An album of angst..and love

Vishal Bharadwaj may possibly be the most low profile creative genius Bollywood may have, overshadowed only by the technical brilliance that A. R. Rahman displays. The quirkiness of Amit Trivedi. And maybe silenced by the nasal din of Himesh Reshammiya.  While AR’s music has nuances in instrumentation and arrangement that makes you go wide-eyed in jaw dropping cerebral amazement, the former’s music tugs you at your innards. With a simplicity of melody that transports you into an unexplainable world of joy, anger, sadness or love – all combined, deep inside your heart. And you do not quite know which emotion to put your finger on, and go “yay, that is what I feel”. It is like a puzzle you are trying to decode by listening to the song over and over, finding little nooks and corners that seem to hold your hand and walk you through in a gentle sway. All the while telling you, ” it is alright, you can feel whatever you want to”. And this is exactly what makes me feel when I listen to Haider’s songs – possibly his best so far; skilfully adapting Kashmiri strains into the music of a very modern version of Shakespeare’s Hamlet that captures the brooding, dark, passionate and intensely complex backdrop there is. Haider Having watched the movie after listening to the music gets you to place the emotions in a context. Although you do not see the “movie version” of the aggressive and angry Aao Na (sung by Vishal Dadlani), the heavy guitar riffs of the song during key moments in the movie are thrilling enough. While taming a beast of a play that is Hamlet, is itself a daunting and ambitious project, depicting the complexity of the main characters is something that requires a very strong heart and a sharp mind. As an audience, you feel the confusion, angst and love all rolled into one from the eyes of Haider, and that is ably supported by the background score that just haunts you long after you leave the movie hall – coupled with the brooding hues of the paradise, that isn’t – Kashmir. There is a horrifying insanity that prevails in the characters you see, in a place where you have always imagined the colours of spring and the waltzing blues of the lakes. In the midst of all that, you have a Khul Kabhi (Sung by Arijit Singh, and my personal favourite) that transports you into a lilting world of love, warm passion, and mystifyingly poignant. And then it harks back to Haider’s reality when he breaks into tears. And talks about his existential conundrums given his father’s disappearance and his own confusions of which truth to believe in – or the lie to disbelieve in – Hum Hain, Ke Hum Nahin Hain – Haider’s version of “To Be, or not to be”. And that confusion runs throughout the movie so much so, that every other character remains open to interpretation. Some of the other songs such as Bismil (sung by Sukhwinder Singh) weave right into the screenplay and strike a much harsher chord in the movie than when you just listen to it. Shahid Kapur’s acting and dramatic skills are on ample display in this song. The movie does seem a little disjointed in parts. It is slightly choppy, but one cannot fault Vishal Bharadwaj for taking on this intensely complicated plot and transform it into Haider that is powerful, brooding, thrilling and ambitious. At the heart of it all is the love between a passionate, complex woman who seeks just a sliver of heaven in her life, and her son whose love for her (displayed in quite daring sexual undertones) is consumed only by his hatred for her for betraying his father. And yet in the end, it is this woman who loves, longs and ultimately loses everything; leaving Haider to fight his own demons – exact revenge or liberate himself from consuming this poison. Go into the hall expecting a problematic movie to understand and analyse. But watch it for the same reason. And then switch on the music in your car on the way home.

Story of a house – I

Sector 35, Noida. Circa 2004. My second job. My first house. 6 months.

What do you call a place to stay which is somewhere between a 1 room flat and an enclosed space with a thatched roof?

Buzzzzz. A servant’s quarter. That’s the right answer!! And I paid for it every month.

An LG Flatron TV. A wooden bed. 6 AM knock on the door by a nice caring owner with a steaming cup of tea. A few “Bobby Da Dhabas” at a stone’s throw for the daily staple.

And if I threw a few more stones,  I even had a “Waves” mall. For the Saturday night movies. And some eye balm too. Nutshell. Everything what a bachelor, still fresh from staying in a hostel for four years, needed.

Except that one thing. Which you need for the sweat and the heat. The swelter that can make you go crazy. That which can make you strip down to your bare skin in utter desperation. Yeah, a fan. What else did you think?? That rotating piece of machinery, which throws air around and lets you sleep in peace. Especially during power cuts in the middle of the hot summers’ night of Noida.

It was the first insight I had into life’s myriad lessons. “A fan rotates fast.” It was an eye-opener. A silver bullet. Confucius would have wanted to say this. And I moved on.

Andheri, Mumbai. Circa 2005. My third job. My second house. 6 months.

What do you call a place that is somewhere between a servant’s quarter and a 2BHK?

Buzzzzzz. A 1BHK!. That is the right answer!

I also had 3 housemates. One of them was my first running buddies. And the last also, I guess. We used to run every night post dinner after 10 PM. I never understood then. I do not understand now, either.  But we ran after 10 PM.

Probably it was all part of the bonding process between housemates. Turned out we were the only ones to be bonding. ‘Cause the other two already had mates with whom they did more than just run. One of them was always on the phone. The other always returned at ungodly hours in the night.

And I always woke up with yellow wall paint peeled off from the ceiling.

This had nothing to do with the bonding process I am sure. A call to the house owner always ended up with

  • him saying that he would fix it, BUT
  • he would add that amount to the rent, BUT
  • we always refused to do that, AND

I ended up waking up with the yellow paint peeled off from the ceiling.

I learned life’s second big lesson. “A ceiling paint never peels. And it never falls all over you during the night”.

Confucius wants to hug me right now.

I was on the verge of moving out. And at around the same time, like a divine intervention, I was shipped off to Bangalore.

I learned life’s third big lesson as well. “Ceiling paint and software services are not related”.

I can sense Confucius confused.

Bengaluru. Circa 2005-2006. Same job. Different place. Third house.

What do you call something that is between a 1BHK in a village type place and an IT park and is only 10 minutes to reach from?

Buzzzz. A road! Yes, but a little more specific? A road, tarred in places and not so much elsewhere! That is the right answer! This has nothing to do with the post, though.

Easily, one of the best times I have had. In fact, third house = 2 houses. And that includes a motley crew of my engineering buddies. Waking up to strange guys lying sprawled in the living room, French toast and beer for breakfast, night outs and “power cut” intoxicants, fighting, laughing, et al. It was called The Mansion. And we were called the Homies. We listened to everything that sounded like music, cooked anything that looked like food, partied anytime, cracked poor jokes, swore at each other and generally hung around with no hassles at all. Cool stuff, really.

Oh. And I even started to fall in something called love. Will talk about that later.

While I was about to transform into a real Homie, the divine intervened once more and I got called back to Mumbai. Actually, Thane. Most people say it is not Mumbai. Whatever works.

I learned life’s fourth big lesson. “A Homie always drinks on Mondays”. Yo, Confu bro! Wazzup!

And I moved on again.

Thane. Circa 2006. Same job. Fifth house.

What do you call a place that has a semblance to what you call a “house” and looks like a poor cousin to Hiranandani?

Buzzzz. A 1BHK apartment in Rutu Estate. That is the correct answer! By the way, Hiranandani has got nothing to do with Rutu.

This 1BHK was one of the places I could call my own. Well, technically it was mine because I was the only one who lived in it and paid the rent. And it had everything. My own bedroom. My own TV. My own loo. And a fully functional kitchen where I had one of my very first encounters, among many with an entity called Dosa.

It was my first tryst at staying alone. And strangely, it did not feel strange to me. I guess I had grown up, although I could never get that Dosa to look like one.

Oh. Talk about growing up. I also went on a date once. You know, the kinds where you do not know if it’s a real date? Or you’ve been made part of a romantic scene of a Hindi movie with cameras all around and you just don’t know it yet?

Going by the general definition of a “Date”, it was all smooth and copybook. Like the bullet points I have written below.

  • I took a sweaty bus ride
  • I waited outside her place for half an hour
  • I took another sweaty auto ride. This time with her.
  • I spent the evening sitting by the beach with coconut water and listening to her talk. Mostly about herself.
  • Meanwhile, I held on to my drink, all the time wondering if watching a movie with pizza had been a better option. Do not get me wrong. She was a nice, pretty girl. But remember the point about the movie scene?
  • I took a sweaty bus ride back

Copybook and nice. Really. Only thing, it happened only once. Because, between this one and the next one that was being thought of, by her, she said something about her parents looking out for her and something about me deciding soon. I do not remember the “something” because it was around 3 AM when she said this. But I distinctly remember me not going to office the next day.

I had a bad stomach. And I had not even made Dosas.

Meanwhile, divine intervention happened. And I moved again.

I learned life’s fifth lesson. “A bad dosa or a bad date will cause a bad stomach” Confucius must be hungry.

I am hungry too. Will continue in part II. This is just to keep the curiosity alive. And kill the cat.

******** To be Continued********

******** Yes, will be Continued********

******** Quadrata Continuendum********

******** El Continu********

******** Continuum Mechanicos********

******** Your call is important to us. Please be in line.********

******** Your call is important to us. Please be in line.********

******** Your call is important to us. Please be in line.********

5.so what?

When you walked starry eyed, through the hallowed portals with a suitcase in your hands, did you already forget?

Did reality slap you into what you thought was being “pragmatic”? Or did you just conveniently shove it under the carpet of your self-defined sense of rationality?

Insanity is the eccentric’s rationale. What was yours’?

That small bubble you created, losing yourself in a mocked up maze of well-dressed suits, intelligent gibberish, and esoteric phrases that you conveniently thought was the real deal.

All hidden in the garb of passionately written paraphrases and forgotten away neatly in a folder. A state of denial. Comatose.

Did you try to peel through this maze ever? Take a deep, hard look at yourself in the mirror beyond checking if the shave you just had was smooth? Or if the jeans was fitting you properly? Did you ever stop and ask yourself, why? Did you ever pause? And ask yourself the one nagging question that people journey through their lives trying to answer?

Or did you just brush your hair aside, check the tuck of your t-shirt and walk back into the maze?

I bet you did just that. If you didn’t, you must have been asleep.

A portion of your life, albeit a small one, spent running through silent corridors, into well-lit amphitheaters, caffeine induced sleepless nights, 15 minute power naps, sleeping through inane presentations, debating and discussing like you were the intelligent, final word and the occasionally frequent moments of insobriety. Or sanity, if you will. Words which serve as the backbone of businesses. You used them as punchlines. As dinner time jokes to show how “uber cool” you are. And how stupid they were.

You fought hard to look like you did not care. You fought hard to sound intelligent. You rested your self-worth on laurels won before and sought approval. You loved talking and laughing about people on moonless rooftop nights. Drunk as you were. And you loved being cynical. As if that was the latest fad. You ploughed through countless sheaves of paper and books, solving problems. You learned by rote. You learned by force. You suffered the ignominy of an imbalanced sheet. Then “bounced” back from it by posting it on Facebook. With a smiley. And then strutted around with a bloated sense of self-importance when you saw you were just five marks, and thirty comments better.

You learned by rote. And forgot just as easy.

Decimal numbers became a matter of pride. Or shame. You cared. You feared. You ignored. But you did not pause to revisit that paragraph where you had written why you wanted to be here. You went with the flow. Like you were plugged in. You pushed for every decimal point. You laughed at every decimal point. You sounded blase about it like you never cared. You kept quiet about it like it was your own little secret. But you never ceased to fight it.

And then epiphany struck. Natural numbers and nattily dressed suits. The next program in the matrix was loaded. Being basic was passe. Talking big was the norm. You forgot to look in the mirror. Except to check for the crease on your suit. And you fought hard for those numbers. Ironically, every additional zero seemed to keep you afloat. And you did not bother to see that you were riding on a balloon. All it needed was just a little pin prick. You rode high and floated above all. You had a smile on your face. And you forgot why you were here.

You became Jack’s bloated sense of conceit.

You never stopped to question. You never stopped to ask.

What do you really want?

You conveniently forgot. Like a piece of crumpled paper. And drowned it in the sweet taste of sin that very night.

You’re not your job. You’re not how much money you have in the bank. You’re not the car you drive. You’re not the contents of your wallet. You’re not your fucking khakis.

You’re the all-singing, all-dancing crap of the world.

P.S : Last few lines are Tyler Durden’s. I might just be a paranoid schizophrenic.

Blinds in the mind..

A numbness…I meander through the mindless expanse..
Trying to find a purpose in this meaningless existence..

I sit in the dark, it shrouds me in its warm embrace..
And I think to myself, what did I ever do to hate the light so much?

I open my eyes to the brilliance…hands covering them..
I can still see the dark forebodings…

Frightened they may come true, I close my eyes again..
And I think to myself, will I ever see the silver lining?

I open my eyes again…to see atleast a ray..
I face the magnificence…with hope glimmering in my heart..

A streak of dazzle blinds me..
And I am back in the dark…in its warm embrace..

What did I ever do, to hate the light so much?

When Death Spoke…

death.jpg 

It was draped in a white cloth – the last piece of cloth, the frail, skinny body would ever wear. Eyes half-closed, a slight smile, as if he were telling the boy standing by his side that you have a long way to go before you reach here. Was it really a smile or was it the boy’s illusion?

He kept looking at him, looking at his chest which had been consistently doing it’s job – it was like an ocean wave, everytime, you felt this was the last, it would come back again. Adding precious moments to the boy’s life. They had pronounced, it was just a matter of time. Little did they know, that it was time that mattered for the young boy. He had never seen death before. He was prepared for the fact, that the body lying on the bed, was in it’s last few moments. He knew it was just a body. The spirit had already left.

It was a machine, which was running the last mile – cranking every ounce of energy it could muster to pull through, using every bit of oil, every part to keep running. He was amazed by how resilient the body was. The painful stubbornness to exist was nothing short of heroic. It was a humbling experience. A feeling of helplessness. A feeling of being a mute spectator, while death walked the last few miles.

But the machine kept running. Every time he would see the chest heave up, he thought “that’s it”, but then it would come back again. Moments of joy, moments of agony. It was bitter,cause he was leaving – never to come back. Only memories, pictures and images would remain – which would eventually get buried in the sands of time. He had never told him, how much he loved him. Cause, he had never known that death would speak to him so soon.

The boy kept his hands on the body’s chest – felt the heart. It was just a machine. But the boy was happy he was leaving – cause, he could not see the suffering and pain the body had been put through for so long. He did not know what to say, and,even if he did, would the body listen to him? He did not know. So,he kept silent.

The only sound that came in the room was from the fan that kept rotating – a monotonous drone.

Images from the bygone days flashed by – the innumerable arguments, the chatter they used to have,the scoldings he would get, the movies they watched together, the debates they would have,the games of cricket they played,the tears they shed together,the laughs they had…he felt a tinge of pain…all’s gone….

Suddenly, he realized what he would not give to have all that back..atleast for sometime.What he would not give to open those eyes, and look at him, give him a smile and tell him, as the old man had told him innumerable times “I am there, dont worry”.What he would not give to walk out of that room with the old man and play a game of cricket, or have a cup of tea…..what he would not give…

And then, he saw. The chest slowed down. The boy came back to reality.For a moment he thought the machine would shudder to a stop. But he was wrong. It was a lovely harmonic. He started to count the seconds between every heave of the chest. It had increased, and was regularly doing so.

He saw the face. Serene.The smile was still there, eyes half-closed.

The machine was slowing down. It did not shudder. It was like the ocean had lost energy in sending out waves anymore, and was slowly retreating.

The last few. The boy kept his hand on the chest again. Saw the face. His tears had dried up. He just wanted the body to stop. To stop trying. To stop putting any more effort. He just wanted it to leave slowly,silently – in the dead of night.

And then, he felt it. Rather, he did not. The chest had stopped. The waves had stopped. The machine had run the last mile.

The boy looked at the old man’s face. The smile was still there. Thought he would say something. Waited. One last wave, one last twitch of the eye, one last goodbye.

But death had spoken.

When Death Spoke…

It was draped in a white cloth – the last piece of cloth, the frail, skinny body would ever wear. Eyes half-closed, a slight smile, as if he were telling the boy standing by his side that you have a long way to go before you reach here. Was it really a smile or was it the boy’s illusion?

He kept looking at him, looking at his chest which had been consistently doing it’s job – it was like an ocean wave, everytime, you felt this was the last, it would come back again. Adding precious moments to the boy’s life. They had pronounced, it was just a matter of time. Little did they know, that it was time that mattered for the young boy. He had never seen death before. He was prepared for the fact, that the body lying on the bed, was in it’s last few moments. He knew it was just a body. The spirit had already left.

It was a machine, which was running the last mile – cranking every ounce of energy it could muster to pull through, using every bit of oil, every part to keep running. He was amazed by how resilient the body was. The painful stubbornness to exist was nothing short of heroic. It was a humbling experience. A feeling of helplessness. A feeling of being a mute spectator, while death walked the last few miles.

But the machine kept running. Every time he would see the chest heave up, he thought “that’s it”, but then it would come back again. Moments of joy, moments of agony. It was bitter,cause he was leaving – never to come back. Only memories, pictures and images would remain – which would eventually get buried in the sands of time. He had never told him, how much he loved him. Cause, he had never known that death would speak to him so soon.

The boy kept his hands on the body’s chest – felt the heart. It was just a machine. But the boy was happy he was leaving – cause, he could not see the suffering and pain the body had been put through for so long. He did not know what to say, and,even if he did, would the body listen to him? He did not know. So,he kept silent.

The only sound that came in the room was from the fan that kept rotating – a monotonous drone.

Images from the bygone days flashed by – the innumerable arguments, the chatter they used to have,the scoldings he would get, the movies they watched together, the debates they would have,the games of cricket they played,the tears they shed together,the laughs they had…he felt a tinge of pain…all’s gone….

Suddenly, he realized what he would not give to have all that back..atleast for sometime.What he would not give to open those eyes, and look at him, give him a smile and tell him, as the old man had told him innumerable times “I am there, dont worry”.What he would not give to walk out of that room with the old man and play a game of cricket, or have a cup of tea…..what he would not give…

And then, he saw. The chest slowed down. The boy came back to reality.For a moment he thought the machine would shudder to a stop. But he was wrong. It was a lovely harmonic. He started to count the seconds between every heave of the chest. It had increased, and was regularly doing so.

He saw the face. Serene.The smile was still there, eyes half-closed.

The machine was slowing down. It did not shudder. It was like the ocean had lost energy in sending out waves anymore, and was slowly retreating.

The last few. The boy kept his hand on the chest again. Saw the face. His tears had dried up. He just wanted the body to stop. To stop trying. To stop putting any more effort. He just wanted it to leave slowly,silently – in the dead of night.

And then, he felt it. Rather, he did not. The chest had stopped. The waves had stopped. The machine had run the last mile.

The boy looked at the old man’s face. The smile was still there. Thought he would say something. Waited. One last wave, one last twitch of the eye, one last goodbye.

But death had spoken.