Wednesday, November 30, 2005

Deep Orange

Is not a nice color on the screen. Curtains or bedspreads can be orange, I don't mind, but the new crazy orange when you sign in to blogger is rather jarring. Especially when you feel the onset of another barren phase. Times when irritants like Martina Hingis are coming back and you are getting relegated to the background. Of what? Of your own mind. Just about when you thought you got a grip on yourself . . . you slip away.

This pit is crazy. You carry it with you but still cannot reach inside and pull yourself out. It's like a nightmare from a sci-fi, you lost the code to your mind. And it remains inaccesible.

And then you sit befuddled, resting your chin on a table top. In all imaginary broodings, there's always a table and a window next to it. Not only mine, pick up any painting of a lost mind and there's a table and a window next to it. It's kinda reassuring to have those next to you. The table for resting the chin and the window to step out lest you need to. You can, but you still won't. You'll stay back and brood, because that makes you feel special. You stay in because you eventually intend to key it all in.

And then there are times when you stop wrestling and go out and stretch yourself in the sun. A good, long stretching of every bloody nerve and sinew. Look back into the room and focus on the poem framed on the wall behind the table. Can you read it from here? Can you read Rudyard Kipling's If through the clear glass?

Believe me, sometimes the room appears dark if you're standing in the sun.

Borrowed stuff

Again, I'm finding it hard to write anything. So here's from a borrowed e-mail someone forwarded:

One phrase every Bengali worth his sweater has grown up with is thanda lege jabey.
It is the ultimate warning of impending doom, an unadulterated form of existentialist advice. Thanda lege jabey.
Thou shalt 'catch the cold'.
'Catching the cold' comes easy to Bengalis. It's a skill that's acquired almost immediately after birth.
Watch a Bengali baby and you would know. Wrapped in layers of warm clothing even if the sun is boiling the mercury,
the baby learns quickly that his chances of survival in a Bengali household depend on how tightly he can wrap himself
in cotton, linen and wool.
Bengalis have almost romanticised warm clothing, so much so that Bengali art has found eloquent expression in
a form of quilt-stitchwork called kantha. I'm sure wool-shearers even in faraway Australia say a silent prayer
to Bengalis before the shearing season (if there's any such season).
I'm also sure the very thought of Bengalis sends a chill down the spine of many a sheep.
In winter, the quintessential Bengali's outfit puts the polar bear to shame. Packaged in at least seven layers
of clothing and the head snugly packed inside the queerest headgear, the monkey cap, he takes the chill head on.
Easy lies the head that wears the monkey cap. With a pom-pom at the top, it's not just a fashion statement;
it's a complete fashion paragraph.
I remember strolling down the Walk of Fame in Hollywood on a pleasant May evening.
My eyes scanned the glittering stars on the asphalt - each an ode to a Hollywood heavyweight.
Suddenly, my ears caught the unmistakable Doomsday warning - 'thanda lege jabey'. I stood transfixed.
The Hollywood Walk of Fame is probably the last place one would like to get caught 'catching the cold'.
I turned around. There was this Bengali family braving the American chill. The young brat of the family was adamant
that he didn't want any more clothing but mom wouldn't have any of it - "sweater porey nao, thanda lege jabey."
I need not translate that. Mom won, and the family - sweaters et al - posed for a photograph.
For a race that is perpetually running scared of cold weather, Bengalis have a surprising affinity for hill stations.
Probably, warmth of heart is best preserved in shawls, pullovers and cardigans. In an age when you are judged by how
cool or uncool you are, the warmth that the kakus, jethus and mashimas exude can melt icebergs.
I wouldn't trade that warmth for any amount of cool. However, the monkeycap may look cool without the pom-pom.

This email is confidential. If you are not the addressee tell the sender immediately that you are not a Bengali and destroy your monkey cap.

Saturday, November 26, 2005

When

When you change machines, you have to copy all your stuff from the earlier one to the new one. And that is when you start sifting through memories. Did some of that and found the poems that I posted below . . .

It was strange to trash all the memories that I held very dear even a couple of years back. No wonder my hair's grown . . .

One Year Has Passed

When memory evolves,
The dark green of your door becomes moss
And the yellow walls, orange
The sun that set behind us a year back
Is setting out there in the distance today, behind the hills

East, did you say?

Let it be in the east,
Defying all that we think natural,
When memory evolves,
Your silhouetted face facing east
Is lit up by the setting sun.

March 3, 2004

(for the friend who wrote all the paper memories)

Of Preferences in Vain

in my getaway with you, i even dream of rain . . .
although i myself prefer a sunny day
but prefer you over the sun
even sunny california
or fornicating in a bath tub
tumbling down a snowy slope
or mud-slinging, bitching sessions,
over beer,
girls, mobikes, magazines,
and guns . . .
rain over sun
if only you came . . .

will you at all come?

August 24, 2003

All the paper memories

What I have left of you now
notations I made in my book
of arrival and departure
an itinerary of activities
some forced, some fanciful
others imaginary

The schedule was always
subject to change
and the documents accumulated
in and out the door

Here and there I captured
your handwriting somehow
an address that you left for me
a note in the margins

Paper traces have their beauty
a register of style
only two-dimensional
a challenge to your absence
which manifests like a house of cards

These days I see you in my mind
and hear you by electricity

These beautiful communiqu├ęs of words
and blocks of sentences
on almost paper

in white bright empty spaces

April 8, 2003

(by a friend who doesn't want to feature here)

Friday, November 25, 2005

Not Moderated

And there are those farts called moderators for e-groups on the net.

Wednesday, November 23, 2005

The first crush (part 2: The Missing K)

So, my algebra was always weak. Except for the concept of the constant "K." I understood that very well because I experienced one constant through all my evolving dreams. As Kakali (also a K!) gave way to secret fantasies about newer girls and my constant endeavor for growing a moustache, I was also exposed to other necessary things that one should be exposed to as part of growing up proper. I changed schools and moved to this government school for boys when I was in standard eight. My concept of being "bad"was thoroughly jolted. The guys there had taken perversion to an art form. I later heard some of them went on to join the Indian Army and some others were making bombs for the local councillor. At least they don't pelt bombs at unsuspecting young girls any more.

I still used to meet Kakali at the tutorials sometimes. She liked biology (she too seemed to have missed out on algebra) like I did. It was the only option if maths was too much for you. All I could ever mumble was a Hi and she returned it with a polite smile. By then the world knew about my continuing crush for her (it was already five years by then), and probably even she had an inkling. What the others didn't know was that in the meanwhile I had had quite a few other crushes parallely.

Frankly, these were purely platonic in nature. We still had our sexual fantasies about the "white woman" but these girls, our dear classmates, were never subjected to any such desires. We loved to think about their moms instead. The "we" stands for me and all my peers, because our dreams were always shared.

Much later—having lost my virginity one sunny afternoon and after having spent many years indulging in frenetic promiscuity, when I was almost certain that the K on my mind was this pathological urge to slam dunk just about anywhere—I suddenly felt it slipping first from my loins and then from my brain.

I panicked, looking for something to hold on to. Hey, that is me, all I'm about. But it was gone before I even realized.

Now I have a jeep and a Royal Enfield motorbike and tell you that these are the two balls of a man. If only you knew that I'd lost mine trying to learn algebra.



P.S.: The day she got married, Kakali confessed to a common friend that she shared a crush for me too, only wanted me to speak first.

The first crush

Lemme start from Jan 15, 1981, the day I first realized what a schoolboy crush was. It hit me, almost like a huge cricket bat across my face, and I was in love. Kakali, the object of my crush (and as I later discovered, of so many others in my class), was rather blanched, almost like a Caucasian. And that made her stand apart. She was sweet, no doubt, but not really good looking. There were other little girls who were far prettier than Kakali, but she had the "right" complexion to tilt all the pre-adolescent attention to her side of things. We were only ten years old. All of us.

Now we had seen white women in pictures. Mostly pictures in the magazines from Soviet Russia (they used to translate their magazines into ALL Indian languages!!). And also in the National Geographic magazines my dad used to get from his office library. But the latter usually carried photos of African and Latin American tribes, and also of chimpanzees and gorillas. Of Indian shepherds too, at times. So, we had to devour the pictures of the bovine, buxom, Russian women, but white nonetheless. As text never meant anything to me in those days, I just remember the pictures. And now as I try to reconstruct the articles that came with them, they were probably about workplace environment, pollution control, gymnastics and huge ugly trucks (with the white lady in the driver's seat).

But there were women in them. Women who we mentally disrobed everyday (tough, they mostly wore dungarees), experiencing a funny throbbing sensation somewhere deep inside. We were growing up together. Into this entire generation of hungry perverts.

And Kakali walked in. With her red hair and pink lips and light-brown freckles.

The initial silence gave way to utter chaos. It was nothing but a sudden need for seating rearrangement, if I may call it that. There were the shy guys too who quietly looked away. I was one of them. And soon Kakali was sitting between the strongest of the monsters, Subbu and Kumar. A few rows behind me, although I could feel her presence with every hair on my body.

After all these years can I blame her for my not learning algebra?

Monday, November 21, 2005

Ticket to Ride

And then one day there was very little time for all that I had on hand. I was holding the tickets and there was your e-mail out of the blue, after two years!

What kind of a hibernation was that, through all seasons, twice over?

It was a long e-mail, but I could only skim through it.

I will come back and read it. Today, I am holding tickets to somewhere else.

Wednesday, November 16, 2005

The Koln Concert and some other gods

If you have heard it, and gone back to it time and again . . . thank me for not writing about Keith Jarrett.

My current god, and seems like will remain my god for a long time to come . . .

My other gods: Dr L. Subramanium, Ian Anderson (for Divinities) and some others lent to me by velvetgunther. He has this huge collection of gods at home . . .

he he, Thom Yorke too . . . don't cringe . . .

Fecundity

Comes and hits you. You are then suddenly left with many children . . . awaiting another long, barren hiatus.

What do you do with those children in those barren days? Toy with them, toss them around, shove them under your bed and forget about them for days on end. I don't have an answer, why do you ask me? I myself have thrown some of my children out the window when I came back to them. Nopes, not all children can be called mine. They were born unwanted in a fecund phase. So go.

And what do they do? They grow, some hibernate, some turn yellow. Some rot, like only mangoes can. "Rotten mangoes" is a very Indian expression, ain't it? (We don't say rotten apples, because we don't let them rot. I think I can even count the number of apples I had in the last 34 years.)

And being an Indian, fecundity is something you cannot avoid, be it in anything. When you talk, you talk more than necessary. When you write, you digress and talk about ten other things. When you reproduce, you resemble a protozoan. At the workplace, you do every thing other than work.

I'm not here Indian bashing. Just keying in the incessant monologue happening in my mind. Otherwise I might have been caught talking to myself. That is a nonbailable offence I hear. Must be true . . . it's our dear beloved country after all.

Fecund for no reason, didn't I say?

Just waiting to drive his newly acquired Toyota. Left-hand driven, so it should be quite something trying to drive it on Indian roads. He? My self-proclaimed Nazi frnd . . . who I'm very fond of.

No, we spent nights in the same room, even on the same bed at times, but no, not him.

And there is AnandaDasa, another dear brother of mine. Somebody who is very very proud of being an Indian. He made the new British Airways ad "for India, the world is waiting." Drove his car too.

And then one sunny afternoon I carried her luggage across the road. This she?
No, not now.

Is this a suicide note? Why can't I just stop? Is this fecundity as you know it? My pen needs a condom too.

Tuesday, November 15, 2005

The liberal

The liberal says I don't agree but I agree that you have a right to disagree. Let all the different paths float around and not collide.

And the same liberal looks away when a witch is burnt in today's West Bengal. Communist state? Hah!
When thousands of female foetuses are aborted everyday in India.
When a court issues a nonbailable warrant against a woman who says men shouldn't expect their wives to be virgins. Ha ha ha . . .

Why aren't the Brits coming back with their whips, guns, and constitution? But then again, they are busy taming the weapons of mass destruction. Give me a race to look up to, will you? Or an entire army.

No, I can do without your god, thank you, we have 330 million of them already!

Facing Fear, Alone?

Monday, November 14, 2005

The Himalayas

Just a line about why people go to the Himalayas for all the answers.
Because the mountains make you realize you don't need the answers after all. That life is much beyond seeking answers to petty everyday questions.

It is the essential Hindu spiritual quest. One place that makes you realize how puny you are after all. How futile your entire life is. And for those who are at awe of the Himalayas, nothing else matters.

My salutations to you, Alison Hargreaves, for having found salvation in your death, whatever your faith.

Wish we all could die like you. Heroes, and having overcome all fears. Let me kiss your feet.

Overhead projectors

Yes, AnandaDasa, I can sympathize with your angst but cannot empathize yet. Agnostic was a term probably invented in the 1860s after Darwin shook the dark world of the white Christians. I don't want to reach out to the Merriam-Webster lying nearby to even check. Who cares? An agnostic is someone who questions the existence of god. Someone tells me Aaron questioned the magical powers of some god, so is he the first agnostic from our myths? I could never finish reading the Old Testament. Or the New one.

(The Charvakas, or the materialists were there before the times of Buddha, trying to spread the cause of reason as opposed to blind faith, which is always the easy way out. Like the dead sea scrolls, even their literature was destroyed by the Hindu Brahmins, who never wanted the poor, ignorant populace to see light. I have older atheists to choose from if I want to. More than five thousand years old, in fact.)

So, agnostic is not a fit term in my dictionary of things to describe someone who questions the very necessity of creating a god in the first place. Today, when my little Aaron watches the clouds come down and pick up huge cows in this videographic rendition of a tornado in the movie called Twister, he feels the first signs of fear seep in. Okay, so if there's a tornado, even my all-powerful daddy won't be able to stop us from being picked up and thrown around like in a circus.

Or videos of that quake, or why not the bomb blasts all over the war-torn world? Today, if you pray to your god, pray to him/her to stop the next bomb from being blasted in a crowded marketplace. Jordan, New Delhi, London, wherever.

If fear gives birth to the desire for something powerful that can keep you and your loved ones safe, it can be mathematically put as: Fear = birth of gods, everywhere in the world. Almost at the same time, perhaps, but for that I got to consult some encyclopedias of evolution, compiled by mostly believers anyway.

Why not learn to accept the fear as part of our lives? A short life, some fears, big or small, and nobody to protect you. How do you like such a world? Sans gods?

Sadly, that's not going to be. Today even newspapers have columns on astrology, horoscopes and psuedosciences. It sells, buddy. Our stars and our gods know hot business. And there will be news clippings of a Pope claiming the Universe was an intelligent creation. Yes, all the light fell on Rome. So much so that they were blinded enough to choose a ruler who allegedly subscribed to Hitler's anti-semitic view of a world ruled by white Aryans . . . have you seen his eyes, AnandaDasa? What do they tell you? That the world should listen to him? And what do you say when one such god apparently comes to Prof Bush's dreams and asks him to go plunder at his own free will? So gods support personal vendettas these days?

If little Aaron has a fear, I'd want to teach him to analyze it to a point where he cannot find any solution. The next step shouldn't be to give in to external influences that egg him on to start believing in something abstract, controlling
everything from up there. Yes, give up and accept that it is humanly impossible to fight this fear. And there's nothing beyond the human brain either. Nothing called superhuman. In stories, yes, because stories are always nice to read. In stories of the Asura being slayed by Ma Durga. In projections of our fears out there in the sky, like some new age laser show, projecting gods . . . in their dhotis and robes. I wonder who sold them clothes, though.

Come down for once. Open your eyes. In times when all around you have chosen to close theirs. Accept the fears, live with them, and walk proudly to your grave.

No prayer can save us from the inevitable "scheme" of things.



p.s. I use "scheme" because it is a nice word, not because it suggests some intelligence controlling everything.