Friday, January 31, 2014

Decoding the end

What next? After life? Heaven? Hell? Sheaven? Shell? The answer might lie in our assumptions. But one instance is for certain: We're going to fade away. Eventually. Whatever we do now is what matters. Tomorrow is an altogether different ballgame. After all, death ain't a great believer of procrastination. It's damn punctual. Everyday is a seemingly ceaseless exercise in a void that connects birth with its ultimate partner. Blip. Personally, i don't romanticize death as much as its aftermath; the pangs undergone by those who survived a departure. If nothing else, it helps me expand my horizon. Wonder why it happened. Loss is a fabulous teacher. Like dogs, with their relatively shorter lifespan, helped our evolution by teaching a lesson or two in non-human bereavement. Death is death be it of any kind. You see aspirations die or confidence destroyed. Slow, sublime passing away of a thing so prominent minutes ago. And when you look at the bigger picture—with closed eyes, if possible—it comes to you. Slowly. You see yourself breaking the code of life. Death can surely wait.

Thursday, January 30, 2014

Mouth on foot

They think you're wise. And then you talk. This has happened to me (and consequently to those who interacted ad interim) over and over again. Anyway, i'll point out six recent instances where my lack of attention and oversmartassness created unwittingly sitcom-ish scenarios.
Dialogue 1: 
Jay: "I don't want any excuses. You have to be at my wedding no matter what."
Me: "Sure, sure. But you'll be there, right?" 
Dialogue 2:
Mehv: "That song is from our Coke Studio or yours?" 
Me: "Of course, ours. Pakistani Coke Studio." 
Dialogue 3: 
Saket: "Hi. Saket." 
Me: "Naaaa, it's Shakti."
Dialogue 4:
Amma: "When are you planning to grow up?"
Me: "Tomorrow."
Dialogue 5:
Commuter: "#&)!*%*@#@!!~"
Dialogue 6: 
Her: "Are you always this foolish?"
Me: "No. Only when i talk."

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

D-word + M-word

I'm at that stage of my life where i can't pretend to be something else. I am what i am. During my younger days, i thought i was so many things. All at once. Today, i look at myself only to see that i find it difficult to be even one thing at a time. As a kid, i assumed i won't last a quarter of a century. Today i want to live at least 200 years, if not more. Given the rate my health lets me down, that figure sounds a bit too far-fetched though. My hair is falling—presumably in love with my toes—and greying at a rate even Vikram Bhatt can't handle. My career is moving at a speed that has very little to do with displacement or distance. My phone has been on silent mode for almost three months now. I've been on idle mode for more than a year. The only thing worth feeling good about right now is me going back to college. Not that degrees matter in a sweaty country like ours but some things are best done quietly. It fills you with hope of stability and that's worth the grind. Rest unassured, you can't fall back on the years you wasted as a dropout. You're neither Jobs nor Gates. And just when all these thoughts are messing your head, people in your house want you to settle down. So being a good son, you settle down on the sofa but that's not enough. They want more. They want you to stop fooling around with your Peter Pan complex. They want you to show your seriousface. Maybe it means getting your name printed on a wedding card because you and your loved ones cherish seeing your name on a piece of paper. It has always been a motivational factor. Name on certificates. Name on trophies. Name on news pages. Name here. Name there. Name everywhere. Naam hona chahiye. And then the ultimate embossing of your name on an invitation card. The pride associated with it would have made sense if you had won your bride in a Swayamvara. Something is wrong. Small wonder why Lenka's Everything At Once sounds so darn right to my gay ears. 

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Spaced out

Everyday i notice you slipping away,
like a language dying a slow death...
without a word or two.
Everyday you shine brighter than before,
i don't see or understand how...
that ember enlightens a spark.
Everyday we shrink a bit more,
not only in lifespan but also in sight...
warm within our cold darkness.
Everyday they ask tireless questions,
when answers are way too scarce...
between us and our silence.
Everyday time tests our patience,
stares us into oblivion build by the past...
untouched or unnoticed otherwise.

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Skipping from lesson to lesson

A journalist who works for a daily can't really afford a hangover. At least not during weekdays. However, the journo in our story learnt it the hard way. He got hammered the night before he was supposed to meet a top cop for a sensitive scoop. No surprise he barely woke up on time and somehow rushed to the venue. Having made his interviewee wait for about half an hour, the disheveled scribe's body language reeked of apology. Anyway, he put his hand into his bag to take out his dictaphone so as to get started. Much to his horror, instead of a silver-coloured recording device, a black-tinted remote control came out in his grip. A drunk man does a lot of things but replacing one electronic gadget with another was a revelation to him. Mr Journalist couldn't help musing whether it was possible to just click the red power button and get out of the extended nightmare. Desperate, he tried that too. Not happening. Thus, he was about to regret his decision to go drinking the previous night when a towering voice quipped, "I'm glad you didn't bring your TV along with it."

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Gross imitations

What's common to famous personalities like Mark Twain, Sigmund Freud, Winston Churchill, Gunter Grass and Hunter S. Thompson? Besides being exceptionally gifted as writer, you'll notice a smoking pipe in almost all their portraits clicked in their drawing rooms with the window illuminating the pages they filled. [Related: I've taken a liking for asking questions only to reply them myself.] No, not a supermodel-thin cigarette but a healthy short stick to inhale unhealthy fume. It adds charisma to their larger-than-fiction persona. The way a superbike or a sports car does to today's concept of machismo. Accessory is the word. I wish i did but i don't smoke so i often find myself typing with a toothbrush in my mouth. It's an ugly scenario for an otherwise pleasant morning. My toothbrush pretends to a smoking pipe generating this liquidy white smoke—to be spat out as late as possible. If i end up as a good writer (because there's no such a thing as a great one), i'll ensure that the foam sticking to my lips leave an impression on nicotine addicts.

Monday, January 13, 2014

Blinded by tears

Overcome by pity, she handed out a note from her purse. The blind old man was expecting a coin or two but the smile on his face suggested that he liked what his fingers felt. In superbusy cities like Bombay, one often find himself/herself expecting a change in themselves by handing out some change to beggars. Our lady in question too was one of the many in action. [What people don't realise is begging is a business, bordering on extreme professionalism. Very few beggars function on an individual level, thus further dividing the profit share. As a result, syndicates profit from random sympathy while the beggars seldom manage to pull themselves out of this decaying vortex. In other words, they'll remain on the streets while you'll go home feeling better about yourself.] It was only later at night that she realised that she had given him a Rs 500 bill instead of the intended a tenner. She couldn't help laugh at the irony of being emotionally blind and prayed he took some days off.

Sunday, January 12, 2014

Blink and miss

Q: Would you believe if i told you that your life restarts every time you blink?

A: Stop blinking and start believing for a change.

Saturday, January 11, 2014

Sunshine calling

On the last day of 2013, i tweeted suggesting that i wanted to wake up in 2014 as Steve McQueen (the director) because i had recently watched 12 Years a Slave and i couldn't get a grip around this guy's genius. He's made three feature films so far and each one of them is a masterpiece in its own right. Undistilled awesomeness! I can't wait for his next endeavour. In the meanwhile, i want to wake up as a different person. It happens to be someone whom i used to abhor for his utter lack of depth in script-related choices. Matthew McConaughey, ladies and gentlemen. Here's a brawny actor whose talent kept getting wasted in one bland film after another. And then one day, he woke up realizing his folly. Thanks to that epiphany, he's going through a cinematic high. His homoerotic performance in The Paperboy was dignified although the movie was a Grade 1 disaster. Nevertheless a remarkable upswing from his surfer dude image. Later, his mildly psychotic lover act in Mud further raised the tempo, culminating in the spectacularly flamboyant Dallas Buyers Club where he plays an emaciated AIDS patient. If you easily pitied Tom Hanks's Andrew in Philadelphia, you would find it difficult to extend the favour to McConaughey's Ron. Oscar nomination is for sure—a win would be better. Oh, that's not it. He had a fitting cameo on Scorsese's The Wolf of Wall Street and the latest TV series True Detective appears sleek with him in a commanding (yet unmistakeably unbrawny) position. And if that's not enough for a peak, there's his leading role in Christopher Nolan's Interstellar which would hit us early November. Heck of a climb!

All things yapped and praised, i don't wish to wake up as anybody else. Just glad that these amazing guys manage to get up on the right side of their career. Everyday, lately. 

Wednesday, January 8, 2014

In and out of the flow

Random conversations lead to random destinations. One such recent headless chat led me to believe that rivers do much more than they seem to. It goes without saying they provide life with their abundant supply of water and minterals. But they don't stay pure after getting in touch with our species. It's an age-old habit. We can't keep ourselves from contaminating whatever is s pure. This behaviour should trigger our acceptance of our innate impurity but it rarely does. But the river doesn't mind as moving on is in its nature. The liquidity long lady quietly gathers our secrets on her path and dumps the crapload into the sea. Something she's been doing without letting anyone have a hunch. If this theory holds water (no pun intended), I wonder what the city-based gutters might have to say in their defense.

Tuesday, January 7, 2014


I don't need a DSLR to know that i'm not a photographer. The same is true about millions of others who are suddenly empowered by Instagram. With the exposure we are party to—thanks to the rise of technology—there's this unexplainable urge to click and share and upload and stare. Set against this trend was a wise friend of mine who went to Ladakh and didn't bring back a single photograph. Not even one for memory's sake. On the contrary, he questioned the logic behind wasting time collecting pictures when he can utilize the same amount of time on exploring the place. After all, he was there on a short trip and "couldn't afford wasting time on something he wasn't well-verse with" instead of living the moments a bit more. No place for posterity. Whatever that sounds like now, it reeked of sincerity then. And the acceptance of the fact that he was a traveler, not a photographer.

Monday, January 6, 2014

When dreams kill

If you were to ask 10 people their most preferable way to pass away, almost nine of them would say "I wouldn't mind dying in my sleep". Even if this weren't the exact sentence, the words to be noted here are mind and sleep. [We'll get to that later.] This reply has more to do with lack of imagination and logic than anything rational enough. There's an undying (no pun intended) romance attached to sleeping and never waking up. Also, it's considered to be painless although a layman doesn't really know what kind of experience the dead person had during those last moments of life. And one can't discount the fact that the deceased were engaged in one dream or the other before the Angel of Death kissed them on their forehead. So going by the circumstancial evidences, a dream murdered the hell out of you without leaving a hint of proof behind. What an assassin! Anyway, for the sake of curiosity, wouldn't you love to know what kind of subconscious film was the departed gentleman/lady engaged in? Better still, would you consider yourself extremely lucky if your dreams were to kill you? Literally. 

Saturday, January 4, 2014

What matters

If somebody pointed out Natalie Portman's forehead gives Sonakshi Sinha's something to worry about, i'd laugh along. (One of the benefits of being a joke is you can always take one!) It's never been as much about physical attributes as it is about one's perspective of a person one blindly admires. You won't end up together—that's a given—no matter what. As a consequence, in your head, even imperfections contribute to that bigger picture called beauty. You're already sold to an idea of being in love with an imaginary person. Nothing can save you now. Too late. What you can do though is appreciate the depth of mental consumption: staying in awe of the way s/he moves with their words. Rare species merit rarer priorities. You love them because they are. They exist in your very universe. Vocal yet subtle; still yet meandering. These amazing souls burn with a mysterious delight. There's pain from the past involved somewhere, of course. They don't reveal much but somehow fill the vacuum. In case you're mistaken about them, it can't possibly be worse than your status quo. Despite being so incredible, not only do they fail to realize it but also bleed like poetry. They compel you to abuse the word 'wonderful' like never before. With such a scenario around you, how do you explain yourself? Well, you don't. You simply seek home.

Friday, January 3, 2014

Of pens and keys

If you can write 25 lines without feeling a hint of discomfort in your knuckles, you’re awesome. Your handwriting—good or worse—be damned! No joke. There’s a reason to it too. You haven’t been destroyed by QWERTY. Yet. And that should be a matter of pride even if you’re not Murakami or Rowling or Pamuk. You see, over the past few years, our literal realities have been going through a paradigm shift. As a result of which, desktop has become a common noun and typing, commoner. Pen doesn’t seem as mighty as it once used to. Keys have taken its place; at least in the urban scenario.
                                                   Or maybe it’s just me.
Nowadays, i barely let a pen point attempt paragraphs on paper. It’s usually words or short sentences, if not plain signatures.  With such a discouraging backdrop, what happens to the good old custom of writing long epistles? With telegram honorably extinct, what’s the future of exchanging hand-written letters? Cultivating pen pals while we are it? Postcards, someone? Love letters, huh? Will they survive? By any measure of chance, yes is the answer. The real question is a bit different though: what about you? It’s not like the whole world has suddenly turned against the poor postman. The street dogs continue to chase him while people in the neighbourhood can’t wait to welcome him without offering a glass of water. So things aren’t evolving THAT phenomenally. People exchange e-mails and everything is more or less fine. After all, everybody appears proud to have the same print-perfect handwriting.
So, the question keeps coming back to you. Your skills and your personal touch. When was the last time you wrote someone a letter filled with cancellations and food marks? Whom are you planning to send one in spite of having each other’s e-mail IDs? Holding a page with words meant for you can certainly beat a lot of in its category. Besides, it’s never too late. Yes, Gandhi was right. Our handwriting and gymnastics indeed stay with us forever. But it’s OK. You’re not writing a medical prescription. The person on the other end will get what you’re trying to say. 
Perhaps it’s not about the choice available but about doing something which we once used to. Before technology made time invaluable and emotions, redundant. If you sit down to quantify the amount of time one invests in browsing and posting comments on social media that will never be responded with a reply, it becomes stark obvious that we’re simply wasting the power of fingertips. Shouldn’t that be diverted towards those who’d be happy to really ‘hear’ from you… for a change? By any yardstick, that’d be better than having an imaginary friend/acquaintance who never writes back to you.

NB: I wrote this drivel for my only surviving pen pal on Earth.

Wednesday, January 1, 2014

New year, same old shit

2013 is dead and gone while 2014 seems like a promising infant. Insofar, the ghosts of the former will be instrumental in shaping the latter. Things won't change drastically unless somebody close—if not you yourself—chooses to pass away. Regardless, the sun shall continue to work non-stop but the moon will play truant behind the clouds. Tides will rise and fall; wind move and halt. Hearts shall warm up when mountains melt. Broken news and patchy principles. In the meantime, wrinkles shall silently sneak in. If you're lucky enough, words won't play along with silence. And you'll grow up. 

PS: What if this year does to us what we couldn't to the one that preceded it?