Friday, October 26, 2007

Out of Place

Sometimes these days, I really feel very much out of place. Sometimes it pinches that I am no longer the child who falls congruently into perfect harmony with wherever he goes. As a child, I recollect, I always used to find something interesting to do even when I would go visiting with Dad, his friends' families who were complete strangers to me. Even then I was this reticent kid who would open up to other kids in these families only if they took the initiative majorly. Most of the times they did, and it wouldn’t be long before we'd mix so well that I started my once favourite activities of calling names, leg-pulling, and playing weird games that made so much sense then, with these two hour buddies. Even on the rare occasions such gel and get along wouldn’t take effect, there was always the advantage of a G-I-Joe or a Hotwheels toy car at the host's place with which I could gladly pass my evenings. If I had my way, I would never go to get-togethers or parties with people I am not truly close and friendly with, but with relatives sometimes I am forced to take exceptions. Yesterday, I went to this cousin sister's son's birthday party and knew almost no one there apart from this sister herself, her husband and son, and a couple of cousins I went with. As a child I used to play a lot with these cousins, until they grew into adults even as I remained a child. Then most of them got married when I was still going to school, and somehow I always fell short of things I could talk about with them. So yesterday, I spent about two-three hours fiddling with my cellphone, untying my shoe laces and tying them again, drinking dozens of glasses of water, and coochie-cooing small little kids I hardly knew. Of these the most difficult was the coochie-cooing thing as I lack the inherent warmth required to see all kids as cute toys, and more importantly, my inability to fake it. I was thinking all this on my way back home when it occurred to me it isn't just these parties I am an outsider to.

I feel a little out of place in the company of rich girls with a post-modern outlook on things. I feel a little out of place going on outings with friends who are considerably more affluent than I. I even feel out of place in regular hostel inmate gatherings in which the guys smoke and drink and smile wickedly at my unmanliness in not joining them. On the other hand, I feel out of place when they drop their so called retrosexual manliness and dive into never ending sessions of mushy SMS typing and mobile phone whispering.

The height is when my long time best friend doesn't quite let me be all easy in his company either. Sometime in 2004, I remember I was nudging him that we should try a cigarette to see what it's like when he got all senti and asked me to vow not to get into it, or else dosti toot jayegi, main teri mummy ko phone kar ke bata dunga etc etc. At that point, I thought he was being childish. Now, on the once-a-month meet-up we usually have, all he has to tell me about is how he got high on such and such thing and rammed the hell out of so and so guy, or went about dancing madly at so and so party impressing so and so hot chick in the process. How unlike our yesteryears when we talked about good literature, beautiful girls or upcoming plans, shared classic humour, played cricket or went about riding on the roads.

If only God grants that in-place life, who the hell wants to kill time scanning orkut profiles of scores of people one doesn’t even know, but just because they either look beautiful, or share the same viewpoints as his, supposedly.

Sunday, October 14, 2007

Kuch na kuch

Ghazal maestro Ghulam Ali was in Delhi yesterday for a concert on Eid eve and the venue was Qutub Minaar. I came to know about it at 6 pm and the show was slated for 6.30. I quickly rang Vipin for his company for this occassion, and he didn't disappoint, like always. In five minutes I was racing my bike against the jammed roads, and getting restless by every passing second. Just when I had crossed the jam, the brakes failed, thankfully in a jammed position too. So it wasn't like I couldn't stop the bike now but that I couldn't start it. I called Vipin again to come to that spot to help me out and then we rushed to the nearby auto-workshop to get thing mended. It took a bad half hour, this brake thing. Then I raced it like I had never before, though I admit I was still way behind Vipin's jittering Bullet, to reach Qutub Minaar. Once we hopped the wired walls to get inside the seating arena, and succeeded. Only to be sent back by a hawaldar with stare and a compliment a minute later. Just when we were hopelessly going back, one guy offered us his passes for hundred rupees. That was it. I witnessed one of the most mesmerizing live performance of true genuine music I had ever seen. In this age when mediocrity is hailed as genius, and noise is called music, I was really thankful to God to have had the fortune of hearing some exceptional renditions live, atleast once.

And that was it. I decided what I have to become. Yes, I found it. I have to become an Urdu poet, or a shayar. I even wrote a nazm today, and here it is :

जिंदगी किस कदर कहती है आने दो समंदर को

इताब-ऐ-अश्क ही भारी पड़े जिसके मुक़द्दर को

कहाँ ये हौसला उसमें है आता पस्त-हौसला है जो

कि अब मसरूर है हबूत में मसरूफ होने को

क्यों उम्मीदें नही हैं वहम -ऐ -नुसरत के अलावा कुछ

खता को भी नही मिलता तगाफुल के अलावा कुछ

यह सालों की खलिश है या है ये ज़द्दोजहद कल की

कुछ मिलता भी है तो रहती है बेक़रारी-ऐ-दिल हलकी

वफात-ऐ-ग़म भी शायद हासिल कर लेते हम लेकिन

बेशुमारी-ऐ-ताबिश पहले ही हावी है हयात-ऐ-बुझ

क्या कुछ हस्ती है मेरी गैर -पेशा भी इस आलम में

तरसता हूँ वुजूद को फिर भी हूँ मौजूद इस ग़म में

कार -ऐ -कशाकश में था मैं जब किया था एक इख्तियार

तब भी इज्तिरार-ऐ-इजतिराब , जाने किसका है इंतज़ार

The following might be needed for a good comprehension:

Itaab : Anger

Ashq : Tears

Muqaddar : Destiny

past-hausla : Pessimistic

masroor : glad

huboot : decline

masroof : engrossed

vahm-e-nusrat : illusion of achievement

tagaaful : ignore/neglect

khalish : anxiey

zaddojehad : inner turmoil

beqaraari-e-dil : lack of heartfelt satisfaction

beshumari-e-taabish : immensity of sorrow

wafaat-e-gham : death from sadness

hayat-e-bujh : sluggish, insignificant existance.

gair-pesha : other than professional

aalam : universe

kaar-e-kashakash : professional dilemma

ikhtiyaar : choice/option

iztiraar : helplessness

iztiraab : perturbation/anxiety

* My mood's got nothing to do with my poem.

** Poem inspired by, this feeling. My approximate interpretation, in verse.

*** I am not going to become a shayar. I wanted to become a cricketer after India's breathtaking quarter final victory over pakistan in 96's wills world cup. I wanted to become an actor after seeing 'Pardes', an engineer after seeing 'Swades', a non-engineer after entering DCE, a ghazal singer after seeing my first Jagjit Singh concert, a cartoonist after seeing a Sudhir Tailang interview, An author/philosopher after I was exposed to Albert Camus, An IPS officer after watching 'Sarfarosh', a Hindi author/poet after reading Premchand/DInkar's works in ninth standard, a stand up comedian after watching Omar Sharif perform when in 10th standard. So just like I haven't got any closer to becoming any of these, I most probably won't be a shayar either. In short, aspirational hobbyist.

**** Evolution

The Try .. will continue , I mean that story of the last post.

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

The Try : Part 1

Yesterday, Sagar made a startling revelation to all his buddies, including me.

'I love her, guys. I am the Next.'

'Whom?', we asked in chorus, as if rehearsing for some third-rate, forcibly-make-believe street play. Though I never used to get his unnecessary jargon I did get a hint of what his 'next' would be about.

'Aastha, you dumbos.', I heard from him and thought 'who's the dumbo ?'

For a second there was the silence of confusion. I suppose all of us were ten percent happy and ninety percent amazed at his courage. Happy for his face was lighted with cheer, a face that had just managed to smile mildly for a second when he got a cent in his Numerical Analysis paper, and then made up by yawning for a minute. Amazement, was even more obvious. Aastha had dozens of aspirants dreaming of her, and half of them were listening to Sagar at this moment. Though the amazement was at his imagination that made him believe he could win the race. The other day a seminar on 'Heights of Imagination' was arranged by the cultural society people. We never knew he had attended it even as he told us he's going to sleep in his room. Now we were sure he did.

Probably he attended it sitting on the front bench. That is his trademark. Sagar isn't a stud, apart from his grades. But no one knows about his grades. Yes I forgot he's unknown too. Half the class wouldn’t recognise him on phone, because they'd not have ever heard his voice.

'Its DCE mate! Where every girl with two feet and a nose considers herself an Aishwarya Rai and all of us some Rajpal Yadav duplicate. And you're talking about the best goddamn material there is.', yelled Abhay. Pretension was never Abhay's forte. But he could have done without this one, I thought. So I went ahead to mend matters so that Sagar doesn't get depressed.

'Great Man! Who knows, you might not even talk to this funny Abhay once you're done. You know what I mean.', I added with a superficial smile followed by a wink of an eye that didn’t come naturally with the mood either.

'What the hell. I thought you guys would be happy on hearing this. You guys are no friends. You are hopeless.'

None of said a word, and we agreed to him partly. Apart from Vaibhav who chuckled, 'Better be hopeless than a hopefool!' and then laughed loudly and raised his palms before mine hoping I'd clap my hands to his. That was a tough situation for me. I had already resisted laughing out along with him, but now I had to refuse his clap too. I couldn't resist the temptation. On the spur of the moment, I clapped my hands against his, and then immediately looked back at Sagar and winked an eye to him indicating to him that Vaibhav's the fool. Sagar looked foolishly confused.

After about an hour of conversation in which most of us were hell bent towards pessimism, Rajat finally agreed to help him out. Rajat had a better track record than all the others, so that made Sagar all the more bullish on his chances of success. Though I'd still call the bullishness, pure foolishness, but they were both very proud of their optimism.

Rajat has got this better reputation than all of us, all for nothing I believe. I have never believed his tales about his sky high feats. And none of those feats had been achieved in front of our eyes, we were just told about them. By none other than Rajat himself. All I held about him was that he is my friends' friend who knows nothing better than occupying one computer centre seat all the time and never taking his ass off it, however important the waiting guy's work on the computer might be. He was as happy about his fanlist on orkut reaching two hundred as Mika might have been at the Rakhi Sawant pappi. He is known to have more than a thousand friends there, and doesn't forget to mention at the slightest provocation that he has more people in his fanlist as you'd have in your friends' one. The addict that he is, I wouldn't be surprised if he answers his exam sheets starting with a 'u there?' and putting a :) following correct answers, a :( following presumably incorrect ones, brb before his 'may I go to toilet/drink water' breaks, and gtg at the end of the exam. That might as well be the case infact, coz hiz marx r a bl8ant p8h8ic. He is a humble guy though, lolzz.

Anyways, I went back to my room then, my eyes already strained by the excessive winking.

( ...... Shall be continued )

Thursday, October 4, 2007

Yeah!!! Its october the fourth.

It always makes me think a lot - how to start a post when I have no clue what is it going to be about. So today I just thought I'd write 'It always makes me..' and get away with it.

The Indo-Pak final, first of all. There was something electric about the atmosphere at Common Room , JCB hostel, DCE. Many guys have told me that they saw it on the big screen and some who saw it with beer and some who saw it with the 'crowd'. But all that still leaves me sceptical as to whether one could have enjoyed the match more than us, 100 of us squeezed inside the common room which refuses to accommodate more than 30 people at a time if anything else is up on TV. Anyway, I think I am incapable of reflecting the true feel of that day in writing, so I'd rather stop here than understate the excitement.

In time, I've felt that the only people more saddened by this Indian victory than the Pakistanis and the Bookies are the Indian Hockey people. I really feel they could've done without this 'meri bhi tareef karo naa' gimmick. Its understandable when they say their Asia Cup victory wasn't applauded as much as the Indian victory, although hockey is the national game. Yeah really, that's what Joaquim Carvalho said. But what about reconsidering Hockey's status as the national sport itself. It just does not reflect mass preferences keeping hockey the national sport, practically speaking. I followed the Hockey Asia cup too and personally was perhaps equally happy at the sight of India's smashing victory in it, but I still consider the Carvalho statement as one being in bad taste at a time when we should join the cricket team in the celebration of their hard fought victory.

Having said that, I'd also want to mention the growing nuisance that that the Indian Media has become of late. And this does not include India TV, Total TV, and yeah IBN 7. You'll agree they can hardly be put under the category 'Media', if you've ever watched their Afternoon's sequence of programmes. Even the others have been far too immature in their coverage of Cricket, far too aggressive in their coverage of Politics, far too Ignorant in their coverage, or the lack of it, of Hockey, and far too lost otherwise. In hailing Dhoni's tactics as the coolest captain, I think they've been hasty in this judgement, to say the least. Having accepted and rejoiced the Laurels that the men in blue brought, giving the last over to Joginder Sharma who had just gone for 2 sixes included 16 runs in his previous over, was far from sensible thinking. Fortune favoured India, as Pakistan , which came so close to victory as 6 runs off 4 balls lost it due to a poor shot. Had that misfortune not struck the Pakistanis , we might have had oodles of criticism meted out against the same Dhoni, which would have been unfair no doubt, but so was the incessant praise too. I think I've made myself clear.

Its the season of College CultFests in Delhi. Unlike last year, I haven't been to many this year but thoroughly enjoyed the only one I went to - LHMC fest. The reasons for not missing the LHMC one are obvious, and precisely the same reasons hold for why I enjoyed it so much. And I realised I can appear drunk without actually drinking. Money saving habits I guess.

Finally, CAT race has begun for me. More than just a means for chasing a fat paying job, for me it is the reason to spend the year and more in doing something worthwhile. It will keep my wandering mind at one place. It will give me a reason to spend time into. For quite some time now, my biggest qualm had been the absence of one thing I'd like to keep myself engaged with for days and days. It gives me purpose, more than the lure of money minting machinery that it has come to be considered as. I hope to make the best of the coming time. I'd love to make it a passionate affair. I'd love to do more things, but its time to stop now.