Wednesday, February 27, 2008

My Alphabet

Right! So I've been tagged once again by my indomitable Su Manni who has returned after a long hiatus with a vengeance, and this time it's personal, like they say in the movies. Without the further ado that I had planned, let me plunge.

A - Available? Physically, yes. Mentally and emotionally, no. I'm too much in love with myself and too depressed along with a heart long lost and gone cold for you to have any chance.
B - Best Friend: I have had a few over the years but at the end of the day, I am my best friend and my worst enemy.
C - Cake or Pie: The only pie I know is Apple Pie and I haven't eaten it for years. Cake it is.
D - Drink of Choice: Strong South Indian filter coffee made the right way.
E - Essential thing used everyday: Cigarettes, though I hope to change that soon.
F - Favourite Colour: Black, yellow, blue, red - they fight for dominance everyday.
G - Gummi bears or worms: I have no idea what these are, though I think they might be candy or a TV show. So I'll go with the other G I'm starting to get interested in - God.
H - Hometown: Bangalore, but born in Coimbatore.
I - Indulgence: Modes of transportation. I take an auto everywhere when I really should be exploring the bus system. I fly home regularly on my dad's money. The car is always available for me at home. I'm seriously considering buying a bicycle.
J - January or February: No brainer. Feb all the way, against any month of the year. I was born in Feb and it's different from all the other months, just like I strive to be from other people.
K - Kids and names: A girl and a boy, if you please. Not great at coming up with names and I had some pretty silly names picked out when the relationship was in full swing. No names now, and no kids planned for another half a decade, at the very least.
L - Life is incomplete without: Depression
M - Marriage Date: To be decided upon with the other party when the other party is decided upon.
N - Number of siblings: One younger brother who is pretty close on my heels in terms of life panning out; haven't been much of a role model or a brother to him, wish we were closer, but I love him to death.
O - Oranges or Apples: Tough call. I like both, but I think apples win by a slight margin.
P - Phobias: Many. Closed spaces, heights, flying, creepy-crawlies, commitment, touch, people, death, losing my family.
Q - Quote: The only true currency in this bankrupt world is what you share with someone else when you're uncool - Lester Bangs from Almost Famous
R - Reason to Smile: I know I'm getting out of this mess someday and I'm getting myself a better life doing what I want to do, living it the way I want to live it.
S - Season: I love different things about different seasons. But I really like to watch the rain. It calms me infinitely, like nothing else can.
T - Tag three people: No. I will not. I don't like being forced to write and I will not force it on anybody else. Also, I hate being made to choose.
U - Unknown fact about me: I love watching people cry, the kind of tears that are produced when they are hurt deep inside, when the heart truly aches. I fret that I am not able to produce the same kind of tears; makes me wonder if I really am dead inside.
V - Vegetable you do not like: Again, tough. I have been able to develop a sort of tolerance to all vegetables over the years, but I would believe that the spinach and the brinjal are waging a keen battle for the top slot.
W - Worst Habit: Sloth. I spend a large part of my day not moving any part of my life forward and time is passing me by. I have the intent, but am generally lacking in the pushing-coming-to-shoving department.
X - X rays you have had: Neck
Y - Your favourite food: South Indian all the way. Thakali rasam, moru kozhambu, vetthai kozhambu.
Z - Zodiac: Aquarius

Sunday, February 24, 2008

The Eastwind Experience

India's very own Woodstock came calling at Delhi this weekend - The Eastwind Festival - featuring 60 bands spread over 3 stages and 3 days.

I couldn't attend Day 1 because of work and Day 3 because of exhaustion. But I did attend Day 2 and it was one heck of a trip.

We walked in to catch a little bit of Five Little Indians and they were a pretty decent band to kick off my Eastwind experience. We were sorely disappointed by Little Babushka's Grind and thought that The Gautam Ghosh Collective had a good stage act, though their music was a far cry from their pretty cool name. Then we managed to catch a larger part of Myndsnare's performance and I was simply blown away by Yasmin, their woman drummer. She is now part of my favourite drummers group and I now have a new band to follow.

We caught a pretty big part of Half Step Down's gig and they were pretty good, though they didn't really have a sound that would ensnare me. We witnessed the last bit of a very lovely sounding HFT and then settled down to listen to Soulmate. I have heard these guys before and I know they're brilliant, but they were completely in their element here. They played a fabulous gig and had the crowd shouting for another one (with the very Indian "One more" instead of the classier "Encore") at the end, which they happily obliged much to the delight of everyone present.

After that sonorous exhilaration, I quickly ran back for the dying strains of Kryptos. Unfortunately, they sounded quite off colour and I could scarcely believe that their drummer was the same I had learnt the finer nuances of drumming from nearly 2 years ago. He looked and sounded so different I could barely recognise him. But they did close with one of my favourite songs from their album - Clandestine Elements.

Menwhopause had the entire crowd's attention for almost the entirety of their gig as there were no gigs going on in the other 2 stages. After having heard so much about them, I expected great things from them. I was very let down, to say the least. I didn't like their music at all.

We then sat through some electronica courtesy Jalebee Cartel, who sounded suspiciously like a discotheque or night club, before we went to listen to a band from my undergraduate college - Galeej Gurus. These guys have been around for years and although I never really cared to listen to them in college, I wanted to here. Again, I was not too impressed.

I was biding my time waiting for my favourite band Thermal And A Quarter, and hence sat through another band which I think was Pink Noise. They were not half bad. Soon, the time came. It was TAAQ time. We went and stood right in front, up with the barricades, even before the band members had arrived on stage and we didn't move till the cops came and forced the sound to be switched off.

I kept shouting the names of the only members I really cared about in the band - Bruce, Rajeev and Rzhude. I kept shouting the names of the songs I wanted to hear. I shouted the name of my college, which Bruce was well aware of, and he acknowledged it with a chuckle. I screamed along with the lyrics of the songs. In short, I behaved like the quintessential fan; and it was the greatest time of my life.

I was amazed at how many bands in the festival sounded so alike. It really takes a head on comparison like this to realise just how shallow our music is. Sure, everybody tries to come up with clever sounding lyrics and themes, but the sound is so also-ran that interest is quickly lost. Very few bands have a truly unique sound to them, so much so that when you hear one of their songs, you immediately know it's theirs. Bands from the festival that immediately come to mind are TAAQ, Soulmate, HFT, Jalebee Cartel and Myndsnare.

A unique sound is one of the keys to recognition and success, I feel. Cases in point are AC/DC, The Who, Metallica, Black Sabbath and Led Zeppelin. Lounge Piranha from Bangalore also has a very unique sound and I was disappointed that they weren't playing at Eastwind.

My legs felt floppy, my neck was sure to hurt the next morning and I was tired, but it was all worth it in the end. A great experience.

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Common Spaces

Each and every space that you have ever inhabited in your dreary existence till date, that you are currently inhabiting in the persistent continuation of your dreary existence, or that you dreary existence will ever deem fit to inhabit, has never been, is not and will never be yours. All spaces are common spaces.

The spot you were just standing in on the road has already had a number of vehicles and people pass through it, not to mention the occasional holy cow. The bus seat, even the toilet seat you sat on this morning has since been warmed by other posteriors. The cigarette butt that your lips so greedily agreed to get burned on is also being wrapped by other lips. The bed you slept on so dreamily will soon welcome another body, solo if you're moving house, shared if you hook up.

Even you yourself are common space. Every bit of your own body that you touch or feel, in whatever desperate attempt to feel loved, relaxed or wanted, will also be prey to the commonality that envelopes you. If you hook up, somebody else will be the predator; if you remain "never been kissed", then your other hand is always ready to play the part.

So what is yours and only yours then? Your email inbox? Bah! Other people's mails share common space. Your thoughts and feelings then? Maybe your loneliness, depression and sadness? Friends - physical, virtual (blog included), alcoholic, real, imagined - will make sure that you share that as well.

Your ideas. Your creations. These two are yours for as long as you wish, but only as long as you keep it to yourself and don't let anything from the outside world come within interplanetary distance.

Ideate. Create. It doesn't matter what - the answer to ending war, hunger and poverty, or another personality or imaginary friend. Ideate. Create.

Lovely

I love the word "lovely". The word "lovely" is one of my favourite words. I use it in all my birthday and anniversary and new year greetings. Wish you a lovely year ahead.

Words conjure up certain images in my mind. Not all words have the power to do that, just some words with special powers. These words have qualities like or unlike other words, but they're special in the way they roll off the tongue, the way they bring a slight hint of a smile (or any other expression) to my face, the way they almost seem to linger in the air as their last syllable continues to waft around my ears.

"Lovely" brings to mind a bright red cherry or plum. Even though it's dry, it is glistening, almost bursting with juicy redness. It has a little white square at the top right, where the light is hitting it, a classic frame for any artist. It has a fairly straight stem that only marginally tilts to the right, not unlike the Leaning Tower of Pisa. The mouth is watering and the only way to satiate it is to bite into that juicy cherry or plum.

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Kanavu

Following my post on Pablo Neruda, I thought it was only fair that I posted one of my own poems, written but a few days ago. In no way comparable to the great Neruda's works of poetic art, opinion dictates that it is still easily one of the best pieces of poetry I have ever written. I have found that when I write poetry giving in to the moment rather than trying to structure it beforehand, I churn out some truly scintillating stuff. A lesson to be learned.

It was a maze of cobble stoned paths
We had been invited to
The city was abuzz with activity and people
I thought I had found myself in ancient Mexica
The air was filled with excitement
Colourful banners filled the streets
A big name was marrying another big name

2 smaller names were also marrying each other
The ones that had invited us
And as we took off to explore the city
We found ourselves twisting and winding
Till we got to a particular well-known restaurant

But while my friends went in, I couldn’t
Because something had caught my eye just ere
I had seen her face
Sure, only the eyes were visible as the scarf covered the mouth
But those eyes were unmistakeably hers
I would recognise them anywhere, even in my sleep

I had to find out if it really was her
Or if I was still hallucinating after all these years
I darted along the narrow streets
I could not lose her now after coming so close
Please God, if I must believe in you, let it be now

And then I saw her again, even though I knew it would lead to heartache
I was amazed at how clearly I could remember her face
Every detail, the nose, the smile, the bouncing silky lustrous hair
Every smudged detail, every blurred feature
Was all suddenly back in sharp beautiful focus

I tried to be discreet but failed miserably
I think she could hear my heartbeat, feel my heartache
And she soon realised I was following her
With our history, it would be tantamount to stalking
I thought I should move away and let her go

And so I did, pretending to go back to my pretence of a life
Wondering how this was not happening in Parisian streets
As I had always imagined it would
Considering the poetry I had written for her
And so I did, pretending to go back to my pretence of a life

But within a couple of seconds, I realised how impossible that was
I swung back but I had already lost her in the crowd
I ran this way and that
I looked into this nook and that cranny
But she was nowhere to be seen
My heart cringed at the thought that I had lost her again
That it was all because of me all over again

And as I stood looking at the band being introduced
Forlorn, anguished, painful, melancholy
I felt her behind me, and turned
She was standing on a higher platform, looking down at me

And then in that voice I thought I had forgotten forever
And thought my ears would never again have the pleasure of being caressed by
“Hi Raghav”
And she rubbed my forearm
Or was it hers that she was rubbing in discomfort?

In her very next breath, with her voice breaking
Again so fresh in my memory
Because of my previous caddish behaviour towards her
“Bye Raghav”
And she made to leave but I blocked her way
Protesting, I had paid for my mistakes
I had suffered long enough, no more

Please, give me another chance
The number of which I have lost count of
The right to ask for one long relinquished many times over
Please, I plead, I beg, I implore
She refuses, but I can’t let her go, not again

She finally agrees, and I pump the air
Amazed at the fact that she’s actually agreed
Unbelievable, unexpected, but welcome
We go looking for a restaurant, but all are full
I don’t care, I’m just glad she’s back with me

Paradise has been regained
Heaven lost has been won back
Eternal bliss is now believable and achievable
There is a God after all, I believe again

And I looked at her walking in front of me
Capturing that absolutely beautiful image in my mind
She was so near that I could reach out and touch her
Feel her skin again, feel the life coursing through her body
Feel the heart beat for only me again
See her eyes and her smile only for me

And then I awoke
And I knew my day had been ruined even before it had begun

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

24

I turned 24 today. And I don't feel good about it.

I'm smack bang in the middle of a quarter life crisis. I have no idea where my life is going, what I'm supposed to be doing with my life, when and where I'm supposed to be doing it and just about everything else that's associated with me.

And worse still, I'm getting older. I now truly am starting to feel old. I think 23 was my threshold. I am now an adult entering the portals of marriageable age, personal finances and responsibilities.

Birthdays are a time for reflection. They are also a time to look ahead, but being the depressing cynic that I am, I rarely ever do that any more. I think back to all the birthdays that I have had, what situation my life was in then and what has happened since. More importantly, what course has my life charted since my last birthday?

The call didn't come last year and I am not expecting it to come this year or ever again. I graduated from MICA, with a broken heart, loads of baggage and a clean slate. I moved to Delhi in pretty much the same state a few days later, excited and full with expectation. My body survived the Delhi summer and the Delhi winter, but my soul and my spirit were tortured by loneliness, dissatisfaction, home-sickness and depression. And now, though I am alive, I am dead.

I feel myself approaching the tip of the cliff; it's not too far away now. And when I do find myself at that tip, I will wait a moment, take in the placid scenery contrasting with my tormented inner self, take a deep breath, and jump. And I will be in that suspended, free-flowing state of mind for sometime, possibly a couple of months, before I decide that it is time to hit the ground and start walking again. The corporate rat race awaits, after all. But if I am lucky, I may never have to hit that ground again, at least not for a very long time. Only time will tell. And I have looked ahead.