Saturday, February 28, 2009

Sometimes, there are days that are good, and then there are days that are not-so-good, and sometimes, there are minutes...seconds, rather, which are just so perfect they bring a lump to one's throat.

Just such a minute - about 12.23 am, last night. I was in Lake Tahoe, standing outside the first floor of a beautiful house, there was snow all around, it was a starry night, there were pine trees pointing straight up at the sky with snow on them. I could hear muted music and laughter inside the house- with bathed the snow around in a soft yellow glow. There was a bit of a moon, just above the trees- one could almost touch it, I felt.

It seemed exactly like how I'd imagined Silent Night, Holy Night.

I was just so glad to be there- just be alive. To be able to just exist- shorn of worry, ambition, the feeling of being superfluous.

Life is a wonderful thing.

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

En francais, apres beaucoup de temps!

Parfois, étrangement, je trouve quelquechose qui est très convenable pendant ma vie à un moment particulier. Au cours de la semaine derniere, beaucoup de conversations me se sont attristées que je n'étais pas là pour étreindre certaines de mes amis.

Et puis, je trouve ceci.

Sometimes, strangely, I find something that's very apt for my life at some point. Over last week, a lot of conversations saddened me, that I wasn't there, to just hug some people and tell them that things would be okay.

And then, I found the link.

Sunday, February 22, 2009

Why do we constantly underestimate the value of 'nothing in particular'?

As I look back on 21 years of (an admittedly uneventful) life, I realise that a lot of my favourite memories (as opposed to the run-of-the-mill best memories) are those of days spent doing absolutely nothing 'worthwhile'. Lazy summer afternoons in people's houses, watching films and borrowing books (some of which I've never returned!)*. Interminable hours in classrooms with teachers boring as shit (a certain Mrs. Kajal Sethi springs to mind in school- all these things happened only in school; by the time I reached NALSAR, worthless classes were used to catch up on sleep). Lazy days after exams ended spent at people's houses watching movies such as Dil Chahta Hai. I'm convinced my fondness for the movie is partly coloured by the day I first saw it- the day the boards ended in Class X, when we were too tired and too relieved to do anything other than flop down on a couch and play the film.

This has gone on in NALSAR as well-arbit** late-night conversations that start sometime about 2 at night and end at 4.30 am- sometimes involving Maggi cooked at 4.00 am. Nights, otherwise insignificant, spent on the roof at NALSAR, either with my little walkman looking up at the night sky, or with a particular friend,talking about history, politics, whether Jinnah was really secular or not- whatever came to our minds. Other nights spent walking around the basketball court- again talking about nothing of consequence. Entire evenings spent at Mama's*** or Shankar's****, sitting around and waiting for the right people to show up- and talking for hours when they did.

They're not memories of wildly exciting events. They're not stuff I can tell people, simply because there's nothing to tell. They are, nevertheless, memories that gladden my heart, and bring a smile to my lips- and that's what's important, right?

Or maybe, I'm just a lazy lump of flesh.*****

* Let me clarify this: My official position is that books, once borrowed, have to be returned. Promptly. Unfortunately, some books just seem reluctant to go back. If you're wondering what happened to the books I borrowed nine, seven, three, or one year back, then re-read the official position.

** College slang in India- originally derived from 'arbitrary'. Also, random.

*** A shop on campus for groceries, pens, and foodstuff of dubious age, flavour and hygiene, owned by a man of Mercurial temper and a habit of filling large yellow notebooks with large sums (some of which are definitely fictitious) of money which is owed to him. This habit leads to the number of people visiting him declining as the semester progresses, and ultimately leads to him hounding those who owe him money in the last few days, thus ensuring they walk around with a haunted air, a la one Lady Macbeth.

**** A little shack outside campus, where one can buy tea, cigarettes, and those 25p. orange boiled sweets you vaguely remember from your pre-and-just-post-liberalisation childhood (and those that your mother told you not to eat, prophesying anything from a stomache to certain death).

***** And quite a lot of flesh, too!

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Kahaan Hai, Kahaan Hai, Muhaafiz Khudi Ke?

Where are they, those advocates of human dignity?

While I am ensconced in Santa Clara, the internet serves me well in providing me with information on what is going on in our motherland. About a week back, all that I heard from home was on the Pink Chaddi campaign.

Initially, it amused me, made me laugh, was interesting. I thought it would be a good cock-a-snook at Those-Who-Are-The-Sole-Custodians-Of-Indian-Culture. Later, I thought more about it. It didn't seem so funny then.

A few girls were beaten. Beaten badly. At least two of them were hospitalised. For being in a pub. The Hindu right evidently thinks that these women have strayed from the path of Indian Culture and Morality ("Women?" "Drinking?" "India?" Horror!). In fact, it was suggested that these women deserved the beating because they were "getting too close to Muslim men".

And how did we- the liberal, the elite, the English-speaking (partly) convent-educated react? We, who speak for rights? We, who believe in equality, in human dignity, in the freedom of choice? What did this group of people do?

Decided to send pink underwear to the Sri Ram Sene. That's all. Pink, because it was "a frivolous colour".

Well, pardon me for my ignorance. Just what is so frivolous about being beaten up for choosing to go to a pub? What is frivolous about people making your decisions for you? Where you should be, what you should do, who you should "be close to"? Instead of making a rational point, instead of sending a message out saying such harassment is unacceptable, all we chose to do was send undergarments- the equivalent of saying "Nyah-Nyah, losers, you suck. Kiss my ass".

Indian culture, morality, our notions of religion, are all fast becoming the domain of a set of right-wing reactionaries. Instead of ensuring that such interference ceases immediately, or even engaging them in debate, of trying to get them to see our side of the picture, of asking them what gives them the authority to interfere with our lifestyle, all we do is send them chaddis- thus suggesting that we, the liberals, don't think their viewpoint befits more than insults, not even when it manifests itself in ways so entirely unacceptable to us.

No one I've been able to speak to has given me an answer to this one, let's hope the comments do.

Thursday, February 05, 2009


Monday, February 02, 2009

The last two posts have been reminiscent of the breezy, funny, cheerful old entries. So was my mood- cheerful, amused, excited. It was as though breaking free from the confines of college life in NALSAR had awakened a younger me. Again.

Well, the glow has been quick to fade.

Was it naivete? Or Hope? Are those even different things? Did I really think things were that simple-that merely leaving a place one was unhappy in could cure everything? That things would all be good? That there would be joy and sunshine everywhere?

Ha. Ha. Ha. The stupidity of it all. To run away, and think things would be better. Nothing changes. Location, maybe. Facts remain facts. Memories remain memories. Dreams remain dreams- and nightmares, nightmares.

Whoever said absence makes the heart grow fonder obviously didn't know what it could do to bitterness.

Kam Honge Is Bisaat Par Hum Jaise Badqimaar,
Jo Chaal Hum Chale, So Nihaayat Buri Chale

An imperfect translation may read as follows:

Few could match our skill at the game of life,
For failure dogged every step we took.