10/10/10

Please note that the date in the title is in the dd/mm/yy format.

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Three years ago, this day I was in a popularly acknowledged exotic place in the world – Fiji. Traveling long distances has always been an intriguing experience. The context of it all – being so far away from a familiar place. Everything around you is different yet, you are the same. That instant difference and the sameness is the intrigue, and therefore the excitement and curiosity. This photo in particular gave a sense of a gentle touch, a connection with the environment I was in. It could have been taken in Mumbai, for all you know (it wasn’t), but the fact that it was taken on the other side of the world, made it ever so beautiful.

Not all discoveries you make during travel are about the places you see.

The House Must Mean Something – II

I owe an apology to my readers for the previous post. Of course, I’ve already apologised, at the end of the previous post. So, this apology is for those who gave up before they could reach the end of that post. It was a post full of possibility that was, unfortunately never converted.

But this post is not about the apology. It’s about the last post. So, it’s a post about a post. Or a non-post, if that’s what you would call the previous post. (which is potentially a non-post).

A long-lost-and-now-found blogger friend offered an insight into what the actual content of the previous post could have been. Well, she didn’t actually suggest that it could have been the content, I made up that part for myself. It was about Going Home. There is envy when you see such beautifully written posts, but there’s happiness in equal measure, because you were able to experience it.

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The House, for me has always been the predecessor to a Home. A home is an existent experience of many a splendour and wondrous things. A house, not so. The only thing it can mean anything is a possibility — of being a home. You know what I mean – the oft-quoted cliché: “four walls make a house and four people make a home” and the various permutations of that idiomatic expressions. And while I still cannot put a finger on the genesis of the title of the previous post, the house does mean something. Just one thing, actually – a possibility. And in that, there is much we can do; much we can achieve.

And, of all the things that we can do with it – is that we can make it our own; make it our home. That is what a house means. But we will have to be open to that possibility, give it due consideration – walk around in it and see where we can hang our dreams, how we will fix our hopes, and with what hues we will paint our joy. Some houses are easier to consider than the others. They are stencils that provide a sneak preview of how our home could be. Some other are blank canvasses. They are a little difficult, yet full of opportunity.

And when the house is your home, it can mean much more; much, much more.

The House Must Mean Something

It is not always necessary that the title of the post has to have significance to the content of the post. At least not when it’s on your own blog. If you are writing for someone else and the success of that post will get measured in some form, then perhaps it’s a good idea to have a title relevant to the post.

Long time ago, there used to be meme’s asking if you write the title of your post before or after writing the post. I don’t remember what I said. Nowadays I don’t bother. I write the title when it comes to me. Sometimes in the middle of writing the post.

This title? I wrote it before the post. I wrote it before I even knew what the post was about. The phrase came to me and I thought it would be a nice title. Actually, the original was, “The House has to mean Something” – I changed it because I was not sure if ‘has’ and ‘mean’ should be capitalised. Anyway.

I now have to retrofit some content for this title. Because the context in which the title came to my mind now eludes me. I was reading the post of a blogger who I used to follow a long time ago. She continues to be prolific and an excellent writer that she always was. A recent post by her resonated strongly. I would write about it – but as has been pointed out by some of the folks who read this blog; the gloom index of this blog has been bullish. I tried defending; what’s being considered gloom is really introspection, but I value my readers’ comments. (when they do choose to comment).

So, perhaps the phrase came to me in the context of blogging. Blogging is like home. Warm and fuzzy, elaborate, elegant and expressive. And her blog reiterated what it feels like being home. But I was not sure what the “mean something” meant, in that context. Also I thought House, not homes.

Maybe it was about homes, literally. In between switching social media sites, I saw a friend post a photograph. She recently shifted homes and experienced enough stress. That feeling is alien to me. I have shifted more homes in my life than I care to remember. But like before, people shift homes, not houses. I thought of a house.

It has been (almost) five years since I shifted homes. Perhaps it’s the itch to move. Perhaps it’s a photograph I saw on Bookshelf Porn (it’s safe) that I wanted for myself. But given that I hardly read nowadays, I wonder what would be the purpose of building a library in my house other than to serve the purpose of decoration.

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So here I am, with you my flabbergasted reader, without any useful clue why I thought of the title. My apologies.

Leaving India and Leaving Indira

One of the things I like about blogging (and, generally speaking, the ability to post your thoughts for the world to read) is the power of expression it provides, which, a few years ago was limited by means and by reach. The entire scope of expression was limited to a specific audience. With the Internet and the tools to express, the scope is now global (limited, still, by those who have access to the Internet, but a significantly larger audience is available to you).

And while it is a good thing, it also means that you are opening your expression for criticism and debate from a much larger audience.

Recently, a post by Sumedh Mungee was featured in the NYT’s India Ink section: Why I Left India (Again) – his experiences on coming back to India from the US, and his reasons for going back (again). He has his own reasons and I leave it to you to read the post, if you haven’t already. Needless to say, the post has sparked various reactions from various corners of the world. If you have the patience, you will find the some of the 226 comments (at last count) amusing.

And of the many reactions that have been the result of this post, I’d like to highlight one.

Why I Left Indira (Again)!

All the emotions that all the people have felt due to this post are all worth considering; this response by Amit – to my mind is the best, I have seen.

Enjoy!

Going Goa

Twice or more, recently, for different reasons and at different times, I said that I hate Goa. Wrong choice of a word. I don’t.

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I’ve spent a better part of my life living there, I have many good friends in Goa, and most of all, I have some of the best memories of my life that have been made in Goa. Perhaps, that is the problem. The eyes that had seen Goa and loved it in the most unconditional way are innocent no more. At least not like they were many years ago. For a person who has been rooted and uprooted many times, this seemed to be one place that seemed perfect to finally root yourself permanently, eventually.

But like most things in this world change, and so did this place, and I wasn’t around to experience that change. There’s something about being in a change that makes us unmindful to the change. There’s familiarity. Perhaps, if I was in the environment, experiencing, and even causing the change, it wouldn’t have felt this enormous, when I looked at it years later. That very warm hug as you entered the realm was missing, that sense of being lost in time wasn’t there and the obliviousness to the busy world around it didn’t exist. In fact, it was quite the opposite. Everything seemed hurried, connected and synchronised.

It’s only a disconnect, when I think hard about it. A disconnect between the perception of many years ago, and now, my asking that it remains the same the way I remembered it.

It’s not fair.

I haven’t remained the same.

Happy Ganesh Chaturthi

IMG_0842There is an introspective quality to this year’s Ganesh Chaturthi, for me. The call to look through the year that went by. All the events that occurred, since his last visit. These events that I speak of have formed a crescendo of intensity of experience, that have culminated to this year’s Chaturthi. The final one — the most intense — a day before his arrival.

His arrival is usually one of huge fanfare and festivity; for me however, the call is to seek the silence in this din, where I can listen. Listen, very attentively.

I wish you all a very Happy Ganesh Chaturthi Festival. May you grant yourself all the wishes you seek.

Destiny*

There was a time when I used to toss utter disapproval in the general direction of a few fellow-bloggers who were lax in updating their blogs. Most, often complained of being busy. And I usually responded with a mild reproof to that response. There is no such thing as not having time; you have to make time. (Certain dialogues from a late-80s film that you watched many a time, while young and learning to shave, stick with you forever. We are all forgiven for that)

And here I am, pretty much in the same boat, except it isn’t exactly the same boat. (The boat’s the same, the same is proverbial) But I am not making the time-tested lack-of-time excuse. I just don’t write anymore. Except when I write about not writing, i.e.

Thankfully, no one chides me for not writing as often. Except a few. Actually – just a couple. One, to be frank. If you minus me, of course. But that would make that two, if you did include me.

And here I am. And I got here somehow and got back anyhow. I left this place for a while, kept coming back, got addicted elsewhere, got into rehab without knowing it and rode many adventures that eluded awareness, though the experience is present and intact.

It seems we are sometimes doomed to wander. Do things that are completely irrelevant – if only to know that there was a path that wasn’t to be.

Sometimes we are able to make it back to route that would take us to the place where we wanted to be; sometimes we lose our way and get somewhere else. It is not always a bad place – this somewhere else. But only if we allow ourselves to let go of the fantasy of the place where we wanted to be, else we never enjoy being somewhere else, even if somewhere else is a nice place to be, because we yearn for the place we wanted to be.

One way of being happy in any place is not to want to be anywhere in particular, because then there will be no aspirations. But it may not work at all, because not wanting to be anywhere will not make you want to go anywhere. And if you do not move, because there is nowhere you want to be, you will probably be nowhere, which means that you will not be anywhere and you will never value being anywhere because you wanted to be nowhere in the first place.

So it is good to want to be somewhere and yet allow yourself to get somewhere else (altogether) and enjoy that place where you are. But if that somewhere else does not make you happy, it is important to start wanting to be somewhere else (whether its the place you wanted to be in the first place or a completely new place).

Someone said that the journey is more important than the destination. Something about this sentence irks me. The purpose of a journey is to reach a destination. Enjoying the journey is an option, which you may (and should) fully exercise. The purpose of a journey can never be fulfilled if you never reach the destination. It is a state of being not-there, when you want to be-there. You cannot enjoy a journey forever. You may choose to go to a new place after you reach the place where you want to be and restart enjoying the journey to go somewhere else.

But sometimes you get so lost in enjoying the journey that you miss the the place you wanted to be and you pass it by. You cannot always return back to the place you wanted to be and you are now somewhere else. You are without a destination and without a journey (because now that you have missed the destination, the journey has no purpose and without purpose it ceases to exist).

Where you are, then becomes the destination and the start of a new journey.

*The title is a mash-up of Destination and Journey. It has nothing to do with Destiny, which is a predetermined course of events considered as something beyond human power or control.

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This blog started off as a travel blog. It was meant to be about real travels — i.e. in meatspace. It still is a travel blog, in a way, except that it now travels in thoughtspace.

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It was a weekend of opening up your mind to all that you had forgotten. A reminder of life around you and beyond the limits that were created without you ever realising it. And while you may have experienced something similar before, you need to do it often — to remind yourself, so that the limits of your world are constantly expanding.

And you are aware of the expanse of the world that you really live in.

Always good to go home, even if, for just 24 hours. Even if you drive 783 kms to get there and back, all in a span of 36 hours.

Always good.

The Road Less Travelled

I went to a place today that was very angry. Deep down, it was sad and hurting, but all it could express, was anger.

I do a lot of play with words when I write on this blog. And therefore a dictionary and a thesaurus are always around to help me find the accurate word. A few asked me after my return — how was it?

I do not have a word or words for that, even a phrase, a sentence, a paragraph or pages, will never be able to explain — how I felt.

I can tell you, however, there were many people, it was crowded.

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I can tell you people were distributing free water bottles. I can tell you the police supported and were grateful to every man, woman and child who was there, in body or spirit. I saw tremendous respect in the eyes of the people as they looked at the uniformed personnel at the Taj. I can tell you that there were shivers of goose pimples for a few seconds every few minutes in that forty-five-minute walk that usually takes five minutes. I can tell you, I loudly and proudly sang the National Anthem, more times than I have sung it in the last ten years. I can tell you, there was sloganeering, candles on the streets and at the Gateway.

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I can tell you all that I saw, that I did.

I cannot, but, tell you, how I felt.

Yet, a few new meanings were discovered that I hadn’t uncovered after having mined all dictionaries and thesauri.

Solidarity, for example. And fervour. Unity.

Identity.

That last word has been an important word for me. All these days it meant my photo on some paper with my name, endorsed by a government official. It seems that one way to find your identity is to loose yourself in a crowd that is two hundred thousand strong. It emerges within you and engulfs you.

Many asked what will change? Some asked if this is all that we can do?

I don’t know.

What I know, however, is that for anything to start (and survive the test of time) there has to be a meeting of minds. A sense of purpose and a sense of ownership and knowledge of how you fit in.

Well, it just started; all, very well.

Make it Matter

In the mix of emotions that gripped the city for the last three days, one emotion stood out bold.

Anger.

I am hoping for another emotion to stand out high, in the days to come.

Fear.

It is the almost stupid bravado of this city that is cause for the repeated assaults on this city. Fear must grip this city hard and bring it to a halt. At least once. When the lifeline (Read: Money) to the Centre is cut off for good, I think they will realise that this is a city that needs to keep working; kept safe.

And if you are not willing to be afraid of terror, be very afraid of being ignored till yet another event unfolds.

The Fucking Cliché

The Spirit of Mumbai.

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Yes, NDTV, CNN-IBN and you other sensation-mongers. The Spirit of Mumbai is a fucking cliché.

But no Mumbaikar uses this cliché. We just go about our work. You made this cliché and now you are tired of it. The fucking cliché.

So, Ms. Barkha Dutt, if you do not have a real question to ask about a situation that you have no way of comprehending, stop asking if this event has gone beyond the fucking cliché.

We heard you screaming out Natasha’s name four times for footage. We know where the cliché is.

Srinivas, when you ask about the death of colleagues to a responsible senior ranking officer and you see him visibly moved — don’t question him about the lump in his throat. He bears much more weight than the branded mic of yours. Vikram, repeating it doesn’t help. It is a fucking cliché.

When you all find the next stupid thing to report, you will forget about this fucking cliché. So don’t take it away from us, please.

It is all that we have. We do not have units of NSG stationed here; we have to wait seven hours before the financial capital gets any help from the centre. In these seven hours, the cliché is what saves the city.

We may not be spared your stupid question; but please, leave our fucking cliché alone.

Adieu!

For the life of me, I cannot write a farewell to London. It has often crossed my mind, and the memories come gushing. Things I will miss. Perhaps, there is no need for a farewell, because you aren’t leaving.

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I have over-written about how I love cities, and how three, in particular are favourites. Most of you will know how I feel.

I don’t remember having bade goodbye to Mumbai, about three years ago. But then, there is a good reason, that place is truly home. Then, this is too!

But I will miss:

The Tube
Weather
One Day Snow
Bookshops; Waterstones
South Bank
Tate Modern
Ales
Ales with friends
Pub Arguments (Read: Discussions)
That one pub in Glasgow!
Kebab Shops
Dodgy “Indian” eateries
Wearing overcoats
Suits
Ties
Cufflinks!
Train Travel
Train Conversations
Being in the “middle” of the world
Being a Londoner
Corner shops
Potion
Kew Gardens
Trent Country Park
Nero
AMT
The language
Scotland
My first home
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My second home
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Summer time adjustments
Watching people get the sun!
Friends who stayed back home, unplanned; planned
Foxtons
Thames
WH Smith
Jack Dee
Watermans Arms
Sri Lankan store in Hounslow

I’ll miss you R, but I don’t have to say it. You know it. I take back with me wonderful moments from the last two years or so. Right till today!

Cheers!

23 Pieces

Memories of three years were wrapped well, in twenty-three assorted cartons, sealed with metres of duct tape. So that they don’t spill on the way to another continent. (Fingers crossed)

Memories of a city, to be moved to another.

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Some memories were left behind, and a few sealed in the mind — to carry with me where I go.

Now, in more empty space than before, my mind, is made up.

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For obvious reasons, I am being pulled back to my posts from three years ago. They are making strange meaning to me. I am reminded of the book by Richard Bach, Running from Safety. (A book I have left half-read, one that shall I get back to, pun intended)

I said I’ll Stay, which of course led to a thought that Home is not a Model. And I think, I summed it up well as I sat on A Cold Seat.

Though, I doubt if I’ll write such a post, for sometime now.

That is another wonder of having a blog, and for a long time, too. All your thoughts are available to you.

You can have conversations with yourself!