It was a brightly lit evening and we drove through town, chasing drunken taillights and liquor highs, caffeine stops and neon signs, Steven Wilson to keep the head buzzing and some Warren Zevon to mellow our moods and I asked you why this night seems to go on forever and you just smiled and put your hand in mine, and I forget what your exact words were but you told me what my heart already knew. We were following the dancing lights, or maybe the lights flickered in rhythm with our dance, mimicking our frolic, matching our frenzy, the city was alive just for us, writing poetry to our music, watching as our words mingled together, poetry and prose, music and lyrics, a glorious symphony playing out beneath artificial lights, witnessing a fusion of mangled souls mirrored perfectly unto each other.
In the crudest sense of the word, I’m a bucket.
Born as an empty shell, I’ve been collecting pearls all my life. Pearls of wisdom. Dripping ink and blood-stained words. Screaming orgasms and the charred remains of dark, gruesome, incestuous fantasies. Moss-covered memories dipped in snow, sore joints and ashes strewn on mountain slopes. But the bucket is not nearly close to full. I could fit the universe in there. I could hold a galaxy suspended in the cold dregs of coffee swirling at the bottom of the bucket.
There was a second that blew past the slow pace of a fast life – a second in which wants vanished, love faded, wounds healed and space folded unto itself as a smooth, unending expanse of all existence. In that second, the bucket tipped over and emptied itself, to be reborn as an empty shell again. I’m in my infancy, there is no meaning to purpose, existence; even meaning has no meaning. I’m empty and open wide, blown with the wind, moved by a silent whisper and infused with a melody that threatens to fill me to the brim and overflow my entire being.
One moment you’re overly conscious of your existence, painfully aware of each rasping breath you take after smoking too many cigarettes, the silent assimilation of energy inside your core, the relentless exploration of every inch of your mind like the impatient, hungry tongue of a lover snaking into your mouth. The next moment you’re fleeing down the highway with your headlight buddies – joyful, fleeting, racing, dancing, snowballing, zooming into the welcoming darkness, the end of the tunnel, the eternally evasive shadow, the very purpose of your existence.
And here I am, lost within the madness of it all. I’ve begun writing poetry and composing songs in my sleep that are beyond beautiful, and which I cannot recollect when my transcendent presence ends and the corporeal one begins. And still I persist, bound ever so strongly and grappling with the half of me that belongs in the otherworld, haunted by the daunting lights blinking to glory at dusk and the spirits beckoning me with promises of peace.
Instagram is depressing me.
I overheard a couple at a café the other day. The girl wanted to travel the world and take pictures everywhere. So the man painted her a beautiful picture of all the trips they would take together. In the end, he promised, “Baby, I will make you the queen of Instagram if that’s what you want.” Now, isn’t that just lovely?
Instagram is now the countryside home with a white picket fence, the Everest for the aesthetics and an unsolicited portfolio of kids and booty.
I get it, people. You want to strut your stuff and share tidbits of your fascinating lives with the world. Just… don’t share every minute of it. Save some of the most important moments for you and you alone.
I was moved to tears today, listening to Maxim Vengerov performing Sibelius. I was lost in the music and I shut the world out. Such moments come rarely to me and they mean a lot, because they remind me that I can feel. This is the link if anyone wants to check it out.
It was almost like a summer romance; a friendship that was as sudden and unlikely as rains in March. The three of us first met on a train speeding to Delhi – the start to an awesome trek in the Himalayas. One was a lanky curly-haired boy of 21, who alternated dangerously between acting like he’s five, or getting lost deep in thought. The other was a sweet-looking helpful girl who I didn’t really interact with during the trek… Not in my wildest dreams did I think three such varied individuals would become inseparable within less than a month’s time.
It began simply for one reason, that of the trekking group of 15 or so, we were the only three people who had ‘time’ on our hands. We were all unemployed; I was awaiting professional qualification after which I was sure to start job-hunting, and these two were 2 years younger than me and had much lesser worries of education and jobs.
And so it began. We were like three forever-hungry and almost-always-broke teenagers, and on most days we had no option but to lock ourselves in my room, shut the blinds and watch back-to-back movies, since we could not afford going out. On lucky days when one of us had some money, we treated ourselves to chicken subs and wraps, and that too secretly, as it was in addition to what my Mom used to prepare for lunch.
Now, I had already realized that living with the parents past The Twenties is a big disadvantage. To top that, these two taking up residence plus dining in my room, was maddening enough for my parents, but they were pretty much helpless, save the weekly fights we had on the ‘kind of friends I bring into the house’, and how ‘I was wasting my life’. Nothing unusual there…
We all knew this was short-lived, and would come to an end once one of us started working, or my parents decided to throw us all out, whichever happened earlier. We thus had an unspoken pact to spend every waking moment together. We prepared bucket lists of movies and series to watch, and devoured brilliant films of every possible genre, day after day.
The evenings were the highlight of our time together. The best part about my building is a terrace on the 10th floor, which has a splendid view of mountains and city lights around the necklace-shaped bend in the road on one side, and speeding lights of cars zooming down the highway on the other. It was this terrace that had become our sanctuary, and here we retreated to enjoy our evenings with delicious chicken steamed Momos, and some John Mayer playing in the background.
Conversations were never needed on such evenings. We were dreamers, artists in our own ways. Silence itself was our conversation, and we were often at peace, lost in synchronized thoughts, perhaps… When the moon rose and the sky reminded us of the nights spent in the Himalayas under a glorious blanket of stars, I knew we all felt that connection some alive within us.
Looking back on those days right now, I would honestly be perplexed at how we spent 2 months doing absolutely nothing productive or worthwhile to boast of. But then I remember the laughs, the music, the fights, the wrestling, occasional partying, and I know they were magical days we may never get back… A life-long summer friendship, and some moments of peace that vanish in a heartbeat…
Housing.com is this new wonderful thing on real estate that everyone’s been talking about… Although personally I doubt I could find something there as wonderful as my terrace and these long-past moments with friends!
I saw him the moment I walked into the café. He wasn’t hard to miss, as he sat alone at the table in the corner. He sat hunched over a sheaf of papers, a cigarette dangling from his lips. He wore a black leather jacket that fit him smugly. His hair stretched curly and unkempt towards his shoulders, and he grew a rough beard that gave him the overall appearance of a burly biker dude who rode into town only once in 6 months, and that too for a haircut and a shave. There was a cup of coffee on the table before him, and next to it, an ashtray with the stubbed ends of 3 cigarettes, and a music player with earphones plugged in.
As I walked in, he looked up and waved. He rose to give me a small hug, and as we sat back down, I noticed that he had looked a lot leaner, fitter in the pictures. I looked questioningly at the papers before him, and silently he shuffled back the pages and laid the bunch before me. It was Leonard Cohen. ‘You’ve read him?’ he asked me. I told him no, and he gave an inert smile. Before long, we were jumping from poets to authors to music to movies, and spoke of our shared love for Woody Allen movies, and Hank Moody.
In between laughing over tales of drunken bar fights and shady dealings in drugs, he quietly asked me, ‘Tell me one significant event of your life in the past 5 years…’
And I replied, ‘My life began 3 months ago. I guess that is significant enough.’
He stared back at me impassively. His eyes bore into mine, and in his long, measured glance, I willed my eyes to pour out the story to him. Maybe they did, because finally he took a long drag on his cigarette, and his mouth turned up in a slow drawn-out smile. A smile that later left me wondering what it was that he read in my eyes. But in that moment, I knew he understood exactly what I meant.
For a long time, we both said nothing. He settled back, and lit another cigarette, with an expression that meant he was done asking the questions, and that it was my turn. His demeanor was so relaxed it made me fidgety. I shifted uncomfortably in my chair and racked my brains to come up with a topic of conversation. There were so many things I wanted to ask him. So many topics to touch upon.
I was getting the sense that he was there, where one day I would hope to be. I tried to imagine a younger version of him, new to the city, all boyish innocence and bursting with optimism. It was difficult to believe that a guy like him would have ever been innocent. And yet I was sure some years back his story had begun similar to mine. I wondered what his story was. Failure? Heartbreak? All great stories begin with a setback.
“I… I want to understand life.” I blurted out, frustrated.
“Have you ever fucked a guy?”
I pretended not to be shocked at his bluntness. He smirked and said, “Until you have, you will not have known life.” As simple as that.
It’s the question that eternally haunts me: What should I believe? The words that form on his lips or everything else that he left unspoken? When our very connection was the silence of our conversations, did he say the few things he truly meant, or did he simply trust I understood everything he omitted saying?
People always want to feel special. Simply knowing themselves that they were part of something big is never enough. They want others to know it, and acknowledge it. They want to be treated like a conquering hero returning with the world on their backs. Sure, they’ve achieved something the rest of us probably never will. But it’s also true that while they’ve been away (spiraling up into the clouds) we haven’t exactly been tuned in to their frequency, listening in with bated breath as they make their dream come true. For us, life went on.
They say even a taste of fame changes you. It leaves you a different person, unable to fit in among the nobodies. They are all grounded when they start off, resolute in thinking they won’t change. And then it hits them, their first taste of the salty spray of fame. They are intoxicated, overwhelmed by greatness, pulled in deeper by the ever-changing tide and the waves. And they adapt to the ebb and flow, knowing their place will always be by the bay. ‘Mumbai meri jaan’…
“It’s not working out”, he says.
“I don’t understand. I thought you liked her. So what’s wrong?” I asked him.
“She doesn’t like me. We were only fooling around, just a physical relationship between friends. We’d always made that clear between us”, he says, trying to sound matter-of-factly.
“Did you tell her you like her?”
“Why would I tell her that?”
“Cause you like her”.
“I don’t give a shit about her.”
Rejection. It’s a hard blow to the face that knocks out half your teeth and breaks your nose. It was with difficulty that you’d let yourself fall for someone without the thought of getting too serious. Barely a day gone by and you’d begun to miss them more than you’d like to admit. The concepts of ‘love’ and ‘dating’ were beginning to make sense again. Who’d have thought you were to fall, only to fall harder, alone.