15 November, 2014

On routes, roots and bridges




Fall colours are essential.
 As are yellow leaves (fallen into the sere, haha!) drifting lazily down just outside the window.
 A carpet of gold outside the door, not yet trodden into a sodden mass of mulch.
 Hot coffee on cold nights, when you look up to see the icy fires of the stars pricking the firmament. And naturally Thus Spake Zarathrustra from Space Odyssey has to be playing on cue in the back of the head. Or the Star Trek theme. Somehow.

 A long hiatus from writing on the blog. One would like to say that the interregnum has been productive in tangible forms, thus the lack of need for blogging: for the usual semi-defined ephemerals and self-bolstering diatribes alluded to in here.

 One would be half-truthful of course, like most things in Writing and in Life. Let us merely say that it had its ups and downs, the moments of unmitigated douchieness and blurred boundaries - some bridges burned, others still a little rickety; and the notion - a reminder actually since the halcyon days of yore - that in life, as opposed to songs, the Summers always end.

Maybe I am still getting used to this unaccustomed earth, and instinctively prone to grasping like a drowning mariner at those rare straws - that remind me in another universe of lost rain-drenched Park Streets, the rows and rows of books at Oxford as a child, afternoons spent wandering about the streets of Macondo. And its a precious thing, this memory, and equally so are the handful of persons that can remind me of it amidst the coffee-fueled death marches to looming deadlines and trips to Walmart that doggedly define Real Life in all its (b)anal splendour.

It is so very easy to forget the roots. Why are we doing what we are doing? What made the decidedly arduous journey worth it for each of us - that which fueled us above and over the wicket-fences of safe homes and the reassuring bylanes of familiarity? What balances the columns if we were to total up all the things that we jettisoned - the glad, the sad and all those broken souvenirs kept over the years but now suddenly an addition to the airline baggage limit - over the side on this voyage?

On that note, with maple leaves drifting outside, distant birches murmuring in the morning sunshine, I shall end these words with a hooyah! Just like in the old days, hah!

19 October, 2014

Hankering for Edgar Allan Poe


 A sudden desire to re-read Edgar Allan Poe.

 Specifically the Fall of the House of Usher. And another, I think it was called The Red Death.

 I had first read them as a young schoolboy, alone in the winter afternoons at home. The chill in the air contributed to the horror and grimness of the stories. It was a book from the library that my father had chosen for me, and it had those old style full-page illustrations. All very gothic and horrifying in full colour.

 Wanting to read that specific book. Or a print of that very edition. Those are so very rare to come across these days. Modern books look so cheap and are so godawfully expensive! Hah!

11 October, 2014

On summer and other waits


  I think long odds are meant to be beaten.

 That huge distances of separation can be made into magic, so that when meets do happen it is nothing less beautiful or terrible than poetry.

 That "tho much is tak'n much still remains" -- enough for a last attempt at living it the way it should be. That will have the bus-rides and plane tickets, house bills and bickering; but also the sound of Baez on a rainy Saturday morning at home over coffee. Oblique references to Abani at returning home.
  The movies, music and places that weave a different kind of poetry when two people are in that perfect symmetry. Its not the smell of new books, but the mildewed musty welcome from dog-eared yellowed tomes that are old comrades.

 That a wait is so much more when it is worth the wait.

 It is not all a dream. I have seen it in friends, albeit once.

 That if there ever was a time for taking a mad chance, for cauterizing old wounds and taking on glibly the chance of new bruises -- it is this.

  That I have never been more certain not to do again the usual litany of those late nights, sudden fevered touches over wine, Pink Floyd and darkness, messy one-shots and the inevitable knowledge that "this is not it." Which has littered most of my undergrad. It is worth the wait.

 That rhododendron is worth it. And that we both are waiting for summer and a chance.





12 September, 2014

Long shots and montages

 Ballygunge Place.

 "It was here, right? Wallrush. What was it, 3-4 years?"
 "Yes. They had those film screenings inside. And folks on the pavement, strumming guitars to Shelter from the Storm. 2009. Summer. You were wearing ... let me see ... that white tee with an American eagle in blue in front. If you had worn that today ..."

 "Hah! Haaah! Na, my sis took it with her. That would have been the complete package for you, wouldn't it? Another check, damn you!"
 "Yep. What is life without look-backs in nostalgia. And those checks have all bounced, ne'er fear."


Jamini Roy eyes

  Side-by-side on a worn staircase, bang on the pavement. Shared Goldflake and steaming chai in earthen cups. And faint glimmers of lost college heydays. Trying to relive as much as we could the magic of that first summer - kids just a year out of high school.

  What did we lose on the way, I wonder. Being hammered on the anvil of life for the next 5 years.

  "College life was shitty without you."

 Yes, it could have been otherwise. Amicable, amiable and whatnot. Stayed in touch. But lord, what a story this sundering and sudden kinship makes!

 "Yeah right."
 "Does he read poetry to you? Long distance wooing?"
 "Not really that sort. But that's the best part right -- the one you are with has to be different from ... this." Expressive arm wave, encompassing if it could the rickety wooden bench, the tea-stall, the bamboo-upheld awning. Passing beyond the heat, the shimmers of summers past, the sameness of it all even after all these years.

 "Yes. Absolutely! You get it, right? I would want to be this lone solitary ranger thingy for as long as I can. Keep the juvenalia alive. And maybe... well, you must have a family by then. Well of course, the sole purpose of your family would be to provide a suitably cinematic setting for my story, right?"

  Eye roll. Large, distended eyes. Like a Jamini Roy eye. shojolo-dholo ayoto aankhi. Hah!


Christmas, Bogart and Kill Bill


 "OK - moving on! So naturally I would visit you for Christmas."
 "This is after I have moved to New York. Yes, and you have taken me to meet your friends there."
 "Indeed. That's another one. The wedding next year. Very film noir right, if I am part of the party giving away the bride?"
  "Nah, that's the Hollywood movie part of your lost grails. Very proper old-school Hollywood. Not noir."
 "Unless ... unless I plan a Kill Bill-"
 "Oh shut up!"

 "Anyway! Where were we - me visiting you over Christmas. A sudden visit - a la Agontuk. Naturally, a favourite 'Uncle' to your children. Strange, expensive presents and capering about. Oh, but you shouldn't have. Eto kichu korar ki dorkar ... ki je korish na. Stories galore of distant lands. Aar nijer ki khobor? Oh, I'm the confirmed bachelor boy. A firm handshake and a nod to your man - both honourable men, of course. You get the point?"
 "Hah! Haaah! Go on then!"
 "And then it's time for me to leave. A flurry of goodbyes and handshakes all around. It' snowing outside. Light snowflakes. Christmas lights in the distance. The taxi is waiting at the end of the short walkway."
 "You must be in a longcoat. With the collar up. Make sure you have one."


Long shots and montages


 "Aye aye, sir. And then, Madame, then! - At the very moment you are shutting the door, you hesitate for a fraction of a moment. What if? A nameless, senseless wondering at what that mad life would have been like if you had chosen a different path -"

 "And that moment is the sole thing that gives your life meaning, that gives everything meaning!"

 "Yes! YES! Exactly! But then you look back at the warm yellow light spilling onto the driveway. A welcoming fire by the hearth. Your children (yes, multiple dammit! Go forth and multiply and all that), their father and the real, tangible warmth of humanity. And you know your choices were all the correct ones, that that welcoming fire by the hearth is what a person needs."

  "We then have a long shot, of you walking away.."

  "I turn back once, just as you shut the door to go back to your family. A sliver of gold bands across the face briefly, then is gone. You do not look back."


   Silence. You look up. I am suddenly aware of how much the same you look. And the hush of evening on sun-warmed stones.

   "Cut to the taxi moving away?"
   "No. Maybe the camera on a crane. Pulls away from the scene. The dark figure making its way slowly through the empty driveway."


 Long shots and montages. That's how life should be played back.
  
 

07 August, 2014

Juvenalia or bust

 So we all wanted to live our lives out like in the movies. Or books. Or like one of those existential-crisis kind of plays. With a therapist in the plot. You get the point.

  There's supposed to be high drama, unrequited non-endings, laconic one-liners etc.
   And I'll be damned if I ever grow out of it!


  Somewhere in the middle of trying to live one's life like a book, it is possible that one's life itself becomes a minor detail. It's an endless game of trying to make "Real Life" emulate the final chapter of some book, or a stanza from some poem, or making events such that a movie quote becomes eminently apt. The human factor is mostly incidental.

  And then all that you are left with is really just a bunch of quotes and pop-culture references and snatches of lost sunshine. There's no orchestra giving the OST as a camera pans out. The once-faithful audience has long since moved on to 2BHKs, housewarmings, engagements and other such non-essentials.


 So what do you do? "Grow up"? Try to pick up the threads of a monochrome life. Swallow the regurgitated mire of Everyday. And tell yourself, alright, I can teach myself to live like this. Like everyone else. The dulling opiate of domestication. The lulling comfort of soft arms, soft words and small thoughts. Yes, there is comfort in that for every trudging traveler. The little streams and fields, far from the thunder of the seas.

  Then one day it dawns - this is a lie. This life of pretense-normalcy. There are no strident chords here, no thundering stanzas soulbled into a starry night. Just the comfort of everyday - warmth, smiles and softness. And you shudder to think that one day you might even forget the yearning - the nameless yearning for something just beyond reach. Is this soft happiness worth trading the senseless maddening quest for lost grails and grim voyages?

 Left behind as always are the casualties. Guilt-trips for when you were weak, when resolve relented enough to let the tempting solace of mortals seep into you. Scattered in the wake like one half of a pair of shoes - nothing more senseless. And what reason do I give you then - because your words "forked no lightning"? Because you were quiet, and agreed and smiled and nodded, and offered yourself  with good heart and clear soul? Because the cooing of doves can never for long lull the wanderlust of one who has seen the swoop of hawks. And so they pay the price of my singular madness.

  The voyage for its sake alone! To think young and be naive and drink deep of the wells of those darkling eyes!

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