and no, the difference is you. And the beauty that you bring to everything that touches you. You're wonderful. Effortlessly. Perhaps we are set for eternity and then some. I could be mistaken but who cares? The venue won't vary with time but i might. Let me selfishly hope you remain a constant to this change.

Thursday, December 19, 2013

Fire to the flame

Since i turned 18, i've been to a handful of weddings and one funeral. Both events are on the extreme ends of human chart. The former is said to provide us a second chance at life while the latter, a final go at salvation. What marks these events are those who surround us during its separate execution. People who cheer you while you're circumambulating the holy fire and the ones who see to it that your body burns to ashes. They are there. As if the whole world's a stage and everybody, a mere witness. Maybe we shouldn't have stopped being catalysts. We could have done better. Fuck it. Imagine attending a wedding where the couple somehow get caught in the flames, thus transmuting into an unwarranted funeral. God forbid, if that happens, the Cosmos would be more just a witness.

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

If and then

Remember those school days when they asked us to pen imaginative essays on 'If i were the Prime Minister blah blah'? If only i was enlightened enough then to begin my first and final paragraph as follows:

If i were the Prime Minister of this chaotic country, i'd have not wasted a minute on writing this silly piece of garbage. Besides, there's hardly any probable merit attached to this futile exercise when all that matters is the score a student grabs at the end of the semester—forget his/her reading skills, pronunciation or the ability to sustain a conversation in English. No offence to the authority. Just that i'd be having far more important things to deal with if i were the PM. Like making sure more concrete steps are undertaken to educate our kids in a manner that will make them feel learned and proud of their mother tongue, not forcefully Anglicized with an overdose of lingual superiority complex. 

Nice try though, teacher.

Sincerely yours, 
Honourable Prime Minister of India. 

PS: Don't forget to vote.

Sunday, December 15, 2013

Setting the record straight?

On one hand, you're homophobic. On the other, you masturbate. Pray tell me how do you manage to do that? Forget love, lust and related abstract nonsense. Talk practical common sense. If you find gays so despicable, how do you tolerate your body in the name of gratification? Curiously when you're mentally screwed by the poison fed by that machismo attached to heterosexuality. Tough questions, huh? Surprise: bullying is passé yaar. Insofar, hypocrisy is the easy way out for a reason, na? What if being different perfectly fine? Perhaps you aren't civilized enough to come to term with the ground realities. Accept it. You aren't on the wrong side of history. Just that you're on standing on the line that might attack your gumption tomorrow. Also, the realities are changing faster than we'd like. Get used to it. There's no other option, dino. Lastly, why impinge on somebody else's space for your godforsaken self-righteousness? Let them breathe and heave a sigh of relief. They deserve the polluted air as much as you do.

Saturday, December 14, 2013

Wake her up

She was great once. At least that's what the stories imply. To her credit, she has always been benevolent to everyone who stepped on her land; even the ruthless marauders. However, over the past few centuries, she has slipped into a nauseating slumber. Unchecked selfishness cascaded with unscrupulous acts of corruption and utter abuse of power sedate her. Yes, there are infrequent sparks indicating every now and then that she is awake and willing to kick—a self-fulfilling illusion by any means. For an ocean of people that she somehow nurtures, she appears abject. Overall. And she deserves far better than what she's presently receiving from our end. A little bit of an attempt on an individual level might make a considerable difference to her well being and thus to the generations that shall supersede us in the future. Yeah, that's it. Just a little bit.

Thursday, December 12, 2013

Half full, full empty

I can relate to the local train. When it's empty, it wobbles a lot while the breeze seeps in from all directions. It makes a strange yet harmonic clanging noise as the hanging straps collide with the rod above. It seems like it's moving faster though. A zen monk sans the demons. But when it reaches the next station, there is an underwhelming sense of wasted energy and time as the passengers aren't oozing out. That emptiness is unbearable. On the other hand, when it's full—brimming with people literally stuffed in—the train has a purpose. So many hold on it and that's a worthy feeling. It's willing to carry the load and wouldn't even mind if some unlucky souls lose grip hanging outside or some get knocked out on the jaywalking railway track. To the train, the reputation of being full of passengers is more important than the infamy of being a mass murderer. Being a human who has his ever-changing phase of holeness and wholeness, i can totally relate to it.

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

In the air

Don't know about you but Jonty Rhodes was the finest fielder from my generation. It was because of him kids like me opted to be a fielder. Not a batsman or a bowler but a proper fielder. Although this had something to do with the fact that we were hopeless at batting or bowling is a different story. Going back to the South African, he was a role model in the '90s. Jonty caught some of the most spectacular catches you'll ever see. An indomitable figure in the gully point where he usually stood guard, he dived with a purpose unlike 21st Century footballers. An affable personality with no controversy whatsoever, he was always clapping and encouraging his teams-men. There was something about him. Most importantly, other than being a reliable middle-order batsman, he saved a hell lot of runs during his tenure. I remember watching him run all the way to the perimeter, slide and stop the ball from cross the boundary line thus saving that precious one or two runs. Time and time again. Now, do we have a figure to calculate? How many opposition runs did he stop from culminating? His record at running out batsmen with his bull's eye is a stuff of legend but what about the runs he saved? We probably don't know. Maybe greatness doesn't require statistics to prove itself. Particularly when a great is too busy doing his job.

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Behind bars

You've watched The Shawshank Redemption, right? Of course you have. Or else, you don't qualify as human. Even if you haven't, guess what? You're alive. So do the needful. In the meanwhile, let me tell you that the gist of the film is one shouldn't give up on hope—specifically when you're wrongly (or even rightly) imprisoned. Apparently, the thing about a jail is it not only reminds but also reveals who you are. On that bittersweet note, ever wondered why India's founding fathers were such visionaries? Maybe because they were repeatedly sent to the slammers where a person can do nothing but think and write. They had so much time to ponder about the future of our country. Think about it.

Monday, December 9, 2013

Leveling ground

Seldom does a statesman's death invoke the sports page in a newspaper. Then again, Nelson Mandela wasn't your everyday leader. He realized the importance of sport quite early and made sure it executed a significant role in the shaping of his country. Interestingly, a century before Madiba did so, Swami Vivekananda went on record saying that he'd recommend football for those who are too lazy to read Bhagavad-Gita. His axiom was refreshingly elementary: you draw similar lessons in life from both of them. The stakes may not be even given the past circumstances but once you reach the hallowed ground of competition, all the members are equal. It doesn't matter who your father is or whether you're rich or poor. Your background is left behind. The only thing worth contemplating is victory and if possible, fairness. The sun will be equally harsh on all the players on the ground. The breeze will play its part accordingly. It's the closest one can get to creating a leveling ground. And we all know how practitioners of politics make sure that such a ground remains a myth.

Sunday, December 8, 2013

Padhe likhe anpadh

Don't you just hate it when you view people on the street litter, spit and abuse public places? Ditto. Guess what? It's worse when you see them do the same from the confines of their four walls. The thing is we Indians like to keep our home clean and streets untidy. There are so many instances around us where people casually throw rubbish out of their window and don't even care to check whether it hit somebody walking on the road outside. Indians would do anything to keep their new-found traditions alive.
Case study: Last night, i was returning home tired from Nashik and it was quite late. I was about four buildings away from ours when a banana peel landed right in front of me—about three feet away. The ironical part was somebody from that very building could have unassumingly slipped on the slippery slip in the morning. Anyway, i looked up as anybody who believes in God would do. From the open window and the functioning tubelight, it was patent that the banana skin flew from that house on the second floor. I used to play cricket once so it wasn't too high for me. I could have easily thrown the peels back into the window—if not on the first attempt, then at least on the fifth. However, i changed my mind at the last moment. Instead, i opened the gate and walked up the stairs despite feeling terribly weary. On ringing the bell of the 'guilty' house, a tall man in lungi opened the door. Before he could ask anything i said "This must be yours. You left it downstairs" in Hindi, before handing him the abandoned banana skin. I was prepared for denial but he didn't say anything. He simply took my offer, looked at his window and pulled a face. I wanted to take out my unrelated frustration by lecturing him: "Padhe likhe log aisa karenge toh anpadhon se kya ummeed karna?" But there was no need for it.

Friday, December 6, 2013

Lie and fall

I don't wish to touch you. 
Just want to sleep next to you
and see you fall asleep.
But before you do so, 
i'd tell you stories filled with funny yet wise characters.
They might make you laugh
— they certainly made me.
You can keep your eyes closed 
while hmming every now and then.
To signal that the night ain't over. 
Being imperfect, it'd only get better
—  trust me although i don't know why —
like a moon vying for limelight through dark sky.
The distance between me and you is sacred. 
Let it be. 
You're safe in my vicinity. 
Fetal position, face-to-face. 
Your beauty can't be threatened by my lonely gaze.
It's beyond us.
As far as i can see, i won't ever be able to claim your soul.
Or your reason to stay awake.
Why try and waste time on it?
Just sleep next to me and fall asleep.
I'll lie next to you and fall in love.

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Word of the day

Run. [...and don't look back unless you're sure it's God herself!]

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Fans and fanatics

I'm a Liverpool fan and i prefer to walk alone. Always did. Been cheering the team for more than a decade now. I've seen it rise and fall and ebb. Players come and go. Only somebody like Gerrard or a Carragher sticks around. However, despite my concern for this particular club, i can't claim to be a hardcore Scouser. I just can't. Maybe by birth. Not because i haven't been lucky enough to visit Anfield or Melwood yet. It's actually basic common sense. I have nothing to do with those places to begin with. I can't even point out where Liverpool is on a map—not that it matters anyway. All i am is a Liverpool fan. I love the integrity it shows on the field and i admire the way it plays and the way it's run. There's no point in being more organic than necessary. The problem with the current lot of Indian football club fans is they want to be part of a history they shall never be. This behaviour would have made more sense if Indians were fond of clubs that aren't in the top-5. But that's not how it is. Success is the key. A majority are plain glory-hunters though they'll never admit it. They want to touch the peak their favourite club did in the past. They are offended by slangs that were coined much before they were born. And the worst part: they generally don't respect other clubs or their fans. Generalizing football fans is wrong but when it comes to adherence to clubs, it's alright to kick logic.

Monday, December 2, 2013

One last leaf

With winter fast moving in, trees can be seen wholeheartedly embracing nudity. One such specimen lives in my neighbourhood. Every morning, as i walk towards station, i see the giant slowly shedding its inhibitions. One leaf at a time. The branches are visibly prominent while the road beneath is left with a carpet of dried leaves. Temporary joy to walk on them, got to admit. Shade, interspersed with harmless sunlight, guaranteed too. Going back to the leaves, i remember this very tree was left with only one leaf last year. Or maybe two or three but it looked like one. As if it was proving a point against the nature. As if it was ready neither for reincarnation nor for hibernation. Nothing could persuade it to change its photosynthetic mind. December passed by and so did Jan. It hangs on—not metamorphically. Let's just say that it enjoyed the view from the top and wouldn't have it any other way.