Monday, August 31, 2009

The First Flush of BS

Am in the process of getting to know new people. That golden period where every word and action emanating from you is peppered with just a tich of bullshit. It's a tightrope walk, deciding which parts of you are worth being put on display, which parts are to be filed away for later and which parts are never to be shown the light of day. (I can't help but wonder how much better off we'd be if only the rest of our lives were lived with similar diligence.)
Of course, I am older now. Which means that I can now make a more informed choice of the kind of bullshit I want to introduce into the mix. The levels of goofiness, political opinions, taste in films & music and of course revealing your battle scars - some glamorous, others not so much.
I realise that with time the number of party tricks I'm willing to perform has reduced. And I had some pretty nifty ones. I had a 'guerrilla warfare' strategy. Be very still, the better the camouflage, better the chances of getting onto the home team. Listen but rarely speak. Nod your head and agree a lot. Be funny but not in a cynical world-weary way. Keep your back straight, your eyes focused and don't look at your watch every five seconds.
Some of these I still subscribe to (esp about the posture and watch thing) - most, I am too tired to indulge in. I can no longer pretend that I like The Doors or that I remotely understood Lock, Stock & Two Smoking Barrels. I can't keep sucking my stomach in, trying to look like that amazing chick two bar stools down, with the pixie haircut & pixie body and I cannot, for the life of me, pretend to be enraptured by someone who's rhapsodizing endlessly about his BMW and LSE education.
Also, now I have stuff to say. And there is definitely stuff I don't want to waste time listening to. Have a theory on how Gujarat 2002 never happened? Air it by all means but don't expect any applause from me. Want to expound on Tendulkar's batting stats when I've just told you I have no interest in sports? Please be prepared for my eyes to glaze over. Think that insulting the waiter is a sign of your machismo? Better make the most of the evening because you'll never see me again.

Of course, I acknowledge that if done in the right spirit and to the right degree, bullshitting can be oh-so-much fun. There's only a limited amount of time each one-on-one interaction gets before we decide if its worth taking forward or not. There's no way we can transmit all of our authentic selves in that period. Unless we get sucked into the 'Juno' soundtrack...

You're a part time lover and a full time friend
The monkey on you're back is the latest trend

Here is the church and here is the steeple
We sure are cute for two ugly people
I don't see what anyone can see, in anyone else
But you

We both have shiny happy fits of rage
You want more fans, I want more stage
I don't see what anyone can see, in anyone else
But you

You are always trying to keep it real
I'm in love with how you feel
I don't see what anyone can see, in anyone else
But you

I kiss you on the brain in the shadow of a train
I kiss you all starry eyed, my body's swinging from side to side
I don't see what anyone can see, in anyone else
But you

The pebbles forgive me, the trees forgive me
So why can't, you forgive me?
I don't see what anyone can see, in anyone else
But you

- 'Anyone Else But You' by The Moldy Peaches

Saturday, August 29, 2009

Have I Lived Enough?

If there is one question that's plagued me since the age of 15 it is - Have I lived enough?
The definition of 'lived' has changed several times. I've tried to map out its chronology:

Have I been to enough 'girl-boy' parties?
Have I smoked enough cigarettes?
Have I tried all varieties of Kingfisher beer more than thrice?
Have I studied enough ancient Indian, Greek, Western philosophy?
Have I entered enough inter-college competitions?
Do I have enough people who like me?

Have I travelled enough across India?
Have I survived enough night edits?
Have I behaved sufficiently badly on said night edits?
Have I made sufficient money?
Have I 'struggled' enough to tell stories of it when I'm 50 and sitting in an air conditioned office ordering my minions about?
Do I have enough long-haired, male friends?

Have I been daring enough to throw away everything I've worked for because I'm 'not happy'?
Have I done enough narcotics (no harder than E)?
Have I been stoned/ drunk for a sufficient stretch of time without break?
Have I met a sufficient number of 'crazed yet artistically-inclined' people?
Have I lived on my own & been poverty stricken enough?
Have I had enough 'near death' experiences?

Have I been hugged enough?
Have I been outdoors enough?
Have I been brave enough?
Have I been kissed enough?
Have I been vulnerable enough?
Have I had enough therapy?
Have I made enough phone calls to powerful people?
Have I worked hard enough at improving my writing?
Have I travelled enough across the globe?
Have I heard enough cool music?
Have I fought enough for what I want?

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Free Ka

There is no dearth of people looking for a free ride...most times at your expense.
I have had very little work in the last few months. Yet I get calls from clients who expect me to do jobs for no money - 'yaar, thodey spelling mistakes hai, theek kar de'. Read 'I've written this hinglish piece of nonsense, please redo the whole document and put it into language that my (paying) customers can understand'
'It's just a small, one-page proposal.' Read 'Actually, in order to write that one page, you need to go through 97 pages of jargon on this pdf sent by the Ministry of So and So'.
'It'll take you not more than two hours to complete'. Read 'That's not counting the boring meetings I want you to accompany me to since I'm too lazy/ busy to read what you've written and need someone to answer the questions the client may ask.'

But the worst freeloaders are the emotional freeloaders. The so-called friends who want to meet up for a 'chat over coffee'. The ones who don't want to make an effort to haul ass and meet halfway, the ones who won't bother beyond the necessary enquiries of "How're you doing?" before launching into detailed descriptions of their deadend jobs and deadbeat boyfriends/ husbands (strange though: men NEVER complain about their girlfriends/ spouses unless something's terribly wrong).
These are the same 'friends' who disappear when you call for a chat, when you're in the mood to meet up and when you need to spill your guts about your deadend job and deadbeat boyfriend/husband. Or god forbid, if you actually need a favour from them.

As someone who's made it a life-long profession to paalo such parasites, I have now decided to go in for a career change...

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Oh So THAT'S what the BJP is about...or is it? Isn't it?

I have to admit - the Bharatiya Janta Party has always been a bit of a mystery to me.

It came to the forefront in the 1990's, when I was still a student. I have a very distinct memory of heading out the front door on my way to school, when I saw the front page of the newspaper. It was December 7th and the photograph of the Babri masjid's broken dome had me staring at it for a long, long time. Something was so off. I still carried childhood memories of the 84 riots, which had directly affected us Delhiites and I had this feeling of dread now as I stared at the headlines.
There and then I formed an opinion of the BJP and LK Advani in particular. They were terrifying, demonic and poisonous to India.

Then came 1998 and the BJP led NDA came into power. Even more bewildering. Had the rest of the country not seen the same headlines all those years ago? I was older now...on my way to college and more able to understand Indian politics (or so I thought). I guessed that they'd come into power because the previous government had been so god awful. That did nothing to remove my sense of dread.
As the months and years progressed, I began to see an interesting face of the party. People like Jaswant Singh and even PM Vajpayee seemed to be rational and sensitive thinkers. They didn't want to exterminate all non-Hindus, they didn't bark like rabid canines, they wanted to take buses and trains to Pakistan, they welcomed 'the outsider' when it came to their economic policies - what the heck was going on? Who were these people? Maybe the BJP wasn't all bad...after all, it was the 'secular' Congress that was at the forefront of the Anti-Sikh riots, right?

Then came Gujarat 2002. Not only was the violence shocking, but as the facts began to trickle in, it seemed almost engineered by the state government. Narendra Modi, it appeared fairly clear to me, had a huge role to play in the extent of mayhem and destruction. Why, then, was he still in power? What was up with Vajpayee? Why has Modi, since then, gone on from strength to strength in his party? I had a chance to visit Gujarat in 2007 and the worst riot-hit areas were still chilling to drive through. The burnt buildings, the absolute silence in places where residents had refused to was eerie and deeply upsetting.

In terms of personal impact, I remember the BJP's entire stint in power as being one where communalism coloured every aspect of our daily lives. I remember RSS workers becoming more active in my colony, my Christian neighbour getting threats. I remember school books becoming more 'Hinduised'. I remember being more conscious of the religion of those I interacted with. If someone was Muslim, the awareness was heightened. I remember going for a shoot in Old Delhi's mosque area and my crew feeling afraid - something that had never happened before and has mysteriously not happened since the Congress returned to power.

After the recent unravelling of the BJP and the public brawls and downright childish bickering, it now appears that there have been 2 BJP's all along. A Dr. Jekyll-Mr.Hyde game with Hindutva. It's got me interested enough to read up a bit on the genesis of the party and research its ideology. Turns out it's a combination of something called 'Integral Humanism' and Gandhian Socialism. What?!?! Are you serious? Wasn't it an RSS guy who bumped off Gandhi? What the hell!

When Jaswant Singh speaks of Hindutva, its a beautiful concept that I can actually see myself agreeing with. It is deeply linked with the ideals of Advaita Vedanta, which I fell in love with in college. It exists far beyond the notion of 'religion' and has nothing to do with whether you and I think cows are the highest form of divinity. It does not see Hindu-Muslim-Sikh-Christian-Dalit-Brahmin. It is a philosophy that one lives by. It is literally a song for the spirit to sing every waking moment. And this is what the BJP is supposed to be built on.

I've thought a lot about it and for me it boils down to what I learnt, studying philosophy in college. Vedanta literally means the 'end of the Vedas' and its that part of the teachings that contains its most subtle and sublime philosophies, couched in fairly enigmatic jargon. In Ancient times (and even now, in the Brahmin tradtion) that's where the Guru came in. He was literally the divine translator...the dude who was responsible for making sure duds like you and me didn't misinterpret the teachings. Without said dude, it was all a bunch of symbolism and fancy-schmancy wordplay. Without said dude, duds like us got lazy and turned to the easier bits of the Vedas, the stuff that talked about the cows etc. (ok, I'm over oversimplifying things, but youknowwhatImean). Without said dude, for us, that's what espousing Hindutva became...just that and nothing beyond.

Unfortunately it's the ideas that lie 'beyond' that are the basis for the BJP's espousal of Integral Humanism. Hindutva actually echoes a core value that separates us from Western political philosophies like capitalism and communism (both of which have not really been super-duper hits in ensuring a happy populace) - that society is to built on a more holistic foundation than just material, one where the spiritual aspect is just as integral to social structures as economic-political ideals. It is a uniquely inclusive way of looking at the world and is so far removed from divisive religious fundamentalism that they might as well exist on two separate planets.

Somewhere, straddling these two planets lies the BJP and with every tremor on either surface, it stretches itself more and more and more. Perhaps there will be a breaking point and it'll come undone altogether. But one hopes, really hopes, that the two worlds will come closer and closer and closer until one of them (the angry, boiling, red hot one) is cooled by the other one and India finally gets a political party that can truly consider itself worthy of being in the opposition.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Meri Aarzoo Kameeni

It is past midnight. I have downed a lot of alcohol. There is a lot of sadness that's taken residence inside me.
As I play this song on loop:

Kya kare zindagi isko hum jo mile,
Iski jaan kha gaye, raat din ke gile
Raat din gile…
Meri aarzoo kamini,
Mere khwab bhi kaminey,
Ek dil se dosti thi, yeh huzoor bhi kaminey,
Kya kare zindagi isko hum jo mile,
Iski jaan kha gaye, raat din ke gile…
Kabhi zindagi se maanga, pinjre mein chaand la do,
Kabhi laanten deke, kaha aasmaa pe taango
Jeene ke sab kareene the hamesha se kaminey,
Kaminey kaminey kaminey kaminey,
Meri daastaan kamini, mere raasten kaminey,
Ek dil se dosti thi, yeh huzoor bhi kaminey…
Jiska bhi chehra cheela, andar se aur nikla,
Masoom sa kabootar naacha to more nikla,
Kabhi hum kaminey nikle, kabhi doosre kaminey,
Kaminey kaminey kaminey kaminey,
Meri dosti kamini, mere yaar bhi kaminey,
Ek dil se dosti thi, yeh huzoor bhi kaminey…
- Gulzar & Vishal Bhardwaj

Sunday, August 16, 2009

I want, I want

I am hungry.
I want to open wide and swallow the globe.
I want to stomp through the city and crush its buildings.
I want to scream out loud and shatter glass palaces.
I want to crush the population in a bear hug.
I want to block out the sun with my palm.
I want to thrust my fist through the ground and cause a landslide.
I am hungry.
I want to open up wide and swallow the globe

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Are they hiring on Grey's Anatomy?

Because, I swear I have what it takes to write for them.
Sample their dialogues:

Alex: You son's crying because his nervous system is shot. Your son's crying because his kidneys are failing. Your son's crying because you operated a meth lab from your home, you son of a bitch.

Dr. Bailey: You let a known drug peddler get away with a baby. You let a convicted felon escape with a child. I know you know better than that. I know because I taught you better than that.

Meredith: It's over. It's over. It's so over.

If anyone cares to read back on some of my blogs they will find that I can just as easily come up with repetitive, sing song sentences that I'm sure no one uses in real life.

But then nothing on Grey's is like real life. Least of all McSteamy.

I am not happy working for the Spawns of Satan.

Saturday, August 8, 2009

The nicest sucky song

And the award for the nicest sucky song goes to Elvis' 'You Were Always On My Mind'. Such a beautiful melody to gently and lovingly tell your soulmate WHAT A FRIGGIN ASSHOLE YOU ARE. encapsulates every experience I've ever had with a man. Useless creatures.

Is it a bird? Is it a plane?...

Or could it it? It couldn't be! It IS! It is (drum roll please) a paying job!!!
Broke the losing streak.
Saved from bankruptcy.
Alleviated from penury.
Stopped the plummeting self-worth just inches off the gravel.
Stemmed the rot.
Regained my mojo.

Baby! I'm back!
(at least for a while...)

Thursday, August 6, 2009

Art of Loving

We keep forgetting that we have an infinite capacity to love. Love that is separate from lust, infatuation, vanity, codependency or guilt.
Love of the simple kind, the kind we have an unending supply of.

Ok, I'm off to my satsang now...hyuk

Monday, August 3, 2009

When They Messed With My Head

Several years ago I had what was diagnosed as an epileptic episode. I blacked out in an STD booth in Bangalore, bang in the middle of a phone call. My best friend had been with me, both of us in our PJ's still, having stepped out early morning to make a bunch of phone calls. I terrified her with my fainting spell. Somehow, she had the presence of mind to do the right things and took me to the hospital in an auto.
At Mallya, I was put on a glucose drip and admitted to a really expensive private room. I remember nothing of that time, my friends were making all the decisions (we were all in our early 20's). Within 48 hrs, I was on a plane back to New Delhi, leaving behind a city I loved and a fresh relationship.
Upon reaching Delhi, I was 'shown' to some head doctors and subjected to many tests. No one could find anything (there was a hilarious episode of the neurologist looking at my brain MRI and saying - "There is nothing"). At the end of it all, we were no better off than when we'd started. Yes, I'd collapsed. The nature of the spell suggested it was epilepsy. No one was sure of anything. I was put on medication.
The medication was awful. My hands shook, I couldn't grip a pen to write a straight sentence. I felt dull and would retreat into a headspace where there was only static. I was told I'd have to be on this medication forever.

Years on, I've yet to have another epileptic seizure (if it was indeed that in the first place). I've gotten my act together healthwise - I eat intelligently, use my body for things other than watching television and have even made the dreaded yoga a part of my life. I am happier today than I ever was, I accept myself and appreciate my virtues more than ever. I feel as if I am learning to see myself. Recently I decided to stagger my medication and eventually stop taking it altogether.

Since then, I've begun to feel the withdrawal effects of the medicines. My anxiety levels have increased...a strange sense of dread sits inside me for no apparent reason. I couldn't make the connection for the longest time until I had a horrible night last night. Tossing and turning, trying to get rid of the creepy-crawlies, I tortured over what was causing this mental unrest. Woke up with a horrible headache that could only be ascribed to anxiety and felt like someone had pummeled my body all night.

I then did what any educated adult would have done years ago when told to ingest medication that affects ones neurology. I went online and typed in the name of the drug I'd been taking. Turns out, besides being used for epileptic seizures, this was mainly a drug used for mood disorders and bipolar. That just threw me for a toss. Bipolar? Bipolar?? God only knows which senses this drug was dulling out inside me. The more medical journals I read, the more disturbed I got.

For a chunk of my twenties then, I've been on mood elevators - on uppers, for fuck's sake! I'm appalled with the casual attitude my allopaths took to this. There was nothing in my diagnosis to suggest this course of treatment. They should have referred me to a therapist, told me to meditate, change my diet...try something else, before putting me on mind altering drugs.

As I nurse my poor head, I feel such a sense of betrayal and helplessness. I feel like apologizing to my brain, to my blood and my body chemistry. I'm so sorry. I should have watched out for you better.
Now I'm just angry...and it isn't just because I cut down on the happy pills.

Call the Pentagon. We've been compromised.