Saturday, December 22, 2007

Of Doing the right things...

Eddie Willers, in 'Atlas Shrugged' would've been asked as a kid, what he wants to do when he grows up. And he says "To do the right thing". That, for me, was one of the most telling statements of the book. He is not in the same league as John Galt or Francisco De Anconio. But he gives his best shot and leads an honest life and always, always does the right thing.

Saw 'Evano oruvan' a couple of days back. Loved it for it's intent. 'Evano Oruvan's' Sridhar Vasudevan reminded me of Eddie Willers for some reason (there are no striking similarities, just that i thought 'Sridhar Vasudevan' lived by that 'Eddie Willers' statement). He is not a hot shot super competent genius. A regular bank employee leading a run-of-the-mill life. But, with unshakeable integrity. Someone who keeps the rights right and the wrongs wrong and does not compromise just because that is the more convenient thing to do. He is pushed to a wall. He snaps, breaks free, and goes berserk. The movie had some profound moments. The scenes with the street-dweller/artist, the Madhavan monologue in the middle of the night, the police-officer's monologue at the end, to name a few. The police-officer's monologue, in particular, was quite hard hitting.

I wish Madhavan had revisited and modified some of the dialogues he penned. While some of them were good, some of them were quite cliched. But a theme like this, i'll gladly ignore all the flaws and lap up the movie.

I am not naive enough to think that movies are going to transform a society. Most people prefer being pragmatic to being honest and right. Parents want to get to the Gods quicker. They bribe the priest. The kids are watching. A generation of kids is infected. A bunch of freshers join a company. They see the seniors busily filling out fake 'Rent receipts' and fake 'Medical bills'. A generation of tax payers is infected. You can make umpteen 'Anniyans' (which is a lousy movie by the way, stay away) or 'Evano Oruvans', nothing will change. Our folks are not that stupid or that impressionable. Nevertheless i am glad 'Evano Oruvan' was made....

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Current affairs

Life has been stagnant for a while. A few eventful things did happen. But they weren't very pretty. So at 29 you suddenly feel 95. You hate being in brood mode for too long. It is a viscious cycle. Negativity breeds more negativity. Forgive the cliche, but life is much simpler when it is a series of check boxes and you haven't started questioning things yet. You want to be in your class magazine's editorial board (just so that P thinks you're a cool chap). You want to score 90+ in math and science (just so that your dad could think for a fleeting moment that you're as smart as your sis). You want to be in your school's TT team for the Montfort tournament in Yercaud. You want to sit next to P and watch a movie in Kailasapuram Club (that never happened, but you're quite satisfied with just a smile from her while picking up your bicycle after the movie). You want to land an admit in a decent college. You want to land a job. Any job. Just to get you out of an unexpected tight spot that presented itself. You want to make peace with your sis for a nasty situation which is mostly your doing. Some things go your way. Some things dont. But you're happy when things go right and when you're sad you know exactly why.

But suddenly, the rest of the check boxes do not appeal to you. Or so you've managed to convince yourself. And you think you're in the wrong place doing the wrong things and time is just passing by.

When you have this vague dissatisfaction gnawing at you and you don't even know why, it is tragic. Now, you don't really know your problem, or, are you pretending? When you keep telling yourself that there is more to life than having a companion, are you being totally honest? Would you ever shed your ego and admit that you don't totally enjoy the idea of being by yourself most of the time, reading by the beach, travelling alone to Uttarkashi or Hampi or Kerala. That you'd rather that there is someone who tags along. Someone you could talk to, drink with, sleep with, share cigarrettes, darkness, life and secrets with. I am not a regular smoker, but sharing a cigarette with a companion does not sound too cancerous.

Shit!, did i sound too needy? I'll probably come back tomorrow, knock this post off and write a pseudo post about how it is so cool to be absolutely independent and on your own all the time. But until then, please deal with the honester version. Applications to fill the void are being accepted. You must be female, single and a shade crazy. Drinking, smoking and an appetite to travel are preferred qualities. We could replace alcohol with coffee and cigarrettes with biscuits, but it wouldnt be quite the same, would it? From my side, i promise to be nice, loyal and honest. I cut nails and hair very rarely and shave once a month utmost and have 35 grey coloured t-shirts. When i receive no applications, i'll start posting anonymous comments.

Monday, November 12, 2007

Waaththa fuck...

Otha. Pronounced as Oaththa or Waaththa. Depending on conditioning. It is a tamil word that translates to 'Fuck'. Emitting this word loudly calms me a bit. The english equivalent doesnt. But where i come from it is considered cool to say 'Fuck'. Cooler if you say it aloud. And way cooler if there are women around and you announce you dont care. But you say 'Otha', you are a lungi wearing truck driving lecherous pervert. I dont have anything against lungi wearing. Or truck driving. But i might have something against lecherous perverts. So if someone thinks i am one i wont like it. This has had some serious repercussions. Around here, kids are brought up to beleive "Man saying Otha = Very bad man". And going by last year's opinion-pool, men kindof grow out it, but women dont. So basically my chances of hitting it off with with any tamil-knowing girl were ruined. Same applies for non-tamil-knowing girls who know tamil-knowing girls (cos tamil-knowing girls tend to protect non-tamil-knowing girls from 'Very bad men'). That pretty much covers all the girls in my RADAR. And i hold this and only this fully responsible for my singularity :). Now you see my problem. Tch tch...

ps: If i find a otha-emitting girl i'll pursue her unto death...

pps: Is this problem local to just tamil. I mean if you're a telugu speaking guy and you shout out 'Dhengu' (that's telugu for 'Fuck'), and the girl you might probably fancy is in the vicinity, would she think of you as anything more than scum (atleast to start with) ?

Tuesday, November 06, 2007

Overcast...

The Beach...


Dark skies. Ice-cold rain. Stormy winds. An extremely rough sea. A desolate thiruvanmiyur beach. 5 people in all. A boy-girl rosy eyed pair. I liked them instantly. Just because they were there at that point. Two other strangers, an umbrella apiece. And me, a helmet on my head, and the rest of me getting wet. Troubles? What are they? Life is all bliss...

But then, the skies clear. The winds cease to blow. The sea calms down. And real life resurfaces...

Saturday, October 20, 2007

Haridwar...

Dear River...


Saffron...


The girl in pink...


Ganga-mayyaa ki jai ho!...


Haridwar. Another place i fleetingly dipped in, in transit. There are so many places like that. That i managed to pause, take a look, before moving on (When you are on a highway, and you see these narrow lefts with jaded signboards announcing obscure names, do you wonder about that place and the people there, and have the urge to take that turn?). And almost all of them have left indelible marks behind. Because of the brevity, maybe. Had a day to kill and i had to choose between Taj Mahal and Haridwar. Laziness and the Delhi-heat helped me settle for Haridwar.

I wanted to take a dip in the Ganges(Har-ki-paudi) and witness the Ganga-aarathi. When i go to a place of prominence for the first time, i always do the things people typically go there for. Explorations of 'beynond the typical' would happen on future trips. So i took a Rickshaw to Har-ki-paudi. I would've normally walked.But walking was all i had done for an entire month. So decided to pamper myself a bit.

I got off at Har-ki-paudi. Saw the Ganges rushing by. Wandered around aimlessly. A 'Sadhu' walked upto me, put a Tilak on my forehead, chanted something in Sanskrit. Then he asked me for money. I smiled at him in response. He had a very serene face. He smiled back and walked on. I regretted not having parted with some money. But i wouldn't have liked it if i had paid him either. So it was alright. Then i decided to take a dip. The water was quite cold. But not unbearably cold. What hit me was the speed, the swiftness of the flow. Was in the waters for a while, letting the Ganges cleanse me(for me, only in the literal sense)...

And then it was time for Ganga-aarathi. Happens twice a day. At 7 am and 7 pm. It was a frenzied affair. I was unprepared for the kindof collective energy being vented out. It was impossible to keep myself from feeling one with the things around me. There was a moment's envy when i saw people whose faith was so nakedly visible. There were uniformed guys hawking wishes from Ganga-Mayya, 100 bucks per wish. There were quite a lot of buyers. There were a couple of firangs capturing Indian mysticism for other firangs. And then there was this little girl in pink, holding a pink and green camera. She was a darling. She befriended me with an array of curious questions. And then she asked the firang about his camera. And for every response of his, she claimed her camera could do that too. I actually felt paternal. Took me by surprise. The actual aarathi was a visual treat. The darkness and the fire. It ended with the entire crowd singing a Bhajan on Ganga-mayyaa in chorus (the tune was that of the Bhajan 'Om Jai Jagadeeshahare', which i love). I got a high.

I sat by the river for some more time. I walked back to my hotel room rather slowly. Original plan was to go to a bar, get a drink and then crash. But i wanted to stay in a totally conscious state. Didn't want the blur of alcohol at that point. So i went to a restaurant instead, ate, spoke to M (who was on vacation in Delhi), and got back to 'English August'...

This experience increased my resolve to see Allahabad's Kumbh Mela atleast once...

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Unrequited...

He wants her so bad that his entire life centres around her. Or so he thinks. For her, he is a very dear friend. But she can never return his love, on equal terms. He wants to hug her so tight that they be one. That no air pass between them. At times, she suffocates around him. And is too nice and polite to speak her mind.

They sit huddled. Under a thin ice shelter. In blazing sunlight. She feels miserably lonely. He feels lonely too. But just being around her is enough for him. To hang on and hope. She cant bring herself to hurt him. She cant get up and walk. Though a voice inside her head is screaming at her. Asking her to flee. Some day she will.

But why dont they sit at a table and talk. And not pretend. Why cant he confront her with what he truly wants. Why cant she tell him the truth. In honest unabridged terms. And bring his world crashing down. So that he can grow up. So that he can pick up the pieces and move on. Nobody totally moves on. But the process would've atleast begun. And maybe, a semblance of the friendship they used to share can be salvaged.

Saturday, September 15, 2007

...Certified...

Our rope with our rope-instructor at the base camp(2nd from left would be me)..



The NIM basic course certificate arrives at work. Had given the office address. Mom is away in sister-land and I am never home. Did not want this to be lost like the innumerable phone bills and credit card bills. Ashwani (the guy who sits next to me and to whom most letters/calls meant for me go...sometimes they call him Avinash too…and of course sometimes I am called Ashwani…is it too difficult to tell the difference?) had collected the cover. He hands it over to me. I take it from him saying that the grade would mostly be a ‘B’. My usual defense mechanism against prospective disappointments. If you want something pretty badly, start by assuming you wouldn’t get it. I ought to change this aspect of myself. It prepares me better for disappointments. But I think at some level it makes me less of a fighter. Of course not everything can be fought for and won. But still…So I open the cover. I have butterflies in my stomach. A voice in my head is crying out aloud ‘Please please be A!’. I have the kind of anxiety I had while looking up semester results in college. May be a little more. Much more actually. I fish out the certificate. There, among other things, it is mentioned “Grading Awarded: A”, “Recommended for Advanced Mountaineering course”. I am thrilled to bits. I think the last time I was this thrilled was when I saw my registration number when PEC entrance exams results were announced. I bask in the glory for a few moments. Someone has a work related query. I answer it. I get on with real life. But a corner of my mind is still smiling…And wondering if I should be doing the Advanced…If I should be subjecting my back to one more stress test…And if I do, should I be going back to NIM or try out HMI Darjeeling (and set feet on Kanchenjunga:)…

Monday, September 10, 2007

Of Pigeons, Sex and looking out the window...

Outside my office window there sits a pigeon. It sits there all day. Looking at the buildings around. Looking at the traffic below. Scratching itself. Making noises. Once in a while another pigeon comes by. They fool around. One sits on top of the other and flaps its wings mad. I think they’ve sex. It is too brief though, so I cant be sure. I am not sure if it is the same pigeon that comes in every time. Are pigeons monogamous? NGC covers only outlandish beings like Polar-bears and Penguins. Has anyone ever seen a program on Crows or Sparrows or Pigeons on NGC or Animal Planet? Aroon in one of his sketches has a boy looking at a fish-tank and wondering “All fishes do is eat, sleep and reproduce. Why do people have to do more?”. The pigeons remind me of this.

Recently, a clich├ęd (but not insignificant) question floated around at work, about what one would do if he/she had only a day left to live. Most guys said they wanted to attain Moksha (which is an euphemism for ‘having sex’, yea considering how old we guys were theres no need for euphemisms...but it adds to the fun while discussing such stuff). The only girl who said something, said she’d meet all her friends, take them to her hometown, be with her parents etc. I am just assuming she wasn’t being absolutely honest. I am a bundle of contradictions in the Moksha department. There is this (pseudo?)morality hardwired that prevents me from committing the act unless I am sure I want to commit myself to that person. But i find it ok for people to be in a full blown mutually non-commital relationship (that's a contradiction in so many levels :). I can't be them, but i can't fault them either. I am a fan of grey. But was dipped in black and white very young, and for too long, to fully embrace grey. And it is not about marriage or any such technicality (I don’t find the need to legalize relationships), it is just about the state of mind and what one feels towards another. Maybe some day I’ll wriggle out of this state of mind and agree with a friend who says “What the heck, it is just entertainment…why attach so much weight to it?” (though i dont realistically see myself trivializing the act to this extent), or maybe, though not as ‘liberated’ in thought, take a middle ground, or maybe someday tread the ideal path.

Hedonistic Hobo (a random blog that I am a fan of) writes “Look sex is a biological need, not a moral question. If you've entered in to adolescence and are now careening in to elderliness and are still a virgin then you're fucked but not in the way evolution intended.” I smile. I agree. I disagree. I’ve been standing on this border eternally and time has been passing by…

Monday, June 18, 2007

Uttarkashi..



I like small towns. Touristy ones. Quaint ones. Rameshwaram, Hampi, Mahabalipuram, Pondicherry, Gokarna, Yaelagiri, Manali... They're filled with people from far and wide. People of different kinds. Some, energitically running around to squeeze in all the places they had read about, in a 2 day span. Some, sitting back sipping tea and drinking words out of a book. The hippie kind. Without a fixed agenda. Sitting in exotically named eateries that prefer white-skinned customers to brown-skinned ones. You could walk around. Taking in all this. Putting stories to faces. Wondering if India is the only place where the natives are racist against the natives. Wondering a lot of other things. But the air is very holidayee and it is generally nice. The obvious reason is probably that you would be there on a break, and you are predisposed to feel holidayee...but still..

Happened to spend some time in Uttarkashi recently. While at NIM hostel, we were allowed two 3 hour slots in Uttarkashi town for 'shopping'. The objective was to buy essentials before going to the higher altitudes. I was not inclined to shop. So generally walked around town. Ate veg momos in multiple shops. Drank multiple teas. Took random pictures. Sat by the Bhagirathi. Gaped at beautifully arranged coconut slices, arranged against a bright red plastic sheet. Did not take a picture cos i thought i might offend the shop-keeper (i dint want him to go, 'here comes another fkin tourist taking pictures of ppl trying to make a living!'). Bought a slice of coconut and ate though. Then there was this long suspension bridge across Bhagirathi. And the omnipresent Sadhus. Quite a few of them smoking what i beleive is ganja, on a terrace by the river. Pseudo-nirvana. Temporary suspension of reality. Not that it is bad. Quantum smokes of heaven? Tried it once in a far away land. Gives a weird kindof high. Then there was this small temple by the river. Sat there watching faces. Faces earnest in prayer. It is nice to watch people pray no. Whatever they're they'll probably be more inclined to be vice-less at that point in time. Not sure though. At length, my 3 hours got over and i reluctantly walked back to our bus, to resume the brief regimental life. Not before Uttarkashi firmly added itself to the list of small towns i would gladly go back to.

On the way back from Uttarkashi to Chennai, managed to spend a day in Haridwar..will keep that for some other time...




Wednesday, May 30, 2007

Survived...


28 days. 18 days of it above 11500 feet. 4 baths. 2 T-shirts. 2 pants. 4 underwears. No washing of clothes of any category (unless you are a DIG or some decorated Army officer, in which case you could get special treatment). A place where UK is an acronym for Uttarkashi and RC for Rock climbing (i am yet to come to terms with RC being Rock climbing and not Royal challenge:). Where tea is typically had at 4:45 am. Where you carry ice axes when you go to shit (to make pits), and you wave to batchmates while you're at it (beleive me, after a point, it is not embarassing, and shitting with a view of the Himalayas is no longer surreal)! Where you figure out if your socks is wet or just cold by checking if it is half-solid cos of frozen sweat. Where you're ordered to do knuckle push-ups or frog jumps, depending on the instructor's mood, for acts of indiscipline (like being late for a fall-in). You camp on snow and there is just snow all around. And it is not like being in a dream sequence...it is so fucking cold that you put your hand in your crotch or arm-pits for warmth (i found the former more effective). Along the way you are taught Rock craft, Ice craft, Snow craft, Crevace crossing, Crevace rescue, Map reading and navigation techniques, among other things, and you're taken to a height of ~16500 feet as part of the height-gain exercise. You're made to do things that are so demanding physically that you wish that the course gets over soon. And when it does get over, you hug your rope-mates (the batch is divided into sub-groups of 8, called ropes, and each rope is assigned an instructor), you hug other friends you've made, you hug your instructor, and you think the course was a pretty good thing to go through after all. And when the jeep rolls out of NIM, you look back at the campus fondly, and wonder if you would go back to do the 'Advance' course. (Ofcourse, for that you need an 'A' in Basic, and the inclination).

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

NIM, here I come, (to get creamed?)

I saw the Himalayas for the first time in 2003. Knew instantly that that wouldnt be the last. I had gone on a 9 day trek in the Himachal region (near Solang Nala). That was my first real trek. And the real reason for my going on that trip was neither Himalayas nor trekking. But i am glad i did that. It got me totally hooked. All around you, things are beautiful. You are heading to a peak or a glacier that has an exotic name. You exert yourself crazy doing so. A bunch of people tag along. Some swear. Some want to kick themselves for having gotten into such a predicament. Some want to kick others for getting them into such a predicament. Some are way too tired to complain or to see the beauty around. And then the destination is reached. All ills are forgotten. The entire exercise gives an illusion of purpose. It is truly amazing. And there is something surreal about defecating at 15000 ft. Surrounded by snow-capped mountains. Moon rays reflecting off the icy slopes. It offers such a profound contradiction. The beauty and the shit. And you anxiously keep looking over your shoulders. Someone from the camp could walk by. Or worse, a bear from the forests could walk by (thats far-fetched, but your mind can think up any crap). I got totally taken in by the idea of carrying a heavy bag and walking on trails for no specific purpose. Went there again in 2004. This time Himalayas was the real reason. After that I've been doing random treks in random places whenever possible, always wanting to do something more serious, like they show in Adventure-One and stuff. I sent a request to join some expedition in the Himalayas by a group called Stikage in Delhi last year. They politely turned me down saying i didnt have enough high altitude experience.

Anyways, shook off lethargy this year and enrolled for the Basic mountaineering course at Nehru Institute of Mountaineering at Uttarkashi. But could not shake off lethargy enough to train myself for it adequately. So here i am, 10 days away from the course. Awfully underprepared. Quite anxious. Blessed with a back that is not the best in the world. But still, looking forward to the 28-day slog-fest that is in store. Hoping to pull through. And hoping that my body does not have other plans...

Sunday, April 01, 2007

Regret trigger...

What would be your biggest regret if you knew you had very little time left? Would you wish you were nicer to your parents. Nicer to your partner. Nicer to your friends and siblings. Would you regret not having had a companion you could die for, you could kill for. Knowing he/show would do the same for you without batting an eyelid. A relationship that defies the native human self-preservative instincts. Would you regret not having stepped off the safety-net onto the relatively unknown, cos it did not confirm to the series of check-boxes you had planned for yourself. Would you regret not having achieved enough, not having made a difference. Or would you look back with a sense of satisfaction, a sense of achievement, and a pinch of regret (can't be all rosy, whoever you are), and embrace the moment?

To borrow what Ethan Hawke says in 'Reality bites', I would have a planet of regrets sitting on my shoulders. But i have a sizeable amount of time left (you cant be sure about such things, but still..). And a will to do something about it. And a potent combination of laziness and cynicism to prevent me from doing something about it.

On an unrelated note, the song 'BC Sutta' has been playing on my comp forever since yesterday and in my head whenever i leave my comp. The 'sutta' in the song is supposedly a metaphor for abandoned dreams. Thanks to Solilowkey (you could find the link for the song there) for making me cast my ears on this. Be forewarned that this song has a liberal dose of bad-mouthing and is not meant for fragile ears and moral science teachers.

Thursday, February 15, 2007

Mindfucked in Madras

I did not expect life to come to this. But i've timed out in chennai. The ocean and the heat(which i like) notwithstanding. I thought i would generally live on here without any complaints, until i grow old and senile. And when the time comes, step into the Bay of Bengal and drown peacefully. But the mind seeks change now. Working towards changing geographies in the foreseeable future.

Someone who reads my blog(who i do not know personally) had asked a friend if i was a depressed alcoholic with 'woman' problems!!..Was i dishing out such sad tales?:). Some 4 years or so back, when i was younger naiver stupider happier, a friend kept telling me that i lived in a bubble (what she did not tell me was that it would break in time). Break, it did. But then, i am nowhere in the vicinity of such description. Just a regular 28 year old. Not-too-happy. Not-too-sad. A bit lost. A bit cynical. The problem is, once food and shelter are taken care of, the mind has a knack for churning out random concerns to screw up your existence. Mine does that too. But you just learn to fight your fights, laugh your laughs, crib your cribs and snatch your moments...

Friday, February 02, 2007

Thadiyendamol

Peak-a-boo


Pooja (Mani's wife) minutes before she fell off the edge!..

The trip didn't get jinxed as i had feared in the previous post. But if you head up to the Thadiyendamol peak assuming that you'll find water in the forests close by you're fucked. Myself and Mani had to do go down half the way to fetch pails of water (for vodka, noodles/soup, plain consumption, in that order of priority). Should've listened to Aroon (http://www.arunwho.com/). He had asked us to fill water supplies on the way up...Anyways alls well that ends well (assuming that the nagging pain in my knee would go away in time!)..

Went with friends from college and some others they knew. The crowd had people that covered the entire gamut of the 'talking' spectrum...one extremely garrulous kind...one extremely silent kind...and others somewhere in between. Was good fun...Camped at the peak, ate, drank and made merry...Spoke late into the night...conversation strewn with 'profound' statements like "Hinduism is a way of life"(contributor - Gaurav, if you know him you'll also know that only alcohol can make him say things like this), "Evolution is bullshit. Someone should've created all these things" (contributor - Aroon, i know he'll say this even now)...

On the way back, Aroon helped the cause of future trekkers by making the huge boulder beside the trail to the stream, conspicously spell out (a little wrongly) the magic word "WATR". The meticulous Mani, in his blog (http://freevudu.blogspot.com/), as expected, has written a checklist for future Thadiyendamol visitors.

My camera ran out of batteries, so couldnt take too many pictures. Aroon has posted some pics he took here

Friday, January 19, 2007

Thamasoma jyothirgamayam

A pic taken at Thungabadra dam during a recent trip...


The good thing about alone trips is...you could stop your bike somewhere along the way to take a picture of a tree that could be any tree in Chennai (except that this one grew it's roots in Hampi) and nobody would stop to ask what's wrong with you. You are totally at your own disposal.

But, at the end of the day, when you settle down for 2 beers, 3 cigarrettes and a banana-honey-pancake (only because they did not have parotta or dosai!), you wish there was someone sitting on the other side of the table sharing her (yes, preferably female) spoils for the day. Or a bunch of old friends around, discussing stuff that has been discussed a million times before. Instead, i was deciphering words from 'Inheritence of loss' with tipsy eyes until i was absolutely ready to crash.

Ofcourse the fun part of going places with juntha you know is unparallelled...

Finally managed to upload some pics... (http://www.flickr.com/photos/frissko/).

Going to Thadiyendamol (near coorg) with some friends from college next weekend. During the last trip with this crowd (to Kumaraparvatha), we were drinking RC late into the night, on a hill-top, pouring petrol and tomato-soup onto a struggling bon-fire...Hope good times are in store this time around too... (typically, if you think this aloud, the trip gets jinxed...lets see)...