Thursday, April 6, 2017

King of the Castle

Last night I slept in a house all alone.

A house that I had spent most of my life growing up in. I am 28 years old now and as I wake up on this morning of a summer haze in 2017, there is not a soul around. The cacophony of the television blaring in the wee hours, the whistling of the pressure cooker blowing off steam, the opening and closing of the doors in every other room, all has now vanished. As I child I was made fun of because I had soft corner for non-living things. I would want to carry everything with me to wherever I went because I felt that inanimate object would else feel bad. Later, I grew up. I threw away all that I felt was junk and detached ties with whatever I felt may have a memory but did not have a purpose. But today, I am that kid again. Memories, birthday parties, laughter, faces have come and gone. Colors have been painted over these walls time and again, now there are flowers everywhere and senseless hangings that have replaced the best of art from Van Gogh and Da Vinci. But some things have remained the same, the damaged floor which once was a mystery of mazes as each stone inside differed from the other, the wooden cupboards where I would sneak inside and hide from my enemies, the fan which would be the only sound heard through the night. We have stuck together through all these times and even today in my solitude I have you all as my friends.

This is my home for as long as I can call it my own, my sanctuary that detaches me from my present and drops me off at my past. When the time comes, I will have to bid goodbye to you too. My presence may no longer be around to touch you one last time or the other way round, but believe me when I say this. This house will always be my home.

Last night I slept at home all alone.


Tuesday, May 10, 2016

Hymns for the Weekend : Part 1 - The Imperial Cinema

As I feel the fur of my cat rub against my arm, I am back to my keyboard, keeping a promise of penning down my experiences rather than forget about them and let time give me a distorted description. The weekend that has passed was one of two very drastic days. One day I was alone, walking the streets of an unknown metropolis and yet speaking to myself while the other day had me in the company of many and yet I chose to be as quiet as a mouse. Carefully judging the characteristics, the mannerisms, the idiosyncrasies of the human kind.

I will choose to skip out the parts that would seem too mundane to write about and would rather hand the responsibility to somebody on Facebook who is probably high on the sugar in his Baileys. However, the morning began with some food that need not be talked of followed by a local train ride to a destination I had no clue of. Grant road was decided as that was the place where all my adventures usually began. This time the destination was Lamington road. The well acclaimed den of the taxidermists and surgeons of electronic products. As I descended on to the road, I expected to see a bulging cesspool of piracy and illegal consumption creeping up my legs, however I found no such sight. Maybe I had chosen to not dig deeper, maybe I did not want to know. I walked on down the road, hoping to find an adventure stuck between my toes.

As I was scavenging through my maps to find some interesting place to scurry off to, I lifted my head and to my left I laid my eyes upon what seemed to be an anomaly. Hidden behind some trees against the blazing sun stood a small theatre with a movie poster that was larger than the theatre itself. 'Imperial Cinema' read out the bright red letters with the chipped off paint and the movie that was playing was no recent blockbuster but one that had managed to survive the pages of time hidden in the secret compartments of cupboards and the hidden folders of our desktops. The film was called Tarzan but the main attraction of the movie was Lady Jane played by the evergreen Bo Derek with a wet shirt that had the right amount of visibility to clear the censors and attract the attention of wandering nobodys such as yours truly.

Usually I would rid my eyes off such profanities as I was too intellectual to stoop down to the underbelly of the society but that day, I was inclined for a reason nowhere close to Bo Derek or her assets. The name 'Imperial' got me interested as I had a slight feeling that there would be more to this place than just the sleaze painted over its walls.

As I crossed the road, I could see Bo Derek's shirt even more clearly now and I was wondering what in the world had being single brought me down to. If the world were to know about me visiting some B Grade movie theatre as a way to pass time during the weekends, I would surely have had a rough time explaining myself. But the mind had been made up, there was nothing more to be thought of as I approached the ticket counter and bought myself a 35 rupee ticket into a place which would welcome the lecherous eyes and the hollow hearts. But I was not too keen to enter into the dark abyss of the hall before doing some snooping around myself. As I walked past the hall, I noticed a staircase heading up on to a second floor. At first I was sceptical of being caught as I never liked being the one who would fall into trouble and have their parents come and bail them out of prison (For climbing up some stairs?!) but then I slowly managed to climb up only to find a urinal which had been built into a colonial structure that seemed to have been forgotten with the passing time. Heaps and heaps of garbage, beer bottles and what-not was all that I could see and I realised that negligence is a simple word to say but a much harder thing to clean up.

I realised that there was nothing much that I could do apart from walking into the hall and be at one with the scum of the society. As I pulled back a curtain which was followed by another curtain, I came face to face with the darkness and a stench that made me feel that I was now in a world where only few had taken up the courage to linger into. At first I found the first wooden (clean) chair that I could get my hands on and sat on it. The movie had just started and as my eyes got used to the darkness, I realised that there were only 5 to 6 more in the hall, scattered to different corners, having their own privacy to indulge into their desires. Bo Derek had just set foot on this mysterious land of tribals and had already made her appearance felt by slipping into the water and getting all wet. I decided to walk further ahead into the hall and get a better view of the entire space.

I noticed the balcony at the top and the louver windows by the sides and as my head arched towards the screen I realised this looked just like a stage that I had seen in the halls of Europe. I imagined a play being enacted where the screen stood today and the entire hall thriving with men in custom tailored suits and women in their gowns, excited to see their favourite actors perform under the lights. However, today it was just us few, in our second hand outfits and unkept beards. The ceiling fans up above me made me realise that I had not sat in a hall with fans ever before, it made me realise that I was in an unknown place, it was time to get back to my world.

On exiting the hall, I walked to an alternative entrance to this cinema which once might have been the only entrance. A majestic gate with the word 'Welcome' with two grand elephants guarding on both sides. The initials TMN inscribed which remain a mystery to me even today. I clicked a photograph of the entrance and as I write this, I come to find out 3 fun facts of this very place which I leave you with:

1. It is a 111 year old site that used to host orchestras at one point.
2. This Cinema was featured in the latest video of Coldplay - Hymn for the weekend
3. Today it's a very popular joint for Gays to get lucky.

More hymns for the weekend, coming soon!


Wednesday, May 4, 2016

I'm back

It isn't as hot as it is down in Mumbai but there is something about the summers here that bring me back to the road.

The sun isn't hurting me now, as a matter of fact it is hitting that part of my brain which is sending me back down memory lanes. Memory roads to be more specific. I pass tree after tree, field upon field as I keep driving in my car. The beads of sweat drift from my ear down my neck and into the abyss of my drenched shirt. I am trying to save on petrol owing to the large distance I am having to cover and more importantly, I have no intention of risking my 12 year old car in case it gives up on me on the excessive usage of the Air Conditioner. 2 years back I wasn't even here at this point. I was in the city of London exploring the city with my friends while everyone was crying in Delhi about how hot it had become. London was visited again nonetheless, her eyes and her sighs came with me this time. But now is not the time to go back to the nostalgia of Europe. Instead, it was time to remember what I was and a part of me still is.

Mumbai is a new experience altogether and I am by myself. But I had made this choice to venture out and see the city of dreams and become one with it. Having completed a little more than a year in this madness, I can safely say that I have done my fair share of exploration but I'm hungry for more.

I come to you in a completely new avatar now. In between I had been a man lost in love, broken in love and now detached from love. I have taken to new interests and new likes that have fuelled my passions of seeking the unknown. Earlier it was to feel the love of someone whom you are mad about, but that might have to wait. Maybe a decade or two. However, as I get back to my new found goal, (which keeps changing from time to time) it lies in doing what I will regret not doing as soon as I am endowed with some thing called responsibilities.

I have always been a fan of history and more of modern than ancient. I do not need to know what naked men and women used to dig and dance to for those times are gone and we are now children of our doings in the past, not in another life. 200 years from now is what interests me the most and the smallest of remnants that may exist of our past which I may still be able to find hidden in the present world. I am lucky to still be able to touch stones that were laid centuries back and feel gaps that may have been made by an artist from yesteryear.

Enchanted by a world with the same monuments, the same architecture, the same letters engraved in stone, only in a time which had lesser people and but grandeur plans for the days to come. I end this note with one of the many photographs I have started capturing of a time gone by but in some places, lives on in my heart.

I shall see you sooner than you can miss me.


Saturday, October 3, 2015

The Long Road

She had always meant for it to last forever. He knew this was the right way to move ahead in life. It was the logical thing to do. She stretched her arm out to him and he thought that holding it would make her feel nice and so he did. The wind blew her hair over her face as she smiled through those strands. He was happy that she felt this way. Her hands were cold as ice and he always seemed to have the warm and soft ones. He let the ice of her hands melt on him, it was a feeling similar to that in his heart. He did not feel warm inside, he just felt, nothing. As the rains of Mumbai started to fall on them, he escorted her to the nearest taxi and bid her goodbye. As he turned around to walk back home, she had been watching him the entire time as the car moved away from him. Till he was nothing but a small speck in the distance, till a drop fell on it and it trailed the length of the window out of her sight.

Now, his hands were not as soft as before. He was struggling to keep them warm. He had his only thick jacket on him to keep him from freezing as he trudged along the path up the mountain. Surrounded by the thick trees of Transylvania, he stared up at the skies which had turned grey now. It would be snowing soon. He had grown a beard since then and shed a couple of kilos. As for her, he never saw her again after that rainy night and today he woke up to know that she was somebody else's. He let the cold numb his regret and the pain in his knees drown his sorrow. His solitude was his fate and he would embrace it. He had shared the laughs, the smiles, the arguments, the fights but there always seemed to be a part of him that was selfish. To live a life less ordinary is what he looked out for and today, no one knew where he was and what he was up to. Each day was another struggle to survive, a story to be told. From being the center of her world to be being ousted from it, he was now a renegade, a dark memory, a speck of dust on a photograph.

He was now ready, to erase her from his mind and as a last tribute to this solemn occasion, he shouts out her name, one last time. The air from his lungs comes out as a cloud as the scream echoes through the trees. Birds fly out in alarm as the words bounce off the Carpathians and back to his ears.

And then there was silence, as if someone had pressed the mute button. And in that silence, a flake of snow drops from the skies, beside the mountains, missing the trees and on his face. And this time, he felt warmth.

Thursday, March 5, 2015

Ground Control to Major Tom

I heard a song today. It was called Space Oddity by David Bowie with a girl's voice that came in between as well.
She soothed me as the Bourbon flowed through my veins. It talked of a man going to space and drifting away into space sitting in a tin can.
The feeling resonates with me, the one to drift away into space and be away from all this animosity, this hatred, this jealousness and this constant nagging. The time has come yet again, to shed my skin, forget all those who mattered who I thought mattered and step in through the door. This room was too old now, the walls were worn out, the carpet was dirty, the bed was creaking now. As the sun came in through the window and made the dust dance as if snow was falling in space. The third glass of bourbon was on its way now, the stubble had to go. Patience has become my virtue, I have controlled my loss but that glimmer of hope is on its way yet again. I wish nothing of it, this solitude is just fine. Keep away ye scurvy sea dogs, I go down with this sinking ship and arise yet again from the ashes. I had read somewhere that my birth month was that of the phoenix. I for some reason believe in it, many a time I have been through these maladies but I have always recovered. I shall do it once more.

The rest now lie in the feet for me to run, run as if there was a green football field with blue skies and a stream running beside it.

Saturday, February 28, 2015

The Son of Humanity

His pyjamas dragged on the dirt as he walked past the thousands with his mother.

Holding onto her finger, his face stared at the ground that passed beneath his feet, kicking the odd stone, skipping over a lonesome hole and letting his eyes follow the lone plastic bag that swayed in the air. He did not know where it might be tomorrow and what was it doing yesterday but he hoped that it had once been the proud possession of a kind hearted man. Today it was alone, ignored, defeated but hopeful. As he lifted his head towards the skies, he saw the crows hover up above and as they glided past each other, they slowed down and perched themselves upon on a minaret. This was the minaret of the Nawab Masjid, a mosque in the heart of the Muslim colony of Bhendi Bazar. He looked at the hand that was holding his and the aroma of rose that came from it, the sleeve of her burqa was a dark shade of pink, matching the colour on her nails. In the 6 years of his life, he had never seen the colour on those nails change nor even fade. Maybe she was born with such nails, maybe he might grow up to have them too.

The ground beneath his feet turned into hard cemented steps, he felt his knees bend as he ascended into the great hall that shielded him from the scorching sun. He took his free hand and felt the wall next to him, the slippery dust caught on as he felt the coolness spread over his palm. There was an air of familiarity here, the ground was now in the form of patterns, traversing from beneath his feet and over his eyes, under his arms and into the far reaches of the ceiling above him which was in the shape of a large dome. He felt as if he was in the presence of something high and mighty.He had felt a similar feeling someplace else. The carpet below his feet pricked his feet as he walked on it, he had the option of coming on to the floor but it was too cold. He lifted his foot and looked beneath it to see red marks poked in like holes. Like small craters they flourished over his bare white skin. She told him to kneel down and start praying. As he closed his eyes and knelt down, he remembered the day before.

Echoes of bells ringed through his ears, the smell of incense sticks flooded his nose, there was crowd, there was clutter and all he could see in the darkness was a man's hand reaching out to his and clutching it tightly. His neatly combed hair was now a ruffle, the red tilak on his forehead was a smudge. He was shouting out in despair for a while now but none paid heed to him. Finally, a face appeared from the darkness and with both arms, lifted him up from the darkness and out in the open. A fish out of water he felt like, the brightness blinded him for a bit but he was relieved to be out there. If he was the fish then what lay in front him was the sea, a sea of hundreds clad in white and red, slowly trudging through the corridors of this shrine. The sign above him read 'Santoshi Mata Mandir' and his feet were hurting just as they are today. He looked at the hands holding him, firm hands they were, hairy with a shade of salt and pepper on them. He felt the number of rings on them and counted up to a total of 4. Two of them had stones on them and the other two were gold. The rings were as cold as the floor of the temple. He looked up at the face and it was one that he had always been a little scared of. The bristles of his moustache stood like sentinels and his eyes stared straight ahead as if they were hunting for food. Between his eyes was the tilak brandished right up to his hair. He stared at the tilak for quite some time, till he was shaken from his thoughts back into the masjid.

He was back home now, surrounded by those who loved him and those who defined him. The lady with the pink nails and the man with the red tilak stared at him as he stared back at them. His eyes were moist with tears as he wailed to the two about his day at school. Children picked on him for being an outcast, even the teachers weren't very nice to him either. This was not the first time this was happening, it had been going on for the past few months ever since he started going to school. The man and woman did not know who to blame, was it themselves, was it the community or was it the crazy mania that had surrounded this country. They did not wait to think over this, they could not change it. They decided that till the time was right, they would be his teachers. He would learn of the world, what lies beyond the boundaries of this land and make sure that he gets to visit those lands one day. He will learn to love one day and be loved as well.

For he was not the son of a Hindu or a Muslim, he was the son of humanity.


Friday, February 27, 2015

Springtime Sadness

Killing time. That is all I have been doing ever since I landed here. I wait for the lunch hour, the dinner hour, I make my own breakfast, I visit shops, I jog, I wander, I dream of running away from here. It’s strange, I always considered myself as one who could live in solitary confinement for as long as I wished but as of now, the feeling is excruciating. During my days of academic preparation, I lay in the same state except there was an objective at hand, something had to be done and more importantly, I was not compromised. The heart, lay still, unfazed, unused, unadulterated. The rush of hormones within my body has started once again. Something that I longed to feel for 8 long years post my mental rollercoaster of a girl issue. It is the imagination that is to blame over here. I have gone beyond the roof of this house, swam into the skies, passed over the grassy plains, the deserted villages, the haunting warehouses, the winding roads, the forested hills and right on top of the snow covered mountains. Like a helpless ghost I stand there, looking at the world. A resemblance can be made to Ebenezer Scrooge who watches the Cratchit family eat in joy while I stand and sulk in silence. It is my forte, to sulk. I choose to ignore such things and focus on the task at hand but even the silence tends to kill me. Forgotten, forsaken, not one ring has come onto my phone. I don’t mind the silence, I will soon get over it but what happens when it does ring again? A glimmer of hope rises once more, I feel loved, appreciated, accepted till it has gone once again into the oblivion. It is better to go off the radar, begone but what if there is an emergency and I need to be contacted? Who are you kidding? Nobody is going to be in an emergency and nobody is going to call you. I don’t say that I’d rather be somewhere else but is it wrong of me to feel this sense of loss? I had felt the same when I had missed out on my US trip but technology was a friend of mine, it had refused to evolve till then. I had no clue what was up over there while my Mom had the time of her life and thankfully, I had my girl by my side to console me. Best days of my life, best.

Karma has a way of telling me that I shall be rewarded from what I am doing but Karma is no well-defined rule. But wait, I’m being selfish again, I know that its wrong. I must move on. But then do me a favour, don’t tell me anything. Don’t tell me about the fun, the frolic, the beer, the games, the what ifs and the what not ifs because my mind runs crazy imagining the walls, the fragrance, the laughter, the slaughter. I’m glad nobody will read this. They might lose whatever respect they have for me. Sometimes, its better to just stay unnoticed, but keep it like that, my solitude is my friend and nobody can take it away from me, nobody.