Happppieee New……..Meh

america, college, philadelphia, study

Hey,

I have been meaning to write about the end-of-the-break blues. But no time to do that. No time to complain either. I am dying. Dying with work I absolutely love doing.  If only there was more time.

More time. That is all I need. I am reading very new stuff after all.

See you around.

Si

P.S. I experienced my first snowfall. Actualement, it was a blizzard, and I survived it quite well.

P.P.S All this ‘find something you love, and let it kill you’ bogger is rubbish. It truly is. I have found love in all that I am doing now (except this one course with numbers in it). And I can reliably inform you that there is no joy in this pain. None.

P.P.P.S: I don’t do crushes very well. No one does I reckon. I turn into a bumbling 17 year old who forgets English, messes up muscle movements, and occasionally charts new pathways just to avoid the person in question. I had forgotten about the girl I have a crush on. Almost completely. As I spent my winter break growing fat, my general nervousness and self-doubt had faded into obscurity. Till my friend reminded me last week. She still exists! And still looks as stunning as always. I dont think I will ever speak to her, that is assuming she doesn’t hate me already (because, you know, why not?).

Time to find even more circuitous ways to walk around campus.

 

 

 

 

Kitty in the discotheque

alone, america, college, Life, philadelphia

Greetings of the new year. And Christmas too if you are in Russia, Serbia, and other countries which insist on flipping their calendars differently.

My love affair with everywhere
Was innocent why do you care

I have been meaning to write. A lot. Over the last few months, far too much has transpired which I would have been more than happy to share. I have also cracked jokes which no one has laughed at. And I have stared on with a blank expression as everyone around me laughed. Clearly my love affair with humor in this country is going to be a  slow one, and more courtship is required. Speaking of courtship, I have either become very unattractive, lost my game, or am doing something horribly wrong. Those could be the possible reasons why I am yet to actually have a conversation with a woman here.

A single woman in Philadelphia that is. Of which there are three! I am certain.

And lastly, the postcards! My pièce de résistance. 80 plus cards, 40 plus women, 4 continents, 8 countries, 16 states, 20 cities, 250 roads, 3000 pit stops, and other such  impressive statistics. I am extremely proud of the fact that I managed to send them across to as many people I could think of. People who were important, and needed to thanked, social capital to be retained, and ancient oaths to be reminded of. Mostly thanked. Whether you read this or not, I am exceedingly grateful all of you exist, and occasionally put up with me. Thank you. And If I have missed out on sending you one, its either because I did not have your address, or I ran out of money. Could be both. But  I am seriously broke now. And exhausted with the English language. I am doubting my ability to string together half-meaningful words. Short this shall be.

My what a good day just to let it slide
I’d like to say we did it for the better of

I turned 27 today. Well, yesterday according to Indian Standard time. But January 7th is ending as I write this, and I feel a familiar sense of relief that follows the birthday. I have disliked birthdays for as long as I can remember, even though my reasons have evolved over time. So let me take you through it as quickly as  possible.

A long time ago, on January 7th of the year Nineteen Hundred and something, everyone forgot my birthday. Everyone. My dad woke up, went to work. My mum sent me to school. School went by normally. When I came back, my grandmother did the usual;hit once, feed twice (you know, the grandmotherly stuff). In all fairness, my grandmother didn’t know how old she was, or when she was born, so I wasn’t expecting her to wish me. My aunt came over as usual, and I even asked her the date as she was leaving. “7th of January it is” she said. “Seventh eh?” I must have asked. She nodded and walked away. I remember walking up to a dog, and telling him it was my birthday. He too walked away. And that was it.

That evening, I raised hell. Six types that too. Objects were hurled, things were said, love questioned. And to everyone’s discomfort, I wasn’t very quiet about it either.

I thought about it and I brought it out
I’m motivated by the lack of doubt

Every single time I narrate this incident, most people focus on the forgetting part and ‘aww’ it away. But the most crucial incident is what followed. Either one year (or one week) later, my parents decided to throw a party. My house doesnt throw parties, nor does it celebrate anything. In fact, my house isn’t very used to the idea of guests either.  There is enough furniture in my house to accommodate 15-20 people. But my father prefers sleeping on the floor, or is cleaning it. My mother is constantly in motion, and the kids are never there. So the only thing sitting in my house is the furniture itself. You get the point. Therefore, in retrospect I deeply appreciate the effort they must have gone through to bother inviting people. And that is when it happened. Surrounded by 20 people, all singing and cheering, I realized something which has stuck with me for a very long time; I hated it. I truly did. I felt immense disconnect from whatever was happening, and simply wanted to be alone. And so it has been for every birthday since.

But that was then. Now I just get depressed on my birthdays. I really wanted to write about that today, but even thinking about it is very upsetting. So I am going to let it slide.

My what a good day for a walk outside
I’d like to get to know you a little better baby
God knows that I’ll really tried

Meanwhile, in 2016, the weather has been fabulous. Thanks to climate change and other myriad reasons, the infamous east coast winter is yet to descend upon me with wanton intensity. Barring a few ball-freezing nights, the weather have been very nice; nights are cold and chilly, and days are sunny and walkable. I have of course spent all of this time, in one position, on my couch, discovering the joys and secrets of Netflix. God I love it! I am making up for all the missed pop-culture from the last 3 months, and some more. Strangely enough, there is a certain joy of watching movies you have paid for. I feel like such an adult!

Apart from that, I have spent the entirety of my break eating, going to new places in the city to eat, and not eating through the day just to make space for a voluminous dinner. So that. Netflix. Food. Occasional Walks. And done.

Oh yes! Museums. I went to a few museums. Saw them Monets, and them Renoirs, and them Goghs. As cool I may want to sound about all this, it did blow my mind. I never imagined I would be this close to seeing the originals. But here I am, and perhaps I will visit the museum in secret soon. And do the sit-on-the-desk-and-look-at-the-painting-what-does-it-say-to-you-son?

You don’t form in the wet sand
You don’t form at all

You don’t form in the wet sand
I do Yeah

And finally, the panic. I haven’t panicked this much since, well, ever. You know how you think you get into an Ivy league college and then you are sorted with the self doubt issues? Okay, that may not even be a thought about thing. But you know;

Step 1: Ivy league

Step 2: Education, and all things wonderful

Step 4: Profit

So….not really. I am applying for a summer internship. And even though it is a straight forward application process and the people seem nice,  I am vigorously shitting Olympic-sized bricks. I have edited my CV 5 times already, and even sent it to some to check the font! The bloody font! However, in the brief waking moments when I am not exuding nervousness, I am amazed at how worried I am about this opportunity. Its very unlike me to worry about things unless there is ‘a coin in the washing machine’,’left the stove on’, or even a rare ‘no fresh sheets’ involved. The fun domestic stuff. And that’s when it hits me; this is probably the first time in my adult life, that I have seen and identified something I truly want. The work they do, is the sort I would want to  do for a very long time. And the only thing I have ever wanted to do over a long period of time is to not die.

So this is progress. Welcome news indeed. I shall try my best to not fuck it up. And submit it on time. And not pick my nose when nervous.

I am tired now. It has been a long day of avoiding calls, responding awkwardly to wishes, and trying my best to be asocial. I shall reward myself tomorrow by attempting to bake bread. Following which I shall attempt to break bread.

GOD I ALWAYS WANTED TO SAY THAT!!

Bye.

My what a good day just to let it slide
I’d like to say we did it for the better of

Hi

america, college, cycle, philadelphia, study, Uncategorized

Hi.

Alive I am. Semester be ending soon. Late I am on many things. Girls I have spoken to none. Girls I have fancied many. Things I have learnt plenty. Wedding I have skipped one.  Laughs I have missed many. Wanted to write I have much. Ideas I have had Nein. Cycle I have ridden some. Cooking I have started yum. Looking forward to the break, I um I um. 

 

See you then.

 

Si

 

 

P.s. I finally had turkey. It tastes like chicken, on steroids. Also, I still dont know what makes Americans laugh. Sigh

.

Grayscale

america, college, Life

When I first typed these words, this was going to an optimistic post about hope and positive attitude in life. Then, I went blind…

Let us rewind a bit. I have been in the USA for about a month now. Enough time for anyone with sufficient amount of pop-culture to settle right in. But I don’t know if I have. In a way I have, but a part of me still insists on speaking really fast, and walking on the left side of road. DISSENT 101.

But for all practical purposes, I am fine now.

But has the fuckery stopped?  NO! God no!

So without any further delay, let me take you on a journey down the rabbit hole, to a magical land called ‘perma-fuck’. It is guarded by an airport official. Who manages to, and I really don’t know how, get my passport number wrong. In effect delaying the most important document (I-94) proving my immigration into this country. Now I am extremely used to people getting my name wrong (in spelling, spirit, and essence). So I tried every possible variant of my name to try and access my immigration document online. Three days, many smokes, and four deportation nightmares later, I was told that it wasn’t my fault, and it would be sorted out soon.

Meanwhile, classes proceeded at their normal (read: possibly criminal) pace. I read more than I ever have, before class that is. I sent mails to people requesting appointments without knowing what I was going to meet them for. But every time I came even remotely close to ‘settling in’ and focusing on studying, the ugly head of ‘admin’ would raise itself and shake me from my apparently undeserved stupor. But even that was being dealt with. Slowly and steadily, I filled up my forms and was ready for the final step: Social Security Number. All I had to do was wait for the I-94 to be rectified.

And then it was. I had it all; work authorization, stamped form from the relevant authorities, and freshly printed I-94 bearing testimony to my lawful entry into the country. That day, like many before that, actual studying was sacrificed for the noble cause of getting this done. I walked into the Social Security Office with a very pleased expression hoping to get over with it very soon.  That was the last time I smiled that week.

My name was messed up. Everywhere. On my passport, on the I20, on the I94, and on the form. I was sent back on a Thursday, before the Labour Day weekend, to get ALL OF THE THINGS right. Needless to say, it didn’t happen. But something else happened. Walking between two offices, once again on the wrong side of the road, I was mentally spent in a way I had never been. I have been stressed before. I have been stressed by situations before. I have been stressed by other people before. Hell! I got psoriasis because of one. But never like this. Never have I felt this sheer level of co-ordination in things going wrong. And then as I walked on, it struck me. None of this was my fault. Admin here can fuck-up here just as badly as back home; it takes just as much maneuvering here as it would anywhere. I didn’t stand out walking into a crowd of oncoming people any more. I belonged there just as much as anyone else. They weren’t exceptionally different, just a lot of people walking from classes to other classes. One hundred per cent  people. That I could handle. The frustration felt so normal and familiar that it was very calming. And that day I knew, I was going to be all right. All of this would sort itself out.

And then my phone screen cracked…

So that happened. While trying to sort out all of the aforementioned mess, my phone screen just cracked. No sudden incident, no droppage, no mishandling. It just cracked. I didn’t have a Social Security number, a driving license, no official proof to get my stipend, and then, no phone. I don’t think I have ever laughed harder. I couldn’t possibly react any other way. There is only so much a person can take before feeling the pressure. Thankfully my chronology of dealing with pressure is; crying, straight face, straight face, inappropriate jokes, and laughter. I had reached my limit with the I-94 incident, and then this happened. How could I possibly react when I had already stopped giving fucks?

Addendum: A phone is not just a bunch of circuits, LEDs, and a screen panel. It is also a lot of muscle memory, self-reflection, personification, and identification. In my case, it was my fucking passwords. Lost all of them. My accounts had to be reset. All of them. My bank account got blocked and much annoyance ensued.

None of this compares to the pain of watching your once beautiful phone, now completely invalid, incapable of even the basic functions. It felt like a futile exercise to keep charging the phone as the touch functionality died, inch-by-inch, by the hour. But I did it. Eventually, it was reduced to a mute spectator. Non responsive to my frantic attempts to make it react to my touch, even if for one last time.

On the bright side, it was a good occasion to channel my inherent promiscuity and order the cheapest Nexus phone.

That I did. Before I knew it, I had a new phone. My accounts were eventually restored. I got my Social security number, albeit with a combination of my name and middle name. And life slowly approached normalcy. That’s when I had the dream.

There is a myriad assortment of literature which deals with the experience of an immigrant (legal or otherwise) in a new country. A lot of them address the sense of detachment, alienation, and an equal amount of fascination with a new culture.  Some of it is funny, some quite profound, However, none of it, as far I know, ever mentions dreams.

I had my first multi-racial dream two weeks ago. You might think it’s ridiculous to mention, but I think it is quite pertinent. I had never realised that I have always dreamed ‘brown’. On account of being, you know, brown. And dreaming is different from day-dreaming, or fantasizing. Because in the latter, I think you are sub-consciously aware of the false nature of the imagery playing around in your head. So when I woke up after a dream comprised entirely of non-brown people, it was slightly awkward. While the actual content of the dream was rather uneventful, the feelings that accompanied the dream were both normal and strange at the same time. Perhaps my brain has internalized the realities of my new environment, and is reflecting that in my nocturnal adventures. I think it’s always a good thing when your subconscious is on the same page as you. I guess it is settling in as well.

I have been rather busy since the dream, and after all the stressful excitement died down. I am reading more every day, putting in more hours of actual work than I ever have. This is not to say that procrastination doesn’t happen, or that last minute rushing of assignments has been eliminated completely. I am reading on space, power,  race, politics, anthropology, digital technology, and social relations. And this is not even part of my course work. I am also listening to podcast lectures on modern social theories while walking to school and back. I finally know what Locke said, what Hobbes meant by the ‘state of nature’, the genesis of ‘separation of powers’. More remains, but I think it is terribly exciting to see the tremendous impact of these ideas on modern day systems of government and society. Most importantly, I finally know how to pronounce Montesquieu.

This was day before yesterday. And then it rained.

There are many reasons why growing up sucks. Taxes, I guess, is the primary reason. Weak knees is another. My problem is the fact that I can no longer get wet in the rain. When I was in college, one had a phone to worry about before stepping in the rain. Now it’s an expensive phone (recently purchased mind you) and a laptop. That means I have to always carefully consider any decision pertaining to rains, walking, unhindered wetting, and my general unpreparedness with water protection.

This particular evening I decided to leave the library, with the sole intention of coming back, cooking dinner, and calling it a night with this very post. However, I ended up buying dinner, getting drenched, and cooking lunch for the next day instead. I also managed to forget my glasses at the food store. As the realization, along with partial blindness hit me, I thought, ” Well I was smart. I have a spare pair. Well done me!”. I unpacked the new pair and hastily put it on.

My vision didn’t change, nor did the headache go away. It was then that I realized that my frames had no glass in it. The frame had broken. And just like that, within 15 mins, I went from 2 pairs to 0 functional pairs.

 I laughed.

Si

PS: This post is dedicated to the thoughtful employees of the shop where I forgot my original pair. This was written with perfect (assisted) vision, and all errors are a consequence of my klutzery, and nothing else.

PPS: I quite like the admin staff. They are extremely sweet, and supremely helpful. Please do excuse my rant.

America 101

america, Life, study, travel

This will be a longish one.

It has been two weeks since my last post, and it feels like I haven’t written in a long long  time. Which means I miss writing. That is good. But then again, it has been 9 days since classes started, and it feels as if I have been doing this for months. Which means fuckall. And that the course load may kill me.

I guess that’s what America does to you. There was a girl once who had a thing for a boy. The intensity of this thing could be comfortably described as being somewhere between Dante’s Inferno and the brick oven at your friendly-neighbourhood-joe’s-pizza. However, it didn’t work out, at all, and she went to the US. What I find surprising is how she managed to keep those feelings intact for a full year. Its downright impressive. I don’t even know who the Indian President is anymore ;/

Before the mood of this post starts scrapping the proverbial bottom, I will tell you about my eventful first 10 hours in this great country. Upon landing, I apprehensively approached the customs. Barring vindaloo, I didn’t particularly care about them throwing anything else. However, the notion of deportation hovers in and around your head with alarming frequency in America. In the end, they let everything pass, except the rice. The only person affected by this was my mother. But I had known how the day was going to unfold, I would have kissed the officer’s feet for reducing my load.

From there I walked; to a train, to another train, to a cab, and finally to my new house. Between starting to walk and reaching my house, I tripped twice, banged against train doors (four times at least), met a peculiar man from Knoxville (or Nashville, couldn’t tell), Tennessee who decided to tell me about a female co-passenger who passed out on his shoulder and proceeded to unload copious amounts of drool, spoke to random old men who told me I drank too much water, and competed for longest flight time with my cab driver (he was from Nigeria). Till this point, I was fairly okay. Random shit had happened, but most of it was funny (slightly exhausting), and I was acting as awkward as people in a new land ought to. But the day wouldn’t have been complete without at least one, funny in retrospect, but scary when experienced, incident.

I think being stranded outside my own house, on my very first day, wins that one.

My phone network was dead. My flatmate, after waiting for my call, eventually left for work. And I found me, myself, and a whole lot of luggage (46+14 kgs) sitting on the street. This is probably the first time I realized that this was not my country. Faces on the road, when spotted, didn’t look familiar. The bass beats from an occasional approaching car would be strangely reminiscent of south Delhi roads, but would immediately clarify my confusion with hooks which go,’gotta get them monies, beeches and wanting me some dollarsss..’ (terribly paraphrased, possibly entirely wrong).

It was a very surreal hour. I must admit, I have sat, even slept, on a street before. But every single time I have been fairly confident about how the street would smell, the sounds around me, or whether a cop would be coming along to shoo me away. This felt very alien. Even technology failed me. The comfort of knowing my precise-to-god location on google maps was no comfort at all. Eventually, I grew too tired to feel anything. But I couldn’t sit outside in the dark, and so I dragged my luggage on the Streets of Philadelphia to the closest coffee shop. I had the most expensive tea of my life ($5! For a tea!), and contacted my flatmate. Finally, I reached home, full 10 hours after landing in this country, and crashed..

It has been 2 and 1/2 weeks since I’ve been here. Feels like months, but time is as time does. On my second day, I came back home to find the bed missing. Apparently it belonged to the previous tenant.So I made very uncomfortable love to the wodden floor for 9 days, till the mattress arrived. Also, no one here (except my flatmates, and the International student center) understands what I am saying. So my American adventure will be not only be a test of my academic grit, but also a testimony to the enduring power of good enunciation and slow speech.

I must say this before I forget; no amount of pop-culture can prepare you for America. I thought it would be a smooth transition; american-show-watching-pop-culture-consuming-internet-fellow that I am. Very wrong also I am. There is so much here that you know about, and so much more that no shows/books will ever tell you about. And the six most salient things I have noticed so far are: sheer amount of material choice in this country,how much people throw away, the stark difference in the type of food consumed by different communities, how no one ever seems to almost run into another person while walking on the street, lack of stray dogs, and the exceptional resilience of eggs. The first and second I shall not belabor. The fourth and fifth need a separate post, and third I am not qualified to comment on. There also needs to be a post about my trip(s) to New York, visiting an emergency room at 2 am, and general observations about life as such.

But the last point is most pertinent.

You know how you see half fried eggs being made on TV? You know how you try replicate those beauties at home, and fail spectacularly? Do not be harsh on thyself. It isn’t you, it’s the eggs. But the eggs here! OH MY GOD! They are phenomenal. They really are. No matter how badly you handle them in the pan, they are immune to all external klutzery! Full fucking egg, perfectly yellow, perfectly warm for your sweet succulent consumption. It’s amazing. I am eating 3 eggs a day, only to see if I end up bursting the yolk. None so far.

I haven’t written about my junior college yet. Everyone who knows me has heard the story (at least) twice. But I think I will write it in bits and pieces through multiple posts, to prevent over-kill. Any how, when I entered college, 10 years ago, it was the most stressful my life had ever been. I didn’t speak enough English, had no experience speaking to girls, and knew none of the popular references the kids were talking about (this is true; I thought Eminem was a Doctor, and his last name was Dre). Slowly this changed, till I reached a point where I spoke to everyone, knew all of the references, and was a bit of a douche to my old friends. This eventually got sorted out. But my point is, when I entered college 10 years ago, I felt very very out of place, and supremely conscious of my being in a new space. I haven’t felt like that since. Until now. Perhaps I will write about this in the next post.

This is not to say that I am doing well here. I am struggling with very small things. But there is progress.The campus is beautiful, everyone walks, and I genuinely enjoy all my classes. I am learning a lot of new things, and a bit of the old as well. I will eventually make friends, and will dread the idea of weekends. I look forward to incrementally setting up my room. I have to frame and put up the gift K and C gave me before they visit 🙂

The night sky here is different as well. Also, every time you look up, one can see either a plane or a trail of smoke left by a jet plane. When I was young, I used to imagine being that pilot, cutting across the sky, leaving smoke in my wake, and the insignificant world reduced to a blurred reflection on my visors (I blame Top-gun, and Swat Kats). It is comforting to know that if I am every bummed out, I could just look up. I have grand cycling plans, which I hope materialize, and I hit the coast before the long winter. I also hope to not fuck up my exams/assignments, and possibly for the first time in my life, strive to do well in them. How I actually do, remains to be seen.

There is progress on the house-keeping front as well. Today I figured out how a dishwasher works. Before that, there was a projector, and before that, window blinds. Yesterday, I faced-off an exceptionally well-fed possum over the trash-can. I don’t quite know what a possum is. But it felt very American. One day soon, I will figure out why they have 5 bulbs in their bathrooms, refer to their petrol as ‘gas’, have 6 types of floor cleaners, and follow the diabolically confusing imperial system of measurement.

12 inches to 1 Foot
3 Feet to 1 Yard
So far so good…
1760 yards/5280 feet to 1 mile! 
Who decided this? Seriously, who?

Si

PS: My official name for the next 4 years (assuming I don’t get deported) shall be my first and middle name. Why? More on that in the next post.

PPS: I am not really sad. Here, take nice looking pictures

Last weekend of summer

Last weekend of summer

Not so New York picture of New York

Not so New York picture of NewYork

46 kgs and above

alone, america, study, travel

I begin to write this just as the plane is about to take off.  That makes me the only douche to whip out his laptop before being airborne. Also, I think this post should have been written at the airport, en route to the airport, while packing, while considering when to pack, while having a very emotional conversation with my parents about upholding perfectly acceptable family values and exercising sound financial judgment. Writing would have been preferable to all of the above. While being fairly necessary, all of the aforementioned activities happened to be significantly depressing, and sufficiently discomforting. Except packing. Packing I hate. And the hatred stems from very dark and unexplored depths of my heart, mind, soul, and kidneys.

This should ideally be divided into two parts; first chronicling the entirety of my experiences in feeling immense love from people around me, how uncomfortable it made me, the sadness of leaving teary-eyed parents back home, and the second one hating packing. But since I am told that flights with alcohol are entertaining and you can watch movies for free, I am going to conflate the two and make the most of my time here.

To finish off the people part first. I met a lot of people in the last 240 hours. I love these people. I grew up with them, in a manner of speaking. I have made memories with them, in a manner of literally. They seemed genuinely sad that I was leaving. They expressed it in a lot of words, and hugs. That was touching. Tears were shed and I did cry once. Okay, twice. And this was just Delhi! Bombay was like a drug induced emotional roller coaster. See. Pack. Meet. Pack. Greet. Pack. Goodbye. Pack. Done.  *Insert heavy doses of melancholy  between every stage.

And that was the humane part.

Then there are my diabolic bags.

I am carrying two suitcases. Two whole i-am-moving-to-another-country-I-have-indian-stamped-all over the contents-bags.  And that makes me very sad. I am yet to be hit by the fact that I am actually leaving my country, for another country, for a long time, to do stuff which I may fuck-up. And all of this I have no real control over. I mean sure I can work hard and have a higher chance of not-fucking up, but you know what I am talking about right?  In that case, I would like to believe that the only thing I could have any say in would be what I decide to take with me when I make this transition. Simple right? I sure as hell thought so.

Apparently, it is far more complicated than that.

Packing involves very real and nuanced decisions. Decisions about what is it that you own/will purchase, that you truly value enough to carry with you. Why do you need to carry it? Can this really not be substituted by anything else that markets provide there? Is being economical the only reason for this concerted effort to cram in every last bit of allowable weight (this is true.  I wish you could see the complicated calculus applied to weight division, optimal spread of objectionable food products, and the ideal response strategy when confronted by amused customs officials), or is there a nostalgia associated with all that you carry? I don’t know. My mother thinks that the Americans, with over 300 years of Independence, are yet to figure what ought to constitute a decent meal. This is clearly not true. I hope.

Packing becomes an additional headache, when it assumes the form of a community problem. Consensus building measures are therefore required to arrive at a societally acceptable list of things which represent; all that you need, all that you are, all that you will be; food wise. Needless to say, there is a mass mobilization resources to ensure creation of commodities which markets can’t provide for. Or can they?

Why do I have a problem with this? I don’t really, as long as you do it with you own bag. I do appreciate the concern, I really do. I also acknowledge the appreciation of my financial constraints as a student, the idea of convenience, and a need to create a familiar space in an otherwise alien environment. All of this is fine and perfectly acceptable. However, this comfort is slightly disconcerting  for me. A friend of mine (two of them in fact) commented how my luggage weighed about the same as them! Apart from the fact that I have way too many thin friends, it disturbed me that I was carrying enough to constitute an entire person. An actual person! How does this not bother anyone that you need (absolutely need) to carry enough to make another person? The amount of baggage  you carry, in my opinion, should always be non-tangible. This is far more important than the tastes you crave. At least to me, food is replaceable, convenience and maneuverability isn’t. The less you carry, the less you are responsible for.

Now all of this could be because I genuinely worry about cleaning the stuff I own, actively avoid responsibility, and would like to live with as little as possible. I also like the feeling of walking out of an airport with nothing but a bag-pack and a sliver of smugness. Just slightly.  Oh also! Another reason I feel uncomfortable with all of the preparation for foreign travel is the inherent disdain and inferiority associated with the culture of the destination country. While I am not qualified to comment on the objective ranking of any culture or society, to say that an entire people have no culture or lack culture simply because it is not similar to yours is downright unacceptable.  And food becomes the vanguard of manifesting this belief, that if you are retain your source-culture, always remember where you come from. Never forget. And not forgetting may involve both passive provision of source materials, as well as active avoidance of new experiences.

I may just hate this new country. I may come to love it. I have no idea. But I may as well give it a chance, eat new food while my body allows it, and add to my list of lived experiences. I wont be 26 and in a new country again. Ever. And if I am going to be here and now only once, I don’t want to be eating that which I grew up on. I’d rather eat more and feel more. And if I can ever reach a stage where I can realistically even compare different foods, cultures, and societies on some common parameters, I would have a good story to tell.

Meanwhile, strange things have begun happening on this  flight. I have kids in front. Abhay deol is in an air safety video. So is Rajeev Khandelwal.  Everyone on the crew looks positively disinclined to the idea of smiling, and I am fast hurtling into a long night (from east to west) towards my first jet lag. Someone just ran across the aisle yelling for a doctor. Apparently a passenger is ill. I hope it isn’t anything serious. I am still in Bombay, and it seems, will be for a while.

Si

PS (0210 hrs): My bags weighed 48 kgs in all, and I was let off with a knowing look from a very ambivalent lady behind the counter. She probably clears far too many students carrying that extra kilo of Indian sweets.  Also, my plane didn’t take off for another 50 minutes.

PPS (0244 hrs): The plane still hasn’t taken off. Now I am worried about the health of the person in question.

PPPS (0258 hrs): Overheard from an elderly gentleman: a child with malaria was brought onboard. His fever went very high and started convulsing, and hence the clamour for a doctor. Thankfully (and the first part is legit) it happened before being airborne, otherwise the flight would have to be diverted to save the child’s life, and the plane would have had to dump all its fuel, since (apparently) it can’t land with a full fuel tank. This may not be the best time to point out that the gentleman saying this seemed just a little bit too excited about saying  ‘offload fuel tanks’ and ‘divert flight’. Mansplaining at 3 in the morning 🙂

I am glad the kid is okay though. And now we fly. And now I end. Bye.

PPPPS: I saw it! I fucking saw it!

My seat was uncomfortable, and the jack for the headphone slot was loose. So I watched three movies back to back with my thumb holding the headphones in place. And as I was about to drift into a rather uncomfortable sleep, I saw the in-flight map. Our route was charted out, and it was a damn interesting one. We were flying over Moscow, parts of northern Europe, close to Iceland, and then over Canada. I did not sleep at all. I don’t know why they keep the shutters closed. The wonder of seeing these lands, with all their history, references in popular culture and possibility of never seeing them all was enough to keep me awake to catch but a glimpse of it all. Here are a few pictures.

SO MUCH VIKING FEEEL!

SO MUCH VIKING FEEEL!

Europe's End.

Europe’s End.

Land fall into North America

Land fall into North America

Floodgates

Uncategorized

I am on a train now. And when not seeing the vast green and/or brown wilderness that is the Indian country side, I am feasting on this:

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The current me looking out of the window like a pensive-as-fuck ‘traveller’  is vastly different in comparison to the I scrambling to get to the train on time, about 30 mins ago. The rush had its tense moments,  and haggling with the station porter was uncharacteristically short and amicable. Perhaps, both of us understood the urgency of the situation and decided that money was of second-order importance when compared to me reaching my train. Another good thing about a rushed exit from anywhere is the near-zero possibility of having an emotional farewell. So, while my last minutes in Delhi were spent surrounded by extremely dear friends, it was mostly us catching our breath, punctuated by conversations about how deep in debt I was. (I am shit deep in debt though. While experts differ on the exact amount,  there is universal consensus on the figure running into very many thousands).  So that was my evening : rushing into a station with a lot of bags, with no time to cry or even feel sad, and acutely aware of the squeaky sound made by my extremely drenched shoes.

My shoes are very drenched. That is because today Delhi decided to let the rains fall like never before. I am serious!  Today  was probably the heaviest I have seen it rain, in  two years!  And given that Delhi,  as a city, can’t deal with over 10 mins of continuous rain, or a woman walking on the street, or a woman, or over 5 mins of rain, getting out of the house on a bike wasn’t the wisest idea. But get out I did,  for there were goodbyes to be said, both physical and mechanical. The person and machine will be sorely missed, and the memories associated with both will just make life worse. But at least I am glad I made the trip today morning,  since I could say goodbye to at least some people who missed my farewell party.
My farewell party was more feels, less action. But it was wonderful to see  people who gave enough fucks to bother organizing it, and even more people who thought it worth their time to come for it. Just to say goodbye!  I still can’t believe it. All these people!  And this is not including the  ones who couldn’t make it, called to wish, and also apologize!  I am not being facetious. I have rarely had occasions to celebrate,  rarelyier have the celebrations been public events, and rarelyierest has been the event attended by more than 10 people. So this was most impressive. I should never give speeches though. I think my silence in such situations would be a welcome gift to all present. Haha. Gift to all present. Lulz

I have already spoken elsewhere about how I feel about gifts. But I received far too many of them this time to even begin to protest. Some were written, some ordered, some drawn,  and some were simply too studly to manifest themselves in any other form than the physical presence of the people itself. Apart from being extremely thoughtful, I am ecstatic about how little all the gifts weigh. I am quite inclined,  for the first time, have a wall. My own wall, bearing testimony to creations of the past, to serve as a constant reminder of old friends. It is also fantastic Instagram material.

I am extremely sleepy now and will end soon. But I wish you could have been here during my last 10 days. To see me clear my house, pack everything and move into a loving but a not-mine place,  to watch me shift awkwardly as friends made sweeping claims about love and missing me,  and hugging them to manage the situation but not particularly feeling anything. To see my last 5 days in the city, 5 days of unemployment, 5 days of rushing to squeeze in as much time, and as many meetings as possible. To see me exhausted with the number of people I ‘absolutely’ had to meet, while being secretly grateful about the claims these individuals could make upon my time and attention. To sit thru the intense wide ranging discussions, late into the night, which invariably ended up in beer, video games and sleep. And not in that order.

Delhi for me will always be about the people I met. Barring them, I would see very little in the city which would appeal to me. The  fact that my friend was eve teased two days ago, and another friend threatened with a knife  does very little to improve my feelings about this place. For a very long time, I was worried about the fact that I didn’t experience particularly strong feelings about leaving this place. I was equally worried about a build-up of  these feelings, and a potential outburst when it was least expected. Today was that day. Strangely, both feelings and the rains came down hard together. From early hours of the morning till late afternoon. 
Mine stopped because of soup.

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Rain, what’s your excuse?

Si

Ps. I will proofread this on a computer. Typing on the phone is very annoying.

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

A journey to rule them all

Uncategorized

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.

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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