Saturday, October 27, 2007

Afterhours In A Theater

There is something very depressing about an empty mailbox. The loneliness of it. It stands tall and straight. As if unaffected, whether empty or full. But there are the questions. Did they write before? Do they not now? Why not? Did something come, in the dead of night hidden in a cloak of anonymous promises, to spirit them away?

Where are they now? In a better land, perhaps. Surrounded by the high walls of newer, fresher, self-replenishing joys? Those walls can be thicker than stone could ever be. They are strong. Resilient against ravaging hordes. Too powerful for armies, bearing fire and arms. Cold to the cries of those left out. The sound of fists beating from the other side, all cold night. The stone swallows all.

And what of the man? The owner of the mailbox? Who would he be, can you tell?

Perhaps he is old. The years have taken away the friends and companions of the age gone by. And only he is left. To contemplate, to reminisce. To cry, and to have no one to smile to.

Perhaps he is young and busy. Too engrossed in whatever once seized his fancy, the correspondence having dried up in the meanwhile. Neglect, lack of time, and not a care in the world. He will wake up one day, and realize the lack of a presence. The vacuum, where laughter and tears and memories were supposed to be.

Perhaps he is young and lonesome. And proud. Too young to not be proud. To proud to call first. To take a look back, and see what has happened. To ask why it happened. To take a step in another direction. Perhaps the pride was defined in the complicated patterns of what everyone else might think. Perhaps he is now too lonesome to try again. Loneliness and pride together can be cruel torturers. The empty mailbox says all that. Or one day, it will.

What can we, who have no time and no care, do? The house may turn to ruin. The man may wither in the darkness. He may perish. What of it? There are places to be, people to see. And there is pride. Who would put in the first, lonely note? What if someone read? What would they say? What if no one read? Surely everyone isn't wrong? Why so many questions? No time. We go on.

No time for an empty mailbox.

Take a step. Be the first. Be the second. Be the tenth. It matters. Today, and in the days to come. Ladies. Gentlement. Guys. Girls. Comment.

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Tyler Gave You My Book?

All the trouble with all the people resides in that one ugly little habit. Erased and/or corrected, and the world would be a happier place. Jealousy stock would fall, hatred would cease, and evil would not have a large enough ego-bloated head to rear out of the waters at anyone anymore. But will that happen? Oh no! Surely not. People will continue to err outrageously. And the world shall remain torn asunder, by grief and misery and idiocy. I need you to recognize it, the famous pitfall of humanity, and not make that damned mistake right now. Refrain from that ancient error, that pre-historic mistake of saying the wrong thing at the wrong time. The consequences could be dire. Involving even the flowing of rivers of flood past mountains of corpses in the heat of war - "Not that I mind you raping our women and enslaving our children; its just that you're short. And bowlegged. Did you know did you say your name was?".

There is much wisdom in playing it safe. Keeping our traps shut, till we know what to say.

So try. Try very hard. For I need you to be understanding and sympathetic. I need you to be big-hearted, kind and outwardly nice. I need you to be not giggly, fun-makey, and silly-jokey-cracky. I'm not very good at this sharing stuff, but I'm putting a step forward, arent I? Appreciation is deserved. I'm going to share. And as any sharer would say, its tough to do so when one is not entirely sure about the intellectual and emotional capacity of one's sharee. Thats you. We'll sit and discuss this through like mature people. Since I dont yet know how silly it is, or how outrageously positively alarming (its just a bit queer in my best opinion), you have to clear it all up.

The thing is, my exams are nearing. The nearing of all exams is, as you know, preceded by the commencement of ritual studying. You turn the room upside down, in frantic search of those elusive, hidden raw materials - the textbooks. You decide to brush the dust of the ages off the cover and arrange your table to look more respectable in demeanour and general respectability. The books are carefully placed, with the title in front (not upside down, mind you), one on top of the other, beginning with the largest below up to the smallest book. You dust the table and you buy a pen or two. You even buy two notebooks or three, lest an unforeseen need to write arise. And you sit on the chair, after having a nice bath and brushing your hair, and you get all comfortably settled in and everything, and you rap on the desk gently for 10 to 15 minutes with your shiny new pen. The first obstacle has shown itself. How does one start? It takes me a couple of days at the very least to get past this stage, as I traverse for lengthy periods of upto ten minutes (give or take five), through all the books in search for a starting point. Something to say "Start here, and you will surely succeed ucceed ceed eed ed d" [well, i'm reading god of small things these days. nice and all. but has an...influence... so to say] So what does that sort of thing lead to eventually? All this procrastination, and wet hair neatly combed and a creaky chair properly filled up with our selves? The inevitable result of this Flipflap, like a blue lusty pigeon's wings as it hops across the dusty once-green garden over to its grouchy and eagerly frolicking partner on the other side of the meandering RIVER with muddy footprint-worn banks and water strewn with clothes and leaky boats and memories of leaky boats (ykael staob) and hair falling and adolescence, is that we all get together and think of pickles and huts and coconuts and slaps and oh I'm so sorry I'm doing it again.

Where was I? The procrastination. Yes. The sight of all the books, and the suddenly hot afternoon weather, coupled with the touching-proximity of a comfortable bed and pillow that I steal furtive longing glances at. One thing leads to another, and I end up in bed with myself. Before I know it, I've slept 3 times in the day already, and I cant even stay up at night. Days pass, and no work is done. Exams creep closer and closer, and tensions mount, and anxiety leads to depression, and depression leads to a desire to forget it all and escape into an alternate universe, and alternate universe leads to sleep, and bang. I'm asleep. Its a vicious cycle. And thats not even the problem.

The problem is in when I'm asleep. Don't say that I'm jumping to conclusions about it, and I should perhaps take some more time to assess it before I cry for help, and even if I do it should be directed such that it falls within the acoustic boundary of someone with the actual capacity to do something about it, rather than passing blog-surfers with only half a mind to the text. Its really quite serious, yes. And its happened like three times already. Whats that word for it? Come on. It begins with 't' only. Not too big, and just about appropriate. Umm...aaah..yes. 'Thrice'. Its happened thrice already! On three consecutive afternoons.

So, here's the thing. I fall asleep, asking my room-mate to wake me in an hour or so, for today shall be a different day. Today, I will not fall, nor succumb. Today, I shall study! *glorious ovation and wild cheers from Coliseum spectators* And then I wake up, three hours later. I check the time, and direct quicksilver fury at my room-mate who seems as impervious to slumber as a good Indian boy trained to study forever, pausing to sleep only on national holidays.

Here's the thing. He tells me, that he did wake me up. And that I got up, and spoke to him awhile. And I switched off my backup alarm. And I washed my face. And then I went back to sleep. And I dont remember any of it!


Thats the first time that happened. The next day, as I fell promptly asleep again, a mere 3.5 minutes after opening the first book, it happened again. Freakier this time! I was woken by someone from my class, who wanted a book. He woke me. I got up, and I spoke to him. I gave him the book from the neat pile on my desk. He bade my goodbye (presumably) and I him. He went, and I fell asleep again. I. Do not. Remember. A thing.

The third time was yesterday. Obviously, I tried not to fall asleep. And I held out, bravely, for half an hour. I was only going to sleep for an hour this time. And I woke up after 3 hours, with vivid memories of having fought off dragons and demons and the living dead, thanks to my 18 years at "Ninja Training School of Excellence In Ninja-ing", Opp. B. Lee Foundation for Multiple Parallel Cuts and Scratches, Forbidden City, I Cant Tell You, China. And apparently someone had come in for my Thermodynamics book, which I personally gave him with my waking hands and a smile on my waking face, before I dozed off again.

And you know what? No, why dont you try and guess this time? Come on, go for it. Its quite easy, really. Yes...yes...thats bloody correct! I dont bloody remember!

So my roommate thinks I'm crazy. His exact word being crazier, but thats not the point. And I just recently saw Fight Club. And The Butterfly Effect. And I've seen A Beautiful Mind. And I've read Harry Potter II. And I remember Me, Myself and Irene. And I've seen that other movie too, about people going cuckoo and doing things and not remembering afterwards, and looking confused and baffled with the turn of events around them, till they reach a point of either great clarity or insanity or both and the movie frigging ends and all is well. Or, disastrously over.

Can you help? Speak out, if you can. With tender words, and a loving caress over my knit forehead. I'm afraid of sleeping. I lie awake at night, for as long as I can. I jump at sharp noises, and check to see if I'm the one making them. I frantically scan through my most precious belongings every time I wake up, lest I gave them away. I spend my free messages in asking people if they saw me today, and if I gave them anything.

I'm all shook up.





Saturday, October 20, 2007

The Number Five

A most dangerous tag, from the evil Machiavelli that is the twisted mind of JS.

I must comply.

List 5 things that you want to say to people but never will. Dont say who they are.

1. I'm not gay! Or pathetically meek!

2. Yes. Its you. Not me. You.

3. Yes, I do. More than anything else in the world right now, I so do. Ye gods! Yes I want the last piece of cake, please. Yes, over here. Hand it over. No, there's no need to hesitate about it at all. Its simple enough. Give it now. And dont try to bandy words or buy time. Oh yes, even though you got just one piece, and you so it first. I want it now! ... Mmm...Shthanks...mmm...That was most excellent. Does it feel good to be polite and courteous now? You just earned for yourself the pure, untainted joy of doing good to someone else. Feel warm do you? Feel like you made it a better world huh? Huh? Huh huh? You're a pathetic loser.

4. Oh hey. Long time its been eh?'s things?

5. Dont be nice to me. Just give me a good enough reason. Please give me a good enough reason.

Five Things I'd Love To Do Before I Die

1. Kill a leader.

2. Go scuba-diving.

3. Play 'Stairway To Heaven'.

4. Halle Berry.

5. Fool all the people, all the time.

Five Things I Will Not Do Even If It Kills Me

1. Try to appreciate hip-hop.

2. Kill a postman.

3. Look straight down from a cliff. (Because that will kill me)

4. Agree with someone, without adding a 'but'.

5. Leave a pizza unfinished.

Five Things I Do When I'm Away From The Public

1. Curse the public.

2. Make vivid, detailed posters of the public and come up with different ways to kill every individual member.

3. Hail Hitler.

4. Ogle at myself in the mirror and pay highly flattering, if slightly inappropriate, compliments.

5. Go absolutely, completely quiet (in the absence of a mirror, that is).

Five Fave Sentences/Quotes

1. I swear by my life, and my love of it, that I shall not live for the sake of another man, nor ask another to live for mine.

2. Zed's dead, baby. Zed's dead.

3. Oh let the sun beat down upon my face, stars to fill my dreams. I am a traveller of both time and space, to be where I have been.

4. I killed Roger Rabbit. And I have a rug to prove it.

5. Ah, life. I guess it'll all make sense once we grow up.

Five Things I'll Make You Wish You Didnt Do, If You Did

1. Mock Led Zeppelin.

You can do whatever else you like.

Five People To Tag

The fun of the tag is when you pass it onto some properly busy souls, who have time not for it. So I give you, Ami & Koyel & Rimi & Flaff. I know you're quite obviously engrossed in vastly important spheres of existence, in which specks such as these are mere trifles and what not, but I shall be checking. So. Comply. *cold, narrow-eyed stare*

Friday, October 19, 2007

Slightly Autobiographical

Slowly, ever so slowly, he feels his jaw muscles stretch. Aching, as if unused and utterly unaccustomed to the concept of function, the mouth opens. He tries, and he tries. He really does. But nothing happens. The magic has passed, has it? He yearns to hear his own voice, to put into words whatever it is that resides in his head. He doesnt know what it is. It doesnt work that way. It must come out, for it to take shape, and assume proper form. So he struggles. His throat hurts, and his vocal cords tighten. Nothing. He gasps and pants from strenuous effort. A glass of water, perhaps? A few minutes' rest, and then another attempt? Nothing seems to work.

He tries again.

Monday, October 15, 2007

The Cutting Edge Truth

Something priceless from a play I saw last night:

"I'm a man, not a woman! I don't go to the restroom in groups!"

He he he he he...oh, its so true...he he he...

Saturday, October 13, 2007


The butterfly, of vermilion red wings and interlaced yellow, danced above the lush green of the field, at the side of the road. It danced everywhere in every direction, having no purpose and no boundaries. The bright summer sun shone down upon her world, and the tree protected from its strong rays, except for the few pillars of pure light which reached the ground, from in between the leaves. The man at the side of the road felt strange, noticing such inanities. He sighed, or breathed, since both seemed to be the same to him now, and went back to his dusty grey sedan.

He was, by all appearances, an ordinary working man. Not working, in the sense of a labourer of course. He wore a navy blue suit, a white shirt and a black tie with golden embroidery on it. The suit had been smart and respectable once. He had felt proud of owning it. It was old now, and slightly creased. The shirt had been worn nearly everyday, over a very long period of time, such that it seemed part of him now. The black tie was only but a tie. Embroidered or not, he didnt care to think about such things anymore. His shoes were brown, and he'd polished them in the morning. But already they were dusty and appeared worn out. He was not an old man; only in his early forties. But his forehead was lined with worries and the toil of years of overtime. His eyes were tired. They had already lost that spark he'd suddenly felt upon seeing the butterfly. The beaten face was crowned by a thinning growth of hair.

He drove through the countryside in the midsummer heat of a Sunday afternoon. It was just like any other, he noted. The large countryhouses with sprawling lawns. Smaller houses designed the same, to imitate the large ones in appearance if not size. There wasnt any sign of life, outside the homes of course. The weather today was not worth the effort. And in the country, he had noted in wonder long ago, people could actually choose to organize their day by the weather, or illness, or moods. He drove on. He'd stop at some houses, or drive on if he didnt feel like. He was supposed to stop at them all, so the rules said. But he'd given that up some time ago.

If he decided to stop, he'd park the car in front of the driveway, then walk up and ring the front door bell. It usually took them about half a minute to open the door, and he spent that time in assuming his approach. It differed, depending upon the person he met with. Usually it was the housemaid. He would be polite and friendly with them and then, after a few minutes of small talk, ask to be introduced to the lady of the house. His pitch changed from person to person. Relying on his mind's well-tuned gauge of personality, he would proceed with his work. With old dowagers he could be anything from flattering and flirtatious, to a solemnly respectful and avid listener. He could compliment any dress, and anyone in it. He could speak of the Great War, as if he'd been in it himself, and of local politics as if he'd lived there all his life. He could weep with them, over their reminiscent ramblings of past days. By the end they would be smiling and blushing widely, glad to have someone who so patiently listened, even seemed to want to hear more. They would offer more tea, more crumpets, anything to keep him seated. But he never stayed over an hour at any one place. It didnt help the business.

With women his own age, he had learnt never to be too amiable. Women of that particular age-group, between 35 and 45, loved nothing more than a hint of a reason to suspect a man's character towards them. So he was calm and he was quiet. It would seem strange to you, that someone in his line of work would be quiet and restrained, but he found it worked. The trick worked, based simply upon the amount of time he spent inside the house. Time, more than conversation, was the real ice-breaker in such situations. He would speak softly, looking down at the ground or at the walls, instead of at the woman. He'd admire the paintings on walls, making a pretence over guessing the artist's name and then apologize profusely over his gross, yet welcome, over-estimations, commenting how similar it looked to the brush-strokes of the Great Masters. He would compliment her on her wonderful choice of vases with the freshly cut flowers.

Younger women too demanded a most uniquely separate approach. It was one he personally disliked. But they were the best customers, and his method ensured that. He'd become old. And he would be tired. It required little effort of him, only the constant awareness of his plan. He'd ask for water, more than once, and drink slowly, holding the glass like expensive china. He would speak straight to the point. It didnt work to speak of this and that with the younger ones. The distraction was achieved by his manner, and his obvious age. And this too, worked like a charm.

The deal closed, he would politely take leave, with a fine old-worldly bow and perhaps a chivalrous kiss upon the hand of his hostess. He'd turn and walk down the front porch, straining to hear the door close behind him. Then the act would end. His head bowed down, and his shoulders slumped slightly. The light in his eyes, which the performance always brought, would go out once again. And he would drive away once more. He didnt earn much. He knew he never would. Selling second hand cutlery and kitchenware was never going to be a booming industry. But it was what he did. The drama seemed to help. The butterfly did not.

Friday, October 05, 2007

On Sleep

There's always this problem with resuming things. Its like memories. The thing with memories is that over time they assume a larger dimension and a grander stage than they ever had. So coming back is always tinged with fear and uncertainty and the nervous-shifty-eyedness thing. Its the same with resuming things left asunder, for whatever reason. Such as this space. And that, believe it or not, is my excuse. And, believe it or not, its reduced me so that I even feel the need to be excused. And this one, believe it or not, is only just an unnecessary addendum.

Enough. I shall consider the ice-breaking done.

Coming now to important-er things. I have discovered, finally, the secret to an instant, healthy, and satisfying sleep. Or a nap. Either way. Its not like I'm even springing upon you a test idea, or some experimental thing. I've been doing it upon myself, for the benefit of science, for the past few weeks. I got the idea in class, obviously. I was asleep, obviously. And its a lark. Allow me to illustrate in vivider detail, for you thirsting-for-knowledge types.

Its always that the greatest discoveries happen out of sheer accident. I was in class, as I said, sleeping obviously. And I was woken from my deep slumber all of a sudden, because the prof-monster had crept too close to my spot, and would have pounced in another moment, baring saliva-oozing, sharp-edged teeth, forked tongue and claws and talons from his limbs. And in those initial few moments of semi-consciousness, when we are neither asleep nor awake, I thought. I thought about how quickly and how instantly I could fall asleep in class, no matter that I'd gotten my good 8 the previous night. I thought about how I had to but close my eyes to gain immediate access to my land of dreams, all set up with a vivid, elaborate dream involving whatnots and thingamajigs from across the world. I thought about my happiness and satisfaction upon waking up, and the feeling of joy and contentment I could get from having done nothing at all.

And thats how I've come upon it. The secret to a beautiful, satisfying sleep. It lies in classrooms, over the drone of a professor pouring forth on all-encompassing subjects like crank-chains, iron-carbon phases, and mollier diagrams. It resides in sitting on an uncomfortable bench with your head on the desk, scribbled upon with the wisdom of the ages, as attained by half-conscious, frustrated students over the years. I try to recreate it in my room at nights. I sit on the bed, with my head on the desk beside me. I keep open a book of thermodynamics, or metallurgy, or fourier expansions, lest I find the going tough. I think of my lectures, and I picturise the man before me, standing with paunch preceding, and oiled wisps of hair, and that accented execution of the English language. I put my peers beside me, glazed looks and dazed expressions on their faces, to complete the family.

It takes me perhaps 10 seconds to fall into a deep sleep. I dream of a beautiful Neverland. You should try it sometime.