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

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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

Never Forget..

Uncategorized

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!