Heart

Breaking Free

IBreaking Freen a rather first, today, a whiff of anxiety and scare lashed by my soul. For a moment I found myself lusting for being amidst the unseen and the exotic. The moment when one despairs at being fettered to inconsequential chores stood staring me in the face. It so happened that I ran into a gentleman who had that care free aura around his congenial face. A short striking conversation with him made me brood over for a while and I sat down to think of his talk about racism, about visual communication and of temples and beggars in far-flung corners of the country. In the rest of the journey that he alighted somewhere in the middle of, my mind flew away to distant shores. I heard the storming, gorgeous waves and saw those picturesque tides. The inability to have that world surround me for real meant that the world was no longer at my feet as it always used to be. I cannot recall the last time I yearned for anything not within my immediate reach as strongly. That fleeting moment I was yearning to break free. As someone who has maintained, if not professed, that breaking free is not an option available to the human race, that desire of doing so came as a tough pill to swallow. That leap of imagination has left me weaker in terms of my suitability for a set pattern that I have tended to follow and fall by.

Curiously enough, I was haunted yet again, equally ephemerally, when in the market I saw this group of young boys selling chillies and gourds. Sitting side by side, attending to buyers, weighing the greens, they were jostling their things at each other and constantly conversing about things I could not know much about. Amidst the shrillness and the chaos was their world- unfettered, jovial and supple. It is funny to admit but I will. I felt like being one of them for the evening. Oh that I could travel back with them to their fields on a rainy noon and tend to their crop. Thankfully, I was done buying by the time I could take a firm decision. Smiling to myself and at the pretentious sounding plans that got sketched in my head, I headed back home.

These fleeting distractions today in a way have left me confused and right now I am thinking about my confidence in things, about the levels of my contentment with everything that I have until now not taken very seriously. I seem to be scoring lower on these counts than ever before. Should this be a cause for worry? Be it or not, twice in the day today, I was not myself. That is the best face I can put up right now to account for a weakening of my faith in conformity and austerity, in being content and in being oneself. The day has seen me split into two. Another defense, I think it should calm me down- I am no exception. Its only natural to vie, to be jealous of others and to dream of not being one’s real self.

Heart

Being Caged

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You would know if you have spent a night all by yourself in the countryside. How the dampening moonlight quivers around the eyes while delivering to the ears packets of rhythmic noise from a wedding party on miles away. In the lonely sheet of helplessness where you lay uneasy, these parcels recreate the many weddings you have been to in the past. So, the groom must have arrived and his feet must have already been washed. The guests must be feasting somewhere close by. The band must still be playing for the over enthusiastic friends of the groom. One of these would shake a leg to the whiskey in his head. The percussion strikes all too gently for its intensity and its distance. Listening to it you relish the charm of being by yourself. Loony bird nights.

Feels like a street say from somewhere in a dusty town, The sun has set. The street is fast emptying while you continue staring at it from the street side bench. Chill sets in quietly and the hands reach for the warmth of the trouser pockets. You wish that the town permitted you a night out on the street without anyone questioning or offering shelter. You wish one of the home-bound vendors could take you along for a meal and his biography. Tales of his white female buyers would be delicious dessert. The vendors leave, the bench begins to hurt and you get up only to find a reason to go back. To that pending assignment or to that regular TV show.

You are awake on a rainy midnight and are in a hotel room close to the sea. Sleepless and aroused you think of the book to read, Turn a leaf and dream aloud yet again. A sea is so much about life and warmth. Yet you don’t have access to any of it. May be because you don’t belong. But the scene from the window tells me that the ones who belong too are leaving for their huts. Their baskets and stands rolled up in one. Who does the sea belong to then if it has to spend the night on its own. May be I am only being jealous of people who don’t really own the things I am now yearning to own. Doesn’t everyone go to sleep night after night? Leaving the groom and the bride, the dust and the bench, the hotel and the beach-all to themselves?

Heart

Work

 

band-party-BX69_lIt is 11 a.m. Woke up to a pale sunny morning which was to soon lose its innocence to the maturity and the haughtiness of the noon. What sounded like a marriage procession in the street (at this time of the year??) was the prominent trigger to the whisking away of  lethargy that kept me cuddled to myself all through the dawn and the wee hours. The band procession goes away. The images of the bright red dress and the flashy turbans of men in the band linger for a bit longer. I have wondered about these professions and professionals. I once again think of the ways in which these men explain to their near and dear ones about what they do for a living. The question seems quaint. However, it keeps coming back to me. It also comes uninvited to me when watching a mythological series on the television where actors put on the demonic make ups-unreal eyes, crumbled hairdo, protruding teeth and made to act out those horrifying and yet endearing laughter sequences. The ‘hoohaahaha’ and the costumes make me think of the lives of these actors as it would unfold beyond the stage and the set. Do these professionals carry their ‘jobs’ back home to their kids and spouses? In what ways are the intricacies of such engagement articulated in speech? I know of my friends employed by multinational giants, some businessmen and others who call themselves ‘artists’ for whom ‘work’ is all about being respectably tired. How is fatigue talked about by the others who in a way remain oblivious to the social eye because of the ephemeral effect and the obsolete occasional needs that they are called on for fulfilling. Play a tune for an hour, beat the drums, blow into the trumpet and then vanish with the ‘payment’ only to adorn another gathering in another locality with the music that is surely more strenuous than the one that is played in a studio orchestra with a ‘in demand’ playback singer lending her voice to it!

In the street is the work for a new building in progress. Marble tiles are being cut to squares. The grilling noise reaches my ears and I visualise the stream of beautiful sparks landing on the fabric of my shirt. The men who work with the tiles sit too close to the machine as it cuts into the substance. The sparks leave holes on their shirts. I haven’t seen any of them ever using a bib. I look at my shirt, find it safe. The floor in my room looks dirty as ever, the commode needs a dose of disinfectant and the bed sheet has already begun reeking of dust and endocrinal exudates. The broom is nowhere in sight. The clothes are in disarray and badly need some hot iron pressing over their crushes. With respect to the kinds of work people do for a living, all that I have to do today, if I am able to, I heave a sigh of relief. I will be doing all this for myself and not because I will be paid for it, not because if I don’t pay attention to these chores the chances of my evening bread shall suffer. Not because these chores involve my limbs and my senses in positions they would surely not want to be in. Alienation from what one has to do sends me pondering.

Believe me, a cup of hot coffee and some pretentious reflection over a blog post are best ways to make oneself forget the strangeness of lives we have all come to lead. It obviously does not matter if we have time to think of things going on around us. Thinking about it and reflecting on it is just a choice that one has to make. There are no penalties for not doing so. Honestly speaking, there are other more important things to do. Watch a film on a pleasant Sunday afternoon and go to sleep while it is half over. Relax…that’s life!

Heart

Ecstasy

Was looking for a suitable word to title this post. A word that could rightly vouch for the state of my mind at the moment. It had to denote some intense energy and playfulness. It had to exude a groovy rhythm and had to be a bit raunchy. Many surfaced as contenders: bliss (sounded too pure and spiritual), delirium (was more like some psycho stuff) and delectation (was just too a happy happy one). Ecstasy won the race as it balanced the pros and cons of its own multi-meaningness the best.

3:00 p.m. left my room in a hurry to catch the metro train till the railway station where I had to see a friend.

3:20 reached the station, met my friend and decided to take a bus for the return journey for which I had to walk a little distance towards the Red Fort.

I am walking now. People rushing around for so many things. Sellers with their cigarette beedi stalls on the footpath make me meander my way through. From somewhere in the horizon, a thick cloud of dust appears and fills my heart with hope and joy in the sweltering heat.

On the way, a policeman chasing a pickpocket. He runs in full force and his massive belly jiggles. The thief, a thin man dressed in black, running for his life. Cross the street. Two young men on the footpath. They sit with a stove and are frying mini samosas. Another man urinates standing not so far away. Bus 26 comes and I get in. Take the last seat. It does not have a glass pane. Someone fought with it may be. The broad open view of all that happens outside thrills me. The hot gush of air strikes at my curls and I close my eyes now and then to prevent the dust from ruthlessly hitting the retina. Men and women busy walking. Some are just resting here and there on the dusty sidewalks. My eyes meet some of theirs. Some relishing cucumbers and smoking. Inside the bus, the conductor looks at a child and smiles. A fellow passenger playing songs on his cellphone player. I take out my cell too and randomly click all that is coming my way. I touch my hair, my fingers comb their way through. Smile to myself all the way. The city appears so much my very own. Like a fiefdom. I share this sense of ownership with the ones who are traveling with me in the buses, rickshaws or the BMWs and the Mercs. See the woman’s saree fluttering in the wind. She clings to the man who is driving her scooter.

It is a Sunday and the roads are not so packed. Paced out traffic. The bus driver plays a catchy song and I sing along loudly. I have found songs playing in running vehicles to be extra musical. An elderly woman looks at me and I stop singing. Leave the seat, walk till the front gate of the bus like a drunken man. Ask the driver to let me alight  at the next stop. He smiles back. Even when he knows its name, he asks “Khyber Pass”?? I utter an emphatic ‘yesss’. Tightly holding the hand rails, I hum again and swerve to the movements of the bus. He pumps up the volume. The tune touches my soul.

My stop is here. I say a loud thank you to the bus driver and get down almost dancing to the tune in my head.

Love was not in the air. Something else was.

Dear Delhi, I am sorry. Next month, I will complete some 12 years of my life with you. And yet it has only been some 12 times that I have felt about you this way. I want to love you and own you as my very own.

Do me a small favor. Please make sure this high tide never slips off my head.

Exuberance of the physique…wow! the way I swerved on the sidewalk and the dancing steps that guided my head!

Yay!

Uncategorized

Everyday Life

Español: (Foto recortada) El jugador de fútbol...
(Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Each passing moment when I am up, about and jumping around is the instance of a huge achievement. I hardly appreciate all those subtly active mini processes which go on all the time to make things work for me. It is a taken for granted aspect of our everyday life and is the best noticed when I am in the midst of a temporary disability. When the tiny muscles twitch and inflammation occurs, when a head ache makes everything go in a swirl and when a conversation with that dear friend assumes an unpleasant flavor. The departure of a loved one tells us of his or her presence in our lives. It is only in the event of such ‘breakdowns’ that the meticulous planning and execution of everyday acts becomes crystal clear.

Achieving these small feats with each passing minute is the result of an unbelievable style of many little systems working in absolute tandem with each other. A wave from the brain travels to the limbs, makes it move, a certain chemical composition in the white and the grey cells of the brain keeps me joyful and a series of socially learnt arts of conversing keeps a friendship going great.

These micro systems in daily life are very tightly coupled with each other. A little malfunction here or there causes the system to collapse. The muscles refuse to take orders from the brain, equilibrium in the chemical composition of the cerebrum goes for a toss and the hitherto really nice friend becomes a source of insecurity and anxiety. This tightly coupled arrangement is definitely amusing. These arrangements provide the frames in which we act. If life is a journey, it has its lessons too. These lessons are often imparted loud and clear. Waking up to a swollen ankle or an aching knee is all that is required to understand how Xavi runs in the soccer field!

Why do not I then realize that this passing moment is a spectacular achievement? It is because I am used to this system. I do not really need to understand its nitty gritties it each time it delivers its aim. We plant a phone in our room and never bother to understand all the machinery that is inside the suave looking plastic cover. We know that we can pick up the receiver when the bell rings and we can hear people talking from the other side of the line. Who thinks of the millions of electrons that make this conversation possible?

A friend in the street waves at us and asks “how are you”? We don’t really wave back and say that “Oh! I have a huge backlog of all my research work that is lying unattended and that I am not very happy and sure about the new search engine privacy policies”. I on most occasion smile back, wave and say “I am fine. thank you”. The other one listening to us generally does not care to find out the veracity of our claim. He considers the matter to be over for the time being. To explore this taken for granted aspects of our everyday lives is the task for a sociology of knowledge which aims at understanding how reality is social constructed. Needless to say that we do not wake up every morning thinking that the sky will be falling on our head! We just rely on a recipe knowledge that is readily available in the form of our past experiences.

Accomplishment of the routine is therefore an event with a significance of the first-rate. All that is needed is a malfunction and we come to realize how efficiently do things actually work for us. Life no doubt is a puzzle and truly speaking ‘it’s complicated’ !