Wednesday, May 19, 2010

On way back from Gym.

I already liked him because he was the only one who stopped and agreed to take me to Prabhadevi. Plus His taxi was a Santro which, lets be honest here, is a tad above our normal Premier Padminis.

You know, Taxiwallahs are the most loquacious of all profession defined classes in Bombay. He just got talking about why Prabhadevi would be his last stop, how he needed to turn in early in order to reach Bandra Terminus at 4:00 am to court the dozens of passenegers who get off the early morning Saurashtra Express, how the early to bed and early to rise principle really saw him through life and how you are the own maker of your destiny …..And then suddenly out of the blue dropped the rubies of his experience taught wisdom.

“Kyunki Madam Ji,” he said, “Health is Wealth and Wealth is Not Health.” In perfectly, grammatically correct English.

Me: Repeat Please

Dubey Ji (Sirname escaped during the long tirade he was giving earlier): “Health is Wealth and Wealth is Not Health.
Haan Madam, Aadmi ke paas takat nahi rahega toh itna rupaiyah ka ka karega?”

Me: Hmmming in agreement.

Dubey Ji: (suddenly feeling the need to purge his soul in front of me) Madam, (still in English, mind you) I am 37 years old, married for twenty and I have no kids.”

Switch to Hindi: My wife cries everyday, has been crying for the past eighteen years….. why did He not bless us with a kid…. We tried everything….. even a test tube baby ( I kid you not He used the words Test Tube Baby in his sentence)

Me Shocked: “Artificial Insemination Kya????”

Dubey Ji: Haan Haan Wahi
(In Hindi) Spent 80000 bucks and still issueless. Have already coughed up four lakhs to cuddle a baby in my arms. After the first failure the Doctor said that you being a driver and a mediocre one at that don’t waste more money on repeated attempts at fertilization and like every sagacious/escapist Doctor he also left our happiness to Gods partiality.

Me: Hmmming in sympathy.

Dubey Ji:
(In Hindi) But you know, Beta my brothers children are my children now. Its for their future that I toil now. My wife, she cries everyday. I tell her why the tears? Your womb had been left motherless but has soul emptied itself of love too? She has gradually reconciled. These days her main agenda is to get them fat with all the food that she makes the whole day.

Me: How many children does your brother have?

Dubey Ji: Six.

Me: Hunh?

Dubey: Yes Ji. Five girls and the youngest one is a baby boy. Bas Abhi toh betiyon ki shaadi ache parivaar mein karani hai, dahej ka paisa jamana ha. (Now the main priority is to get my girls married in good households and save up for the dowry).

Me: Clucking in disapproval. (Fourteen years of convent school, Harriet Beecher Stowe, and Louisa Alcott during adolescence, Maxim Gorky and Arundhati Roy during adulthood and then the Dahej word comes up. What else do you expect except for clucks of disapproval?!)

Me to myself: Chauvinist! Maybe it’s a good thing you don’t have babies if they are all going to end up being sold like cattle….

Dubey Ji: My mother, Madam, tells me that’s its not too late for me, she can get me a good looking, healthy wife from my village (FYI: His village happens to be in Pratapgarh district in UP) who will bear me lots of kids. But I say, no mother. What would happen to the woman who has made a home for me these twenty years? It is her I married and it is with her that I will remain, kids or no kids.

Me: Silently approving.

Dubey Ji: It is true na Madam, shaadi is no joke….. she gets me and I try my best to… we are happy….

Me: Kitni acchi baat boli aapne. Kya naam hai aapki biwi ka?

Dubey Ji: That I don’t know madam. She came to my chawl in Bombay as Tiwary’s daughter and she is now Dubey’s Mrs. I call her Shrimati Ji and she uses an “Ohhh” sound to address me.

I don’t know, whether it happens anywhere else but it happens in India and it happens in Bombay where a non descript Taxi wallah can touch your heart and teach you that Life will never stop teaching.

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Genius doesn’t go hand in hand with normalcy. (Thought for the day.)

“You are a mercurial person. Your steadiness factor is in the grey zone.” Says M. When M. says so, it must be so cause M is trained to analyze various personality types. In plain words, “You are plain psycho. And not in a cool way either”, says he.
I agree but what I want to rant about is not the verdict but the way out or the way forward after the verdict.

Yes, I am mad.
Yes I am psyched out.
Yes I am temperamental
Yes I am commitment phobic.

So, now what? Well, don’t such people have jobs? How do they survive in jobs? Every mad, mentally unstable person does not become a psychopath or a Beethoven. Many mercurial persons whose steadiness factor is in the grey zone survive and exist as clerks, bankers, salesmen, analysts, government officials…. How do they balance their mundanity and madness before giving it all up?

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Ode to when you are 25+

This wasnt written by me..... but this person whoever she or he is has so beautifully and succintly put in words the myriad emotions that I have been going through these past few months. Its almost like a mirror talking to you.

Being Twenty-Something" ------------------------ They call it the "Quarter-life Crisis." It is when you stop going along with the crowd and start realizing that there are many things about yourself that you didn't know and may not like.
You start feeling insecure and wonder where you will be in a year or two, but then get scared because you barely know where you are now.

You start realizing that people are selfish and that, maybe, those friends that you thought you were so close to aren't exactly the greatest people you have ever met, and the people you have lost touch with are some of the most important ones. What you don't recognize is that they are realizing that too, and aren't really cold, catty, mean or insincere, but that they are as confused as you.

You look at your job... and it is not even close to what you thought you would be doing, or maybe you are looking for a job and realizing that you are going to have to start at the bottom and that scares you.

Your opinions have gotten stronger. You see what others are doing and find yourself judging more than usual because suddenly you realize that you have certain boundaries in your life and are constantly adding things to your list of what is acceptable and what isn't. One minute, you are insecure and then the next, secure. You laugh and cry with the greatest force of your life.

You feel alone and scared and confused. Suddenly, change is the enemy and you try and cling on to the past with dear life, but soon realize that the past is drifting further and further away, and there is nothing to do but stay where you are or move forward.

You get your heart broken and wonder how someone you loved could do such damage to you. Or you lie in bed and wonder why you can't meet anyone decent enough that you want to get to know better. Or maybe you love someone but love someone else too and cannot figure out why you are doing this because you know that you aren't a bad person.

One night stands and random hook ups start to look cheap. Getting wasted and acting like an idiot starts to look pathetic. You go through the same emotions and questions over and over, and talk with your friends about the same topics because you cannot seem to make a decision. You worry about loans, money, the future and making a life for yourself... and while winning the race would be great, right now you'd just like to be a contender!

What you may not realize is that everyone reading this relates to it. We are in our best of times and our worst of times, trying as hard as we can to figure this whole thing out. Send this to your twenty something friends.... maybe it will help someone feel like they aren't alone in their state of confusion.....

Bless You. Bless You. Bless You Sweetheart.

Friday, November 6, 2009

When you are 25......+

You are older and none the less wiser.
You cant call Mommy anymore and cry your heart out. Coz you’ll get Mommy worried.
If you are 25+ that means Mommy’s growing older too.
Mommy has finally let go of the apron strings. So even if you want to, you can’t go weeping and whining to Mommy.

Daddy doesn’t insist that the boys you go out with, come home to pick you up so that he can size them up.
Daddy cant set every thing right. Daddy is not Superman anymore.
Daddy cant beat the Bad guys away.
Daddy’s gonna be retiring soon. He is still the Hero but a little flabby. Daddy gets senti more often than usual.

Daddy and Mommy yap about Kalyanam.
Daddy and Mommy yap about “Varans” in the waiting.
At 25, you are shit scared of loving and loosing again.
At 25 you are still stupid enough to love again and not strong enough to loose again and be K with it.

You gotta start on them Age defying creams….
Visits to the parlour become necessary rather than a luxury.

You are finally aquainted with cynicism in bits and pieces.
They harp on the “Independent” crap a little too much.
Your contemporaries’ inquisitiveness is not related to who you are doing, but whether you are getting to do it or not.
Being single is automatically equated with, “Independent Power Crazy, High Maintenance woman”
If you cry and throw a fit it gets related to, “Oh that time of the month, ha?!”

You cant cry in office. You start understanding the nuances of Managed Behavior.

It becomes important to have a career.
Its not longer “Coool” when you don’t have any idea about what to do in life.
Worse still you have no idea what to want in life.
Tapri ki chaai becomes the rare occasion and watery Iced Tea is sipped more often than not.

Friends start getting married.
Friends start following the calendar to plan their family.
Friends start telling you, “Abhi tu bhi settle ho jaa. Khub kar li masti”
You are in two minds about making it to the School reunion……you are not that thin…. Not as successful as you hoped you’d be, not that active a social life….. but you cant wait to see the other losers on the same boat as you!!!!!!

You start grocery shopping alone.
Living in a hostel cramps your style.
The “live in” relationship that you thought you will have when u’ll turn 25 is replaced by a desperate plea for permanent acceptance in someone’s life.

Your sentences begin with, "In my opinion....."

You begin to realize that even flings can have repercussions.
It begins to hurt a lil when every guy just wants to get into your pants. (It still gives the best high tho….. 25+ and still got it just as good :) :)
TV becomes the faithful companion…..
Roommates the family….

You begin to realize that you have such few friends…..
Birthdays are looked forward to with the same enthusiasm as dental appointments.
You need to have a Gynecologist, a general physician, a dentist, a masseur, a beautician existing in your Phonebook.
Crank calls are way tooo juvenile.

You stop partying and go clubbing…..
Instead of checking the price tag on clothes, you first check out the size…..

The “elders” are not elders anymore…..
You actually begin to take them seriously when they go the, “Switch to Olive Oil, reduce Salt content….. start meditating” way.

Desperate efforts are made to pump up the Bank Balances.
And what else……..

Please guys add on more..................

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

What if what is now is what will be. Then what are we living for? What if there isn’t a better time? What if there isn’t going to be any retribution? What if this present state of affairs is what would continue all my freaking life. Then hope becomes an unnecessary fiend, an unwanted intrusion, an unsolicited falsehood that generates expectation and thereby hopelessness, betrayal, fear, anxiety, frustration, despair, gloom and misery, sad sad misery.

Isn’t the absence of Hope called Dystopia? But how does the presence of it bring utopia? Utopia does not exist. Hope seems to make you think that it does. I might hope for a gazillion things and even work to achieve them but when I am left bereft of them wouldn’t it have been better had I not desired them in the first place. I think the root cause for hope is Desire. Desire is the fucking whore who gave birth to Hope.

Well, this turmoil in my head has taken a more poignant form. I continuously hear voices inside me all the time. They are mostly self deriding, self depreciating, mocking with an ugly sense of humor. They hurt. They mock. They curse.

But I want them to. That’s the penance for not being brave. That’s the salvation for not looking truth in the eye and moving on. It is almost as if you Believe you are growing mad but you Know you are not. It is that you actually Want to go mad because then your world will be separated from theirs. Then you would be inside the shell of a stigma. The label of Madness, Mental collapse would not let you face up to the truth of your emptiness. Go mad. Go mad.

I need to, I want to, I have to run away.
I need to, I want to, I have to lick my self inflicted wounds in isolation. I cannot be a friend to you, to the very few of you who are left in my life.

These voices, my voices, they are not alien. I have had them inside, I think, since college or from the third year of college. Before that hedonism was still attractive enough to make me dream and consider current imperfection as temporary or unimportant.
Sometimes I could, very correctly identify the other lesser mortals like me who were burning in their own anguish, who were fighting against themselves everyday, every minute. We naturally got attracted to each other.

One of them is dead. She is the late Ms Raunak Tyrewalla. I have never, never written your name Raunak after you killed yourself. I am so doing so today unashamedly. And save for the quickening of my heartbeat, I am experiencing nothing. Not even guilt at vainly taking your name after fervently wishing for your soul to rest in peace.

Why am I doing this? Attention. I want the people reading this imbecile excuse for wasting time to consider it non normal. I want the fucking sympathy. I want the pity. I want the falsehood of “oh you poor troubled child!”. I hate, I abhor the crude, cruel, callousness of “Everything is alright. This will soon pass. Do not think so much.” “Do not take life so seriously.” That’s the anathema, I recoil away from. The few friends who could see thorough the fa├žade were candid enough to say so. I could have ripped them apart. I hated them. I hate them. I go out of the way to showcase my indifference.

I Want people to feel sorry for me and my life and for what it could have been. Their pity would give my “could have would have been life” the respect and notice that it deserves. The respect, which my actions have never been able to perpetuate. Today, in a place where I have not risen to conspicuousness through deeds or words… do I attract attention? How do I ensure that even I am worth being considered, discussed, pitied or admired? I shun company so that my solitude is noticed. I drive my body to the limit, so that my weakness causes concern, I run till I drop so that obsession can be associated with me, I abuse my body through alien substances so people can call me a rebel, I feign indifference towards work so that my ineptitude cannot be seen, I proactively declare that I shun success so that they don’t come to know that success only kindles those who deserve her.

What’s even worse is that I am surrounded by people with character, strength and resolve. People, who sort of ignore the enormity of life and make peace with everyday mundanity. People who have sacrificed a million what if’s for one Now, because of love. It is unfortunate that I am born of such people. I cannot even run away to oblivion because of their ungrounded, unjustified faith in me.

I know these voices are fickle. They are vain and temperamental. I know I can make them go away as easily as they had come to set shop. I first of all need to face my mediocrity, my ignorance, my incapability and make amends with them. I must learn to make peace with this Now. Because it is this Now, that has put a roof over my head, money to spend and the luxury to obsess about my depression.

My “what ifs” are purely a function of my dissatisfaction of being a cog in the huge wheel of Now. My “what ifs” are not grounded in reality. My “what ifs” are not backed by recognition. My “whats ifs” will again start changing form when I start striving towards some of them. You can never give a tangible form to dissatisfaction.

Yes, I work in a huge organization where I have no talent to show, no intellect to impress, no initiative to be appreciated, no discipline that can be recognized. I cannot make sense of numbers and yet that is what I am required to do. Everyday. Yes, my finances are not planned. Yes, people would never approach me for an opinion. Yes, I am almost always silent when discussions take place at meetings. Yes, the part that I like about my work is the part which requires me to replicate the dumb perseverance of a mule. Yes, I feel safe when I am just replicating the tried and the tested and processes or methods are never put to question. Yes I like being told what to do and doing it. Yes.

“So what?” is what I need to ask myself? So what if you are mediocre? So what if you do not outperform? There are billions who wake up with every sunrise and embrace each day in the same manner that they had embraced yesterday. Billions wake up everyday to provide for the family, to work to earn money, to perform to get promoted and go to bed everyday seemingly satisfied with the intransigence of routine. I shall do so too. I shall inculcate attention to the detail in the smallest of mundane tasks. Four years have been enough to make me realize that I haven’t got the talent or the knowledge required to excel in this field. Well then I wont excel. I will exist. Why is that bad? I am not even too fond of this line of work. But, I will learn what there is to be learnt. I will cram up for the next promotion. I will put on a brave face in the event of my failure. I will pretend that not getting that promotion did not hurt. I will be silent but absorbing during all meetings. I have existed for four years. I will continue to exist for many more. When I do not have the balls to take a chance on me and chart my own future, I must at least have the balls required to accept the present that has been shown to me. And Its not that bad a Present.

But, you know what? I cannot do this. I cannot just exist. I will invariably come up with poor, pathetic, desperate attempts at attracting attention or conspicuousness, I shall contemplate a fainting spell in a few minutes from now……

I will never be satisfied without taking a chance with my “what ifs”. I can never be secure in my mediocrity.

Sunday, October 4, 2009

Baarish hai toh cheeta toh padega hi!!!

I was just browsing through the various documents saved under the folder named “Blogs”. There is one that says, “Ode to 2008”, which has been left Ode less….. Along with it comes the realization that 2009 will be over in another three months and all that has transpired in these nine long months is that I have lost a kilogram or two. I still am employed with the same organization and am still in the state of fear inducing, paralyzing inertia that has enabled me to absolutely vegetate in front of the screen. 2009 has brought home the realization that this inertia is definitely not going to get me a promotion in 2010. But 2009 has also got with it the, “Do I really care?” syndrome, which sort of mollifies the fact that my vegetation is a total blasphemy on life itself! I am just four or five blogs older in 2009. I was single in 2008 and still am in 2009. I was beginning to wish to be alone in 2008 and I am alone in 2009. I think I am ridden of my obsession but it still comes back to me in sudden phases. My weakness has not yet become an addiction. Though I still cannot bid it Goodbye. He got married this year. Life for so many around me has taken a 360* turn.

An entire year. An entire year. An entire year……. One millionth of a miniscule part for space….but an entire lifetime for me. All I can come up with is a list of “Did nots”
Did not take FRM.
Did not take that stupid CAIIB.
Did not apply for MA.
Did not travel enough.
Did not write enough.
Did not love enough.
Did not find The Guy.
Did not work enough.
Did not even cry enough.
Did not figure out the Plan.

Back from Ahmedabad, last night, sitting in an auto rickshaw drenched to the skin and taking in huge gulps of the adulterated rain kissed air, I was happy to be back in Bombay. Stuck in traffic for what seemed like eons, I started to think of the numerous “What Ifs” 2009 had shown me, which I have been incompetent enough to give form to.

Jolting me from this reverie was a BMT bus that rushed past drenching me with muck. I screamed.

“Kya Hua Madam?” asked the rickshaw driver.
“Arree who Bus ki wajah se cheeta padh gaya mere pe.”
“Arre madam, Baarish hai toh Cheeta toh padega hi! Humko bhi toh poda! Aap aise chillaye, humko laga kuch ho gaya hai…….”

I think, this is what people have come to call the “Spirit of Bombay,” Plain complacence with everything around you. Quiet resignation to imperfection. Mass impotence to change things around you. A million people who share a communal state of constant melancholy that just accepts traffic jams, road blocks, open gutters, acres of ugly slums, destitution, filthy trains, overcrowded buses, muck and slush, air pollution, water scarcity, corrupt leaders, inept teachers, avaricious bureaucrats as permanent fixtures in their existential existence.

“Haan Ji. Baarish hai toh cheeta toh padega hi.”
See Bombay, after two of years of living with you, even my life has come to imbibe the “Spirit of Bombay”. I no longer live. I exist.

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Everything is gray. Everything is gray.
I want to go back to the time, when This was White and That was Black.
There is anonymity in Gray, there is ambiguity in Gray….
I want the safety of, This is Good and That is Bad.
They are so well defined. Why did Gray creep in?
When did Gray creep in? When Black and White were being defined, how come Gray creeped in?
Stealthily, Silently...
Wrapping me, wrapping all of us in its comfortable shroud....
Surrounding us with its officiousness.

Gray doesn’t allow any judgment.
Gray doesn’t allow you to be judgmental.
Gray accommodates everybody, everything.
Gray always forgives.
Gray is what everybody is, everything is…..

White and Black, Good and Bad, True and False, Beautiful and Ugly are all so exclusive, so sure of their definition, so elusive, free from association with commoners.

What is it to be Brave?
It is to be:
Pure White
Pure Black.



Gray, well that’s for all of us, who just….. Exist.