Tuesday, January 27, 2009

They didn't have keyboards back then!

The gentle, distant Sun had become unforgiving in an hour's time. The last smoke was had with whimsical whiffs of cool breeze playfully manoeuvring the smoke as it made its way out after living its character inside the lungs. Now, the surrounding air stood lifeless like a godforsaken rock; and the smoke erupted in dense grooves persistently amassing a trembling blanket, suffocating in its own monopoly.


The flyover, otherwise a cacophony, was a trustworthy protector in these times. Even if it weren't, he would still be surveying its bending angles, its chatter under the cruelty of hordes of vehicles, or the fatigue in the pillars that support its weight at its various nooks. He lived here; once the most brilliant student of civil engineering his reputed college had witnessed in decades, this flyover had been his home for the last three days.

His classmates, who had always found him in the company of an old keyboard that he had chanced upon when he moved into his room in the hostel and never in that of his books, envied his acumen as much as his professors were awestruck by his proficiency. In his heart of hearts, he exulted at this giftedness, but also wished he got the gift that he wanted. Music was his passion, his God, but perhaps not his gift. But there was only so bad someone like him could have done at what he loved, he was still way better than the overflowing ordinariness all around him. Day in and day out he practised the symphonies of Mozart, dared to improvise upon them, fiddle with them, flirt with them. This usually continued for hours at a stretch; and it may be true that it also somehow nourished him, for there is no count of how many times he missed the inflexibly timed hostel meals in his trance. By the time he was in his final year, the passion had outgrown itself to resemble an obsession; biographies of Mozart lay all over his room; he made music in the classroom, in the labs, even in his dreams. Salil, his closest friend, who also singularly somewhat closed in on his academic and musical talents, besides sharing endless cigarettes with him over music, stood first this semester. Not that it mattered to Mohan, the rank race; plus it had gone to his best mate, so it was all the more calming. But it was conspicuously unexpected - Mohan who exceeded number twos by huge margins, being exceeded. Salil, baffled himself, sought Mohan to ask what was going on, when Mohan just joked it off by calling him Salieri and calling himself Mozart citing the similarity in names, which of course, was feeble if any. 'Mozart and Salieri', he imagined and swelled.

The days at college were about to end when, in a bolt from the blue, Mohan decided to run away to pursue music. Salil, who had been Mohan's roommate for years, couldn't help feel a pricking concern for Mohan's father - provincial, semiliterate, ingenuous, hearty and by now Salil's Kishan uncle. It was evident from the frequency of his college visits from their native place two thousand kilometres away in the hinterland that uncle's life depended, in more ways than one, on his son. How proud he was of Mohan's education, how he couldn't wait to see the first 'graduate' generation spark up his lineage. Indeed, so ingenuous he was he didn't know Mohan, let alone Mozart.

Salil pestered Mohan persistently to rethink, to not ruin his career, to give himself some time, to take a short holiday, and even to not live a 'delusion', but all to no avail. Mohan vehemently denied being naïvely romantic, and sometimes tried his bit to convince Salil that it was a necessary evil - the construction company employment would render him infertile, bereave him of his purpose, and then 'what use will be the career?', he asked furiously. For some days he defended his as the righteous choice of passion over glory, and then one fine evening, he vanished from the college without any noise. The college mourned a few days later.

It's been two years since, and the college is doing well.


Now as the sun had become scorching hot along the left edge under the flyover, and a puddle of dirty water soiled the right, a frail looking Mohan was hard put to find twenty square feet of convenient shade. When he couldn't find any, as luck would have it, he resorted to oblivion as a substitute to solution. So he took out his keyboard, from an unbelievable preservation. It was a carefully crafted case made of construction leftovers that lay everywhere under the flyover. He hadn't sold the keyboard, though it seemed he rarely played it now.

Meanwhile, the suffocating blanket of smoke had by now expanded into a big cloud near the sixth floor balcony of a swanky multi-storey across the road, towards the other end of the flyover. A young man dressed in the finest fabric, sipping the rarest coffee, and smoking the choicest cigarette had his eyes fall upon the keyboard, his once-hobby made him momentarily wonder 'If I could be there'. Two minutes, practical-thinking and a few unsatisfying puffs later, Salil throws his half cigarette out of the balcony, and resumes work on the MS-Excel file waiting impatiently for him back in his cabin.

A few hours passed, the sun relented, the swanky building deserted, and Mohan picked up the half-cigarette thorn-bound upon a cactus plant. Back in his haven, he takes a deep satiating drag, one that also satiated the cigarette itself, perhaps giving it 'delusions' of not being just any saleable commodity.

~ ~ ~

Rumour has it, that two months ago, in the dark of the night, Mozart was heard on this road. Yes, more prominently near that seeping incline under the flyover.

Sunday, January 25, 2009

Small Talk

Not so much plagues the absence of her voice dipped in sucrose,
Nor does not hearing words of praise when he sits writing prose,
No, not even the fact, that there were not to be any more dates,
But that he had no topics now when chattering with his mates.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Straight from the Office Desk

It takes time, and then, time takes it. In a moment of accidental reflection, it's clear that it took less than even a fortnight, for the capacity to think about other, less-taxing things to return to me. In the penultimate analysis, I guess what I had feared for a bloodsucking parasite, was only a pesky, pokey, unwelcome guest. A few sessions of brooding are still inevitable, and justified even in their pointlessness, for in the final analysis these 'sessions' are, I concede, more of 'fits', and you can never really be too sure about them.

The other less-taxing thing, as it turns out, is the industrial training. Only that sitting through nine hours of absolutely no work is a most taxing challenge in its own right. Sleeping, apart from being prohibited and inspite of being tempting, is an inconsiderate escape. Because each of the men in the neighbouring cubicles, whose professional assignments weigh a full-fledged train as against my handful of nuts and bolts, is bound to feel wronged, maybe even to sigh pensively amid silent cries of 'why me', maybe even stare resentfully at sleeping-me amid silent curses of 'why him'. The second alternative, now, is to pass time talking, but then, with whom ? Certainly not these guys with trainloads of work keeping them busy and rendering them irritable. Lastly, there's the option of actually working through the day, where my own inadequacies abandon me. In tragic contrast to my branch of study, I am not really a man of machines; except of course, the tomato-soup vending machine there, which, by now, may even possessively call me 'My Man' for the faithful company I've been to her. But seriously, there are only so many cups you can take, the numerous five-minutes just don't add up to nine hours; besides, you start feeling like a bottle of ketchup by the time you're back home.

Despite being a minnow's minnow in this intimidatingly complex pecking order in this intimidatingly large organisation, I, surprisingly, am answerable directly to the AGM, who, surprisingly, is a very humble, forthcoming gentleman. Quite unlike my immediate senior, the minnow, who is too much of a Mr.Know-it-All for him to actually know anything at all. But then if your actual expertise over your putative expertise is anywhere like mine, you aren't really entitled to grouses like these. For that, I must first get better at my work, or change the work itself, because currently, my work and I - we just don't get along. Like a platonic relationship between two shy perverts, ours too, is going nowhere. A few more months.

I have set a fresh label for posts of this kind, anticipating that there'll be many more of these. There have to be.

Added Later: Ok, my dashboard tells me it is the hundredth one. Not quite the way I would have wanted to hit a century, but anyway, I let it be, like they say, 'it doesn't matter'.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Childish Whims

Written on 2nd November 2008 at around 8 PM; then titled 'One of These Days'.

One of these days, I’ll bring life to fables
One of these days, I will turn the tables
One of these days ..

One of these days, I’ll ring a surprise
One of these days, I will see sun rise
One of these days ..

One of these days, I won’t remain raw
One of these days, the world will awe
One of these days ..

One of these days, I’ll break the shackles
One of these days, I’ll bring miracles
One of these days ..

Oh God! Pardon me, I refuse your order
To let go of those lands on which I border,

To take these bad days as my longer fate,
I just refuse to accept it won’t be my date.

I hope you’ll excuse me for having my ways,
I will be a little stubborn one of these days.

Making of a Joker

‘If you can laugh at it, you can live with it’: the realisation to which he awoke;
He has been cracking fantastic ones, ever since his life's been made a bad joke.

End of a Joker

He was the Joker of the class, his desk surrounded, even swarmed.
He has forgotten how to laugh, and always wonders who he harmed.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

The Stoic

When unaccompanied, no one is a stoic, these eyes betray the most heroic.
I am but just a novice who refutes, what chance have I before long solitudes.


Don't rely on your bats to do all the talking,
oh dear fan-boys of Sachin Tendulkar.
For all your genius and elegance of kings,
a flawed bat alone can make you a sulker.


I'd love to be a somewhat closer friend,
to you, I slyly want to pour my heart out.
But would you me, some patience lend,
until I fight the urgent hard drought ?

The Applicant

We the patients of fatal diseases,
our days counted in countings,
live on the border, by doc's short leases,
love real borders that others find daunting.

That war's much better despite its dangers,
than this meaningless war within,
that one unites us with a billion strangers,
this one distances us from our closest kins.

Plus, don't only those soldiers march on forward,
who really have nothing to lose ?
We fit the bill; please, we are not cowards,
let our suppressed fury cut loose.

Saturday, January 10, 2009


For a change, I am not concerned too much about the quality of what I am going to write. This isn't a garbed declaration of the quality of the previous posts, but an admittance of my mere quest for it previously. For now, though, I'd just let my heart speak without intrusions of the structural, aesthetic, or the hypocritical type from my neural circuitry.

Not that being concerned would have changed anything.

It is said that scarcity makes a man grow. But of course, this is only a piece of romanticised fiction, one that fascinates the mind, and also leaves it corrupted. If at all there is anything that grows during scarcity, it is scarcity itself.

People are mad, only a little less than I. They ring me up, ask me my result. A long nurtured love with numbers makes them call out for percentile-percentile right away. The next thing they say is a loud, enthusiastic, but for me a very hitting cry of Congrats or wow! It is truly a mixed-feeling, only too mixed, only too cluttered. Anyway, then I say something and the next thing they say is variable, though mainly it is something like an even louder 'Whaaat!' from those who've been watching a lot of Indian television Reality shows, while those who had restricted themselves to Simi Gerewal talk-shows on TV respond with a mannered, quieter, baritone Awwwww. Anyway, awe and shock, separated by a damned sentence; it saves me the cost of going to amusement parks to experience roller-coaster rides. I get them by the dozen every hour.

I did not get any IIM calls. At 99.70 of something called a percentile, I know not one more person among the thousands whose profiles I madly turned all through the last night, who met the same eventual fate as I, at this score. As far as sectionals go, one of the three wasn't all that fabulous for me, but it was still much better than many who finally raked in calls. Yes, I know, I am talking like a bad loser, but I realise there is only so much grace I can show at this time as a pornstar who is diagnosed with breast cancer minutes after she checks in a hospital for silicone implants that she hoped would have made her rule the world's compact disks.

Perhaps, it was only fair. I guess it was only fair that someone whose deeper longing, much deeper than the longing to ace a management entrance, is to demystify for himself the enigma of the Absurd, met with a full-blown, in-your-face absurdity hitting his head. However, the important word here is not 'Fair' or 'the Absurd', it is unfortunately 'Perhaps'.

Of course, it is not all bad, it never is. Almost at the nadir of my faith in the world, I discovered how terribly good some people thought of me. Major disappointments are palliative in the sense that they homogenise other auxiliary setbacks within themselves, making them indistinct, and making you inert to them. At the same time, they ensure that any faint good thing that happens shines out distinctly and you immediately recognise its being. So when I get terse replies, or worse, am left unanswered, it is easier accepting that it is how it was meant to be, and remain nonchalant, on the inside as well as on the outside. On the outside, I had always remained a stoic, but even the furore inside has now been replaced by a fading, near-mute, deathbed wistfulness. Put simply, it can be said that I have been humbled. And I still say scarcity doesn't make you grow. Being humbled is not growing. It was better earlier.

As a cockroach lying on its back, as a curious teenager being made to sit through back to back episodes of Vishnu-Puraan, as an audioning vocalist with a sore throat, as a nun in a stripclub, as a Nobel-prize awardee resisting a call of nature at the time of his speech, as a copywriter being corrected for wrong grammar by his maid, as Osama in Ayodhya - and as all of them put together, I am currently an amalgamation of varied emotions, all of them disconcerting, well almost. Among the four hundred and thirty six feelings that I feel now, the only one that qualifies as a silver lining is the pride at the stupendous success of Abhineet. It is no surprise, for it was always going to happen, unless all the IIMs decided to not conduct admissions at all this year. Of course they are conducting admissions, so of course Abhineet is there, right on the top. I particularly love people who don't make a big fuss of their brilliance, who aren't immersed narcissists. But then narcissists are never immersed, they only mistake drowning for immersion. I am amazed how Abhineet, after being what he is, comes off as just another guy, while being everything but that. Seeing his name printed with praise on the front page of a national daily today, I had a firm feeling it is only a beginning of a story that'll be long, admired, and deserved.

I also feel guilty for having subdued his celebrations, his enthusiasm. Among other things, maybe he would have wanted to write a jubilant post on his blog, the kind of victory-speeches that I am only too fond of, but cancelled it owing to the bad taste he must have thought it would leave in my mouth. That's how your head works, I know, yaar. But to set the record straight, I am looking forward to your masterpost as much as Shakti Kapoor looks desperately forward to new, struggling damsels asking for his patronization for them in bollywood. Even more than that, so please! And I cherish your email-of-compassion yesterday just about as much as I would have cherished the calls, and it goes without saying that it'll remain in my inbox forever. Also, All the best!

Unless Mamta Bannerjee taught you humour, you'd know that parts of the post were funny. Maybe the post was, but I am not. Perhaps 'this' explains the anomaly; a great blogger, see his/her blog I'd say.

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

A New Year

But for procrastination, I went to the college only yesterday for some thing for which I should have visited it twenty days back. It was a wonderful afternoon; the atmosphere was evocative of a refreshing hill-station holiday resort. It was the kind of atmosphere that made you want to gossip rather than be a mute spectator, but being alone I wasn't exactly spoilt for choice.

A particular lad again had my unswerving attention. And risking my reputation, I'd go on to say that he always has had it. No, he isn't the typical centre-of-everyone's-attraction or the bollywood-ish party-ki-jaan; in fact my guess is that not many people are aware of his existence, other than those bound to. I wouldn't be either, if it were not for his room being opposite mine. A confirmed loner, he has always had a permanent stern expression plastered on his face. His walk from his room to the mess and back to the room is devoid of any friendly interactions or TV interruptions. He goes about his work in such a rigid no-nonsense manner it makes you wonder whether there is actually some problem with the rest of all of us. If there was one word I would associate with him, it'll be 'serious'. It is none of my prerogative to be judgemental about it; maybe he has due reasons for it which I, in all likelihood, will never know.

Again, he didn't catch my attention after all these days for his secluded, almost misanthropic disposition. I think I have now got used to it. What was once notice-worthy is by now most-expected, at best a reaffirmation. But he was, as I saw yesterday, the very definition of affability. Moving from one triumvirate to another until each ran out of the time they could afford idling, he was all laughs and giggles, looking decided that idling was to be his occupation for the day. I thought he'd be feeling a little awkward being so social so suddenly, but if at all there was any clumsiness it was adeptly suppressed. There was no doubting his chivalrous charm but when the company was all-boys he also explored his artillery of Hindi expletives, of course not in the war-monger way, but in that pleasant way that keeps you at an arm's length in conversations, fosters brotherhood among us inherently rustic strangers, and projects you as the proverbial yaaron-ka-yaar.

He still is serious, essentially. Perhaps this time, about, a new-year resolution.