Sunday, October 30, 2011

The Last Laugh.

I must have slept for over 6 hours extending my afternoon nap to early evening but still when I was woken up rudely by constant slaps to my feet I felt a little irritated. The irritation went away the moment I saw the person trying to wake me up. It was Danish, my childhood buddy. I was seeing him probably after 9 or 10 years and was too shocked to show my surprise. Eventually all that came out of my mouth was some garbled response which was devoid of any meaning, but him being my closest buddy from school days he understood every word behind it. We hugged, laughed and tried to talk but with the emotions blocking every single word I guess for the first five or ten minutes all we did was to look at each other and laugh. I know it sounds very gay but heck; I did feel gay for those few moments.

Nevertheless the initial euphoria came down a bit, the moist eyes dried up again and we were able to start proper human conversation. There was so much to share; my life, my progress on social and organizational ladder, my love marriage, my kids, Danish’s life, his adventures abroad, his lifestyle etc. We didn’t even realize the existence of time as we talked and laughed and remembered the old jokes and only when the clock struck 11 did we realize that we have been chatting and living in memories for almost three hours. Maybe it was the time or maybe it was the topic of another close buddy we decided that we should go and meet him. I did pause for a minute to think if the time is appropriate but then another wave of old memories rushed in and carried away any sensible thoughts and we decided to go ahead and surprise him.

I remember there was slight chill in the breeze when we stepped out but it was the kind which felt pleasant especially after spending last few hours indoors. Our friend’s house was hardly a mile away so it felt like a natural decision when we just came out of house and instead of taking the car just continued in the general direction of his house. It’s only after half an hour I realized that I had forgotten the exact turns that we needed to take to reach his house. I remembered that earlier we used to take turns based on the different trees which stood at every corner of our small hill town but due to the dark moonless night and the slight fog all the trees had taken weirdest of shapes and did not help at all. We kept talking and taking every turn which came our way and roamed almost for another half hour. It was only when we reached the creaking wooden bridge that I got my bearings. This bridge was famous since our childhood days to be haunted but we had come to realize that nothing ever happened there except for the play of light and shadow through trees that made it spooky.

As we reached the middle of the bridge engrossed in our talks, we noticed this young man coming from the other side. He looked like one of those poor tribal people who used to work in nearby mines on minimum wages and were always drunk. He was carrying two bags which looked heavy and was trying to walk as fast as he could which made him limp in a sad way. When the man reached us Danish suddenly turned towards him and asked “Brother, where is the cemetery?”

The man suddenly jumped with surprise and dropped his bags. He looked so scared that I could see his eyes bulge out of the sockets. He yelled and suddenly turned around and started running back the way he was coming. I was confused. Not really sure of what happened when I realized Danish had played one of our early pranks again. It was the combination of the place, the moonless night and Danish’s voice which was always gruff, the man must have thought we are ghosts. The realization made me laugh so uncontrollably that I could hardly breathe. In between the fits of laughter I looked at Danish who looked very smug. Controlling my laughs a little I somehow managed to say “You rascal; You gave the poor man such a fright he wouldn’t be able to talk at least for a week and then will tell the whole world he saw ghosts”

“But he did see ghosts” replied Danish in a deadpan voice. “What do you mean” I asked. His face showed amazement and then understanding and he said softly “I am sorry Bud, I thought you would have realized by now that you died while sleeping today afternoon. After all from that time we have been floating and not walking”. I looked down and saw he was right, I couldn’t see anything below my waist. I was a shadow visible only from waist up. Yes; I was dead!

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Better ego booster\Hobby?

For some time now I have been feeling restless and after deep thinking (The kind of thinking that you do in the bathroom in the morning after an insane night of binge drinking), I realized that the reason of this restlessness is that I don’t feel special any more.

You see, I have always had a feeling that I am special (Not “retarded – special” you dimwit!!). The knowledge of being special always gave a great boost to my ego and thus my confidence levels and lately I had been missing the feeling of being special.

I know I am digressing but I don’t want you to think of me as an arrogant prick when I declare myself special. I think it’s important that you should know that I was as uncomfortable accepting this fact as you are.

I came to accept the fact that I am special only after years and years of differential treatment given to me right from my childhood which continued in my formative years in school and college. I had always attempted to be an average kid however as you know life is unfair and I was always accorded a special status. At the beginning of each academic year, I remember choosing the middle benches to sit (In case you don’t know, those are the safest) and hardly a month would pass before I was found either standing in the corner of the classroom all the time or made to sit in front bench where the teachers could keep an eye on me all the time. In fact by the time I came to senior classes apparently my name was also included in new teacher’s orientation sessions. Thank god!! I was born with a positive frame of mind so I always took this differential treatment as a sign of me being special.

Lately this feeling was missing. I was doing exactly the same things that everyone around me was doing. Go to office, come home, play with kid, play with dog, be the dog, be the pig, sleep and again go back to office. I have a feeling that I might have mentioned something in my previous sentence which will have huge repercussion once I publish this but anyway I guess you get the idea of my life. I had become a lame duck. Not the metaphorical lame duck, either, but a real duck that was actually lame maybe from stepping on a landmine or something and I hated it.

As with all the problems that I face, I went to my wife with this one as well and the brilliant woman that she is, she had an immediate solution to it as well. “Get a hobby, which uses your creativity and makes you feel special”. Voila; it was as simple as that. All I had to do was to get a nice hobby. By now I am sure you know I am a methodical guy (In case you are one of the unfortunate souls who haven’t gone through my previous posts then I just made this discovery easy for you, isn’t it). So owing to my nature I have made a list of hobbies that I evaluated and discarded before selecting the final one. The one which made me feel special about myself, helped me brag and show others yet another quality of mine which they don’t have.

Bird Watching – Three different drawbacks here. One; what do you do once you have seen an exotic bird? Nothing, you just let it fly away so no tangible result to show off to anyone. I mean what will I tell my wife if she asked me what did I do for last 4 hours? You think she will accept the answer “bird watching” cheerfully?? Two; where do you go to watch these birds? All I see around my house is that stupidly grinning old black enemy of mine which keeps dropping the sticky gooey mess on my terrace right after I clean it. If I have to see the exotic ones I need to take lot of leaves and pay for lot of travel; both actions detrimental to my employment status as well as the meager savings I generate out of it. Three; How do you know if a bird is worth watching? By reading about them?? But here is the problem - I have never been able to read anything with an eye to benefit from the knowledge that it will yield. (Don’t trust me – ask me any question from any subject from 5th grade and ask me about any of the Spiderman’s adventures; you will see)

Dee-Jaying – I am not sure how it is spelt but I am sure you know that I am referring to the young dudes in the darkest corner of nightclubs who keep playing one fast number after the other with a crowd of girls and aunties swooning over them. Personally I never thought Dee-Jaying to be very creative. After all, I had done it on a just a little smaller scale during my roadside Romeo days. Yes, it wasn’t easy to select the right song with right lyrics and then time the playing of it to the crossing of my favorite girls through my street but heck, it wasn’t that tough either. Anyhoo, with this motivating thought I went to the DJ and asked if he could teach me to be one. It could be my unshaved beard with more salt than pepper in it, it could be my condescending tone or maybe, just maybe, it was my expression when he told his training fees and the cost of basic instruments; his face suddenly acquired that pensive artistic expression which can be best described just as a mixture of pity and irritation combined. I also got a sneaking feeling that he was trying to discourage me by quoting higher rates (C’mon; how costly two disc players can be from the double deck cassette player that I used) and being a firm believer of value for money concept I left the discussion there itself.

Photography – I am confident now that this hobby doesn’t need creativity and discarded it at the first glance itself. Today the basic idea of photography as I understood was to get yourself broke buyin a fancy camera (last I checked it was 150,000 INR for a nice camera and basic lenses), break your back carrying it and then wait for something nice to happen when you can turn the camera towards it in burst mode and pray that out of the 47 shots at least one should be able to get you a “Photo of the week” award on one of the thousands of photography sites where all they give you after winning is an online tag. Sorry bud! If I invest so much, the least I expect is that the damn thing should be able to carry itself and take pictures by itself. That’s not going to happen so clearly it’s not for me.

I evaluated many others hobbies as well but we will talk about my opinions on them later since those evaluations included me getting further reminded of my age, wages and tastes in life. Cutting a long story short, someone introduced me to blogging. Now here was a medium which of course needs creativity (Occasional INSPIRATIONS from other blogs not withstanding, needs absolutely no investment and suddenly brings you high up in the pseudo intellectual ladder so preferred in the cocktail party discussions. I can go on and on about the virtues of this medium however since I can hear my son screaming from the restroom asking me to come and clean him; lets save that for some other time.

Monday, October 17, 2011

IT, WAV and Sedi

I was looking at IT. IT was the only interesting thing around the patch of beach that I could see between the dull grey wall of the beach facing apartment and the rusted window grill of my neighbors’ balcony.

Looking at IT I realized IT was bored. Bored of looking at sunrise, bored of being trampled by folks who didn’t know ITs value, bored by the antics of the kids because there comes a time in everyone’s life when even a sweet thing such as a naughty kid doesn’t interest you. This was the kind of boredom which builds up on you like a sweaty summer afternoon when all you want to do is to do nothing.

Now you may ask what kind of name is IT? Well it’s simple; what kind of name is Dahl or Na or Eti, it’s a similar kind. We could have called it Parvati or Shiva, Arun or Aruna only if we were sure of if IT liked it but we know for a fact that IT also felt comfortable being called IT so we will also stick to IT.

So going back to IT; IT was bored and as it happens to everyone who is bored, I saw IT turning towards its long time friend WAV. Now don’t go about asking again what kind of name WAV is? You see all waves have their names given by the family head Ripple and the last time Ripple came in such hurry, just named this one wave WAV and went away. Now the rest of the family was a little afraid of the Ripple so they never called and clarified if the name was WAV or was it a joke and it just stuck to our WAV. Hope that satisfies your curiosity.

I heard IT asking WAV, “WAV, I am bored. Aren’t you? Every day I am your only constant companion and you are mine. Everyone else just comes and goes and we both just stay here looking at each other”

WAV said “Never, maybe you have forgotten how we came to be together but I haven’t. I still remember the time when I was an average wave of an average lake of an average small hill side town. Nobody ever came and looked at me longingly; no couples sat down just to stare at me and murmur sweet nothings in each other’s ears while I pretended not to notice and played around. Maybe because I was so small that I was always hidden behind the bigger waves or maybe because I used to hide behind the bigger waves so that the bigger waves don’t notice how shiny I was, how cold I was and how wet I was. “

Now these reasons may seem funny to you but it’s not funny I tell you. Have you ever got startled and found yourself face to face with a cold shiny wet wave. Colder and wetter than any wave you have ever known? I don’t think you have and so I know you wouldn’t know how cold and shiny and wet a wave can be.

“So there I was playing and minding my own business, shining perfectly when none of the bigger waves were looking my side and shining lesser when they did so that they continued to ignore me when I saw this squirrel coming along. Now mind you, I knew this squirrel; his name was Sedi. Sedi was no ordinary squirrel! It wasn’t one of the cute ones whom people look at and go all “Aww” and the kids try and play with. Sedi was a smaller but braver little squirrel and had fur in patches like the old watchman’s quilt which seems so warm on winter nights. Maybe every winter Sedi used to give some of its fur to the watchman but I never asked Sedi about it so I am not sure. You know how touchy squirrels are.

I liked Sedi, because Sedi was a traveler. Every time he came he used to tell me the stories of his travels, the sights he saw like the hills which were higher than the highest hill you have ever seen and the places where the only corner of earth you can see is a small little corner which was left behind just for the Tulsi plant for Grandma. This time Sedi looked more sullen and patchier than he ever was and I couldn’t help but ask him the reason and that’s when I first heard about you, IT. He told me that he saw you on his last travel and you looked so sad. He never thought a thing as big as you can ever look so sad. You see we are used to big things which look big and do brave big things and frown and smile but Sedi had never seen a thing as big as you and as sad as you. The moment I heard this I wanted to meet you and so I pleaded Sedi to take me to you.

Now you may not be able to imagine but what a tough journey it was for a small and cold wave like me. I came walking, I came hitchhiking and I came running. An even smaller part of me even would have gotten left behind stuck in the bushes if it wasn’t for the help of the good girl who brought it back to me on a small tea leaf. I know you wouldn’t believe but someday when we meet the big old cloud he will tell you. He was on the ground duty that day and saw me leaving my smaller part all alone and moving ahead and laughed at me so I know he will remember me. I even had to talk to the old park ranger who is always kind and he gave me lift on the bonnet of his jeep and drove slowly for my sake.

And that’s when we saw you; sitting here so sad and so lonely. I still remember Sedi running ahead and jumping straight on you. I still remember the whispered talk that Sedi had with you because others were watching and I Still remember your surprise when I told you that I came to see you and I still remember your face lighting up with joy so suddenly that it gave a fright to the poor old watchman who came running to see if you were all right. That joy was worth the journey and that’s when I decided to stay back with you. So to answer your question, am I bored looking at you? No I am not. I still can’t think of anything bigger which could look any more beautiful than you.”

I wouldn’t have noticed this talk had I not spoken to the watchman who had seen IT light up with joy the other day and then had seen IT talking also. I am sure even you have missed their talking as you drive by IT, WAV and Sedi every other day. It was the watchman who had told me that IT actually had another given name as well. People around me, my friends and the tourists who came from far and between called IT by its given name. “INS KURSURA

PS: I know this isn't my regular style of post, but thanks to inspiration from Baruk and motivation from Moumita, Prashant and Meeta i felt whethere its good or bad, It needs to go on the blog.
PPS: Dear Baruk - 5 PM IST to 3 AM IST is when i am alive. Dont remember me at other times.
PPPS: In case you are technically challenged like me and havent figured out yet who was IT, please click on the name INS KURSURA.

Saturday, October 8, 2011

Of Families and moustaches!!

I belong to “Bihar”. My state is known for its rustic charm, straight forward language and clear definitions of masculinity. Now some might turn around the same points and say it’s under developed ,has abusive and harsh language and is full of male chauvinist pigs but as they say “To each its own”.

Few years back I was invited to attend my cousin brother’s marriage. This was pleasantly surprising since I had almost managed to break up the previous nuptial knot of another cousin by getting him drunk on the marriage day. Therefore instead of giving the family time to realize their mistake I decided to jump on to the next plane and then the next train and then the next bus and finally the next boat and just after a little walking after getting off the boat I reached my village (Don’t even think about the point of Bihar being under developed; if you do, I hunt you down and voodoo you).

Now for the uninitiated a typical marriage in Bihar is an extremely elaborate affair consisting of small ceremonies which are spread over at least 15 days or at least till closest family members get hospitalized due to exhaustion and malnutrition whichever comes first. I think the sole idea behind the invention of making the marriages so elaborate was to discourage this ridiculous practice called marriage but I know for sure that this message was lost in the course of history.

Anyways among these innumerable ceremonies was the one called “Cheka”. This is where the “would be Father in law” visits the groom’s family and kind of confirms the booking for the groom. In fact come to think of it even the literal translation of word “Checka” mean “confirmation of previous booking order”. This might not sound like a big deal but throw in all the other family members, neighbors and their pets that are coming along and you get a small platoon of individuals coming over with sole intent of finding faults in arrangements and hosting family and you might start getting the picture.

The night before the ceremony when I was just planning on sleeping I saw this young kid coming up to me. Now you might question the language but he was in fact coming up (climbing the precariously balanced broken wooden ladder). You see I and my other likeminded cousins were deemed unfit to sleep with family and were allocated the unfinished portion of rooftop for our nightly sojourns which also suited us well as no one ever came to know of the beneficiaries of the empty bottles of the bootleg whisky that appeared every morning behind our house.

Nevertheless ignoring my natural desire to see people get hurt trying to accomplish ridiculous goals like “I climbed a broken ladder” I stopped the kid and went down to meet him.

“You are Kumar” he asked. “No, I am the reflection of his departed soul“was my usual reply. I think the kid lacked the intellectual ability to comprehend my profound statement because he muttered under his breath “They were right”. “What did you say” I asked bringing the practiced malevolence in my voice usage of which is reserved for such smartasses. “Nothing, they are calling you down”. “Who?” “Those who want you departed because they don’t think you have a soul” laughed the kid and ran away.

I realized that the kid had the required potential and so I made a mental note to look after, mentor and nurture his growing talent so that one day he can be a worthy successor to my current title of “Most Embarrassing Family Member” and started on my way down. On the way down I was trying to figure out tales of which one of my latest attempts of being accepted as alpha male within my cousin’s group has reached them. I was sure it couldn’t be anything to do with my antics of making catcalls and whistles at neighboring lady because just that evening I think she had smiled at me and not frowned like usual.

Now you may call me cynical but trust me I had reasons to be so apprehensive. Seldom have I been called in family meetings and whenever that has happened t was always about some complaint that they had received from some female who would have misunderstood me as a bigoted cheapo striving for attention. I mean; C’mon just because you happen to be standing on the next rooftop when I am researching for my article on the topic of “Exhibitionism – Origins and social standing in India” you can’t think my actions were intended for you.

Anyhow now that I was called for I prepared myself for the worst, promised to defend my honor by all possible means even if it meant a little character defamation of the accusing party and entered the room. Now I pride myself on reading faces but surprisingly in this instance I couldn’t figure out anything by looking at the faces since all of them were contorted in weirdest of shapes which I could only align with the faces that I tried to make whenever I have remembered the most hilarious and vulgar joke in the middle of the regular counseling sessions that I undergo with my wife, boss, dad or neighborhood society’s president.

“Good you came; we need you to handle a small but very important responsibility during marriage”- Came from the family head. My jaw dropped in surprise; pulled it back up quickly and asked in my most sincere tone “Of course, you know I am always ready to do anything for family. Tell me what is it that you expect of me?” Ignoring my humility he replied with a barely suppressed smirk “can you please take care of clicking pictures during the ceremony?”

This was a pleasant surprise. I think if I have to rank it in my list of pleasant surprises that life has awarded me with, this definitely goes above the time when I surprised myself and everyone else by scoring 43% marks in my tenth grade exams. I mean, I know I take good pictures but going by the public reaction to my pictures that I had taken during last family outing I wasn’t sure if I will get a camera in my hand in any family get together ever. I was confident that people lack the ability to understand or appreciate my preference of the artistic challenge of zooming and bringing to light the otherwise neglected dark interior of a vessel containing “Chicken Tikka” instead of not zooming in and capturing faces of people standing next to a pillar just to prove to the world that they have been to the particular monument.

I was filled with joy. I realized that finally my family has realized my value and have assigned me a task accordingly. To make sure that they know they are taking the right decision I said “Sure, I will get my camera, it’s a SLR with wide angle zoom and in fact I have even brought the tripod which will help me take better images.” “No, we have hired a professional photographer for that kind of work. Take this one. It’s been in family for generations and we want a family member to handle it” – said the man and pointed towards the big old brick size mass of black sitting on the corner table which had escaped my attention so far. “But, but, I don’t think now we even have any studio in town which will develop the pictures taken by this one” – I stuttered.

Enough” suddenly thundered my dad. “It will at least hide the fact that you don’t have a moustache and will also stop you from jabbering unnecessarily with the guests and humiliating the family”. There was a pin drop silence for almost 8 seconds and trust me those were looooong 8 seconds and then suddenly the room was filled with voices. “See!! I told you it’s pointless to try and make him useful” screeched an aunty. “Yes, but what other option did we have to hide him from the guests?” – Chimed another uncle. “yes, but he doesn’t have the moustache. What will the guests think about our family?” “I know; there isn’t enough time for him to grow one” added another elder cousin with fake sadness in his voice.

Blah, blah, blah, blah they went on and on. It was as if I had suddenly become invisible they went on talking about the difficulties of having a moustache less person in the family, the social issue that arise out of it and the stigma that my dad has to carry. I wasn’t really sure why is it a big deal, I still am not sure but nevertheless I decided on the spot that I will grow a moustache if for nothing else then just to shut up the elder cousin who has managed to find a place in family meetings just by the virtue of having the ability of making intelligent noises which signify agreement with whatever is being discussed. With this decision made, i felt a little lighter and had my mind focused on the new task "what style of moustache should i have?" but i guess the details of that adventure will have to wait until later.