Friday, 29 August 2008

Taking time off

Note: I read my friend Rambunctious Whippersnapper's latest post about Career and it made me think about my current occupation, hence the post.

I think I overuse the words "life", "fate", "depressing", "mind", "thought", "desire"...but hey, don't blame me. My mind is constantly going through depressing thoughts about what my fate will bring me, and what I desire from life ( heh heh). I guess I'm at that stage where there are so many paths visible that choosing one, and the right one at that, is quite a challenging task.

These days, the most frequent question I get asked is " Oh, so what're u doing now? Studying or working?". People get most surprised when I say, "Oh, I'm on a break, just chilling for sometime". I can see the look on their faces, which just drops me from their expectations of someone useful to talk to. It's as if i've broken some un-written law which condemns you if you're just idling away and not constantly running in the rat-race. Taking time off? How dare I do that when there are people slaving like ants to beat the competition. Don't know what I want to do? How can I not, when there are so many options available to me, and in this day and age when opportunities are popping out from every corner. I feel those eyes pierce me with looks which ask how I can even think about wasting a year of my life, when others my age are always on the go, and can't even think about not doing anything.

To all those people who judge me for my choice of taking it easy, I'd like to very politely tell them that I'm tired of running around and stressing. I've had my share of competing, my share of stress (what a big share that was!) and my share of worrying about what to do in life. What's the big hurry anyway? If not this year, next year i'll do something "worthwhile", as people put it. If not next year, then the year after that. I still don't get what the big rush is. I might be coming across as a completely air-headed spoilt brat, but hear me out for a while. What use is that decision which you take just to beat the crowd, just to be doing something that seems respectable to those peeking people? What use is that life chosen in hurry, and then later regretting your decisions? What good is a career or a job in which you're neither happy, nor satisfied, and as a result often, not even successful?

So, I say, just chill yaar, if you take a decision in time, good for you. If you don't, the world is not coming to an end. Instead of being fixated with one thing even if I'm not happy, I'd much rather try out a lot of things and then decide what I want to do. And even if I already know what I want to do, and still want to take things easy, I really don't see the big problem with that.

I have a lifetime to live, what's a year in that? Right?

Sunday, 24 August 2008

Bye Bye Beijing

I watched the Olympics Closing Ceremony today. It was spectacular! The Opening Ceremony had also been out of this world, but never before did I see the closing done at such a grand scale. China proved to the world that it really is a super power and that the resources and the man-power available to them is incontestable at this stage. The sheer organisation and grandeur of the event marks the arrival of a new world leader. The torch was switched off to to show China in an entirely new light to the rest of the world. I bow today, overawed.

Sharing the same stage, was the handover to the London 2012. What a stark contrast. The presentation was shabby, the dancing amateurish, the singing hardly heard, and the guitaring strictly fair. David Beckam appeared, and that was the high-point of the whole deal. A direct comparison is inevitable, to the show that China put up. London has a budget of around half of what China had, and I'm waiting to see how they are able to stand up to this breath-taking event. I'm hoping to not be disappointed by seriously doubt that that can be avoided.

Wednesday, 20 August 2008

The Great Indian Television

I get to do some guilt-free TV watching during the summer, when I have practically nothing else to do. Going outside is not an option, because I still have some unscrewed nuts in my otherwise rickety brain, which tell me that I'll get scorched in the Dubai heat if I step outside. So, in the comfort of my air-conditioned house, lying on my soft bed, I soak myself with some Indian television.

Alas, yes people do say "alas" even now, I am restricted to just 2 or 3 watchable channels. I'm bound to watch NDTV ( the one and only decent news channel), Channel V or MTV India ( for some decent music) and maybe Star World. The rest I usually flip through, and cringe as I go along. The movie channels have decent films on weekends, but weekdays are nothing short of doomed. The entertainment channels are a disgrace as well, but they are not even in the running when it comes to the disaster of the zillion or so news channels. So, an overall bleak picture.

Let me begin with the worst..the oh-so-dreaded news channels. I don't get it, do they want to be laughed at or are they really so brain-drained ( I wanted to use a ruder term, but I'm restraining myself, with difficulty) to realise that their so-called "news" is nothing but a cheap mockery of reporting? Here's an appalling example; A few days back Zee News was showing a story of Abhinav Bindra not having a car to go back to the hotel. The news reader actually sounded hurt and insulted that the gold-medalist had to go back in a taxi. GASP! How hurt Abhinav Bindra must be feeling that there was no car for him! How significant it is that there was no government servant to bend over twice before the athlete and serve him like a faithful slave! GASP GASP GASP! How important it is for me as an individual, that Bindra had to stoop down to take a, hold your breath, taxi ( oh no!) to get back to his hotel! Well, I guess Zee News found this important enough to air for 2 hours, and make Everest out of a pimple. Meanwhile, on the same day, at the same time, common people die in Kashmir, but who wants to know about that, right?

Star News is not much better. There's a vein in my head which pops every time I hear the news being told on this channel. Everything is "breaking news" and all news needs at least 2 hours coverage. Everything is sensationalised and the mere tone of the news reader's voice makes me want to climb into my television and slap the living daylights out of him/her! These people need to be taught that high volume and pitch does not make their news more important, talking rapidly does not make us more hooked on to their rubbish reporting, and background hindi film music does certainly not make the story more involving or touching. It makes me want to laugh, it makes me want to scream and it makes me want to throw my remote on the television. If I ever do that, I'm definitely suing these news channels for instigating violence!

Moving on now, to the entertainment channels. I remember 8 years ago, when the first saas-bahu soaps got really popular, I used to walk past all the apartments in my area, and the only music I heard from every house, was the music of those two soaps, Kyunki... and Kahani Ghar Ghar Ki. Even then, it bothered me to see these soaps with the weepy bahu, the overdressed saas, the dutiful devar, the vamp with the atrocious jewellery, the sidey cousins, the righteous son, the duffer husband, the invisible father in law and the gazillions of other useless characters. But it was alright, the ordeal lasted a mere two hours. Now however, things are absolutely and ludicrously out of hand. Any channel I flip through, I see teary-eyed dressed-up doormats, with their georgette saris, and gaudy jewellery. With headache inducing camera angles and loud background music, laughable storylines and sketchy characters, these soaps all look identical, so much so that I can't tell one from the other without reading the title! Don't even get me started on the reality shows, I promise to write a post dedicated only for those!

There was a time when Indian television came out with genuine gems, with daily or weekly family entertainment, that was well made and not mass produced like some toy in a chinese factory. I miss the days of Dekh Bhai Dekh, Mirza Ghalib, Fauji, Circus, Hum Log, Buniyaad, even as recent as the 90s, I miss watching the first season of Hip Hip Hurray and be able to relate to the lovely school kids, miss the excitement of waking up on sunday morning to watch Bournvita Quiz Contest followed by Sunday Ke Sunday, remember the craze around Mahabharata, I remember watching Barkha Dutt interview Capt. Vikram Batra and hearing the words "yeh dil maange more", I even remember watching and loving Antakshari and Saregama, when music was all these shows were about. Currently, there are only two regular shows that are worthy of watching. One is We The People on NDTV, hosted by Barkha Dutt, debating current issues and the other one is Saregamapa which actually has some loyalty left for music.

Today, I'm just left to riminisce those times of good television, while I flip through scores of mind-numbing junk that we're currently, mercilessly, subjected to watch. Indian Television has finally lived up to its name of The Idiot Box!

Friday, 15 August 2008

The Inevitable Independence Day Post...

...Just a week later!

When you have been bombarded endlessly, a week preceding the day itself, with the national flag, the Independence day celebrations, patriotic movies, slogans and speeches, and lots of promises and hopes for another year of the Indian Independence, it is rather hard to evade the obvious Independence Day post.

The year of India's 61st Independence Day, I think of myself as an average Indian citizen and ponder what a free India means to me. As an Indian, how do I perceive myself, and how do outsiders perceive me? What are my thoughts about the free India and what are my hopes for a modern India?

In human terms, 61 years is a mature, fully developed age, with wisdom, mental strength, achievement, expertise, experience and basic connaissance of how life runs. In terms of a nation, in this case, my nation, it is merely the beginning. We're a young nation in every respect. Our learning and growing has just begun and there's a whole life ahead of us. There is so much to do, so much to learn, to experience, to develop, to embrace. We're a young nation, of a young people. With the average age being from 18-25, I consider ourselves toddlers, taking our first steps into a modern and broadened outlook. India's life-cycle hasn't even reached it's peak, there's a long way to go till we reach that milestone.

And yet, why is it that I hear so many voices of resentment, hopelessness and writing-off our country? I never hear people complain when an infant cannot solve problems of a college student, then why is it that people are so impatient towards their country? India is a child, but it is a bright and vibrant one. We're a young nation, but certainly not a slow one. Recall the last 10 years, and you will see how far we've arrived. Our milestone is still far ahead, but we're catching up, we'll get there.

Having said that, like everything and everyone I adore and hold close to my heart, I desire for my country too to excel. Living outside of India, I hear so much about India soaring, India growing, India this, India that, my eyes gleam with pride. But then, I come back to the country filled with lots of hopes and expectations, only to see the attitude and mentality of the people there, and be disappointed by the pessimism in their demeanor. Corruption, bad infrastructure, poverty, lack of education, overpopulation...all these inter-related endless issues are lined up to bog down the average Indian, as a result, holding back a country which could be soaring by now. I don't want to sit and judge, because I'm in no position to do so, not having contributed to the progress of the country myself.

Yet, it physically hurts me to see children barely clad on the streets of Delhi, it hurts me when I come to know that there is no electricity at least 3-4 hours a day, that there are huge shopping malls, fancy restaurants and general joints at exorbitant prices, and yet, the roads outside these establishments are filled with potholes, and jammed with traffic. And this is the capital of the country, I haven't even been to the other areas. It is disappointing to hear stories of people being paid a bribe to get a simple income tax claim settled. There are 100 new seats for college entrants, but 5,000 more applicants. Its frustrating when I hear my friend, who got 100% in Maths in the 12th boards, not get admitted in any of the mainstream leading universities, and a slightly above-average student with the advantage of an OBC title enter IIT. With globalisation, salaries have increased and people are able to afford a lot more than they could earlier, but everyday they call their wives/husbands and ask "wahaan light aa gayi?"(Is the electricity back?). There's Barista, Starbucks, Pizza Huts on every nook and corner, high-end fashion brands with high-end prices, mobile phones in every hand, young or old, and yet, no matter how poor or how rich, these people all have to deal with the same corrupt policeman who will stop you for a traffic violation, and then be happy with the bribe of 200 rupees. People travel far and wide now, but still, they will stuck in traffic jams for 2 hours while commuting for work. There are swimming pools in houses now, but water in the taps is not potable, and you're lucky if it comes 24/7. Rules are reduced to being guidelines and implementation of laws a laughing matter.

I know I know, you must be wondering where my optimism just went. Nowhere, it's still where it was. Just because I list the problems and things that I personally observe, does certainly not mean that I don't think India's going to overcome all of this and zoom way ahead of the world leaders of today. We can, we have the potential and the brains to do it. This is just the times of transition, soon the positives will overtake the negatives, and then all this won't be relevant anymore. Till that time comes, we have to stay positive and not give-in to the pressures of our everyday struggles. What doesn't kill you only makes you stronger, and India as a nation has been attacked many a time from all directions, so I am sure we'll emerge as a strong power.

Woh subah kabhi toh aayegi...

Tuesday, 12 August 2008

Music and Lyrics

Note: To all those (two) readers of my blog, I apologise for whining about the same thing again and again. I'm cranky and whiny, there, that's something you know about me now (if you didn't already). So, please read at your own risk and don't pelt me with stones if it's about the same stuff all over again.

Sprawled across my double-bed right now, I'm listening to songs by The Beatles. The song I'm listening to right now is called With a little help from my friends, and like any day when I'm feeling vulnerable and weak, I can relate to music more than anything else. The song talks about how this person who's away from his love can "get by" because of his friends. It was true for me too, there was a time when I was away from my family and the only people who kept me going were my bunch of close friends. Like the person in the song, everything becomes tolerable with the company of friends, and that was very true for me. All the troubles become easier, and all the pain bearable, when you have friends close by, and people who you can talk to, who support you through your good times and bad.

Before this song, I was listening to Hey Jude, by The Beatles again, and although the song is entirely unrelated, there are some lines which I can understand really well. Someone said similar things to me once..

And anytime you feel the pain,
Hey Jude refrain,
Don't carry the world upon your shoulders.

How simple and how true. When we are down and low, we tend to magnify our problems and make them seem grand, while they can still be solved. We become so engrossed in our suffering that we lose perspective and rationale. In those moments, it is so important for someone to help you regain that lost clarity and remind you that there is nothing in the world that cannot be solved. I was so lucky to have someone remind me of that (again and again).

I don't know if this is something uniquely bizzare with me (though I truly doubt it), but when I'm feeling low, I go and listen to the most depressing songs that I can find (not referring to The Beatles of course, they're lovely). Assuming that I'm not the only one who does that, I wonder what makes us do it. Do we really revel in our doom, so much that we fuel it with music that would induce more pain? Does music really provide that extra push towards the feeling of impending doom?

I think to myself, why do I do it? Why do I go looking for more reasons to feel the way I do. Why do I listen to song that remind me of the times that once were, or remind me of the wishes and dreams that I had so carefully woven, only to be disappointed afterwards? Why do I want to listen to words and sounds that push me deeper into those dreaded feelings?

Alas, I don't have any answers, only a handful of questions. I'll go listen to Total Eclipse of the Heart by Bonnie Tyler now, and enjoy the sounds that match my mood...

Still wondering...and now humming..

Monday, 11 August 2008

Fulfilled wish or mistaken desire?

You know it really amazes me just how ironic and ridiculous life can be. If you really wish for something to happen, it ultimately does come true. Now, the trick is, did you really want what you wished for? When you wish for something, you have no idea what really is in store for you. Your desires are after all untreaded territory, and you have no clue what lies beyond the threshold of your current reality. After wishing and hoping for long time, your desires are fulfilled, and then is the moment of truth when you realise that you did not really want what you wished for. And in that nick of a moment, you realise, what you left behind was actually closer to what you wanted. What do you do then?

Well, nothing. What can you do after all? All you have left now are the memories, and the regret of not having appreciated what you had as much as you should have. You stand at the beginning of another cycle, another phase of your life, where you can't stop looking back and remembering the peaks and the troughs of the previous one, and the familiarity and stability you had established. But the worst part is, who can you even blame now? Isn't this exactly what you wanted? Isn't this what you've been working towards, preparing yourself mentally for? Isn't this what you looked forward to? How can you say now, that it's because of someone else's decision that you are where you are now, when you have yourself been waiting for this moment for a long time? Well, you cannot, this is what you wished for and this is what you have to live with.

So what now? Once you are in this situation, what's the step forward? For one, there's no looking back. You are where you are, and the only way to cope is to chin up and deal with it. If this is something that you wanted so badly, there were probably reasons for it. Finding those reasons is the key now. Remember why, in the first place, had you wanted to be here, and keeping those reasons in mind, move forward and find new reasons. Your life that once was, is not anymore, but there is another one waiting. New experiences, new challenges, new relationships waiting to be formed. How bad can it really be? You've done it before, you can do it again..

Anyway, one thing though, is quite clear. Always be careful of what you wish for, it might actually come true!

Sunday, 10 August 2008

These are the days...

Of leisure and plenty of time,
Of vacant days and barren nights,
Of some music and some books,
Of plenty of new unseen sights,
These are the days...

Of checking for unrecieved calls,
Of empty inboxes and waiting eyes
Of restlessness and disappointment,
Of text messages and no replies,
These are the days...

Of daily bickering and foul mood,
Of aimless wandering for naught,
Of tasks waiting to be touched,
Of motivation still to be saught,
These are the days...

Of memories sparkling bright,
Of reminiscing distant years,
Of remembering the easy laughs,
Of recalling those heartfelt tears,
These are the days...

Of walking new first steps,
Of fearing what the future holds,
Of uncertainty and anxiety,
Of apprehension of what unfolds.
These are the days...

Stages of my anger.

Note: Had written this at 3 am, but got yelled at by mom for staying up that late, so posting it first thing in the morning. Yes, I'm actually awake at 10.30. The world is cruel.

When the world sleeps, I seem to get energised and motivated for some reason. My brain begins to race, and my heart begins to pump, as ideas come storming into my under-utilised head. While the rest of the day I put my mind to a deep slumber, it's at night when there's silence around, and a nagging guilt of pending sleep, that I get most charged up to write. Regardless of any worthwhile content.

I argued with Mr.A today. Nothing new, we argue all the time, mostly over the most insignificant little issues. It takes a few words from me, and few replies from him, we huff and puff in annoyance, and are laughing again within the next 10 minutes. Admittedly, I have a lot more of such meagre issues than he does, being the complicated wreck that I am. Distance doesn't help either. Most of our biggest arguments have been on the phone, or when we don't talk for long. Misunderstandings and miscommunication tend to be artificially enlarged when the person is not in front of you.

So anyway, it has been around 9 days since I'm away from Italy, and as expected, my frustration of being alone and away gets translated into sentiments of abandonment and I drown myself in self pity. Nobody cares about me. Nobody writes to me. Nobody texts me. Nobody remembers me. Nobody even reads my blog (sob sob). These are just some of the familiar thoughts that encircle my tormented mind. So who do I usually dump these thoughts and feelings on? My dearest friend, Mr.A. When he's with me, most of the times, he just hugs me and tells me to shut up. The hug does the trick, all's well and good. But then, there are those unfortunate times, when he's not there in person. These are the times when I growl like a vicious mongrel, hiss like a troubled cat and bare teeth like a wild chimp. It takes only a tiny trigger to make me take those claws out (talking metaphorically here, for those hiding their faces) and dig them where it hurts. All those pent-up feelings come soaring out in the form of unreasonable anger and I roar like a hungry lion(ness).

Anyway, my usual reaction after the thunderous outburst, is to storm off (usually hang up the phone, or go offline). Then comes the phase when the adrenalin starts to wear off, and anxiety starts to crawl up. Does nobody really care? Does nobody notice that I'm upset and angry? Why isn't anyone bothering to ask me? Why doesn't someone call or message to see if i'm still angry? Why why why? Oh, I was right, nobody really cares after all! I revel in those same feelings of self pity, and often burst into angry tears. Oh, how they flow, effortlessly and endlessly.

Now, Mr.A is one smart cookie. He knows me to my very core, can predict my every move, probably can even tell what fingernail I broke! He knows very well that I'll sulk for sometime, then cool off and call right back, usually to yell some more about not having recieved a consoling phonecall. So he waits. He waits till I cool down, till the anger subsides, till the storm passes, till the breathing resumes its normal pace. He knows I'll call or text or something, so he waits. Predictable that I am (to him, cuz I can't even surprise him anymore), I call, and I yell some more. Those proverbial claws scratch some more, then fold right back. He laughs at my predictability, tells me not to be silly, and that he obviously does care, and I melt. I laugh along, at him, at myself. At the situation in general. Anger gone, frustration gone. The world suddenly becomes a better place, and I suddenly become a happier person.

Today he was a bit more clever though. He left a comment on my blog, in other words, hit the nail on the head. And what did I do? Well, I burst out laughing at just how well someone can read my thoughts.

For now, free of anger...

Friday, 8 August 2008

Disobedient Tears

Away from a dreaded land,
And yet I yearn to be there,
Have desired to be where I am,
Tell that to my disobedient tear.

When flow once they did,
For the lack of a mother's embrace,
Now they fall free and long,
Missing that comforting friendly face.

An agonising state of mind,
Perpetually homesick, I happen to be,
Constantly taken miles away,
From those who genuinely care for me.

Attempts to stop these wretched tears,
Have failed in the past, miserably so,
When for my mother's gentle caress,
I waited and sobbed some months ago.

Once again, the dams have broken,
the flooding has filled a vacant space,
the abyss created by a major shifting,
leaving behind my favourite place.

Wednesday, 6 August 2008


I've often said, and I have truly come to believe that change is the only constant. Try as hard as you might, this is one thing that is inevitable. My life has, once again, gone through some major changes. I've changed countries, occupations, phone numbers, even some perspectives about people. And all this, in a span of 2 weeks. Now that i'm beginning to settle in the routine of life again, I'm keeping in mind that this routine is only transitory and there will be a time when this too will be different.

I just moved from Milan to Dubai. The two places could not be more different from each other. While Milan has the feel of an Italian big city with Fashion treated like a religion, Dubai is a majorly Asian setup with buzzing life and noisy construction everywhere. Milan was relatively easy-going and chilled out, with dinner and happy hours with friends, with a quiet movie here and there, with frequent shopping escursions, with late night drinks and public transport, with the quintessential European living. Dubai however, is a city of fast life and consumerism , with food joints open till 3 am and cars which look like aircrafts on roads, with some new building or road being built at every corner, with South Asians everywhere and Indian food easily available, with the social circle of other Indian families and a rather modest dress code.

I'm adjusting. It'll be a slow process, but I'll manage somehow. I do miss my apartment in Milan. I do miss living alone. I do find it hard to be told what to do again. I miss cooking for my friends. I miss the aperitivi ( typical Milanese concept of drinks and buffet in the evening). I miss hanging out at my friends' houses. I miss going shopping with them. I miss just laughing with them. I miss the rain and standing in my balcony with my friends looking at hailstorms. I miss the company of my friends when we studied till 4 in the morning for some annoyingly difficult subject. I miss the celebratory lunches after the exams, when we all did well. I miss the long walks to get to Duomo. I miss the feeling that all my closest friends are just a phonecall and maximum half an hour by tram away from me. And most of all, I miss my best friend Mr.Adorable, I miss talking to him for hours, I miss watching Sex and the City at night with him, I miss calling him up when I was feeling low, I miss eating at the kitchen table with him on the other side. I miss his affectionate hugs, I miss his heart-warming laugh, I miss his shoulder on which I've broken down many a time.

I'll get used to it, I'm sure I will. I will get used to my life here and slowly all that I miss will fade away. It will stop piercing my heart so sharply. It'll hurt me less. Soon, I know, I'll get myself busy with the routine here. I'll find new things to miss, I'll find new people to be around. What I will not forget are the moments I spent in Milan, the closeness I've felt with my friends there, the precious bond that we share. My life will change, my feelings towards them will probably not. We will probably not talk to each other often, or see each other often, but I will always care for them, I'll always try to keep them a part of my life, and will always hope that I remain a part of theirs. Yes, change is constant, but so are true friendships.

On to another set of challenges now...on to meet new people...on to a new life...