The Purple Escape

 

20th September 2018

8:27 A.M.

Dear Ankita,

I’m on the road! I’m listening to Fleet Foxes and looking out the window. A little while back I had dozed off a bit and — well — since I have committed all the pictures that had you in them to memory my mind now plays them in a slideshow when I nap.

I saw loads of lazy cows and lazier school children. We stopped at this one place for a break. Here, this one school kid stood out because, even among other unenthusiastic children, he seemed singularly uninterested in pursuing formal education, (much like yours truly). He was dragging his feet, making his way to the school van that stood before his house. Because he had to let go of his toy scooter, the one that he’d been riding before the van arrived, he seemed particularly susceptible to the morning blues. And it mustn’t have helped that, in his imagination, his scooter is probably the slickest ride on the planet.

Yours,

Yash

 

 

12:30 P.M.

Dear Ankita,

I’m high. And I just found a pen, this pen. I’m so happy that I found it! I can write now.

I wish writing could be as fast as my thoughts are right now. Mind you, this screwed up handwriting is not a result of my heightened state, it’s manifested itself because the car I’m sitting in is doing eighty on a country road. Although this highway is not bumpy, its got these quirky undulations. It’s a cheerful little two-lane! It’s as jaunty as I am when I see you after a long while.

I’m still looking out the window, there’s nothing else to do really.

Presently, I see an example of nature acknowledging man’s supremacy before me: A tree stands at the corner of the road with a white flag billowing over it. “It stands in surrender!” I thought. It’s probably scared of the highway, it’s probably wondering, with a good amount of trepidation, as to what diabolical plans the NHAI has in store for it. Which is why the canopy shrinks and the trunk bends away from the highway. It’s an attempt to escape an early grave beneath packed tar coal but I reckon a road-rolled catacomb seems to be written in the tree’s stars.

Yash

 

 

4:30 P.M.

Dear Ankita,

A nice big yawn is always welcome. More so when you’re being thrown about on hairpin bends. Left, right, up and down: tumbling and swaying on roads that refuse to be the boring monstrosities that their counterparts are on lands below.  A yawn is always welcome because, when you yawn on a Himalayan road, your ears pop to the sound of newfound clarity: A crisp breeze, the rumble of your vehicle’s engine  (REs preferred) and the ineffable sound of serenity.

Yash

 

5:15 P.M.

Dear Ankita,

We’re about to reach Mukhteshwar, our destination. Cold has been slowly creeping on us ever since we started the ascent. Right now it’s pleasantly cool. These guys are smoking cigarettes but I don’t feel like smoking any.

All of a sudden I seem to have these fun possibilities before me. I could climb a knoll. (That’s what my friends are doing as I sit here writing this. We’ve paused for a pee break). I could sit on a rock and write (I’m doing just that). Or I could stick my head out of the car’s window breathing in supremely fresh air as it winds up the road to Mukhteshwar. (Something that I intend to do once we’re back inside).

The journey doesn’t feel tiring at all. And now, (If you’d excuse me) I’m going up the knoll.

Yash

 

7:20 P.M.

 

Dear Ankita,

Night has fallen and one can see that in the spaces where some of these undulating ridges found respite dark valleys have given way to glittering civilization: a veritable jewel-box filled with hundreds of electric lights.

These hills and their silhouettes evoke a primal emotion within me. The fear of the unknown and of that which is, when compared to me, awesome and incredible. Their scale never ceases to amaze me. If this is what presumably harmless foothills can make one feel I shudder to think what emotions those ever white peaks (that are purportedly visible from here on a clear day) would evoke if they were to suddenly loom over me and my mortality.

But, some of this foreboding is diminished by the pale light of the half-moon. Looking up now at the night sky I can see more stars than I’ve ever seen in my smog-ridden home.

They flicker, much like the electric lights down below. I wonder if some of them aren’t in fact lights from alien valleys. I think they are, centuries of organized astronomical observations would differ.

We are pastoral at heart, aren’t we? I reckon that, despite gilded cities, the village is where the human heart lies. Or at least mine does. In these settlements that lie quietly in the lap of cultivation and wilderness people know how to breathe. They know how to talk and how to live, unencumbered by an excess of design. Oh, how wonderful it is to be rid of those vile and vainglorious environments, if only for a few days!

Not that the city is inherently bad. It’s just good to escape once in a while.

Yours,

Yash

 

11:15 P.M.

 

Dear Ankita,

Crickets and an absences of honks and sundry city noises, a slight chill. I closed my eyes right now and I can hear a river in the distance but I’m told it’s just the rustling of pine.

Yash

 

11:30 P.M.

 

Dear Ankita,

Levels can enhance the simplest of spaces. every space in this cap lies on different levels. Kitchens and fireplace on one level, washrooms on another, living spaces on yet another level. accessed via a backbone: a stairway built from locally available stone, smaller stairways branch out from this backbone leading to various spaces. Wilderness abounds in the interstitials

Yash

 

21st September 2018

 

7:00 A.M.

 

Dear Ankita,

In the morning these mountains seem less foreboding. They are green and squishy and riddled with monkeys. Slightly more evolved monkeys are busy preparing what is called a ‘Steadicam’ in the biz. Som and co. are going to swing around behind us operating Gimbals, Steadicams, drones, and whatnot. I feel like a star.

Yash

 

7:40 A.M.

Dear Som,

Clifframblr needs a mascot, an alpha male who has in him to represent! Me sticking my thumb up in front of the cameras could do wonders for your company Som.

I’ll need loads of moolah though.

Yash

 

8:48 A.M.

 

Dear Ankita,

It took the second go to realize that the objective of climbing is not to hold onto the rock for my dear life and hope to escape the clutches of death, it is to make the mountain your bitch!

Zeeshan

9:15 A.M.

Dear Self,

Cigarettes (Total Fusion), torch, SD Card and socks. These are the things that you forgot to bring here (in order of priority). Please remember to buy them from the market (The market that is really just five general stores stuck together)

Yash

9:30 A.M.

Dear Ankita,

I’m sitting on the top of a cliff! This makes me high squared. Below me rests a beautiful valley. Green, step farmed in gentle furrows that look like the fingerprints of a giant. The giant that, in all probability, shaped lovingly, the undulations on this dappled land. Dappled with the dark green of forests, a lighter green of the farm-strips and the shadows whose proprietors float in the heavens, moving east.

Nearby, rocks jut outside the fringe of this cliff. The spaces between them stuffed with lush green. Presently, a gang of tourists is making itself thoroughly obnoxious. Their cameras are busy capturing their buffoonery. They’re executing every possible pose with the same dexterity with which a toad flexes its tongue to catch a fly (This metaphor was inspired by the toad-like appearance of these sleepwalking vacationers)

They’re walking with their eyes closed Ankita! Experiencing nothing, documenting nothing but their fat ugly bourgeoisie necks superimposed over ‘exotic’ locations. They are oblivious and blissful. These photos that they click will make rounds on a WhatsApp group titled ♥♥♥ Sharmas ♥♥♥. There they will serve to make jealous sundry relatives. A jealousy the likes of which will only be cured when these relatives too, with their trademark Sharma family necks, descend upon this land and desecrate it with their lurid ‘photo shoots’ which will, in turn, get another streaming batch of consumer-relatives in pursuit of crossing off items from the bucket list of the blind, and on and on and on (till, the land is littered with all the markings of consumerism gone rogue. The favorites: Pepsi cans and Lays’s Cream and Onion are now taking a millennia’s worth of siesta between the cracks in the crag). For all that they’re doing here, they would do better to get clicked in a studio with a wallpaper behind them with (a particularly arresting portion of) the alps printed on it. I swear, their ugly faces would look marginally better.

Yours,

Yash

 

 10:30 P.M.

 

Dear Ankita,

I get way too eager to write after I smoke up. This was my second thought. My first one was: I have this really cool line of inquiry, I must write!

So, coming to this line of inquiry, I was noticing these names they’ve written on rocks and the roof of this hut that I’m in even.  These names mean nothing to anyone but their owners. Why then do people have an urge to etch their names thus? Maybe it’s for posterity sake, maybe they are merely confirming the fact that they exist. Or is it just territoriality? The human version of marking one’s scent?

Maybe it’s the same urge that is making me write here. After all, these words too will try to be permanent. I want them to make their way to you safely but I also want to to keep them in a public space, somewhere people can see them, even if they make no sense to them whatsoever. Like the names on this rock.

I feel the further I am from you the more ‘measured’ I must be with my words. Do you reckon that’s necessary? To write to you is to sometimes deliberate upon every word and other times let them rush incessantly but what it is always is a delightful exercise when I actually get down to it.

Which is why I’d rather write to you than describe all of this on the phone where I’m only ever able to convey the most mundane aspects of whatever it is that I’ve experienced.

I’m in a quandary though, because I simply love hearing your voice.

Which is why I’m going to restrain myself on the phone, where I’ll only hear everything you have to say and say little in return. Instead, I will spill my thoughts only on paper. Do you think this is prudent? Do you?

Love,

Yash

 

22nd September 2018

 

9:26 A.M.

 

Dear Ankita,

I’m surrounded by purple flowers, they’re headbanging to the wind’s tunes. I can see a million shades of green around me. I’m very happy right now. I’ve been chit chatting with a few friends and we’ve been describing trips (both sort) that we’ve had that were memorable. I’ve managed to take pictures of some of the various ‘proxemic configurations’ that we were in.

At about six o clock in the morning we were sitting outside our tents, gazing at a valley. We (there were three of us) were sitting adjacent to each other. I chose a spot that was upwind of the other two because I don’t fancy second hand bidi smoke.

The next configuration composed by our trio could be found in the space I started this note with, the one with the purple flowers. These two sitting on reclining chairs and me sitting cross legged in the middle.

A few more configurations later I’m still with the same two people that I’ve been sitting with since the past four hours (how the time passes!) and I’m lying on my stomach and writing this. These configurations have had a very strong effect on the sort of conversation that we’ve been having. That and Lucy the dog’s arrival. And the ukulele rendition of sundry songs. Definitely the ebb and flow of the hashish high.

I just had ten ‘kash

I think I’m developing a resistance. Nothing’s happ… Fuck, I’m so stoned.

I’m going to sing now! 🙂

Love,

Yash

 

11 A.M.

 

Dear Ankita,

My baal philosophy goes thus:

Baal ought to have a character, they ought to be transcendent. They ought to dance around on your heads and do things to you.

They ought to be unruly and energetic, forcing you to respond to them with a brush perhaps or a jerk of your neck (to sweep them away) or to be ran through with fingers.

Yash

 

1 P.M.

 

Dear Ankita,

The board and the basket are the deities of the basketball court. We basketballers adore our gods, we worship them, looking up to them with awe and reverence. Offering our offerings of the orange cosco and dancing underneath in practiced moves.

We didn’t break a sweat playing the game. Not because we’re effortless players. It is a fact that the holy basket smiles on you when you place her 2,171 and three meters above sea level. She blesses her worshipers with cool climates and happy breathlessness.

Zeeshan

 

23rd September 2018

 

11:00 A.M.

Dear Ankita,

I’m NOT high for a change. A day ago this place played host to sweeping winds. We’re surrounded by trees and their rustling sounded like the ocean. I could imagine us sitting next to the waves. I really miss you Ankita. Its a nice sort of missing. a happy sort of longing. I confess I often indulge in this feeling, I carry it around in my heart and let it rush to my head whenever I’m in a pensive mood. Often, I compliment this feeling with a soundtrack, this particular composition called ‘close to her’. You’ve heard it.

The cover art for this song on SoundCloud has the silhouettes of a girl and a guy standing against the dawn (or dusk?) sky, close to each other. You’ve probably seen it? Now, on SoundCloud’s interface the cover art slides across the screen as the song progresses. While listening to Close to Her, I can see the silhouettes moving from  right to left and, if you focus only on the guy, like I do, you can fool the brain into thinking that the guy is slowly moving in for a kiss.

Anyway, It is a powerful composition that carries my emotions quite effortlessly despite the fact that they’re heavy (what with thoughts concerning you being involved in the mix and what with — and this is essential — you being heavy.)

Ankita, I’m so fortunate to be the person you love.

Yours,

Yash

 

5:00 P.M.

 

Dear Ankita,

This one’s about water. The wild sort, the muddy sort, the frothing around rocks sort.

The sort that falls, jumps, bounces, runs on earth that springs with green. One that does not know the horrors of human industry.

Today, I saw a waterfall that fit this description. It frolicked and danced happily between mountains exuding an eerie energy. Rains, that had been pitter-pattering for two straight days had only just receded into a foggy reticence. The fall and the stream it filled had been fed well.

The path to the waterfall ran along the stream. Along trees and grasses of all description, their leaves glistening and darkened by the rain.

It intersected the stream at four points where we trudged across the knee deep brown mass. At the last one there was a small crag, sitting on top of which I looked straight at the waterfall. That’s when this famous philosophical question came to my mind. It goes thus:

When a tree falls in a lonely forest, and no animal is near by to hear it, does it make a sound?

The answer, the waterfall — gushing excitedly — seemed to say, is a deafening and resounding YES.

Nature exists outside the human experience. This waterfall is old, it was here long before I lived, it’ll be here long after I die. Why should I be the arbitrator? Who am I to say whether or not it makes a sound or exists at all?

So, it was in my mind that there was a waterfall, and it gushed, frolicked and existed.

My mind and five other minds.

And Ankita, it was beautiful! Scary but beautiful. A grassy hill behind the waterfall made it look like it had a crown. We swam in the pool beneath till darkness had descended.

We came back when it was pitch dark.

I suppose a cloudburst would have killed us.

I suppose a car could ram into me this week on my way to college.

 

Yours,

Yash

 

7 P.M.

Dear Ankita,

I’ve been chain smoking tobacco here. I don’t feel guilty about it because… I don’t want to outlive you. And I’ve got a lot of catching up to do! We’ll die on adjacent beds, okay? And if our health permits, we’ll join our two beds together and have the last and and (I imagine) the happiest intercourse of our lives.

Yash

 

24th September 2018

 

5:46 P.M.

 

Dear Ankita,

What is sleep if not the protestations of the soul trapped in a body of pain and tribulations.  Happiness lies, undeniably, in the realm of spirits. It comes and goes as it pleases. And often, to be coerced into a joyous disposition, the brain has to be altered with music , love and/or other intoxicants.

Accha If it’s true that I experience happiness in waves then isn’t that a glorious thing? While others are stuck in doldrums the crests of my happiness soar ever higher (and the troughs of sadness follow close on the heels but lets not talk about that). My souls is like a choppy sea!

Love,

Zeeshan

 

3:00 P.M.

Dear Ankita,

You’re on my mind Ankita. Actually, this is hardly a momentous occasion. You are often on my mind. How often? About once every five minutes, (not counting sleeping hours). This time I’m thinking of you because I reckon you’re the reason why I feel happy. I’ve been liberated! Living as I am in the present, in the here and now. Which, all of a sudden, has become a really delightful place to live in. Thing is, you, Ankita, have shook me like a storm on a silent night. I’ve read and reread your letter a hundred times and my stomach does pirouettes every single time I read it. I find myself smiling ear to ear, like a fool. I don’t deserve you, you wild nature thing. I don’t deserve right down from your boycut intellectual leftie head to your defiantly naked feet.
But I will, someday 🙂

Love,

Yash

 

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Inter dimensional Mango Menagerie

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Indie and an Economics Lesson

I feel a great sense of comfort in knowing a little bit more about the world than I did before I had a (very enlightening) conversation with you via WhatsApp.

Aside:

I feel my senses mingling. I can see with my ears. My mind is burdened with the weight of all these notes filtering into my ear. This pink-plonking guitar is salty. Nope, nah that’s just what I ate a few moments ago. Mini samosas are salty and make the music I’ve been listening to feel like its been thoroughly soaked in the dead sea. Besides, this song is called Ocean.

Focus.

You, via WhatsApp, told me this: You told me who decides how many rupees a dollar costs. A question that would’ve surely given me existential pangs had the answer not been elucidated.

Market forces decide how many rupees a dollar costs.

Good to know! Good to know… (yawns)

I’m sleepy now, and listening to this song that reeks of alien abductions and galactic empires.

 

SoundCloud is filled with Martians.

Martians, hippies and freaks. Or at least that is what you’ll think if you were to listen to this SoundCloud playlist. The one I’m listening to right now. The one I’ve been adding to with love in my heart and Jai Shri Krishna on my lips.

The first of a series of three playlists actually. Called ‘ Indie till I Die’, ‘Indie even after I’m Dead’ and ‘ Indie for the Afterlife’

These playlists are cherished projects of mine, curated painstakingly over the course of three years. And now they serve to remind me of all the situations that I had listened to these songs in. As I listen to this one song  I’m reminded of my failed attempts at trying to make cycling up and down a twenty kilometer commute a ‘regular thing’ , and upon hearing another, I can recall this one friend’s fondness for European blokes.

“Follow it through to it’s logical end, you gonna get some stupid European boyfriend”- Donovan Woods. Put On, Cologne

I’ve driven my car all around this city to these songs, I’ve jogged to these songs, I’ve slept I’ve woken and I’ve made love to these songs.

I’ve taken dumps to… yeah.

They’re familiar. No. They’re family.  They’re demulcent. They’re comforting.

They’re Indie. Tied (by and large) to no particular genre, no profit hungry label.

That’s not to say that all indie artists are strictly speaking independent. Far from it. Many aren’t. Yet there is a spirit that guides these bands. It’s funny how practically everyone has a different definition of Indie and yet they can almost always agree on whether a song is ‘indie’ or not. So in a sense, I talk not only about a genre of music but also, in part, about this spirit.

Some are happy, some sad. 
some are barking, others mad.
They’re many things but bad! 

Tell you what, I’ll introduce you to one of the songs on the playlist. Okay?

It’s called ‘Flying over bus stops’. It’s by this English band called Athlete.

 

Damn you if you hate slow music. Listen to this song if you’ve made peace with laid back tempos.

Listen to the tune that gently leads into the first verse, almost like a lullaby.

I belong with your arms wrapped around my neck
Your lips glistening in the light
Awesome headlights passing by

The vocals are a gentle whisper almost like a light breeze.

Hold thought, I hold the thought

This is positively hypnotic. Isn’t it?

Walking back towards your house
Raindrops bouncing off the leaves
Down to our September kiss

Love the imagery!

(Kissing in the rain? Sign me up!)

Flying over bus stops and playgrounds

Think of Buses, bound by routes, timings and filled with commuters.

Now think of you, disembodied from wherever you happen to be right now and flying over a bus stop.

Think of observing the phenomenon from up above. From a place where they can’t see you. Think of all those commuters looking down, staring at their smartphones while you float around.

Why bus stops?  Why not mountains, or valleys or, well, something more ethereal? Well, I think there’s much to be said about the merits of magical realism. Fantasy juxtaposed with reality feels more fantastical. Arguably, the wizards in Harry Potter seem more magical because they share the same world as muggles. Wizards of Middle Earth, in comparison, are in competition with orcs, elves, dragons and sundry creatures and suddenly, being a wizard isn’t magical anymore.

So, I think the beauty of the lyric vis-a-vis other forms of poetry is that it is not restrained by a necessity to express beauty through an interface comprised of words and wordplay alone.

Lyric is poetry elevated by melody. A fusion of (perhaps) the two most powerful movers of emotion. A good song seeps into every crevice of your being and elevates you. Elevates you from being the slave of time to being its master, summoning memories and painting them on a canvas. On a canvas in fact, of transcendental experience. Indeed, we forget that we’ve been bestowed by the blind forces of evolution with hindsight, foresight and the power to build veritable worlds out of these tools. What sort of a world you build, is your prerogative.

Music is the palette, your emotions the colours and experiences are the canvas.

And if you fill your palette with dirty browns and steely grays and gloomy blues. Well, Leonardo can work with that, Picasso can. But you and I, we’re mere mortals.
We need bright yellows and cheerful greens.
We need Indie.

Indie = Love.

I rest my case.

A case that I now realize you probably weren’t fighting me on anyway.

I guess I’m a little too defensive when it comes to my music tastes.

I’m also pretty (yawns) sleepy.

By the way… Market forces, eh? I used to think there was like, a… oh I don’t know… a consortium? Yep, a consortium of these… these awfully powerful blokes. Thank God that’s not the case, no? Thank God.

 

Z.A. 420

A thoroughly one sided Conversation

I stop.

A lorry rolls past, then another, then another , then another… The ground shakes.

I’m fishing in my pockets for something. 

Eucalypti rise beyond the highway, their leaves, parrot green in the day but only barely, darkly visible in the night— sway — with the wind.

I’ve stopped in the middle of nowhere. Another lorry and the ground — not the ground, a flyover-bypass — shakes again.

There’s fire on my scooter, and a forest — I laugh. Why? Because of course there’s not — That’s— they’re — Indication lights. Green and orange — Forest and fire.

“Oi! You think the reason fire-red stands for ‘danger’ and ‘stop’ and forest-green’s for ‘peace’, the ‘all’s okay’ and the ‘go ahead’? You think — Arrey listen — You think? Do you suppose we’re still early men, excuse me: early men and women. In awe of the red and orange fire and thankful for the day’s green gathering? We are, aren’t we? Except now, a fire is a scooter spending too much fuel… and a gathering is all the money saved on a happy, fuel efficient scooter running on ‘economy speed’.”

“Hey, imagine na. I have my clothes — finely woven; My helmet — the toughest hydrocarbon; My scooter: All assembled by modern industry. Notwithstanding, I have the psyche of a Mesolithic gentleman: club wielding, loincloth draped. Isn’t it so?”

“Oi! What if… soch ?”

“Hey! Maybe…hai na?”

Penny for your thoughts?

I take out my phone.

A while ago, with my scooter — running on this highway — I saw, see city lights, buildings — and nearer, on one side — shrubs planted along the gap-in-median.

I wanted, want to run between the shrubs — run like the wind — on this thin strip of grass on the median, between two lorry riddled lanes that tremble beneath — while above — buildings loom majestic!

I think “Your feet can’t run as fast as this scooter can, you hopeless romantic, you incorrigible madman.”

Then— discovering happiness in the moment’s quiet— I’m drawn to you. You, with whom I’ve felt this way time and again. You, who I reckon I’m beginning to love — You, who’re sitting miles away — in your hostel, in your class — or walking perhaps, on the streets of an alien city, with a map. I’m thinking, wondering? Wondering. why it is that I feel so drawn to you?

Is it the promise that being with you holds?

Is it my unhealthy obsession with your fragrance?

Surely, it’s the way you hold a cigarette between your lips.

Thoughts?

I long to be close to you — to sit with you amidst passing lorries — listening to — what? with an earphone to an ear each — when?

This one song, pretty soon.

I tap play on ‘Volcano Choir – Tiderays’, put my phone in my pocket, jam my earphones — both of them — into my ears.

I’m moving again. It’s night — there’s wind at my back and you’re on my mind.

 

Z.A.420

 

 

 

 

Hairpin bend

I do declare!

That words must flow unfettered here. No matter how silly, how stupid, how nonsensical they might be/seem, whatever fancies me must see the light of the day on this blog, always.

In this spirit, here’s a 420 hairpin bend, chronicled in five chapters.

 

PART 1

#1 A case of the munchies

Welcome to this, the first.

(Draws a big full stop)

Notice how big the full stop is? I wish I could make it smaller, or make it disappear altogether. Which is why I want to talk about food: the taste-maker to weed’s Maggi. Food is glorious! Food is the stuff of life (quite literally). Food is worth every bit of effort applied to dream up, to synthesize the next (the third) ‘Food is’ sentence in this short soliloquy.

#2 Electric reams!

Things are much more than what they are and sometimes, they are quite otherworldly.

Like sitting in an airplane! (Window seat, please). Like the layers of a cake, like a music video.

Like this situation where, while I know that I’m simply typing words on a phone I simultaneously realize that what I’m doing is more — not even half as lackluster as it looks — I’m punching out electric letters on a magic slab filled with light and colors.

 

#3 To observe differently

(Later)

I want to go to far away lands and spend all my days there blindfolded. Just opening my blindfold when I’m indoors. I want to deprive myself of a whole sense to experience alien sounds, touches and tastes.

 

 

PART 2

#4 The call

(Breaks away from the previous paragraph to receive a phone call from ammaji, grandmother and babysitter extraordinaire)

“Kaise parents hai tumhare doston ke, late night tak bahar rehne dete hai”

 

#5 Things go awry

I hang up. I come crashing down. A thoroughly unpleasant bunch of thoughts vie for my attention…

“India mei umbilical cord kaat te hi kyu hai”
-Tanmay Bhatt

That:

I am a victim of an excess of care and that my ‘guardians’ (god bless them) will, in their fear of a ‘relapse’, ensure that a so called disease haunts me in absentia.

That:

You are, despite the best of your intentions, forcing me to be a part of this horrendous structure that you’re so entrenched in.

And that:

My sin is dependence.
And I need — like one of Woolf’s author-women — money and a room of my own.

 

 

Z.A. 420

I’m fine Mom, really.

Mania Scare

 

 

The Chess Players

…(In the film Shatranj ke Khilari) There are no heroes or villains, no happy endings, only real characters in real situations, characters struggling to either get grip over the incessant march of the British empire or, in the case of the chess playing noblemen Mir and Mirza, characters that are oblivious to the march of anything. In this sense, the noblemen — well to do citizens of the previous millennia — are evocative of the middle class — the well-to-dos of this one. They, with their  all-absorbing board game and we, with our all absorbing media. We’re blind to real issues and focus instead on distractions to alleviate the mundanity of our lives. Our eyes see only ‘chess pieces’ and the everyday shehs and mats that take place on TVs, smartphones, computers and film screens — screens of all descriptions — on Goswami debates, Game of Thrones and saas-bahu tutu-maimais. All affording us a respite from reality… 

Z.A.420

To whom it may Concern (Probably you)

 

Page 1

*Don’t we have this awesome super power using which we build castles in the air? I’ve built one with you in it. Only, I’m afraid that, even though I want to be the prince who rescues from the castle, I’m afraid I’m the frigging dragon! Clues: I’m the one who built it. I’m the one who wants you inside it.

That’s it. That’s how far I think I should go with this analogy. No this* is how far I should have gone with it.

(Five minutes later)

On second thoughts I think there is still some juice left in this lemon. On second thoughts, I could get you out of this castle that I made. Would you like me to be a benign dragon or a conceited prince? Personally, I’d love to be a dragon. With scales, wings and fire breath! You will rest your head on my warm fire-belly and, ever so often, dive inside my our treasure pool like Scrooge Mcduck. I’d turn every prince that comes to rescue you into ash. Because that’s the kind of dragon I am.

 

Page 2 (Half an hour later while listening to She’s So Heavy by The Beatles)

You’re pretty heavy.

My fingers tremble as I hold this cigarette between them. It’s Total. The new ‘Fusion’ flavour. I think this is the first time I’ve truly enjoyed a cigarette. I wish I… well, there’s a lot many things I wish. I think I’m enjoying writing something after a long time as well. Try as I might I can’t get ‘princes, dragons and castles’ out of my head. I feel I can use this analogy to say pretty much anything I want and get away with it.

 

Z.A.420

Single Inverted Coda

If it starts with me thinking about ‘thises’ and ‘thats’ it often stops with a hearty cry.

Often, I arrange these thises and thats together and turn them into ‘thought films’: ‘short’ thought films, ‘feature’ thought films. I ‘edit’ them in my mind’s eye…and play them there and then, soon as they’re created. My eyes closed, I eventually end up editing and playing (in simultaneity). Soon, I’m ‘playing with’. Soon, uncanny emotions take over and supervise a haphazard montage. Soon, I’m ‘played with’.

It’s a dangerous affair, this aimless ‘thought meandering’. It’s easy to lose yourself to make believe.

A pause enuses as a steaming ‘thought concoction’ is served to my ego (or my Id? I can never tell them apart). A pause in which I sink down to my knees in a graceless supplication, helpless in the face of a torrent of thises and thats. Cornered thus by phantasmagoria till a cry comes along and glues me to the present. It’s a pin for the though bubble, a flame that torches every ‘thought film’, a coda.

Man’s Best Fiend (A first person account of how I got bitten by a crazy Pomeranian and the consequences thereof)

I used to be a dog person. Not any longer. It took a few fateful seconds to turn me from a dog lover to someone who abhors canines in any shape or form.

It was the third day of my internship at Hindustan Times and I was filled with journalistic fervor, ready to carve my own niche in the enthralling field of print journalism. Armed with a mighty pen (mightier than the sword!) and a gallant spiral-bound notebook, I went out in the field prowling the city for a scoop. My prey? A young struggling musician whom I was to interview for a story on young struggling musicians. I rode my humble ’98 dented-painted metallic-silver 125cc Activa up till Hahnemann chauraha where I was received by the musician himself who was riding a metallic-silver Activa of his own, albeit of  a slightly younger vintage (what’s with nouveau professionals and Activas?). He led me through a maze of streets to his home.  Once inside I brandished my pen and got down to business. We were done in half an hour.  My notebook now proudly sporting a dozen pages of fanatical scribbling, parts of which were soon to contribute to a nice little page three feature. We shook hands and I made to leave. But I had barely reached the porch when, I saw a dog, a Pomeranian, bounding towards me, teeth bared. I froze where I was, stock still.

“He won’t bite” said our musician even as the feral beast sunk its canines into my leg.

“Bad dog! Bad Gucci!” came the musician’s ineffective reprimand. But ‘Gucci’ had already lunged for another go. This time, I was quicker; I dashed towards the gate, spun around and shut it after me. Gucci barked viciously behind the barrier, I suppose having tasted human flesh (said to be better than chicken) he had probably turned man-eater.

“Don’t worry he’s vaccinated” said the musician, quite embarrassed. “Bad Gucci!” he said again, rather feebly.  He looked apologetic (as he should be, he was the one who let the bloody creature out). “Come inside, you must wash the wound with some water” he said. “What? No way!” I exclaimed. There wasn’t a chance in hell I was going to enter that house ever again. “There’s a tap outside” he said from inside the gate, having understood my sentiment. I could hear the dog growl as he was dragged back inside the room whence he came. I poured some water on the wound, shouted a ‘bye-bye, see you around!’ and hurried back home on my Activa, glad to be alive.

“Injured in the line of action, eh?” my rather insensitive dad joked when I told him about my ordeal once I’d returned home. He’s a colonel in the army.

Bichaara bachha” mom crooned.

“I’m very concerned about the dog” said the doctor, a week later when I went to get my second shot.  (Neutralization of dog bites requires multiple shots over the course of multiple days.)

“The dog?” I said, perplexed.

“The dog.” said the doc gravely “Is he alive?”

Of course he’s alive, I thought, why won’t the bugger be alive? He’s the one who gored me, wasn’t the other was round.

“I ask because he might have died due to rabies, which would mean more syringes for you” The doctor said, almost as if he’d read my thoughts.

I wasn’t particularly fond of syringes. Who is?

“I’ll ask the owner right away doc” I said, my fingers crossed.

“Why would my Gucci be dead?” said an offended dog owner/ musician when I called him.

“Well he deserves to be” I said, hanging up, relieved and disappointed in equal measure.

Three shots and a month later, I’m a changed man. (No, I’ve not started howling at the moon or eating my chicken bones…not yet.) I’m a changed man because now I loathe the dogs that I once used to pet and pet the cats that I once used to loathe. Well, that’s how it’s going to be for the rest of my life. I’m now a die-hard cat person, courtesy of Gucci, that terrorist of a dog.

 

Yours

Bipolar Bear