A Musical Schizophrenia

There’s always one song — a crass, inelegant one. The genre doesn’t matter, the period does. Almost always this will be a song from when you were young. Perhaps in your early college days; a little more than three decades ago. (Needless to say, if you are still in college, or if you are just out; this won’t make sense to you.)

It is your favourite song. Still.

30 years ago, people around you, agreed with you. It was the best, they echoed. 30 years later, you dare not say it loud: I love this song. Most of us mature in our taste of music; some of us do not. It’s not something to apologise for. It is however, something not worth advertising.

*

I may have said this before. I lost my iPod Classic during travel, a few years ago; it’s been a while. Since then, the music experience has never been the same. Music, movies, books, have to be possessed – the cloud does not cut it. Imagine painstakingly tagging over seven thousand songs in your own way, and not being able to access your music in the way that you want to.

Discontinuing the iPod Classic is the worst thing that Apple did. Not that they care, but I will never forgive them for that.

*

I’ve lost my religion. I have to get back to Paul Simon and Simon & Garfunkel. True salvation lies in their words and their strings. For me. I do not know about you.

*

Obstinate are the trammels, but my heart aches when I try to break them.
Freedom is all I want, but to hope for it I feel ashamed.
I am certain that priceless wealth is in thee, and that thou art my best friend, but I have not the heart to sweep away the tinsel that fills my room.
The shroud that covers me is a shroud of dust and death; I hate it, yet hug it in love.
My debts are large, my failures great, my shame secret and heavy; yet when I come to ask for my good, I quake in fear lest my prayer be granted.

~ Gurudev Rabindranath Tagore

*

 

*

My life’s so common it disappears
And sometimes even music
Cannot substitute for tears

 

Writers & Carpenters

Writing is difficult. Writing well, is another matter altogether.

Carpentry is difficult too. Carpentering well, is another matter. Just like writing well.

Writers get distracted; just like carpenters. Writers and carpenters have their own means of getting distracted. Writers get distracted by style, grammar, method, medium, and such. Carpenters think of paint, cuts, design, trends, and such. (Needless to say, I am making things up for carpenters. I am not a carpenter. Though I would have liked to be one. Come to think of it, I am, perhaps, making things up for writers too!)

When distracted and diffused*, writers write nonsense or trite passages and carpenters make bad furniture or misaligned shelves. And this distraction is perhaps important. For writers and carpenters. It offers an opportunity to move away from the known, experiment, make mistakes, fail (often miserably), learn, and therefore, create something new.

6172: Buddha

After all the wandering through the land of distractions, however, the writer and the carpenter return. To the place where they started. Everything is the same, but nothing is. The intercourse of familiarity and strangeness is at once comforting and disquieting. This conflict is beauty’s birthplace.

The carpenter creates a writing desk for the expression through words, as the writer would, and the writer measures and assembles his words as the carpenter would. The open window is witness: to what the carpenter would like the writer to see and to how the writer sees what the carpenter intended.

It may not happen at first, but it is a stage for success.

~

* Kathy’s Song, Paul Simon

After 24 Years

Can you imagine us years from today, sharing a parkbench quietly
How terribly strange to be seventy
Old friends, memory brushes the same years, silently sharing the same fears.

~ Old Friends, Simon & Garfunkel

1992.

Late May-ish, it was, I think. The results were out. And depending on what they said, we’d either be graduates, or had to go through six more months, to appear again and then, perhaps, graduate.

He graduated. He scored well and was one of the high scorers. I did too. Neither at the top, nor at the bottom. We had to celebrate. Not because we had graduated, but we (mostly me) had escaped the stigma of another exam.

We smuggled some rum in my room that evening. (Sorry, Mom, Sis.) Sat in the balcony. Closed the doors tight, so that the family wouldn’t know. I’d tell them of the result tomorrow morning. This evening, for some reason, belonged to us. We sat on the warm floor of the balcony, dehydrating in the dry summer of the Deccan; we drank for a while. The sense of that moment was overwhelming. We were officially released into this big bad world. If I remember well, we didn’t talk much, to start with. What others scored was not important to us. At that one wonderful moment, nothing and nobody seemed to matter.

“Get away,” he said, without warning, ominously.

I looked at him blankly; (still) sober, surprised. It was still our first drink of the evening.

“You are better than the rest of us,” he offered.

“You’ve seen my scores, right?” I asked. A useless attempt at humour.

“They are no indicators of what you are capable of,” he seemed angry and concerned at the same time.

The conversation continued back and forth, for the rest of the evening. It seemed to me, he had made his plans to get away too. He was concerned for me, I thought, because I seemed to be emotionally involved, with the place and the people. We didn’t have much to drink, but it was one of the best evenings I have ever had. I should have known, that day onwards, that the volume of alcohol has no bearing on the quality or the value of a conversation.

*

We got away, soon enough. Both of us. And then we went far away. From the reference point, and from each other. Henceforth, we met, perhaps, once in a couple of years. Yes. That far away. Far can be measured in many ways: intimacy, emotion, geography, distance, beliefs, and communication.

*

2176: Rings of Time

24 years go by. In this period we met often, or not at all for ages. We worked together, even, for a few months. He calls me, today. From his new far-away.

“We are not made for this world,” he says. I agree with him, and say that I know this from 24 years ago.

“No, that was about you. It applies to me too, now.”

*

On a 24-year-evolution scale, he has evolved faster than me. We get into a conversation that tumbles between our current age and our 20-year selves.

Nothing has changed between us, but everything is different in this world.

Sparrow: #Anthem 14

Some of us find shelter. Some of us find it easily, for the rest it is difficult. For the rest, why it is difficult, varies. Some of us just can never find shelter.

Who will love a little Sparrow?
Who’s traveled far and cries for rest?
“Not I,” said the Oak Tree,
“I won’t share my branches with
no sparrow’s nest,
And my blanket of leaves won’t warm
her cold breast.”

We’ve heard of the excuses. Go away, I have nothing to offer and what I may have to offer, will not work for you. A predetermined manner of avoidance.

Who will love a little Sparrow
And who will speak a kindly word?
“Not I,” said the Swan,
“The entire idea is utterly absurd,
I’d be laughed at and scorned if the
other Swans heard.”

The haughty ones. The snobs. The less said, the better.

Who will take pity in his heart,
And who will feed a starving sparrow?
“Not I,” said the Golden Wheat,
“I would if I could but I cannot I know,
I need all my grain to prosper and grow.”

The apologists. Aren’t they the worst ones?

Who will love a little Sparrow?
Will no one write her eulogy?
“I will,” said the Earth,
“For all I’ve created returns unto me,
From dust were ye made and dust ye shall be.”

The last truth. It is not the end, however. Our knowledge of a potential end guides us. But unless we knock on the doors that reject us, we will never find the place where we belong.

*

I’ve known this song for a long time. I’ve always loved it. In recent times, it has started making sense. I hope you enjoy it, as much as I have.

[Text that is right-aligned in italics, is © of one of the greatest song-writers, ever. If you would like to read about a philosophical take on this song, read this.]

Imagining Smoky Burgundy

You have to think of black-and-white photographs in a special way.

Man saw colour from the day he learnt to stand upright, there can be no doubt of that. Pre-historic cave art attests that. It may be monochromatic, but it is not black-and-white. Colour has been available to us right from the start. Not so, for photography. It started out as black-and-white; colour technology developed much later. So, in a way when we convert our now colourful photographs to black-and-white, it is a form of nostalgia. No doubt that black-and-white photographs look beautiful, but it’s definitely not for the lack of our ability to capture colour.

There’s a song about a colour-film brand; you can’t imagine not having colours in it. And there’s even black-and-white in that song. Which are both colours, if you think about it, but we tend to think otherwise. So most of us think of black-and-white photos as devoid of colour. [Links against quotes are to the lyrics of the songs]

They give us those nice bright colors
They give us the greens of summers

[..]

Everything looks worse
In black and white [Link]

This post is a bit confused. It starts with what would be a treatise of black-and-white photography, but easily slides into imagining colour through music, as we shall see. There’s much to be seen, when you listen to a Paul Simon or a Simon & Garfunkel song. Many of the songs are a visual treat, and you can imagine it right in front of you.

What a dream I had
Pressed in organdy
Clothed in crinoline of smoky burgundy [Link]

IMG_5202 - Version 2

I try to imagine smoky burgundy, but it’s not smoky enough, as you can see. Imagination always works better than a camera and a post-processing tool. That’s a moment in time, because you see it at once in full colour, static and surrounded. Not all mention of colour is static though. There’s movement too, time that passes in moments, when, in real life it may take days or weeks:

Time hurries on
And the leaves that are green turn to brown [Link]

And you can travel with the song, watch it all like a tourist – the mega-visual of a landscape of a hill or the close-up of a bird or a soldier; your choice.

On the side of a hill in the deep forest green
Tracing of sparrow on snow-crested brown

[…]

On the side of a hill in the sprinkling of leaves
Washes the grave with silvery tears

[…]

War bellows blazing in scarlet battalions
Generals order their soldiers to kill
And to fight for a cause they have long ago forgotten [Link]

In everyday chores, there’s a palette too:

Found a rug
In an old junk shop
I brought it home to you
Along the way the colors ran
The orange bled the blue [Link]

Or you can imagine how:

He flies a silver airplane
He wears a golden cross [Link]

But these are only words. One adjective before a rainbow or an airplane or a rug, don’t mean much, if we are unable to travel with it. These are special places. The song becomes the vehicle for us, but it has to be fuelled by imagination.

And after it rains
There’s a rainbow
And all of the colors are black
It’s not that the colors aren’t there
It’s just imagination they lack [Link]

PS: All block-quoted text, extracted from the songs of Paul Simon. Copyright and such, as applicable.

PPS: This post becomes special. It is the 786th post

The Floor-to-Ceiling Mirror

It was a few minutes after noon. I was about to turn left into Guilford Street from Lansdowne Terrace.

The iPod was playing a tune in my ears that would otherwise seem to young for a person of my age. I smiled to myself, thankful that most people couldn’t make out what I was listening to.

Just as I approached the corner to turn on to Guilford Street, I saw him, an unlit cigarette in hand, iPod plugged in his ears. He gestured for a light. I took the cigarette to my left hand – he thought I was offering the cigarette to him to light up his. There was slight confusion, our iPods still plugged intact. I put my right hand in my jacket pocket and lit his cigarette with my Zippo. He thanked me with a short nod of his head; I acknowledged back, with the same quick nod and smile, and turned left onto Guilford Street.

I wondered what music he was listening to.

*

It was a few minutes after noon. I was about to turn right into Lansdowne Terrace from Guilford Street.

The iPod was playing a tune in my ears that would otherwise seem to old for a person of my age. I smiled to myself, thankful that most people couldn’t make out what I was listening to.

Just as I approached the corner to turn on to Lansdowne Terrace, I saw him, a lit cigarette in hand, iPod plugged in his ears. I gestured for a light. He took the cigarette to his left hand – I thought he was offering the cigarette to me to light up mine. There was slight confusion, our iPods still plugged intact. He put his right hand in his jacket pocket and lit my cigarette with his Zippo. I thanked him with a short nod of my head; he acknowledged back, with the same quick nod and smile, and turned right onto Lansdowne Terrace.

I wondered what music he was listening to.

Late in the Evening

There was a title and a thought that came to mind when I thought about this post. The title eludes me now; it may come somewhere, as I write this post. I hope.

The first thing I remember, I was lying in my bed
I couldn’t’ve been no more than one or two
And I remember there was a radio, coming from the room next door
My mother laughed the way some ladies’ do

Well it’s late in the evening, and the music’s seeping through.

It had to do something with posturing: the title. It was a nice word, that now escapes through the fine recesses of the mind.

But it had to do with a wonderful evening I had yesterday night, so let’s talk about that. The evening wasn’t a grand event. It wasn’t planned days in advance and there were no preparations around this evening. It was planned for the three of us and two showed up. Then we called up three others who were potentially perfect companions for the evening, but for various valid reasons, they didnt come, either.

The next thing I remember, I am walking down a street
I’m feeling alright I’m with my boys and with my troops, yeah
Down along the avenue some guys were shootin’ pool
And I heard the sound of acapella groups, yeah

Singin’ late in the evening, and all the girls out on the stoops, yeah.

It was left to the two of us to what we could make of the late evening. With withered thoughts of not having the people we would have liked to have around us, we began a slow start. There was the usual drudgery of daily dole that we could gossip about; we have learnt the heard way, that it quite doesn’t serve any purpose. After dispensing with formal gossip, we were ourselves again.

Friends.

What has become of us, we both wondered, if you allow me the guessing of his mind as I remember mine? One problem that friends face is the lack of topics. When you know everything, what’s the need to talk about anything?

Then I learned to play some lead guitar, I was underage in this funky bar
And I stepped outside to smoke myself a J
When I come back to the room, everybody just seemed to move
And I turned my amp up loud and I began to play

It was late in the evening, and I blew that room away.

We talked of how we have been interacting in the virtual worlds. What would be a good way to interact? What would be a better way to interact? What was the next gadget that would make us believe that our life was worthwhile? One thing led to another and gadgets gave way to the goodness of our lives. It took us a while. Perhaps it was the warm-up.

First thing I remember when you came into my life
I said I wanna get that girl, no matter what I do
Well I guess I’ve been in love before and once or twice have been on the floor
But I’ve never loved no-one the way that I love you

…and I love you

It took us six hours and a whole load of chit-chat to say just that — I love you, without ever uttering those words. Between friends, only three words matter; only three make sense. All the other million words that we use to converse, are pure foreplay or a tease. And a foreplay without the need for the final act. Twitter and Facebook. Email and SMS. Chat and phone-calls. When you reduce them all, all you want to say is — I love you. The Foreplay is the Act.

Richard Bach was perhaps right in saying that after God, Love is the most mangled word in the English language. I say — perhaps — only because, we haven’t stopped saying the word. Our choice of words has changed. The number of words that we use has increased. We now believe that a straight expression of emotion is uncouth; untoward. It has to be tempered. In our heads, love has narrowed in meaning.

Tilak Road

The original title I had in mind still eludes me. So I shall title this post the title of the song that Paul Simon sung for me: Late in the Evening. For various reason, which, my dear reader, you are now aware of.

And it was late in the evening, and all the music’s seeping through.

PS: Right-aligned content in italics is a song by Paul Simon. Copyright and such belong to whoever has claimed it and owns it.

DNA of Sight

A Bit of a Blur

Is there a unique way of how we see things? And the things that we see? I believe there is.

It has been some time that I have been on Flickr; suffice to say I have many buddies there who are excellent photographers. During my Flickr Life, I have learnt a lot about photography, much more than I would have learnt in a formal setting.

When I think back
On all the crap I learned in high school
It’s a wonder
I can think at all
And though my lack of education
Hasn’t hurt me none
I can read the writing on the wall

And nearly as long as I have been on Flickr, I have had a RSS reader. And I have a feed that updates all photographs from my buddies on Flickr. Since I started, with about 7 – 8 contacts, I have 97 contacts. You can imagine that the feed gets updated very fast and becomes voluminous. Sometimes I have more than 300 posts (photographs) unread (unseen).

Kodachrome
They give us those nice bright colours
They give us the greens of summers
Makes you think all the world’s a sunny day, oh yeah
I got a Nikon camera
I love to take a photograph
So mama, don’t take my Kodachrome away

All things become interesting after a while and you hope to read everything that you add to your feed. The feeds just pile up and you wonder if you are asking too much of yourself or you aren’t reading enough.

If you took all the girls I knew
When I was single
Brought them all together for one night
I know they’d never match
My sweet imagination
And everything looks better in black and white

Coming back, is there a unique way of how we see things? And the things that we see? I believe there is. And I have learnt it because of my feed reader and my Flickr contacts. With more than 300 posts piling up. I usually quickly skim through all of them. The finger on the down arrow key works with the speed of sight (light?). As I scroll quickly, my eyes are fixed on the area where the photograph is to appear; adjusting for orientation of landscape, portrait, oddly cropped, and badly cropped photos

Kodachrome
They give us those nice bright colours
They give us the greens of summers
Makes you think all the world’s a sunny day, oh yeah
I got a Nikon camera
I love to take a photograph
So mama, don’t take my Kodachrome away

I can almost always identify the photographer without having seen the name of the photographer in the feed. Perhaps it is a style issue. I doubt it. Many photographers I know vary their styles. I think it is just the way people see things, what they see, subjects, and their point of view. Many of the photographers take photos of flowers, for example. I can, yet, (almost always) identify who it would be.

Is it about signatures?

Do we always know what we sign? Do we know that we sign?

Text in Italics, Kodachrome, by Paul Simon & Art Garfunkel.

A Good Recipe

After six months, a wonderful dish was made.

Ingredients:

A bit of teasing, like in college, sprinkles of being college kids again;
A few words of the plans for the future, yours and mine, and ours;
Exchanging life updates;
Making the world a smaller place;
Shopping for toys for kids, playing with them before they are gifted;
Books;
A very bad and very early dinner in a pub;
All songs of S&G and Paul Simon, perhaps a bit of old Hindi Film music;
A bit of a headache, cured with Nurofen;
Arguments about the world in general;
A long walk scuttled by cold rain in early spring;
Die Hard 4.0 with Bruce Willis;
Spinach Fritters;
300, with Gerard Butler;
Carlsberg;
The Fifth Element with Bruce Willis again;
Veggie Supreme from Pizza Hut;
Prawn Fried Rice;

Method:

Slowly cooked over a simmering fire of being together, over three days. Garnished with hallowed memories. Tastes divine.

A Muse; A Journey

A few people have had a decent influence on my love for music.

It began, as is generally the case, at home. Amazing music from the 50’s and 60’s Hindi films. Dev Anand, because my father liked him. But we weren’t restricted to his favourite songs. Every morning, we grew on a staple diet of Sangeet Sarita, the AIR morning show of classical music – just two songs. The big Murphy radio was our alarm clock in so many ways. The programme spoke of ragas and such, which never permeated my thick skull, but the music somehow chose to stick like leeches to eventually osmose my scalp and make a permanent impression.

Like you see in most retro movies, we were glued to Binaca (Cibaca?) Geetmala.

As a kid, I didn’t have access to music the way we have today. I grew up in the 80s, you see. The best we could do was to keep our Sharp GF 6060 in front of the TV when Doordarshan decided to show a canned presentation of the Grammy. We were excitedly exposed to the Pointer Sisters, Boy George, MC Hammer, George Michael, Stevie Wonder, Michael Jackson, Cyndi Lauper, Paul Young, and such (in no particular chronological order).

Somewhere in my shoebox, I may still have the recordings, where my voice is side-tracked, of the guy doing the Axel-F. I don’t even remember who did the “din-da-da, do-do-do, din-da-da, do-do-do.”. Came High School and a classmate introduced me to Paul Simon, when Phil Collins was reigning supreme. Graceland. I have happily forgotten that classmate for various reasons. I remember him for only one reason – Paul Simon.

Cut to ten-odd years later.

Singapore.

Theatre.

Movie.

Pay it Forward.

The main show is yet to begin. We are all pop-corn and coke laden. I have a session with my best friend about rock genres. Metal, acid, death and such. So, what’s jazz? We go there too. Blues and related. I was a part of the team that controversially beat IIT Mumbai at MI. Someone had performed Holiday by Scorpions. I held two lit candles in my hand. I didn’t quite know what it all meant, I was living the experience. That was my wonderful introduction to rock. I thought rock was for drug addicts. I know better now. There is more to rock than drugs.

Cut to the time that we were in, originally. Paul Simon endures. I get deeply involved. I discover S&G of my own. ‘Kathy’s Song and ‘For Emily, Whenever I May Find Her’, somehow make a huge impact on my life. Mushy? Me? No! All I do is, listen to ‘A Poem on the Underground Wall’ and decide I shouldn’t be a poet. No point.

I fall in and out of love a few times. I re-discover poetry. I perhaps go back to my roots. I listen to Marathi songs. I wonder, why I never warmed up to this music. This poetry is unimaginable, un-compose-able. Father once said, God used GaDiMa as a conduit to narrate the Ramayan. I start believing all Marathi poetry and music is such. Years later I hear Paul Simon saying something similar.

I don’t recall who introduced me to Madhushala. I am a staunch believer now. Apart from God no one could induce such beauty.

Cut to now.

After seeing The Shawshank Redemption I am a huge fan of Mozart. I can’t get enough of “Che Soave Zeffiretto” from The Marriage of Figaro. This introduces me to western classical. I don’t understand the logic of classical music, but “The Four Seasons: Con No.4 In F, RV 297 ‘Winter’: I. Allegro Non Molto” does something to me. Every time I listen to it.

One thing has led to another.

Paul Simon to Joan Baez.
Don McLean to Johnny Cash.
Kailsh Kher to core Sufi.
Marathi Soul to Marathi Stage Music.
Willie Nelson to Julio Iglesias.

My good friend in the Singapore theatre introduced me to Louis Armstrong in a Karaoke bar. I learned and I sang “I Started a Joke” till I perfected it.

Nearly.

Suddenly it was time to leave the Karoke bar.

Floor Above the Ceiling

The Phish says, ‘Paul Simon is right’er’ than anyone else.’

I would agree. Having grown on a staple diet of S&G and then Paul Simon, I couldn’t agree more. And he couldn’t have answered my question at a more appropriate time. The only album I don’t have from him is “The Songs from The Capeman”, which will soon be corrected.

I just finished reading “The Definitive Biography: Paul Simon“, by Laura Jackson. The book has been lying with me for sometime. I think my theoretical quandary of separating the artist from the art kept me away from the book, all this while. But then, perhaps, to buttress my heretic theory, I had to read the book. And while it was touching to know the life of this man, my theory perhaps just became stronger, at least, more convincing for my own consumption.

Potential spoilers about the background of his songs follow.

I call them potential, because it all depends on how you look at (his) art. If the artist’s context is important, then they aren’t spoilers – they are perhaps conventional ways of looking at his art, if the artist’s personal context is not important, then they are blinders – they lead all of us towards a single meaning; also known as spoilers – of a different genre.

As an example from the book,

On older terrain, ‘One Man’s Ceiling Is Another Man’s Floor’, which ends side one, was a reminder of how insular society has had to become. Simon illustrates this via a depiction of everyday apartment life and the philosophy of keep your door closed and your nose out regardless of what may be going down outside. Sad, but practical. Another interpretation altogether has also been put on the song.

Singer-songwriter Ralph McTell says, ‘One of my favourite Paul Simon songs is ‘One Man’s Ceiling, Is Another Man’s Floor’. I really loved that one. I’d never heard the expression before. And I thought it was just perfect about aspiration – and where some people’s aspirations begin, someone else’s is ending. It was typical of Paul. He is brilliant at coming up these short incisive comments, which he expands into songs. And he gave it that lovely jazzy feel.’

See what I mean? Now, it is possible for you to make your own meaning, even if you know the artist’s context, just that it becomes that much more difficult to look beyond the artist’s meaning. Then again, I don’t know that Paul Simon ever said that he was talking about apartment life. It is the critic who said that, perhaps based on certain events in Simon’s life when he wrote that song.

The reason I quote this from the book, is that, ‘One Man’s Ceiling Is Another Man’s Floor’, happens to be one of my favourite Simon songs of all times. And there are multiple layers to this song, than just an observation of apartment life. But the many apartment related references possibly obscure those layers. But then, that’s Paul Simon’s song-writing genius, isn’t it?

That, I think is what the Phish meant when he said, ‘Paul Simon is right’er’ than anyone else.’ I know that but then,

Proof
Some people gonna call you up
Tell you something that you already know
Proof
Sane people go crazy on you
Say ”No man, that was not
The deal we made
I got to go, I got to go”
Faith
Faith is an island in the setting sun
But proof, yes
Proof is the bottom line for everyone

~Proof, The Rhythm Of The Saints, Paul Simon, Record Label: Warner Bros., Originally released: 1990

A Good Day

Beating the alarm clock to being awake on a fresh-smelling morning.

A call, long due, that was better post-poned to another day.

Doing work-stuff that brings back fond memories of school; birthing small regrets about things that could have been. Wishful thinking of things I would have liked to do. Glad that I went to school (and remember most of the stuff, a silent thank you to my teachers) Reminders to self of the many things that aren’t done – setting up time to do those things.

Being so excited about work-stuff that you can’t contain yourself. Shaking hands thrice, for the same things. Being yourself.

Of learning about football, in a way that I have never known the game – beyond just great defence and exciting goals. The game, beyond the players. The games behind the sports.

Long conversation on a phone. The need to say a few million things in a few minutes. It is possible.

The dinner of snacks; the inbox full of nice emails, for a change. Food, for thought and the body.

Darwin, daVinci and death of society in a single conversation. liberally sprinkled with college, teachers, friends, home, crabs, chemistry, technology, media, heresy, belonging. A long one that took precedence over the 9 o’clock Owen Wilson movie.

The looking forward to tomorrow.

The feeling of “I should feel different, but I don’t”. Laughing at it, feeling queasy at the same time. Finally watching yet another non-linear movie. Makes you wonder why we see our life in a single continuum. Our lives are non-linear too, it’s just that we don’t always see the parallel tracks. They are all ours.

Was Richard Bach right? Or was Paul Simon?

A good night.

Further to Fly

There may come a time
When you’ll be tired
As tired as a dream that wants to die
And further to fly
Further to fly
Further to fly
Further to fly

Candlelight dinners and long walks on the beaches are a greeting card company’s marketing strategy. Romance is more than just cute and mush. You’ll relieve yourself more, of the pain than the other, when you realise it.

Maybe you will find a love
That you discover accidentally
Who falls against you gently
As a pickpocket
Brushes your thigh
Further to fly

Know something about the movies. They have a director and a screen-play writer and it all ends in three hours. Your life however is devoid of cuts, no second chances, and is longer than the three hours you spend in the dark hall.

Effortless music from the Cameroons
The spinning darkness of her hair
A conversation in a crowded room going nowhere
The open palm of desire
Wants everything
It wants everything
It wants everything

If you have been blessed with an education that allows you to articulate your thoughts and feelings, try not to rely on the native method of telepathic communication. Makes life easier all around.

Sometimes I’ll be walking down
The street and I’ll be thinking
Am I crazy
Or is this some morbid little lie
Further to fly
Further to fly
Further to fly

Responsibility isn’t synonymous with the serious mask that you adorn, having fun isn’t akin to irresponsibility. Neither does a serious nature guarantee your responsibility – in your false attempts – you diminish your ability to respond.

A recent loss of memory
A shadow in the family
The baby waves bye-bye
I’m trying, I’m flying

There may come a time
When I will lose you
Lose you as I lose my light
Days falling backward into velvet night
The open palm of desire
Wants everything
It wants everything
It wants soil as soft as summer
And the strength to push like spring

Promises have a shelf-life. The expiry date isn’t generally printed, but know that they will expire after a while. Commitment however doesn’t have a shelf-life. In fact, it isn’t found on the shelf. Don’t look for it in a store; don’t ask for commitment.

A broken laugh a broken fever
Take it up with the great deceiver
Who looks you in the eye
And says baby don’t cry
Further to fly

You’ll know yourself the most when you are doing the most mundane of tasks: ironing clothes, polishing shoes, shredding paper. You are also your friend. Listen.

There may come a time
When I will lose you
Lose you as I lose my sight
Days falling backward into velvet night
The open palm of desire
The rose of Jericho
Soil as soft as summer
The strength to let you go

[Text in italics, mine. Rest of it by Paul Simon, Further to Fly, Rhythm of the Saints]

Another Song about the Moon.

Why did he write it – at all? It is a happy song and painful at the same time.

I met yet another friend, tonight, after about six years, seven perhaps. To begin with, the Belgian beer became a reason – after a while it became an excuse. This song about the moon was a reason, perhaps an excuse.

The last time I wrote about this song, it was really that – a June Moon. It was about finding friends.

Oh, one for the Trappist monks, one for the caramel, after a while we didn’t care.

You see, even after a six years, it takes six minutes to catch up on the six lost years. We are now back to what the present and the future holds for us.

If you want to write a song about the moon
Walk along the craters of the afternoon
When the shadows are deep
And the light is alien
And gravity leaps like a knife off the pavement
And you want to write a song about the moon
You want to write a spiritual tune

The last time I wrote about this song, I actually saw the moon on a June night

The Trees Framed the Moon

Because the heart will howl
Like a dog in the moonlight
And the heart can explode
Like a pistol on a June night
So if you want to write a song about the heart
And its ever-longing for a counterpart
Write a song about the moon

What is it about this song that is about friends meeting after years together? Taking a few minutes to capture the years lost in time and becoming one, as if no time or geography set them apart?

I met my friend, over a few Belgian beers. As if nothing changed, even if our lives since we last me have been ripped apart towards the limits that we haven’t experienced.

I am blessed.

I have people in my life who will allow me to be who I am, be a child and adult at the same time when I talk of songs, poetry, opera and philosophy. Then, there are some who insist on my adulthood. I forgive them. I am blessed, for I have people who will come in my life at the right time to encourage me to do thing that I love the most, yet that I dread. They push me. They allow me to be.

Hey songwriter
If you want to write a song about
A face
Think about a photograph
That you really can’t remember

Faces, I remember. After all, they (the faces) and their voices are the ones who shaped me. Oh, I don’t forget faces, if they talk to me. It’s almost like a recurring alarm that rings to wake me up with harsh tunes from time to time.

Just.

I oftentimes wonder why I bind my life with those that don’t choose to share the beauty that I see. I wish that they would “see”, but, then again, I wish that I am not constrained by the limitation of their vision.

I have a life. A beautiful one at that. I need to open my eyes, more than I need to open theirs.

A Week in Italics…

And I dreamed I was dying
I dreamed that my soul rose unexpectedly
And looking back down at me
Smiled reassuringly
And I dreamed I was flying

 

It has happened many times before, but, then I only sensed the immense physical experience of it all. Felt the body, not the soul. That one evening was different wasn’t it?

I saw her briefly on the first day, I felt her near me. In her usual glory, she smelt of her untiring belief in tomorrow, her today, busier than she yesterday did. It was nice touching down at New York. That small fling, that long moment of yearning and the longer one that will be, of nostalgia.

Globalisation, the way the pundits speak about – has nothing to with countries, civilizations or people. It is a one big world in your head. The search is all inside. Violate the laws of anatomy and physics – twist and twirl your eyes inward and see inside – if your eyes strain to make meaning – then you haven’t seen anything.

Tom & Jerry are ubiquitous. It is not a cartoon show – it is the raw philosophy of communication and its misdoings. I saw, I didn’t need a TV to see Tom & Jerry. Sex & the City is a different version in the US.

I saw a country in untainted colour – without the tarnished colour of propaganda. I saw the colour as nature intended it to be. I saw humans without them being necessarily tagged by a country.

When the face of poverty becomes an intellectual discussion in an art gallery, the intellectuals miss the point. Poverty is pure and non-aligned in all respects; its misgivings are its own – they aren’t the shameful asset of any country or people. Poverty is as artistic as the ugly child who isn’t allowed to meet the guests.

I missed her more than ever before. More than I realised and even more than I could tell her.

Hospitality is now able to make a clear statement that you are unwelcome. That was a new one for me. Guests are coloured now. What happened to “cordial and generous reception of or disposition toward guests?”

Insecurity expresses itself in a seating pattern. Think about it.

There was a Celestine conspiracy to ensure that we got to where we were supposed to get. When you have only 15 minutes to board your connecting flight, it intervenes and the flight now leaves at 4PM instead of the scheduled 2:45PM. I love the game that devil and the divine play – the human is the bacon strip between the wholemeal and the white bread. I hate being that human.

Eventually, money doesn’t matter.

I don’t know a soul who’s not been battered
I don’t have a friend who feels at ease
I don’t know a dream that’s not been shattered
Or driven to its knees

 

Yet, every evening it comes to bed with you in the hope that you will nurture it, make love and make it feel alive again. Such a passionate love that is, it lingers every minute of the day.

Boston. I love it, what can I say.

In one corner in the heartland I saw hope. There is still a small space for the new minorities in an otherwise monotonous world of imposed beliefs. That I got to get to this corner because of a non-believer was a small triumph.

I saw death too. A slow, incomplete death of fear. I left it to rot on the side of Mass Pike.

Food is only as good or as bad as you imagine it to be. Taste is not an attribute of the tongue, it is an attribute hidden in your mind. Open your mental taste buds and you can experience a different world.

I’ll be back home the day after. That sounds really funny now. Even more than it did before.

Every moment was bloggable, yet I shall let it be. All’s well in the land of Gaizabonts.

Blogging Being

IMG_5101 - Version 2

I like to believe in coincidences. That way it is easier to deal with happenstance than dissect and analyse the ‘bigger scheme‘ of things that we aren’t privy to.

A couple of days ago I found great food for thought (as much as I was tempted to say food for blog, I shall let the cliché survive) on Lorelle’s recent Blog Challenge post. Just the thought sounded yummy and I said so. But I had no idea what definition I would give. I had shied away from it some time ago, when I had asked the same question to a few bloggers. Blogging means a whole lot of things to me and at the time I put my comment on her post, all those meanings were happily rioting against the floodgates that barricade my otherwise unruly thoughts.

Coincide the above with: The day after I did AFJ’s tag, I thought I would give the ‘answer‘ to the tag. But no, it wasn’t meant to be. I ended up running from here to nowhere via everywhere including WordPress WordPress Support. (The fine folks I always talk about). The problem was quickly resolved. Now, the response post wasn’t critical. At all. It could have been posted even after this post – it wouldn’t have mattered. But just the thought of not being able to post on my blog…!
Blogging doesn’t define me (and thankfully so; given the fifteen-odd blogs that I presumably “write”, I would be easily diagnosed with multiple – (and somewhat split) personality syndrome). I do, however, define blogging, and yet the definition is elusive. I talk of the kind of definition that we have all grown accustomed to.

x is y with z features.

A few of you who have been long-standing victims of my obsession with words, meanings and contexts will know my dilemma. What meaning do you ascribe to something like blogging? It is always easier, I believe, to derive meaning of multiple contexts, and blogging lends itself just fine to multiple contexts.

Blogging is spaces. It is about the spaces that we inhabit, in the world or the worlds that we create for ourselves. We believe we know our space, we are protective about it, often possessive about it. A blog becomes just that and a bit more. It allows for a meandering exploration along those in-between white spaces in between our worlds; those that we don’t often notice and hardly care for. When we are in the white space, when we see from that vantage, we see a lot of colour. There is a vigorous sense of being alive.

Blogging is fear. It is about two types of fear. One that we are able to overcome, often through anonymous blogging, a way for expressing that the otherwise imposed social rules of engagement do not allow us to. This is not floccinaucinihilipilification. Some of the best bloggers are anonymous and it doesn’t change a thing about the beauty and insight in their writing. At the same time, blogging causes fear. Well, fear is too strong a word, but after a while the material attachment to the post-count, comments, stats and therefore the readers, brings a tense sense of holding on. The blog becomes as human as we are. It has flesh and blood – and it has feelings. The cycle continues.

Blogging is judgement. Of every word that dims a few pixels on your screen. Of every post that was born of a thought that refused to disintegrate and crumble at the feet of your neurons; that insisted on being born. Of every reader who reads your post and says something, or doesn’t. Of the blog round the corner that often times does a tad better than my blog. Of the blog round the corner that often times does a tad worse than my blog. In these hallowed halls, where you become the judge and the accused in half-duplex, all is seen through a discerning eye. All is sliced up and spiced up, and given a permanent place, assigned a value.

Blogging, however, is mostly expression. An otherwise delinquent thought becomes a well-behaved angel and sits smartly in a post. And a million such, together create that wonderful experience that is not the author; the blog is seldom the author – it is the author’s projection of colourful thoughts like a festive London Eye on a moonless night, spinning at its own happy whim and in its own blissful frenzy.

And yet I haven’t done any justice to what blogging means to me. The most important context of it all; the most elusive: a blog’s cajoling nature that urges you to articulate more and articulate better (which has yet to work perfectly for me, what with the high level of abstraction that my discrete words adorn).

Ever had a dream, when you felt that you were in a deep dark abyss, falling and rising at the same time, lit up at both ends? Then you know what I mean.

And 300, It Is

It’s like a dash – the last reserves of your energy to get there – to the ribbon. The exhilarating feel of the ribbon on the chest – in days to come: the invisible cut of the infra-red beam by the first cell of your body that severs it.

The tea-maker told me a hundred posts ago that I had cheated – and I shall indulge in such cheating once again, this time five more times than the last time. Technically, I have possibly crossed the 300th, because WordPress failed to import a few posts from February 2006. But I am neither complaining nor disclaiming. You could say I am getting better at cheating.

It’s almost a burden – when you are just a few steps away from the milestone. Better get it off you chest.

But I want to rest a while. Do things that are equally as close to heart.

I read a lot about blogging – as a phenomenon, as a tool, arguments for and against it. I talked with a few people about the meaning of it all – and their perceptions. I have questioned myself enough about the purpose – because I am a firm believer in purpose.

And I stumbled on posts like this. I found kindred spirits.

In the recent past, most of my posts have abstracted themselves out of the context in which they were conceived. I have been questioned about that. Even blamed of the potential nonsensical-ness of it all. The comments have been waning. If there is pleasure in incidents and gory details of who said what – then there is always the movie gossip magazine. I once began writing a post which now has twelve words of unfinished text after I read this post that referred to this post. I don’t think I make a difference to the world. This blog is too inconsequential to be able to do that. Most blogs are. What my blog does however, is make a difference to who I am and how I see things. It allows me to express what I think, know from others what they think about what I think. It provides me a way to fine tune my thinking. To recalibrate my notions of things. Its one thing to have a thought – a completely different to be able to express it in the right way.

A small digression here: making a difference is often not a conscious choice. It comes out of a context. Imagine Mahatma Gandhi wasn’t thrown out of a train in South Africa. It’s almost destiny; (as much as I hate to admit it) the trigger is what helps make a difference.

Those rare days, when that one spike in a WordPress blog stat graph nearly touches the sky, and yet is pulled down by the day before and the day after. The one day Gaizabonts was featured on Desipundit. It’s as my artist friend tells me – huge canvases – those are the ones that sell.

The mark of how much your blog is your personal diary vs. an expression for others to see is the number of times that you go to your blog and check the stats and your sitemeter and such. What would we be if we just spoke with ourselves – where and what would be the significance of Web 2.0?

Blogging in isolation of the world to see and respond to is a thought. I wonder then, why such blogs aren’t private. All blogging services offer that. I enjoy the adulation I get out of blogging; I won’t deny it.

30-odd years of life and only 300 thoughts in three years (and a bit) is not a call for celebration, what is, however, is that this is a beginning. 4000, perhaps in the next. Wishful thinker.

I’ll see you after a while. Maybe short, maybe long, but a while it will be.

Cheers!

Sandwiched Thoughts

Four Slices of Bread - 2

Everyday is a learning experience. I learnt today that a four-slice sandwich is unwieldy, especially, if you have stuffed it with a quartered omelette, tomatoes and sheets of lettuce. The mayonnaise leaking across the smooth lettuce leaves, as you may have already guessed, makes it slippery even.

So if you have to have a sandwich of four slices, rather have two sandwiches of two slices each. There is double advantage in that. One, the sandwich is manageable and two, you have the satisfaction of having two sandwiches instead of one.

And I really have no idea how to end this post, which obviously reminds me of Paul Simon’s song, Train in the Distance:

What is the point of this story
What information pertains
The thought that life could be better
Is woven indelibly
Into our hearts
And our brains

But we never listen to that thought. Be it a sandwich or anything else. By choice, we are a species that learn only after the mayonnaise has leaked down our fingers and dripped to the floor.

The Lost War

she said losing love is like a window in your heart
and everybody sees you’re blown apart
everybody feels the wind blow

-Paul Simon, Graceland, Graceland

He was right, except that it is not just about losing love, it is about losing. Period. If and when you are losing, people understand; they see through – they know, and possibly know why.

To go into war without conviction or a sense of purpose, is to lose every battle and surrender by ignoble death; to surrender without waving the white flag. I can almost visualise the drudgery of the soldiers’ march to the battlefield. It is slow, out-of-sync march, and out of step, carrying the burden of the armour and the heavier weight of imagined impending inevitability, the sword dragging along, as angry as it may be at the wielder for it will never be able to fulfil its purpose. I can almost imagine the pikes held loath and limp in the schiltron, trembling, as if waiting to be laid to rest on the ground, in complete submission.

Reluctant soldiers, these.

Orwellian, in belief. As if, “The quickest way of ending a war is to lose it, and if one finds the prospect of a long war intolerable, it is natural to disbelieve in the possibility of victory.

History is replete with examples where commoners have taken up arms instead of their usual tools of trade, only to be able to take up the tools of their trade, again, peacefully. That seems like a very clear purpose to me, even noble and seeking unbiased respect.

If there has to be a war, then there has to be a noble purpose and that purpose has to be owned by every individual who walks armed or otherwise into battlefield – we don’t bargain to become soldiers – most of us don’t. But, if there is a real war, you have to decide where you stand. The choice, not to fight is your own and respectable in its own merit.

Don’t, however, walk into a war without conviction, leading the army to defeat, defeating the purpose of those who believe. Don’t participate in a war that you don’t believe in. Soldiers aren’t warmongers in themselves – they have a sense of belief. Soldiers fight so that you don’t have to. You don’t have to. Don’t be the impostor. A uniform doesn’t assure noble beliefs and convictions. The belief of the soul of the body that wears the uniform is what brings respect to the uniform. There is more than meets the eye in the soldier’s uniform. Something that can only be sensed – can’t be seen.

Courage.

Whatever you do, you need courage. Whatever course you decide upon, there is always someone to tell you that you are wrong. There are always difficulties arising that tempt you to believe your critics are right. To map out a course of action and follow it to an end requires some of the same courage that a soldier needs. Peace has its victories, but it takes brave men and women to win them.

-Ralph Waldo Emerson

200…

Just didn’t have enough patience to wait for this one – therefore the previous two posts. This one is the 200th on Gaizabonts. Two years and nine months of blogging. It went beyond thoughts, travel and wish-lists. We seem to have a tendency to celebrate by the decimal system, whereas India has traditionally followed the hexadecimal system for years. (Where do you think the solah-anne sach concept came from?)

It doesn’t matter.

A milestone with some number following any number system is a mark of getting somewhere on a journey.

In The Dangling Conversation, Paul Simon says,

And you read your Emily Dickinson,
And I my Robert Frost,
And we note our place with bookmarkers
That measure what we’ve lost.

That is what blogging is about – sort of. A dangling conversation; irrespective of the tools of the trade and blog adornments and jewellery; we define and build a unique genre – however hard we try to fit a blog in a predefined genre. Except for some of the theme-based blogs each personal blog that I have known, has a unique genre.

It’s a measure of what we’ve lost (it’s a positive statement of sorts) – it is also a measure of our travel – as we leave a bit of ourselves behind as we walk along: like shedding skin. For me each post is a milestone in its own right – this one is only special because of its position on the number line and its ease of divisibility.

I am one happy blogger. I made a few nice friends (haven’t met any F2F as yet, except for the bloggers that I already knew before I started blogging – I guess they don’t count). And I found a place to express all that I feel, believe and know. I am glad I got to know you all as I blogged on. I am glad that you all helped me find a bit of myself, shed a bit of myself all this while.