Word,Place, Memories.

Friends, goodbye

Dear whoever the fuck is going to read this whole thing,

This is going to be a long post. Mostly, because I am writing after a very long time, and on top of 3 working drafts. All of these drafts are, objectively speaking, very very sappy. And the real reason those drafts never saw the light of the day is because I couldn’t bring myself to finish such exceptionally sad notes. But as I sit in this empty house of mine for one last night, I may as well make something decent out of it.

In the last week, I have edited a thesis, packed 2 years of my existence in 3 bags, packed 4 more bags for my flatmate, moved the aforementioned bags to a new location, edited some more, and moved back to an extremely empty house. And I still have 1 week before I leave this city! Moving houses in less than a year is unfortunate, moving houses prematurely is downright carelessness. Oscar Wilde said that. Or something to that effect.

Lets start with words. This editing adventure of mine made me see a lot of them. Far too many for my own good. However, words are most peculiar; a string of sounds capable of communicating, instructing, and evoking a wide array of emotions. Personally, I am a fairly inarticulate person who has gotten through life by filling the communication gap with a cunning use of gesticulation. While I do have an inordinate fascination for words, and by extension, for language, it feels particularly shitty that I don’t know enough of them. And the ones I do, are lost in recall. This would probably explain the part allure, part disdain I feel for well written articles by articulate individuals, or disciplines which pride themselves in being as esoteric as possible.

Biases aside, I have always wondered why dense or complicated writing is such an integral part of ‘intellectual’ writing. Wasn’t the whole point of creating knowledge to disseminate it as widely as possible? Would writing things succinctly with sparse usage of mega-syllabled words not serve the purpose better? Would it not make you seem less of pretentious in a conversation if you said ‘wish/desire/want’ instead of ‘agency’ every single time?

I have had this discussion with multiple people far too many times without actually reaching  any form of consensus on anything. But here’s what I have gotten out of it so far:

1) While language in it’s basic form may be sufficient for mechanical everyday communication, perhaps the very nature of complex human interactions, with each other as well as with the state, may require a more deeper inquiry; not just in terms of feelings, but also with regard to identification and classification using language.

2) If the above is true, then the human race is way better than we think; and we deserve a far more nuanced system of words and terminologies to begin capturing the entirety of our being, the actions we undertake during this period, our reasons for these actions, their implications, and how the social contract that-be reacts to it. This automatically provides legitimacy to the notion that, if one is to write seriously about profound issues, with insights that will blow your pants off, it can’t be simple i.e have a dictionary for breakfast, and remember to masticate it well :p Any call for populist writing would be countered with the impossibility of making a genuine knowledge contribution in light of the ‘toning down’ of the language. Further, convoluted writing may just appropriate a high moral stand, defending its ways as the vanguard of progress, and an inspiration for those who don’t comprehend, to ‘better themselves’.

3) That makes me slightly uncomfortable; you know the moral high horse and a hint of arrogance et al. But apart from that, I don’t know if we really are as complex as we would like to think. In the words of a great cricketer, “see ball, hit ball”. What if the meaning of the word follows its inception. But then why would the word come into existence at all, if there was no need for it? Also, Newspeak a la 1984; a totalitarian seeks to control freedom of thought by restricting language and regulating vocabularies e.g, Good and Ungood.  This would indicate the crucial role essayed by words in promoting the creation and sharing of new ideas born in the crucible of human imagination.  Yes yes, I know that. I was just wondering if words reflect reality, or in fact, shape it. Note: I am quite clueless about linguistic theory though. Perhaps I should have read that first. 

I am not convinced either way. While the debate about words is more fundamental, the more I read about the institutional factors, in-group dynamics, elitism, leading to academic writing being a complex potato (here and here), the more meesa shakes me head. I think that if you find yourself in position of power and knowledge, endowed with the mandate (or desire) to spread it, it becomes your irrefutable duty to utilize your faculties to make sure it disseminates as widely as possible. It is your position of privilege that demands from you the additional effort required to make the knowledge suitable for wider consumption. If you to want to ha! If you dont, dont do jack. Do the disco 🙂

Why was I thinking this? I discovered a word today. Well, not really discovered, or invent for that matter. At best, I found it. You know how sometimes a piece of information is located in your brain, you know it but just can’t find it. It is the most annoying feeling in the world, especially when you can sense the information, smell it, and feel it in your bones! This level of frustration is seconded only by the struggle with an adamant piece of snot stuck in your nose. It’s just like proverbial true love, the more you grapple at it, the more it eludes you. Eludes you like a bugger! This word did exactly that. It resisted all attempts of recall and sent me on an obsessive streak of becoming word-hunter for three full weeks. I will be honest,  I expected this one to be a quickey. Or a fling. Quick in, quick out. Boy was I wrong! It was also a trip in self-exploration, tested friendships, and served a scary reminder of my excessive dependence on Google, and its inability to have all the answers. Also remember: When you stare into Google, Google stares back into you. No one says that, but it is true. Try going through your Google Dashboard.

To be fair, if you entered ‘a kind of smile which is sad, but understanding and apologetic, and other stuff too’ in google, it would give you all sorts of rubbish. I tried enacting the smile in front of my colleagues; got blank looks, sympathetic suggestions, and finally just shrugs. I checked with people giving the dreaded GRE, and was summarily declared a fool for “wanting to actually learn words despite having given the exam.”  Finally, I asked my flatmate, who suggested that I instantly fuck off. And then I wandered aimlessly, feeling forlorn about the word  which was all of the things I felt ; sad, sorry, upset. All of this, just in the form of  a smile!

Till the day, I said goodbye to my flatmate.

He is gone now. That ass decided to find the most uninhabited part of the world, and proceeded to use to least motorized form of two-wheeler known to man to traverse through the aforementioned wasteland. The bad-ass that he is, beat me to moving out of the house as well. And left me with all the shifting, bill payments, landlord-conflict-resolution, and general home-alone melancholy. However, the day he left, G and I decided to see him off to the airport, despite his protestations. Short of an actual disaster, not going was not really a possibility, and it would be a while before I saw him again, if at all ever. Him, G, and I have over the course of last year built……….ok no. Not doing this. No sad stuff. So we reached the airport to find him looking most distressed, and found out that his parents were coming there as well. His parents, the sweetest, most catholic, and the craziest couple on the other side of 45 I have ever met, decided to travel 600 kilometers to come see their son off. Well, parents’ love is a different animal altogether. It is also very dramatic. And 3 kms from the airport, they got lost. Most drama. My flatmate was visibly annoyed, worried, and grumpy, while I ferociously attacked the sweets his mother had gotten.

Goodbyes were non-ceremonious, even by our standards. One hug, one smart-ass comment, three jokes, 10 steps, one more joke.   And finally they disappeared inside the airport; my flatmate and his friend, possibly the only people I will ever know to carry 4 cameras, 2 tents, 2 metal stands, 2 water bottles, and one t- shirt.

On our way back, his parents said, “He may be grumpy now, but 20 years later he will remember the day his parents dropped everything to come say good-bye to him. And he will do the same for his kids.” It was then that I turned around, and smiled. Not the usual friendly smile, but a sad, understanding one. A contrite smile.

That’s it.

FUCKING ‘CONTRITE’.

Si

Most families are about geography. I think this one wont be. Ride hard Old Monk! Airport

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A journey to rule them all

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I has updates! Many updates!  But screw all of them. I shall tell you the most important one.

I don’t have a best friend. Nor do I technically have an oldest friend (I simultaneously met two wonderful people back in 2004). So I am left with the closest thing to a best friend, and a first friend (by virtue of rounding up, some wild assumptions, and an enthusiastic fabrication of history). Both these people I love deeply.  They also happen to be in a boyfriend-girlfriend arrangement. While it is extremely efficient when it comes to planning parties, I dread the minuscule, yet frightening, possibility of them breaking up.  Lines will be drawn, camps instituted, and sides will have to be chosen. And I have no idea where I would go. Do you go for those senseless bouts of laughter at odd hours in the night,  or do you choose those extremely personal conversations you had while you were just beginning to figure your shit out?  Do you pick absolute suspension of inhibitions and honest discussions, or very amateur attempts at decoding people’s  psyche, mostly ending with  potato conclusions? All of the above is applicable to both of them, not to mention the collective experience of growing up,  which will also be at stake. Also, how does anyone from your circle throw parties anymore!

One has talent, the other, well, also has talent. Sigh. One has technical knowledge and subtle wisdom. But the other has much musical chutzpah and the capacity to make even the most inane seem profound.

I best stop before I start wondering why they are friends with me to  begin with :/

But tonight they are together. I met them earlier today and got one of the best gifts I have ever received. And I don’t even like gifts. I really don’t. Not in a cool ‘gifts suck because they are for losers’  manner. They make me genuinely awkward. Why would another individual bother so much with buying me an object? What if they  regret this  one day? Do they know I suck at buying? Is my friendship affirmed only thru purchase of  items? Do they really want to take this much effort for me?   Why would they?  Will my gift be perceived equivalent to what they got me? If we stop being friends, will their purchase be seen by them as a mistake? All of this is actively stressful for me. And the sort of stress I work hard to  avoid.

Words are better, intangible, most unaccountable, and almost always, cheap 🙂  Well, objects have utility. Hmmm. 25 points to Team Object-Gifts. But still, I get weird about gifts. I hope you get what I am saying. I don’t understand them partially because I suck at them, and part because I don’t see the point of it all. 75-25 I think.

Not this gift though. While I would have not expected this from anyone,  I can’t ever deny wanting it. It’s beautiful, filled with memories, and symbolic as hell. It also reminds me of a time when life was primarily concerned with books, women, and trains.  To be honest; the books were borrowed from N,  women were scary and focusedly avoided, and trains were almost entirely about survival. But mind space was less occupied, impressionability was high, and words read were words imprinted.  This gift represents the best of it all. It gave me more than I could ever express, made me very happy, and educated me in ways I don’t understand myself. Most importantly, it held on as I grew up. The Lord of the Rings is truly something. And I couldn’t have read it at a better time.

It is beautiful. Truly it is. I love it. And it is a journey like any other,  and yet the most important one. I cried.

image

Thank you C & K. Thank you very much for a constant reminder of all the journeys, and a primer of the things to come.

And no!  Fuck no! I am not choosing sides. I will cross my arms and sit on the floor. Let the world burn if it must. I will die a fence sitter 🙂

Si

Thieves and Samaritans

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This is still not excitable post I wanted to write. But tis a happy occasion nonetheless! Two absolute strangers liked my post. While the occurrence as well as its scale may seem inane to you, it means fuckloads.

This is possibly the first time since I came on the internet, which would be roughly a decade ago, someone absolutely random has bothered to look at something I created, and deemed it worthy of his/her liking. And it feels great. And do I want more strangers to like what I write? Fuck yes! Probably because it would signal my ability to write stuff which is not a collection of self-referencing circular narratives which would interest only people who know me personally. And then one day, I will cross the 1k subscriber mark, and will become too big for my shoes. Soon, it will descend into a spiraling pattern of me producing material for mass-consumption. I will make a lot of money, but lose my friends. Sleep with a lot of women, converse with none. Suddenly my soul is scarce and decadence is abundant. I will no longer be the person I once was…..*bites nails and shoves popcorn in mouth.

Ok but really, it is very strange that it took 10 years for me to produce something that would be available for wider consumption. Does that mean I have not been funny in this decade? Fuck no! I has I has! But even when you think you are hyper-connected on social media, it is still being connected (in most cases) to people who, you know, you are connected to anyway. The point I am trying to make is that I have been very lazy, and social-media-aka Facebook-connects-you-to-EVERYONE pitch is slightly bogus. And yes, you can tell me about the ones who write posts which go viral, or pictures which are universally detested (yes you duckface person;)), but I guess I wouldnt ever be able to be that bold.Seriously.

But no no no. This is about the two strangers. I hope you read this. I truly hope you do. You have made a very sick (okay, almost recovering, but theatrics) boy very happy. I hope you continue to write, think, post, and scour the intra-web spreading joy thru anonymity.

Si

PS: Finally finished the Gentleman Bastard trilogy. Bless you P for the books. If anyone plans to start reading it, I’d suggest buy all three at once. You will be going through the adventures of these singular thieves rather voraciously.  It is also the first trilogy I have read in the digital format. I could get used to this.

Many firsts today. Many.

SO PARTY!

Algebra of life

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I had a very excitable post in mind. I really did. But I may have taken my homecoming too seriously. So now I am ill and throwing up. This is accompanied by the most calamitous upset stomach.  So just like that algebra sum from class X: content is leaving my body faster than it is entering. If he is having three meals a day, and puking 4 times in 5 hrs, how long would S  take to empty? Further, my mother thinks this is the best time to compare my over-weight body  to that of Djokovic . Yes yes. The Novak one. It’s almost cute how her solution for all of the problems seems to be a walk under the building. I think I will try it out, just for the fuck of it. Meanwhile, I am getting immunized : for all of the diseases everywhere. It is going to be a long week involving injections, doctors, biometric scans, and people asking me why I am traveling, after reading an entire folder on why I am traveling. Fun times. I am going to meet A for lunch tomorrow. I may throw that up as well, but it will be a meeting worth all that trouble. You see, he got married yesterday. My first very dear friend to get married. Others will follow soon I am certain, and I am afraid I will miss it all. Not the actual ceremony, that’s useless. But them growing up, and doing adult things. It’s strange that they are already spending adult sums of money on adult decisions and adult needs. This would be a whole new territory altogether. And I may not be here to see. Anyhow, if he hadn’t gotten married in the most distinguished style with a Hand of the King pin on his chest and a court receiver officiating the event, my feelings about the whole affair would have been singularly meh. But I’m very happy for him. And excited to hear him complain about the whole thing. Perhaps,  just like his engagement, he will swear to never get married again. Bye Si

Never Forget..

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I don’t know why I am writing this in the middle of a work day. It’s not like I was hit by a fucking brain-wave, nor has anything life-altering happened. Well not today at least. Between the last post and now; I have resigned from my esteemed organisation, was mocked by my boss (endearingly as always), ate out for a week and feel bloated now, congratulated a dear friend for getting through one of the most prestigious exams in the country, discussed Darknet with C and established that buying fake passports simply because they seem cheap is a particularly stupid idea. Where does one even pick up these fake passports? It’s not like you can give them your office address to deliver these pieces of forged art. Sigh.

So why am I writing this now? Because I felt like it. And if I dont, I will forget about what I wanted to say, and write about something else entirely tomorrow, or the day after. Ever since I started this blog, I feel like a 16 year old who just spoke to his college crush.  Well not in the pubesceral sighing-while-feeling-the-stomach-implode-and-cheeks-turn-red manner. But the excitement is quite comparable. Every once in a while I keep thinking of random shit which can be, with enough English, turned into a half decent post. I don’t know if it is making me a better writer, but it sure as hell is entertaining to see how a single idea about my death made me spew out a long-ass post (Refer: Epitaph). I may one day write about serious stuff; like maps, urban regeneration, and cycling. Or just cycling. I could live with that.

So, Forgetting. I think it has mucho charmo. Sure the ability to recreate precise accounts of the past is nice, and makes for very impressive party conversations, but I don’t think it bodes too well for inter-personal relationships or individual development. Not everything that you experienced is particularly pleasant, or memorable for the right reasons.  Sometimes, forgetting is a good thing, almost welcome. I agree that between forgetting and forgiving, the latter is the more noble and a prudent choice. But, personally I doubt whether I could do the latter without the former being their in some form at least.

None of this can be taken as my official stance on the issue. And not everything should be forgotten. OK! This is getting damn serious. I almost considered writing about an amnesic electorate, people repeatedly getting in not-so-healthy-relationships, societies forgetting the vigilance which is imperative for a healthy democracy. Honestly speaking, I lack the qualifications to even cursorily comment on any one of those issues. I should just tell you about how I forget things far too fast. It has its benefits; i dont stay affected too long, find better things to brood about, and there is always a new shit-storm around the corner. There are trade-offs though; I never learn 🙂

In case you feel like watching something significantly disturbing about the topic, do watch the ‘The Entire History of You’ episode from season 1 of the beautifully dystopian Black Mirror series.

So, yes. Forget if you must, forget if you mustn’t. Let people state different things over time, or be a stickler for ‘that thing you said two weeks ago, or even in 1995’. Learn lessons from the past, or don’t. I don’t know. Really I dont. Do what you want.

Now see this wasn’t the point of this post in the first place. I started writing because I wanted to share something. While I have gone into considerable detail about forgetting, there are certain things I would definitely not want to forget. In a sense, the ‘remember where you come from and never forget your roots’ shit is probably responsible for most of the dissonance I have ever felt in life. That and ‘were you raised this way?’ debate that constantly rages inside. Quite fucking annoying it is, but I think it is here to stay. So I may as well cherish what I remember; listening to my father narrate life stories, ducking random things hurled in my general direction by my mother (partly out of love and  partly wondering how I was such a stupid son), attempting to assault my brother and failing miserably, sitting on my grandfather’s shoulder every evening to watch trains go by in a great distance, taking care of my once indomitable grandmother as she grew older and weaker, the excitement at the prospect of getting a new cycle, the disappointment of seeing the cycle I got (much lulz), the joy of cycling to school and back, racing to the nearest water-body in the summers to find peculiarly stupid ways of jumping in, my run-ins with the church (this will require a separate post), the catholic troika (Christmas, Good Friday, and Easter), and food. The fucking food. Damn, I miss everything now.

I started writing this post because I found this video and it reminded me of home. The video is in Konkani*, which is not the same as the dialect used back home, but is just as funky.  It is a spectacularly ridiculous video (I kid you not!), and takes pop-culture very very seriously.  And apologies for a very rambling post.

Si

*Konkani apparently is quite the bomb language. Here! Take some academic low-down.

Ps:OK apparently sharing Facebook videos is quite a pain. Will figure it out and embed it soon. Sorry sorry.

I was quite a potato. But now I have figured this out. Enjoy!

Good Fox. Bad Dog.

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I fucked up today. Very badly? Would not have been so bad in a resource-rich, leisure abundant economy of human relationships. But this is Greece. Strapped for cash, hand-to-mouth, and fast running out of time . So every second, every experience, every promise counts. And if you slip so late in the game, you risk ruining everything.

Apart from that, I met an old friend today. It’s funny how old friends almost always reminisce old stories, and follow it up with a healthy amount of bitching about the current state of affairs. As if our friendship today could feel secure not only by pleasant walks down the memory lane, but also require an active disparagement of our dissociated presents. I once had a conversation with P about this. According to him, when we meet old friends after a long time, we aren’t the ‘same old person’,  but a faint memory of what we were. So we replay that memory, and simply act out the sort of person everyone remembers us to have been. This is not an attempt to probe into the larger questions of ‘masks’  and ‘who we really are ?’. However, I do  meet old friends and occasionally ask myself, ‘would I have been friends with them, had I met them at this point of time in life? Unsurprisingly, the answer is a  fairly certain no. Different lifestyles, different salaries, different passions, different priorities, and most importantly different expectations from life and age. Put enough divergent factors, and any two points would find staying in each other’s vicinity untenable.

This is not to say that  I would drift away from them having had this damn epiphany. Well not all at any rate. Rather,  I think I love them more now, feeling a marginally higher gratitude towards chance for making us meet when we did, and in most cases, allowing them the magnanimity of limiting themselves to 3 Virar jokes a day.

So I fucked up. Remember the quick brown fox who jumped over that lazy dog?  Well they had a routine.  The Fox always jumped, the Dog would protest weakly and continue being lazy. They would meet for drinks after work and laugh about it. Every single time. Today the Fox jumped at the precise moment when the inattentive Dog was stretching its otherwise lifeless body. The Fox changed course mid-air, failed, clipped the dog, and fell face first. The dog was startled, and the Fox got a bloody nose. No drinks were had, and all Microsoft Words lost their laughter for a day. Sorry fox.

Apologies for the fucking riddles. Really. Sorry. Bye.

Si

Best Epitaph Ever

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My friend suggested something. And before I proceed, I would like to categorically state, under no duress, that this is entirely, completely, unequivocally, and undeniably her idea, and all credit is due to her.

I don’t know why a lot of my friends are in the business of envisaging life events which may or may not occur in the near and distant future. IN MY LIFE!  But they do, and with an inexplicable amount of enthusiasm, if I may add. Now, some of them are bearable; you will lose all your hair. That is okay. I am used to going bald. Its quick, convenient, cost efficient, and my father ensured that alternate lifestyles and haircuts skipped our house like the Angel of Death on Passover( sorry, Catholic reference).

Some of them are unsettling: you will be old and have a serious job. This is mostly said with an air of sadness, which is a compliment to my relatively carefree existence, immense capacity to impress no one with my serious face, and a widely accepted notion of my ability to achieve very little in life. I am okay with all of that. I think a long time ago, I had to make a choice; be funny, or be taken seriously. I chose the former (exercising free will and ignoring genes and all that bogum. Sorry Steven Pinker Sir). But to imagine that all this will go away is immensely unnerving. As is the prospect of being a grumpy adult whose new calling is giving advice, meeting deadlines, and just being adult-like.

Some invoke pure fear. We will attend your wedding. I give the idea of marriage as much thought as most people do to a potential shark attack; very little. On days when I do, I imagine worshiping the person who  for some strange reason, agrees to spend their life with me. The ceremony is of zero consequence, and will involve the people getting married, and perhaps the witnesses. (No, cant invite even the closest friends. It is a very slippery slope, and soon you will be booking a 500-capacity venue for ‘dear and irreplaceable’ individuals). My friends, from different stages in life, take great pleasure in conceptualizing elaborate eventualities for my wedding, and their role in it. Their role in what is effectively a contract between two people! Now I love my friends, I truly do. But the thought of 10 drunk north Indians on horses with a coterie of musicians, one friend from Meerut (+-10), 10 girls from Delhi, 20 friends from college (presumably also with alcohol in their systems) marching thru my sleepy village on a Sunday morning is alarming. As is the disapproval that my clan would communicate through the cunning use of eyes, frowns, and sniggers. Shudders*

And now for Death. I think I am OK with it. I have never lost someone truly close, so that may change in the future.  However, I do believe that deaths (natural ones) are inevitable, and are one of those very few things which all humans are fairly consistent at. Level playing field of sorts. So how would I like to go? Surrounded by people I love, and probably crack a joke, so that they don’t notice me leaving.


Anyhow, enough of the gloomy stuff. So the aforementioned friend suggested the best epitaph ever!

This Epitaph is trying to be dark.

I laughed a lot. I am sorry if I have been unable to communicate what a gem that line will be on black marble. But truly hope she outlives me, and makes sure I get this.

Bless you G, and get this done.

Si

Ps. Has you seen this?