Sunday, November 18, 2007

My friend in the night..

I cant stop dreaming, and I cant stop staring at the ceiling either. Something makes me smile constantly. It’s not anything in particular, its just.... everything.

I toss. I turn. I go to the loo countless times, even when I don’t really have to go. A song’s playing on my laptop. It’s played about 10 times already. It’ll play another ten perhaps. Something about the lyrics keeps me up. Something in them makes me want to dance. Something tells me I need to sleep, because the gods of work wont be pleased about my escapades in the night. They wont feel the understated joy of discovering a new song that takes over your entire being. You’ve traveled already, for hours with the song…. Imagined. Believed. Lived. And yet you know, despite the fact that your mind had managed to wander to the most beautiful places, your reality hasn’t changed. It won’t. And that’s part of the joy.

The hands on the clock have been moving tirelessly. Tick tock. Tick tock. The hours have been drifting past. At 11 you thought, you’d be asleep by 12.At mid night you were convinced, you wouldn’t be awake to see the clock arms go past one. Tick tock. You’re still awake. Still smiling. Still in the room. And yet, far- far away.

You’re not alone in the room though. Your glance meets someone else’s. You’ve been looking at each other for sometime now. Occasionally acknowledging each other’s presence. A mirror after all is hard to ignore. The person in the mirror is just as happy as you are. Just as elated. No one in the world, but the two of you understand this insane joy you feel. Over nothing really, then again…its not really quite the same when happiness comes with a reason. Because then you know you have a reason that’s making your heart race. A cause-effect relationship tells you this is not going to last. But joy, that has no reason…has no reason to end. Because nothing in particular started it to begin with. It just drifted in. And brought with it, a sleepless night. An endless smile. The flicker of eyelashes that hold in them a world of imagination. And that feeling, is hard to take away.

You enjoyed it at first, but now reason kicks in. You’re trying to figure what it is about your new discovery that makes the world seem spectacular. What is it about a tune and a few words strung together that make you feel irrational joy. Ecstasy without reason.

I try and write my feelings down. If something’s making me feel this good, I want to feel this joy everyday. Even if it has no reason. Even if I can’t trace where it all began, I can definitely make it stop from ending. And in that process, I destroy it. Hours of bliss end in an instant. My hunger to feel this rush, to preserve it, becomes the death of it. I stop writing, realizing I’m ending the most beautiful thing I’ve felt in days. And then I think to myself…. How happy I was, in the moments that were. And how trying to hold on to something only makes it go away further. Faster. I finally fall asleep.

I try the same song again the next night. It doesn’t quite have the same effect. I don’t see the arms of the clock working. I don’t meet my faithful companion in the mirror. And I have no way of knowing if he sat there, waiting for me the entire night. I was asleep after all.

Wednesday, November 7, 2007

Diwali blues

I can’t stop smiling. I continue to walk. Paper lanterns pass over my head. An old man smoking a beedi puts up a No smoking sign over the table of fire crackers he’s selling. A woman arranges mud diyas she’s hoping to sell for three bucks a piece. Five, she quotes….fully aware, that her customer will bring her down to three anyway. The man I buy five oranges from twice a week is busy arranging some crates. Its not orange day today. I wait for my change as he balances one kilogram of apples against his two 500 gram weights. The apples are heavier than the weights today. Some days they aren’t. I never complain. I won’t today.

It’s the same street I take to office everyday. It’s the street I pass to get to the main road on my way from the Lower parel station. Something about it, for the last two days has been very different. And I can’t help but smile.

This is as close as I will come, to celebrating Diwali. And I know it.

I remember as a child, being spoiled with more crackers than I could blow up in a night. I remember my dad, lighting a rocket, not following his own instructions about ALWAYS pointing the rocket skyward. And I remember him lighting one that didn’t spiral up…but zoomed in the direction of a woman wearing a silk saree (boy, did she have a death wish!) and going straight into her petticoat. I remember watching this otherwise unathletic woman jump to heights no one thought she was capable of! And I remember, my mum warning dad about spoiling me. I remember dad spoiling me …when mum wasn’t looking. And then I remember not celebrating this festival, any festival for a really long time. I still don’t.

This year is different though. It’s my first diwali all alone. It’s the first time the house is all empty. Dad’s sailing. If I light a diya, there will be celebration. If I don’t, it’s just another day. One of many I spend alone. Talking occasionally to dad on the phone. Conversations, that much to my dislike always linger around weather or not I’ve eaten. And much to my dismay, the chat eventually turns to weather or not our maid has been coming on time. If I don’t light that diya, its just another day….

I buy my apples, heavier than the two 500 gram weights. I carry my bag on my shoulder, heavier by a kilogram. I wonder if I should buy a few diyas. I smile, amazed at how colorful this street looks today. I smile, knowing I will carry no part of this color with me as I walk past it…..

I’m told I have a live link to do about dhanteras. I’m in the backseat now. The camera person is talking to the OB engineer about where he can park the OB van so we can do the live. I’m keen on the Lokhandwala market because I have plans to watch a movie at a theatre that’s right next door. It’s 5.45. The live is at 7. I would be in time had I left about an hour ago. I left at about 5.40….

We’re in Bandra. We’ve decided to stop the white Indica we’re in and wait for the Ob van. Assignment from Delhi has called twice to check if we will do this live. One of several on the channel about how people are shopping this dhanteras. I’d been told just moments ago what dhanteras meant. I remember vaguely, my mum and dad using the word …when I was younger. When we celebrated.

Its quicker for us to move to the Ob than it is for the Ob to move to us. The Indica maneuvers through traffic a lot faster than our Innova OB. We ask the Ob van to stop wherever they are..and get the dish up. It takes about five minutes for the OB van to get signal be connected. We reach. The point is right outside the jarimari mata’s temple in Bandra. Great I think. And we do the live from the temple. The usual quirks. Some ha-ha moments. A two-minute contribution to a 24 hour news channel. Minutes later, I’m in a train…and it comes back to me. It’s after years that I’ve been to a temple on a festival. It’s something we did as a family. I don’t do it when I’m alone. And I can’t blame my dad for not finding a temple in the middle of the ocean while he’s sailing.

I smile.

Not because I enjoy the scent of underarm hair from the man standing right next to me. But because in my own way…and without knowing…I celebrated.

Saturday, November 3, 2007


Up until this point, I thought I had it covered. I had moved everything off the table. The computer, the cds, my endless line of hair gels, and random business cards I know I’ll never use in my life

Only one thing stood between making my room more spacious and making my dads already cramped room, more cramped….a big table, a small door!
The idea behind moving the computer table first occurred to me, when I realized I desperately needed more space in my room to do some morning jumping around in a futile attempt to stay in shape. The computer table (and the computer on it) was of no use to me because I prefer the laptop…and my father wasn’t at home to be able to oppose my brilliant plan.

Now, as I twisted, pushed, turned, pushed, lifted and pushed my large computer table…I realize that this was just NOT a match made in heaven.

My goal was to move this table out of my room. Actually my goal was to move this table into my dads room. No wait, my real goal was to have more space in my room… but then again….with every push, shove and a higher heart rate, I realized…its so important to loose focus in life…

Back to my, now strangely angled table and my reluctant door that would just not let me and my need of the hour through. When I took a moment, to breather and analyze the situation( and when I could no longer push) I realized what was getting jammed was a keyboard tray extension. “Great” I thought…. “Lemme just get the screw driver, unscrew the keyboard tray and I’ll be able to push this baby through”. I had the perfect plan and it was easy execute. I would realize only later…how wrong I had been.

So I crawled under the table, squeezed through whatever little place the table and the door offered me.. and I got out of my room…to find the screw driver.

Lemme take a moment, at this point, to describe my father’s room. Take a room. Shove a bed in it. Then, in the remaining space…get a carpenter to construct a wardrobe. In the four feet of space that remains, place five trunks that are of no value to you, but you refuse to give up. On top of the trunks (solid steel btw) have an unusually large make shift temple with a four feet idol of a hindu god. Now get seven other idols of that size…and leave the trunks (and the gods) in crowded misery. The bed, must be neatly made… the pillows stacked on the corner… and then you can dump about five feet of rubbish on it… to make sure not one inch of space is spared. You must remember at all times, a bed is not a place to sleep..but a 5x6 meter dumping ground…with a mattress that cushions all your junk!

Anyhow…so I rummaged through all of this. And what I assume was atleast 200 calories, and 20 mins later… I emerged out of my dads room with a screwdriver in my hand. Triumphant.

Here’s the thing. The problem with our mind is that, we tend to believe that the problem we’ve identified is THE ONLY problem. We like to believe that once we’ve all found our screwdrivers, life will be simple. We all believe that once we have that screwdriver in hand… the door and the table will magically part to welcome us into our own rooms. Always forgetting, that what has merely happened is that we’ve got so caught up in our next step to our final goal.. that we’ve forgotten what that goal was!

I realized at this point..I had no way of getting back in. While I had somehow managed to squeeze out of my room, getting in was going to be a lot harder. A stool, a lucky charm and some acrobatic moves later…I was now standing on top of my computer table….about three feet above the floor. And about half a feet of total space I could wedge myself into. The fact that the human spirit knows no boundaries, worked to my advantage here…. I got back into my room… and then said to myself.. “that’s it! Cake walk now”. Again, I’d realize minutes later.. how wrong I’d been!

To screw things up, well, that’s simple. I have 22 (wait, now 23) years of expertise in that area! If you want things to go horribly wrong, I’m just a phone call away. But to unscrew something, well, lets just say, this wasn’t what I majored in. I realized the keyboard tray was installed in such a way that you had to remove five other parts before you could get to where the keyboard screw was!

I can’t remember what happened next. I can’t remember at what point I gave up. I don’t even think I remember how I finally did manage to move the table from my room into my dads… what I do remember is that when it was all done… I said “Yes, I can finally work out in my room now. I have enough space!”

I’d have loved to lie in my bed and sleep after all that hard work. But my dad’s bed was out of question, well you know why! And my own, well that’s where I had put everything from the large table...and it was easily an hours work before I’d be able to move all of it away.

I slept on the couch in the living room that afternoon.

The next morning, as I dumped all the stuff from the bed into my father’s room… to add to his collection of certified junk (on his bed of course!), I said…yes…I finally have the space to workout!

I come back, at this point, to the point I was trying to make about focusing on the larger goal. The problem, as I learnt from my large table, small door experience is not that we don’t have goals. The problem doesn’t even lie in the fact that we get caught up in smaller tasks to achieve that big goal…. The problem, I think, is that we often begin to believe that getting on the path to GET THERE is the goal! And THAT is the problem.

If all was well, with my new found space.. I’d be working out in my room everyday. What I’d forgotten though, was that while I had the intention of getting into shape… I had absolutely no intention of working towards it. And that’s when I realized, while I identified a goal….I just identified, the wrong one!