Thursday, January 20, 2005

Use your illusion, too

Life goes on around you in an unfocussed blur. The sands of time passing through the hourglass. Maybe you’re the sand, maybe you’re the hand which turns the hourglass upside down when the sand runs off.

Today is gonna be the day
That they're gonna throw it back to you
By now you should've somehow
Realized what you gotta do

All these pop-philosophy still does not explain why I woke up today with grandfather’s song in my head along with the light hangover…. I can visualize the scene even now … After at least 20 years … The chirruping birds in the Calcutta fog … The steaming cup of milk in front me which I was supposed to consume because its good for my vision (!!!) … And my grandpa reading the Geeta in its original in his sing-a-long voice…. "Yada Yada hi dharmasya … " etc ..... Funny, when you try to remember Geeta, that’s the only line, which you seem to remember ..... Blame it on Amar Chitra Katha … They started glamorizing Indian mythology much before Ramanand Sagar and BR Chopra ever put their minds to it.

And all the roads we have to walk along are winding
And all the lights that lead us there are blinding
There are many things that I would
Like to say to you … I don't know how

Are we as Indians going back to our roots … Vishwa Hindu Parishad would certainly make you believe so … So would the promoters of Aastha and Samskar channels…. While the other channels can continue to talk ad nauseam about the brothers Ambani and webcams fitted in tubelights, M/s Asaram and Morari Bapu is hell bent on providing some spinach soup for the soul (we are vegetarians, remember!) … Certainly looks inexplicable … Why are perfect yuppie-types so glued onto Satsangs and Vaastu … Why does your next cubicle neighbour go to tarot card readers every Saturday…. Why are people so genuinely moved when they read the words "you have a golden heart but people do not understand you" in their astrological predictions for the day ….. Is all this a part of the overall root-searching story? … Do we Indians have roots which are seeped into our primordial fears … Is the great Indian sub-conscious really so atavistic in nature?

Because maybe
You're gonna be the one who saves me?
And after all
You're my wonderwall

What are we Indians? A genetic soup of Aryans, Mongloid and Australasians? … Explains a bit of our continuous confusion as to where to go … Do we embrace materialism in all its glory … Go crazy buying I-pods, nokia 6660s and plasma television .... Or go the other way ……. Chuck the cushy jobs to open NGOs taking care of Mumbai’s street-children, Goa’s pedophilia victims and the like ….. Are we comfortable doing anything at all …… Or do we need to be continually comforted that we are doing the right thing and that we are happy about doing the right thing and that we are making others happy by being happy about doing the right thing …. So much angst and so little time, oh what are we gonna do ….

Today was gonna be the day
But they'll never throw it back to you
By now you should've somehow
Realized what you're not to do
I don't believe that anybody
Feels the way I do
About you now

And all the roads that lead to you were winding
And all the lights that light the way are blinding
There are many things that I would like to say to you
I don't know how

Vaguely remember Geeta saying something about you not being responsible for your own actions … That somehow, the cosmic cycle of Karma is going to determine what becomes of your deeds and you have nothing to do with it … That you are this mindless automation who does things for the joy of doing … Does that explain why I got that song in my head in the morning … Like I was somehow trying to convince myself that I have got nothing to do with the hangover I am suffering from…. Its all a result of some big cosmic joke ….. Well, maybe …

I said maybe
You're gonna be the one who saves me?
And after all
You're my wonderwall

Are you the sand …. Are you the dancer dancing on the sand during a sand storm … or are you the hand … the hand which turns the great cosmic wheel of Karma … is it our destiny to be confused about our destiny …. Or is it our mind playing tricks with itself ….

Said maybe
You're gonna be the one that saves me
You're gonna be the one that saves me
You're gonna be the one that saves me

Losing your illusion

Don't remember when it struck me for the first time. Maybe it was late October, maybe early November. Who gives a damn, anyway? That is when I first realised that my life is almost over. Yeah, I know the way it sounds. What I meant was that, each day I am preparing to die, I am just one more day closer to death. Shit, this is also not what I actually wanted to say. But it reinforces my point, I have lost the ability to describe my feelings, too.

There is nothing to look forward to any more. Maybe, its just me. I have spent my life so far, in a fond and utterly irrational hope ..... that the great thing which is going to elevate my life above the level of mundane, is waiting at the next corner. Its really quite an experience when you find out that your life is a straight line, without any corners ... you are just an ordinary guy leading an ordinary life. And tomorrow sucks.

So what ... did I hear? There are around 6 billion ordinary people in the world leading perfectly ordinary lives. I know, but the difference is, my friends, none of them are ME. Self-pitying bullshit? I might agree. But can't help feeling sorry for those pointless days, weeks, months, years leading up to this. Where time seems to move around you in fast forward ...where one day is just like the other .... where you think about yourself in third person .... where there is no Oz somewhere over the rainbow. Some day at XL I wrote these lines, "Life is passing you by ... you can smell the rot in your bones" ... and felt great. What self-importance! What moving poignancy!! When it actually comes down to rotting of your bones, you become immune to the smell. Maybe again that's just me.

Is that all there is left to life ... watching newer and more mindless movies, watching pointless cricket matches and booze ... there is always booze and the ability to act the fool. And fool people by false impressions of hidden depths in your conversation. Sound knowledgeable .... that’s what I have always been good at. The only thing you guys don't know is that how hollow it sounds even to myself. I mean who is this person leading my apology of a life, who is this guy sounding so learned about "how alcohol is absorbed in your bloodstream", who is this guy who just drank that bottle of beer with such obvious relish, just who the hell is he? Can't you guys make out that he's just a fake trying to act like one guy who he used to know. A guy who used to actually take interest in things and without any reason. How can the guy get away with such blatant superficiality. But then again you don't know that other person, right?

Am I going to spend the rest of my life (heck it does not even sound like much of a life anymore) just pretending to be someone else, acting myemotions, doing my duty for my family, friends and society.Going to office by 8:29 local, coming back by 8:08 leaving everything else to auto-pilot? Someone just tell me where the hell is ME in that, what has happened to what is supposed to be MY life? Like I told someone so wisely someday "I think you are expecting too much out of your life" .... Hell can't I just expect a LIFE and not this dull drudgery, this inexorable rolling towards inevitable death. Can't I just be somebody? Can't I be just me??

Well, enough nonsense. Maybe you will understand, maybe you won't. What is absolutely certain is that nothing is going to change. Like I told someone, "the bad news is my life so far has been a spectacular failure, the good news is there are only 40 or so years left". That's the only dream left... maybe the end will be a relief.

Wednesday, January 12, 2005

The decline of the sub-continent ....

Around this time last year, Indian cricket was at their (arguably) all time high after managing to perfectly ruin Steve Waugh's farewell party at Sydney. What was supposed to be red-hankie waving crescendo of a Australian white wash over India turned out to be a run-fest by an unusually reticent Tendulkar and a usually brilliant Laxman. And with Kumble (of the steely glare and gritted jaw) making sure Australia lived on tenterhooks all through the fifth day, it was by far the biggest wet dream come true for all Indian supporters.

To generalise a bit, India's refusal to bow down to the great Australians led by greater Waugh was to be the beginning of the rise of the Indian sub-continent teams. The Indian, Pakistani and Sri Lankan teams which were regularly had for breakfast by the Pommies, Kiwis and Aussies at Headingley, Dunedin and Brisbane were supposed to stamp their dominance on the world stage. The sheer batting class of M/s Sangakkara, Jayawardene, Sehwag, Laxman, Youhana, Inzamam which was so much in evidence to their respective supporters suddenly became apparent to the cricket fraternity (including those jingoistic English writers who still think Grame Thorpe has better technique than Brian Lara). Kumble, Pathan, Vaas, Shoaib, Sami, Murali seemed to be almost an embarassment of riches in terms of bowling talent.

Sadly nothing seems to have changed one year later. Aussies beat Sri Lanka 3-0 (in Sri Lanka), India 2-1 (In India) and Pakistan 3-0 (in Australia). India and Pakistan seem to have spent so much of their collective energies in battling each other that they could barely get up for the Aussies.

Actually, the apparent paradox of sub-continent teams having such abundant individual talent and so little collective results can be analysed from any of these angles:
1. The Hayden angle - sub-continent players play for themselves and their records and not for the team.
2. The Boycott angle - sub-continent players lack discipline. They need to be whipped by their moms regularly.
3. The Sunny angle - There is no such problem which revamping of domestic cricket and more Mumbai batsmen in the team cannot solve.
4. The Dalmiya angle - Its all a conspiracy by racist ICC.
5. The Ganguly angle - At least we are the second best team in the world in terms of whining about pitches (England still remain the undisputed numero uno).

Jokes apart, is it something mental? The sub-continent teams just seem to fizzle out at the most critical part of a cricket match after having the upper hand. Blame my opinion on watching the recent Aus-Pak series, where Pakis reigned supreme for about a day and got soundly thrashed for the rest 2.5 days in each of the tests. (My arithmetic is not so bad, no test actually lasted beyond the fourth day).

Whatever it is ... right now the things are not hunky-dory at all for sub continent cricket. India looks capable of beating only Bangladesh and Zimbabwe (well maybe the West Indies) on current form ... Pakistan must be still shell-shocked .... Sri Lankans really don't have the firepower to consistently win test matches outside the sub-continent.

So what ... does that mean Tendulkar will open a vada-pao joint after the failure of "Sachin's"? Will Sehwag make an educational film about his happily married life? Will Zaheer Khan start acting in Jassi Jaisi Koi Nahi? Will Harbhajan live off Priya Reddy's income? Will Kumble open a tutorial class for engineering entrance? .... the mind boggles at the possibilities .... My bet is as long as there is Bangladesh (and if Dalmiya is lucky, Kenya, UAE, USA, Holland and Hongkong), there is always hope. And maybe the new "Harsha Bhogle" does not have to resort to a career at All India Radio, after all.

Tuesday, January 11, 2005

The weather, swades, media and everything ....

Anybody wonder whats happening to the good ol' bombay climate? I mean ... when I came here some 5 monsoons back, the climate / weather thing was so much more predictable. 2.5 months of rain and 9.5 months of summer. And take a look now ... there's actually a winter, maybe soon we will have spring and autumn also. Think of it .... we can't even laugh any longer at all those people buying the fall collections at Globus and Shopper's Stop in 38 degrees centigrade.

Weather apart ... saw a pirated VCD of Swades (too lazy to go to a theatre) ... the flick does well in patches ... but seriously can't comprehend what the raving ("this is even better than Lagaan") is about. I can count the genuinely moving moments on my fingers and none of them are exceptional (actually its kinda expected in this sort of a movie). Maybe I heard too much about the movie before seeing it. Anyways, what the movie makes you realise is, how cut-off you are from 70% of India's population.

The sheer incredulity with which most of us greet the fact that India in reality is not restricted to Inorbit Mall or Fun Republic is genuinely fun to watch. The last time I saw this feeling at a mass scale is when NDA lost the elections. There were these countless hordes of people who had the look of absolute incomprehension on their faces. They thought some landless labour from Bihar stole their "India Shining" dream from them. And look at them now ... how many of them actually remember Vajpayee?

There is this small germ of a debate in my head. Do we (as consumers) shape the media or does the media shape us? All those (that would include all my friends, I suppose) who are going to jump and say "Stupid, its obviously the media shaping us, what did you have for breakfast etc. etc.?" .... I tell them only this ... what are those poor sods at market research doing in that case? In case we are blindly shaped by whatever we watch, listen to or read then what is the point of trying to find out "What consumers really want?" as Business World wants us to do every month.

BTW, I hear that the Business India owner has turned out to be a major defaulter to OBC (erstwhile GTB). Now we all know why all those articles in that mag were sounding like company pamphlets (they must have been bought, estupido !!!). Ohhhh ... to have the luxury of saying "I told you so" is the most pleasurable sensation of all.

And this is a good site for sci-fi/fantasy stories.