Saturday, August 09, 2008

4

i know this old woman
who
talks loudly about
the benefits of yoga
and
her hatred for class four

and that lady
who
can talk endlessly about
the enchantress of florence
and
quotes milton a little too effortlessly

and a daughter
who
spent endless years worrying about
the legacy of her father
and
if she could immortalise it somehow

and the mother
who
is always complaining about
her elder son who is no good
and
how he will leave her one day

*

but when im lucky i meet this girl
who
talks about
life with a giggle in her smile
and
why she prefers beedis to cigarettes
---

Happy Birthday, Mom.

I may be far away, but I've got a glass of champagne in my hand and a smile on my face.

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Stories from Oblivion: Chapter Five: Cairo

What began on an early afternoon as a stroll in a colourless suburb of Cairo, known to the world as Giza, eventually turned into a trip downtown where we got drenched in the city's mystic madness.












































Click on the photographs to enlarge.

Saturday, June 07, 2008

Two

I remember a lazy Tuesday in the first week of June in 2006. P and I were curled up in bed, with her legs on my thigh, and her face inches away from mine. The conversation was fairly insignificant and I was cribbing as usual, whining about how work was repetitive and life was slow. And how I desperately needed to prevent myself from slipping into the mental coma which had been heading my way for a while now.

And as is also usual, she was bored to death with my unending saga of self pity. But she was nice enough to pretend and listen. After a while though, she looked away and began staring at the ceiling. And at some point, without her realizing, I stopped talking.

After a couple of minutes though, by when my attention had drifted to the Leonard Cohen song playing in the background, she squeezed my arm and exclaimed with a look that accompanies an epiphany,"TS! You should start a blog!"

I responded with an expression so blank that the next half an hour was spent in her explaining the meaning of the word 'blog' to me in great detail. And once P thought she had gotten through to me and of course convinced me to start a blog of my own, she took me by the hand and led me to the computer where with the click of a few buttons, we conceived The Wander Years .

*

That was then.

But over a period of time, The Wander Years has transformed into an idea that defines my life.

Maybe that's why &. magazine's June issue of 2008 is also themed 'The Wander Years', in continuation to an article in the May issue, which talks about how the youth today are running away from the all things conventional and attempting to redefine their idea of life in general.

And today, as this little corner of the blogosphere completes two years in existence, I hope there is reason to rejoice. Not because it has sparked any intellectual revolution or uncontrollable laughter or worthy debates on social issues, but because while The Wander Years was catalyzing my redefinitions, it may have also given all of you a few reasons to smile in agreement with a post or a comment and whisper to yourselves, "I so know that feeling".

Monday, January 07, 2008

An Airport, a Poet and Life's Greatest Lesson

*
It ended abruptly. That dream. I don't know when or how.

All I could remember was someone screaming, "Was it really worth it???" in my head over and over again.

I found myself sitting in the boarding lounge at an airport, my tired eyes shuttling between a TV screen telling me it was time to board the flight and my notebook screen telling me that the batteries were out and needed charging.

I laughed. Because if anyone needed a recharge, it was me. I shut the notebook and got up to get a coffee from the counter right behind where I was sitting. As I was getting up, I heard a gentle voice say, "Was it worth it?"

I freaked out, turning swiftly in the direction of the voice.

It was P.

Phew!

"TS are you ok?"

"What did you mean by was it really worth it?"

"That 20 second nap of yours, you idiot! Why do you look startled?"

"Oh that, yes. Sorry. I completely forgot you were here."

"You forgot? Is that supposed to be funny?"

"Err.. Sorry?"

"Never mind, its time. They've announced the boarding."

"Ok. Cool. Just let me grab a coffee."

"Ok."

I ordered the coffee. And in the minute or so that I was waiting to get my order, my pupils finally contracted and I turned to take a look around. P's presence finally sank in all over again and I yelled from the counter,

"What are you reading?"

"Pablo Neruda"

"What's that?"

"Not what, who! He's the guy who wrote Tonight I Can Write the Saddest Lines."

"Oh, that guy. Ok."

Once I got my coffee, picked up my notebook & airbag, we headed to the boarding gate.

During the hour-long flight, my conversation with P centered around how different our lives are from the way we had once imagined. We spoke about our dreams and expectations, and how the transition from childhood to adolescence brought with it new ideas and possibilities. The conversation ultimately deteriorated to dissecting my corporate routine and how I'll never get around to writing that book or making that movie or teaching at university level and so on.

And then, for a reason known only to her, P breached my defense by summing up my life very eloquently. I think it was one of those I-wish-you-were-still-the-man-I-fell-in-love-with moments. I, of course, saw it as just another reality check. She said and I quote,

"TS, your life reminds me about the time I mugged up a Pablo Neruda poem for a poetry competition."

It took a second for me to understand what she meant, but almost all of next day to come to terms with it.

And I think that's exactly why I did what I did the other day.

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Sometime last week, I was informed that I needed to visit a particular college of Delhi University to run a month-long training program.

I was ecstatic when I heard the news because teaching at university level is something I had worked relentlessly towards throughout school and college, but due to my own lack of persistence at key junctures after college (I don't want to blame circumstances even though I am tempted), I had to finally give up on that dream.

And while I'm being honest, I should also tell you that writing and film-making are options that emerged after I shelved the idea of prefixing my name with Professor.

Anyway.

That date with destiny finally came last Thursday. And despite the mental preparation, I swear I couldn't have told my head from my ass that morning. I was a bundle of nerves, tossing and turning in bed all night, losing my appetite, getting ready and going down to the car only to run up, twice, once for my cellphone and then for the car keys.

In the middle of all that I also managed to find the whole thing funny (I do that a lot, not forget things, but find them funny), considering the fact that in the last 3 years I have trained pretty much everyone there is to train in the corporate world, from executives to senior management, without as much as batting an eyelid.

I decided to take my mind off the whole thing so I put on some music...

Extreme ways that helped me
They help me out late at night
Extreme places I had gone
But never seen any light
Dirty basements, dirty noise
Dirty places coming home
Extreme worlds alone
Did you ever like it then?

I would stand in line for this
There's always room in life for this...

Oh baby, oh baby
Then it fell apart, it fell apart
Oh baby, oh baby
Then it fell apart, it fell apart

*

In the half an hour that I negotiated the office rush, smoked hurriedly and sang along with Moby, I think I had what can be termed as a moment of epiphany. I began feeling less wired-up almost immediately and soon enough the nervousness subsided, and a calm soothing feeling found its way up my spine, penetrating my mind just as I parked my car at the college.

I picked up my jacket from the backseat of the car and as I was about to shut the door, I saw something that wasn't supposed to be there, and I think you'll smile when I tell you that it belonged to P.

There, in all its inconspicuousness lay life's greatest lesson, in paper and ink, begging to be embraced. The universe had actually conspired.
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Let it be known then, that on the 3rd of January in the year 2008, TS sat under the warm winter sun in a DU college lawn with a bunch of college kids and read to them, the Poetry of Pablo Neruda.

Wednesday, December 05, 2007

2

a lamp
rids the room of
darkness
and comfort

a girl
who smells of coco mademoiselle
weeps
staring into my eyes

an apology
which tastes of routine
destroys
any chance of resolution

a silence
that tells a story
of
six years and two lovers

sound sleep
with a dream about happiness
and
the bitter aftertaste of time
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