Sunday, March 16, 2014

Everybody Has A Thing

There’s a brief period in your early 20s when it’s in your interest to have society think you’re crazy. For our generation, I think that period has passed. Now, behaving that way will just make people think you need medication and a good shrink.

At the other end of crazy, there's simple living and I occasionally imagine what a simpler life would've been like -backpacker stories from Lonely Planet and Conde Nast remind you that there're still tiny societies in Peru, Papua New Guinea and even the outer fringes of India that are essentially untouched by modern civilisation. Try to picture a world so wonderful that you have never heard of rising inflation, traffic jams or Justin Bieber. Then, you get to the average male toad, which probably has the simplest life of any creature in the history of the universe. In all their interactions they'd ever have with fellow toads, they have one of three decisions to make. If the other toad is smaller than they are, they eat it; if bigger, they flee like there's no tomorrow; if of the same size, they have sex with it -when there's a response, it's probably female.

At the end of last week, I felt a little like Stromae singing ‘Alors on Danse’. So, like everybody else in this city, I celebrated Bangalore’s new 2 hour extension to when clubs need to shut shop, with tequila shots, neon fog and lungi dancing.

The next morning, I rediscovered that Cubbon Park, with its gorgeous canopies and streaming sun beams, is lovely for a morning jog. The incredibly good air quality there is an indicator that our economy isn’t doing too well.

With improved air quality and delayed club closing times, the only additional things we need improved are the roads and infrastructure. A good way to ensure that is to make it America's problem by having the US army invade Bangalore –maybe we should tell em we have oil?

I went for an AAP fundraising dinner in Bangalore yesterday. Arvind Kejriwal, at close quarters, fully equipped with his Z-plus security, topi and broom, is 10% original, 10% brilliant and 80% nausea. Today, he announced that he might contest from Varanasi, the only conceivable reason being that he believes Varanasi has more untapped news crews. A good friend once told me, “gentlemen never discuss politics”, so I won’t get into that. Your Facebook feed is already full of well informed pro and anti NaMo posts from friends who’ve suddenly become angrier than Arnab Goswami.

I just got a text from someone who’s having a bunch of friends over for beer and a highly anticipated ‘North London derby’. I have never understood this EPL craze. Shouting wildly for “our lads” during a Tottenham-Arsenal matchup is like a group in Ho Chi Minh City getting together for a much awaited 'derby' match between Bommasandra & Baiyyapanahalli. Also, I thought Arsenal had been relegated. Apparently, saying this was absolute blasphemy and this got me deleted from that Whatsapp group. I now need new friends.

Given that I have no friends, I’ll take to blogging more.

Bob Dylan and Tim McGraw are splendid when you want to sit down to blog -my iPod is now playing ‘She’s My Kind of Rain’. In this city, rain is synonymous with traffic jams and blaring horns. But when you can get far away from that, and still have some drizzling, it can be quite magnificent. I've found everything I’ve ever wanted to know about someone on a long drive with them. Moonlight helps. Tequila helps too. When you talk to someone with words and they look back at you with feelings is when you get to the inner sociopath in them –if that inner sociopath doesn’t excite you enough, nothing will –ever. The silence between those words ought to tell you everything. From that moment onward, it gets to warm and fuzzy. We fall in love with people who inspire us to push ourselves mentally, physically and emotionally –mostly mentally, I think. Everybody has a thing.

Monday, October 25, 2010

Good Nostalgia

I can’t remember the first time I came here. My earliest memories are of cutting the cake for my third birthday, and running to the front gate to see baby Dravu for the first time. Everything about this charmingly simple (yet elegant) house reminds me of something –every window, every door, the orange and green carpet, the oddly shaped pots outside, the furniture, the front garden and the paintings. Everywhere I walk and everywhere I look in this place, there is some memory. Over the years, as I grew older and bigger, every time I came here, I’d find that the place grew a little smaller.
This house was built around 1960, and except for a few years earlier on, Ammu and Tataya have lived here ever since. Momlady grew up here, and lived here until she went to IIM. I notice that recently, the switches have been changed –I don’t think very much else has changed since I first came here, about 23 years ago. Over the years, pretty much everything from my worldview to the people around me to the places I’ve lived at has changed. There are only a handful of things that have been a constant all through my life –this place is one of them.
The most remarkable thing about this house is that it has over the years seen so many people growing up. Even Ammu and Tataya were only in their early 30s when this house was being built. From the outside and the inside, it has stayed quintessentially the same. The neighbours (tenants) have come and gone. I remember playing cricket with an expensive five rupee rubber ball (it came in red, blue and green) with Laloo (Nikhil) and Harsha –they were older and significantly better, I remember. We played ‘hop-skotch’ on the orange-green carpet with Sony and Sapna. I just found out that all of these people are either in Australia or America now.
Apta and Apurva were here for a while too. Apurva was barely a year old at the time and was about a foot tall. I would read her the stories I wrote. I thought ‘John Smith’ was the best name for any protagonist. I think I got that random name from this book that Abhimaama had got here from America, ‘Pocahontas’.
In Abhimaama’s room, there’s this side-room which had all these exotic board games from Michigan and New Jersey. Also, in this house, there was cable TV, which we didn’t have at home in Bangalore yet. So back then, coming here almost felt like entering a different country. Apta and Apurva, with their way-out exotic accents, added to that effect. The tables and chairs that we’d used as props (in the living room) to create castles and forts and all are still there. It’s insane that we could fit under those things. But we’d spent so many afternoons playing there.
Once, the kitchen ceiling fell down but nobody was hurt. I was nearby when it happened, and it was ridiculously loud –like a gas cylinder had just exploded! This was at least 15 years ago, and there hasn’t been any such incident since. Tataya came and made everything safe and all, and told people what to do.
There’s this small water tank outside that has memories that are too far back for me to remember exactly. Just next to it, there’s this small fire-area. One time, Abhimaama had got marshmallows from America, and by putting them on a stick, we’d see how they’d crackle, melt and burn in the fire. Danger-prone Dravu cut himself with a big glass piece over there one day. This other time, he attacked the bathroom light with his newly acquired water pistol. The light exploded and the poor little guy was left in the dark, sitting there for about an hour before the outside world realised what was wrong.
Although I haven’t been to the very back of the plot (behind Sony’s house) since I was about five or six years old, I used to play chhor-police there with a whole bunch of kids. Their dad had me believe that his name was Tiger and that he was among the strongest men in the world. The secret to his strength was that he would eat rice with rotis (instead of vegetables with rotis). I’ve also been up to the attic once, with Tataya, but the wooden stairs to the attic have been totally eaten away by termites since.
Writing letters was a passion I’m not sure where I picked up –but I still write letters and post them in the red post box even today, when it’s more convenient to just send an email. But Tataya would read the stuff I sent him, and from the minute I put the sealed envelope into the letter box, I’d start calling Tataya to see if he received it. Hmm. Tataya. He brought so much magic to this house and the people who’ve been here. Heck, today, when I went to the barber shop, he remembered Tataya! The vegetable vendors on the street came and enquired about him when he stopped walking down the roads every morning. Nobody believed that somebody that healthy could pass away that suddenly. And he had this house and its systems running like clockwork. Ammu didn’t need to take care of anything –right from collecting the rents to ensuring discipline of the tenants to having a driver and a dedicated system of domestic help, good ol Tataya had taken care of it all. Even today, over two and a half years since January 4th 2008, the same servants, driver and all are there. The India Todays and the Outlooks kept coming for almost a whole year after January 4th. I didn’t stop writing letters to 1-2-365/6 until late 2007. That feeling I would get after I put Tataya’s letters into the red post box was indescribable. When I came for his funeral, Shayada told me how thrilled he’d been when I got into IIT, and that he’d been running around telling everyone about what his grandson had done. It’s 12:25AM and I’m sitting on the dining table looking at his room right now. When I was little, I would snuggle up in bed with him and Ammu to hear all these stories of how he’d save various villages from man-eating tigers and leopards.
It was pretty cool having him as a grandpa. He was so fit, he’d play cricket with me. He was university captain in his day. One day, on a holiday to some hill-station, I challenged him to face my bowling (which I thought was very fast for my age –I was probably about ten at the time). So, I bowled to him and he (about 70 years old) hit me for an enormous six. I bowled again, and this time it went for four like a bullet. Of course, we never spoke about that incident again, and he played it down.  After that, I would talk to him about cricket a lot and he bought me a bat which said Mohd. Azharuddin. Azhar was his favourite player back then. I would spend hours perched in the drawing room reading and analyzing the statistics in Sportstar magazine –he never liked statistics or the new generation of cricketers who weren’t as wristy or classy as the Vengsarkars and Viswanaths.
What’s incredible about all those photos from this house over the years is that I was always smiling. Big ear-to-ear smiles. I had an incredible childhood here. Even when nobody else was here (except Ammu and Tataya), I’d come just because it felt relaxing and it had Tataya and Ammu. If Ammu and Tataya were sleeping, I’d sit by the windows and read for hours and hours. I remember this train ride that I came with the two of them, alone. And there was a time when Dravu and I came to Hyderabad alone, unaccompanied by plane (we weren’t even ten yet, I think). Half the people I’m related to grew up at 1-2-365/6, Gaganmahal. For me, it’s always been a little paradise of sorts, where time and worries became irrelevant.

Saturday, August 21, 2010

Namma Bengaluru

I'm going home in about nine days. I love that city -the people, the weather and the nostalgia. It's a laid back Mumbai. Nobody is ever in a hurry. And everyone has time for good conversation. You get Carslbergs there, and the water tastes like wine.
Folks there are a little spoiled though. It's 24 degrees at this time of the year, and people are whining. Ahmedabad climate annoys me. It is humid and scorching hot 9 months of the year, and unbearably cold for 2.5 months. There are two weeks in October when you can venture outdoors. Today, I went to watch The Expendables in a theatre at the other end of town. And it was in Hindi! This would never happen in Bangalore. Hell, we'd probably have riots if something like that happened. And they'd beat up all the Tamil sp
eaking people again. Anyway, we eventually found a PVR that was screening it in English. And the movie was incredible -there was enough testostorone oozing out of that screen to turn Elton John into a man. Brainless mindless action + cliched oneliners from the 80s = 10 on 10 in my books.
I've been meaning to put in another entry for 1,266 days now. Chemical Engineering makes you become lazy and procrastinate. It is 4 years of learning one equation: in - out + generation = accumulation. There are different ways of writing this equation, and that's what the four years are for. With a little bit of integration and differentiation, you can turn that innocuous little equation into
Once upon a time, people could get PhDs for stuff like this.

Second year of MBA is very very relaxed. I have finally gotten time to do all the stuff I have wanted to do for years, but haven't really had the time for. Sikkim is an idea that might happen next term. Right now, I've backlogged way too much work, though. To get started on studying, I glugged down a Red Bull, saw a scene from 'Remember the Titans' to get pumped up, and sat down to read 'Nagle & Hogan'. No use. This book is a horse tranquilizer.

Monday, March 5, 2007

Happy Holi?

People across the country celebrated this 'Holi' festival thing yesterday. In college, Holi is basically that time of the year when people frolick around in their knickerbockers, throw coloured powder and water, and indulge in other such homosexual activity with anything that moves.
If you happen to be dressed in anything more, it'll be ripped right off, so ensure you have underwear on. Yes, there're people who came unprepared. So, at the end of it, you're wet, have one less pair of undies, and you'll look like you've just walked out of a radioactive disposal facility. The colour takes a lot of bathing to get rid of. So, Hostel 9 folk finish their annual quota of water spent on bathing in the one week after Holi.
It's fun, I've been told.
From 12pm, Sunday night, I started getting smses saying 'Wish you and your family a very Happy Holi'. Now, what in holy name of crap is that supposed to mean?! Is that like happy new year or happy birthday? I even got a few belated happy holis today. I've also been wished a Happy Onam and Happy Id at times.
Hmm. Tomorrow, let's celebrate Happy Tuesday!
No, wait. We're gettin midsem papers, so these aren't really happy days.