Into The Distance

And through the darkness I trudge
Your tears guide my way
My body wrought and battered
In gentle winds my soul sway

No comfort, no fruits of labour
Did taste so divine to my lips
As when you embrace me with fervour
And shower me with your kiss

Your deep eyes, so intoxicating
I brim with lust
I drink my soul’s filling
I sate my body’s thirst

Not it fills me with pleasure, my love
How numbered our days become
The guilt of parting and hurt
Again and again, but I live on

You are there, and I am not
Pain and longing in our between
Neither fair or just this separation
Only hope and memories fill in

I crave your fragrance darling
I crave your touch
But in depths of misery and suffering
Courage your voice gives much

I yearn for our days as one
For our “happily ever after”
But your love helps me push on
For now that’s all I can ask for.

Long distance relationships can be hard. Both to your mind as well as your body. But like every other relationships – including non-distance ones – effort have to be made to sustain it. Love helps, and being in love is the best feeling there is, no doubt about it, but it still sucks when we want to be together and for some reason can’t. This is for all the lovelorn fools out there who, like me, are in a long distance relationship.

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I KICKED A DEAD MOTORCYCLE

Since I commute to work in a bicycle, I was pretty excited when my roommate told me that he was leaving town for a month and was leaving his motorcycle back in my care. I couldn’t wait for him to leave and the week between seemed endless. I mean bicycle is cheap and healthy and environment friendly and all, but it’d be awesome to not pedal your own transport once in a while. So I waited. Finally his hour of departure came. The very next day I took the motorcycle out for a spin. It felt nice to feel the wind in my hair while simultaneously not feeling sweat in my face. It was……..liberating. That was Sunday.

 

Wednesday morning I deliberately woke up late. There was no need to hurry as I could fly to work. I took out my sunglasses, I put the helmet and tried to look cool while I straddled the Motorbike. I inserted the key and pushed the start button. Nothing. I mean there was a long coughing of the engine but it didn’t exactly roar to a start. I wasn’t worried. The poor thing had been sitting there for two days and needed a little coaxing. I pushed start again. Again the same thing. Which is to say nothing. I still wasn’t worried after 10 or 15 tries. I however start to worry when sweat started to pour down my brows because of the effort of kicking the damned thing. There were friendly advices galore. Meanwhile, I was getting late, and I could see people coming in for work while I was yet to start for work five kilometres away! After kicking (and cursing with the choicest of expletives I have learnt throughout my adulthood) for about half an hour I finally gave up. I picked up my rusty but trusted bicycle and pedalled to work. The machine is still there in the parking lot, untouched, a week later. I have learned my lesson.

Happy New Year!

A little late I guess, but here it is. The inevitable post on New Year

 

India can be easily called the land of festivals. Being a melting pot of such a diverse culture has its effect, I suppose. But my favourite has always been the “New Year”. Although, technically not a festival, but since it is celebrated and it serves my purpose here, I am going to say it is. This year, like every other year, has seen its fair share of ups and downs. But who wants to remember the bad days? So, below I chronicle the best things that have happened to me this year in no particular order:-

 

1.       The last time I had seen a snowfall was when I was 10 years old. I had longed to experience it again, and I got the chance to do it this year in January at Manali. And boy did it snow. For 36 hours straight, I think.

2.       Not only did I get to see and feel snowfall, I also learnt how to ski. Something I’d wanted to do since my childhood when we used to “ski” with a pair of bamboo sticks.

3.       I had the good fortune of experiencing true contentment when I went to Kodaikanal with a couple of my old buddies. For two days I spent there, I was free of any care or worry. Like nothing could happen to me. I felt that, if I were to die there right then, I wouldn’t’ve regretted.

4.       It is quite strange to question one’s commitment to one’s favourite sports team. Yet I did. On the last day of the English Premier League Arsenal had to win to secure the final spot for Champion’s League. When it was finally over, I was laughing and crying with joy and relief that we’d won. I cannot question my fan-status anymore.

5.       I scored a pen-pal.

6.       After nine years, and many setbacks, I finally managed to inculcate the discipline (sort of) that enabled me to clear all my monetary debts. I can look forward to actual savings from next year. Touchwood.

7.       I found a girl whom I love, and who loves me back. Well, technically she found me, but that’s just detail, right?

8.       My relationship with both my aunt and mom is improving.

9.       I discovered that I can be funny, sometimes.

10.     My younger brother got a job. That’s a pressure off my pocket. 🙂

So, I Went To Pondicherry

Pondicherry is about 3 hours’ drive away from Chennai. In my two years in Chennai, I’ve had many people recommend me there. Of course, I had never really put any effort to work on that plan. But last week I was provided the opportunity. I mean you can’t always put off the inevitable, can you? My boss asked me if I wanted to go there. It was a rhetorical question really, but to which I replied ‘yes’ anyway. It was a week’s trip, he said, which should give me plenty of time to look around. Really! Who has energy to go out after work? I was rooting for Saturday, and maybe Sunday. Through the week, I’d decided that I will find out as much as I can, about the things to see, places I must visit, and the means to reach there. So I packed my bag, hailed a bus, and off I went on my way. I had vowed to stay awake the whole journey and drink in the scenery, but it just so happens, that road-trips lull me to sleep. No judging.

 

                   However, come Monday evening, I felt restless and adventurous and headed out for a drink. I walked towards the city with the intention of stepping inside the first bar I came across. But a little distance later, I managed to find a share-auto and decided to go into the city itself. There, I asked the driver with the help of my rudimentary Tamil where I might find the ride for my return, to which he gave me to understand that I had to come right where he was dropping me off. That settled, I went looking for a decent bar, and like an asteroid pulled by a planet, I gravitated towards the nearest one. The bar was on a roof top and decent enough. Not much crowd though, as you might expect on a Monday evening.

 

                   The highlight of the evening however, was yet to come. While returning back (before it was even 10, I might add) I boarded an auto which I had thought would take me back. Turned out to be a wrong one and I managed to get lost. Again. The driver spoke in rapid Tamil when I asked him where I was, and where I needed to go and scampered off. I was hoping that I might be able to take a walk back to my room. A couple of nurses where heading home and I decided to ask them for help. The street was pretty dark and people few. My breath was stinking of beer which I’d had earlier, so I walked up to them praying they won’t presume me a sexual predator. Thankfully they were helpful and told me that the place I was at was called Bye-pass and that I needed to take a cab to get back. Ha! The joy! Finally, in the comfort of my room and a can of beer later, I managed to see the humor in the whole episode.

 

                   The office was about 500 meters one way from my room. A distance I had to cover four times each day. The whole distance and indeed a lot of Pondicherry was littered with workshops carrying out repair and restoration of old, probably discarded, Chettinad furniture and artifacts. My two sojourns to Dakshina Chitra (Sanskrit for ‘southern picture’ or ‘glimpse of the south’) in Chennai had acquainted me as to what Chettinad woodwork looked like. And the workshops were filled with them. I looked up online and the furniture, doors, windows, pillars et. all had ‘price on request’ tag on them. I wonder what the middlemen make through such ventures, because the artisans did not look like they were making a lot. The workshops themselves were like shanties and pretty run-down.

 

                   I was told by my new boss that I had to go to Karaikal for two days. A fact that I wouldn’t even have mentioned here if the trip had been peaceful. And I mean literally. The whole journey from Pondicherry to Karaikal took us 5 hours, and in those five hours the bus driver kept the radio on, blaring Tamil songs, in full volume and kept honking! Like every 50 metres! Frankly, I’m surprised that my hearing is still intact. Thankfully, on the return journey, I hitched a ride with my boss so I didn’t have to go through the same torture again. India I tell you!

 

                   So on Friday evening I was back in my room in Pondicherry and trawling the internet looking for info on various tourist spots. I’d heard that two-wheelers rentals were aplenty, so I looked it up too. There was one particular rental shop which had glowing report everywhere. That settled, I hit the bed happy with the promising day I was looking forward to. I woke up early. And after shower and morning ablutions I was ready to go. The owner, Mr. Joshi, was as charming and pleasant as the internet had promised. Probably more. I’ve been used to internet reviews not matching with the real deal, but in this case it was a pleasant one. He was helpful, and guided me to as to how and where I should be visiting. Of course they were all the usual suspects. The paper-work complete, I headed my way with much anticipation.

 

Auroville International Village

                   The Matrimandir (Sanskrit for Mother’s temple or temple dedicated to the mother) is the central attraction and Auroville International Village’s main claim for attraction. Of course for those interested, the lifestyle of the Aurovillians itself might be attractive, but I’m not sure I’m such a spiritual being myself. The temple is spherical in its architecture and has solid gold plates stuck to its shell in a beautiful ‘in and out’ motif. Bigger circle lined by smaller circle, the effect of which is quite mesmerising. It’s a shame that they don’t allow just anyone to pop in there. There’s a viewing platform about 500 metres away from where you have to admire the diva. You have to take an appointment to go inside. You’ll have to attend an orientation lecture about Auroville and its goals and their core beliefs so as to give you a rudimentary idea of what it is all about. Since only 40 or 50 people are allowed inside at any given time, there might be waiting time involved.

 

                   The village is spread over quite an expanse and the temple lies in the middle, so you need to cover a lot of road to reach there. I suggest you take a cab or rent a two-wheeler like me. The whole way is lined with trees and it is indeed quite lovely to drive through them. Folks were speeding up, around me, given that the road was relatively empty, but I slowed down and drove at a leisurely pace, drinking in the scenery.

 

                   Right at the beginning of the road, there are two tattoo parlour opposite each other. Yes! I was beginning to question what kind of tourist place does not have a tattoo parlour? Am I right? The street itself is littered with handi-craft shops which you can buy if you have the interest and time. After driving for about 30 minutes I finally reached the entrance to the temple. As you enter the gate, you’ll see two buildings at each side of the gate. A brown one and a white one. I went to the white one first (as told to me that I should by the helpful Mr Joshi). Inside, there’s much more detailed information about the whole establishment. Pictures, scale models of the final draft of the village itself, and a 10 minutes video of the history of construction of the temple, which you need to watch to get a ticket if you want to go see the temple. You can request for bus pass too if you wish to, but I chose to walk. Its just a kilometre from there. And not for nothing is it called nature’s trail. Though hot and quite humid, I enjoyed the to and fro walk.

 

                   After you return, you can head to the brown building. There are boutiques here that sell everything, from clothes to knick-knacks, furniture to trinkets made by the residents inside the village, or their CSR subsidiaries outside the village. There’s also a café there where you can rest your tired legs and eat delicious walnut cake made from locally produced ingredients and drink your coffee while you eavesdrop on two older women discussing spirituality in the table nearby. There’s also a shop that sell only wind-chimes. Not those small ones though. Big and long ones, almost 4 feet long, that gives a whole different sound, which is actually quite melodious and symphony-sque. I returned from there at about 1 in the afternoon feeling a little drained but much moved and worth the effort the sweltering afternoon sun.

 

French Quarters

                   Pondicherry had been a French colony so there still is a sizable French population residing there. Mr Joshi had told me that I should absolutely visit the French quarters. A couple of hours would suffice, he’d said, so I decided to rest a little. I headed out at about 3 in the afternoon. The sun was still high and mighty but I didn’t mind much. I headed to Aurobindo Ashram first, but on the way I ran out of Petrol and the bleeding scooter died on me. I had to push that useless junk for about a kilometre to find a petrol station. In the heat! But once inside the Ashram itself I forgot everything about my struggle. The serenity, the calm, the peace can only be described as soothing. Which is actually quite fascinating because, it’s a small enclosure and surrounded by streets on all sides. You are required to leave your shoes outside and switch off your phones. I cheated by keeping it just on silent instead. And you’re not allowed to talk. Only whisper if you must. But truth be told, you won’t feel like much talking anyway. Its just so calm and serene inside. Flowers blooming everywhere. I wish I knew what kind of flowers they were, but I was just happy to gaze at their beauty. A couple of squirrels were playing inside. One of them literally climbed my leg. A friend of mine had implored me to go to a pottery workshop which she said was within the compound, but sadly I couldn’t find one.

 

                   I exited the ashram strangely solemn and ready for another avenue. The French quarters beckoned and I straddled my bike to gallop around. Much less gallop and more of a leisurely pace though. The whole enclave is almost a mile long and about a kilometre in breadth divided into blocks al la America. The streets are all named in French and the people walking by were speaking in French too. It was like I wasn’t in India! I toured the place riding my motorcycle internally cursing the otherwise wonderful Mr Joshi for suggesting me that 2 hours would be sufficient! I could explore the place the whole day and still not be able to finish it. Of course I’m usually much more inclined to do my exploration on foot. The residencies were very enchanting. What with old world architecture of the windows and balconies and the Bougainvillea lining the walls in full bloom. Here again, I could identify a lot of Chettinad influence in the architecture.

 

                   Feeling a little unsatisfied with myself, I went to my final destination, a seaside promenade at the edge of the enclave itself that the local call beach, because apparently it used to be a beach earlier. Now it’s lined with granite rocks. Perhaps to check erosion.

 

                   I walked about the promenade for a while. My evening was not over however. There was a surprise waiting for me. Just as I was about to return thinking that I’ll hit a bar or something, I could hear good music coming from a building nearby. It was a building of Alliance Francaise. I looked it up online and discovered that there was concert by French band L’Imperatrice the same night and I guess the artists were doing a soundcheck. Serendipity you might call it. But the entrance was closed and there was no ticket info in the website, so I called the reliable Mr Joshi again to ask him if he had any idea about it. Sadly, he didn’t either, but he did tell me that there was another entrance on the other side of the building. So I went there to have a look. The person at the door said that the concert itself was free but it was meant for members only. However, should I choose to become a member, I could become one by paying 350 Rupees for a month. Needless to say, that I paid. And boy was it worth it. Every Paisa of it. Those who wished to dance and willing were dancing. I am not much of a dancer, but I was tapping my foot and swaying on the spot the whole time. I returned the next day a happy person.

 

Note:  1. Thanks to a certain Mee for pushing me to write this. I wouldn’t have been able to write it if she weren’t constantly nagging me about it. You should blame her for your suffering.

          2. Pondicherry has a local Tamil name Puducherry which is its official name now, but folks still it “Pondi” in short. I guess calling it “Puddu” would sound a little silly.

 

                   

ANNIVERSARY MUSINGS

So the other day I received a notification from WordPress that it has been one year since I opened the account. I didn’t even know they did that! Bless them! When I first started a blog, I had thought I was going to write a whole lot more than what I have actually produced. Five pieces a year isn’t exactly a prolific output. I always knew that I was a good enough writer. Bah! What delusion! But to think that I haven’t been able to produce even mediocre ones is quite fantastical. It’s not simply the fact that I don’t sit and try to write. But I always seem to get stuck in the beginning itself when I do. What should I write about? What subject would I be able to discuss in detail and be able to engage my audience? Finally after much trepidation when I settle on the subject, I start to write. More often than not, self-doubt starts to creep in mid-way through, and I give up. “Have I written eloquently enough?” “Do I know enough about it to write an authorative account?” “Is it too simple/ is it too long-drawn?” and such.

 

                   I’m aware that writing, like everything else demands practice. An exercise of sorts, to hone and polish your skills. But as it turns out, I have not practiced enough. It has been a disaster to say the least. My effort at writing. What is the secret here? Or is there no secret? Are good writers, like athletes, born with a gift or can anyone with a little bit of passion and whole lot of practice be able to write? I tried to read other people – authors, bloggers – et all but there seems to be no answer. I currently am in possession of a list of books that one of our national newspaper says every budding writer should read and harvest pointers from them. I think I’m gonna read it. I’m not sure what to expect from them though.

 

                             I tried my hand at short-story writing, started a novel of sorts, but I haven’t been able to write them to my satisfaction. Forget peer review. The only thing I have been able to write that doesn’t spontaneously cause me to blurt ‘meh!’ has been poetry. Poetry has been the only form of writing that I have been able to keep up. As and when I’m inspired by a subject that is. I know I should focus on my strength here and write more poems, but I hate poetry. I mean hate is definitely too strong word for what I feel. Its just that I don’t hold poetry in the same regard as prose. Sure there are poems that I love and read again and again. Rhime of an Ancient Mariner, Solitary Reaper, Ode to the Nightingale, Road Less Travelled being some of them. And yes, I’m aware that if I read more poetry, I will find more of them to like and love, but I just don’t find myself attracted towards them. Maybe it has got something to do with the fact that I write poetry myself. I don’t know. I should see a shrink for that.

 

                             In the meantime, I can only practice harder and write more. It’s a hollow promise though. I know, because I’d also promised myself that I’m gonna read more. That didn’t happen either. Haha! Maybe I can blame it on Writer’s block. Can I do that? I think it’s fair enough excuse. Don’t you? 

The Traveler’s Guide to Passivity

Give me a day of un-want
A moment of satisfaction
Desires, greed and hunger tears me
Give me. Give me appreciation

No cheer, no drum rolls or song
A walk towards the sunset I don’t ask
I seek not effusive pacification
Come and remove this mask

Strength and courage drains me
No battle of a hero unsung
I crave not glory, immortality
Care to finish what I begun?

Sit by me while I repose
Enable me this delay
Whisper softly your displeasure
Faith and trust to betray

Wealth but naught I carry
Poverty of mind I regret
Systematic delusion of priority
Foolish anger is what begets

Trudge along my friend
Only shame, only shame here
Farewell! This is the end
Lie to everyone for me there.

LETTERS!

Letters! That almost extinct method of communication. I love reading letters. I love writing them too. I keep trying to find new excuses to write them. I keep trying to find people who are willing to write them to me. When I was a teenager, I was the designated letter writer of all the guys I knew. If they needed to share their feelings to whomever their crush happened to be at the time, they came to me. Sometimes I wrote in Nepali, sometimes in English. Since we studied in a village school, English was mostly used to impress the girls. I doubt it worked. I remember this one time when I sent a nice and long love-letter to this girl I liked. She took it straight to my cousin, because she didn’t understand a thing. Boy, was I busted!

 

Letters were not just a tool to woo a girl. Telephones were rare, forget the internet. So we used to keep in touch with out of state cousins, and siblings through letters. Long and heartfelt. A treasure really. I had kept all my letters that I had received but I lost them along the way. I wonder what were written on them. Its sad really, that I don’t remember. In the age of Instant Messaging and Facebook, letter writing has practically become obsolete. There is a reason I have preserved all the letters that I received after 2005. I had learnt my lesson. I realised the value of a tattered page that brought not only joy, but also tears of longing. I read them sometimes, and it instantly takes me to the time not so long ago when I had received them. A reminder that I was loved and missed enough by someone to take the trouble to sit and write those words to me.

 

My girlfriend is my only correspondent now. I keep hinting at people, but they don’t seem to be willing. Or maybe they’re just too dumb to take the hint. Mobile phones and Internet have become an indispensable part of my life too. But somehow, a phone call doesn’t quite hold the same charm for me. Maybe that’s because I’ve never been much of a talker any way. I can express my feelings through written words, but spoken words are not really my thing. Never have been. Besides, you can kiss the letters. How do you suppose will you kiss a phone call?