Falling into grace

” Did you have a chance to have some breakfast beta? ” the uncle ji asked in his usual kind polite soft voice.



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I guess this time around the devil is probably not in the details. I’ll skip right past it and the context would still hold well. Life and the many milestone dates that we set to it, for me it took me a step closer to questioning the existence of ‘ Grace ‘ . I armed myself with reasons both personal and kinda altruistic to keep the skeptic in me pampered. After all what was the point to building a case which told the story of why my grapes, and mine alone, were going sour every time. 


As time wore on, I picked a road of self-reliance and resilience to put me in the ring against such a grace. I was doing fine without it, or that’s what I chose to say. It didn’t matter to me anymore. Accountability and ownership of one’s actions does help that cause. The more I grew comfortable with the notion that I was the master of my universe and fewer firmer faith put into the grand scheme of things to be, I marched along. The proofs no longer mattered and I wasn’t interested in them either. 


Now that I think about it, it sure is funny that ” In a world that does not make sense, we fight tooth and nail disputing the ones that do make sense “

My decade long adoration to the phrase “Falling from grace ” has fuelled the storyteller in me. From plots that pitted man against God, to broken mortals braving a smile to rebel against the grand scheme of things to be, It was through fiction that I could muster the courage to carry on walking my path of isolation from grace. How could it matter? I’d question myself. If all of it were man made, why should one fall to one’s knees and refuse to stand up? I’d argue. 

They were just words. A ranting of man of confidence which was met by the words forged in faith. They were just words. The pointlessness to the arguments kept me distanced from what that mattered the most. Staying at peace, that warmth of assurance, the gentle touch of a mother to console the tears our eyes would flow. Yeah, the words kept me isolated from them all. 

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Things are not the same. I guess I’m not the same either. I’m , at times, a stranger to sarcasm. I’d love to indulge in words of faith. I conspire to flow mindful amidst the stream of the grand scheme of things to be. The cynic in me is done. Tired of lies and answers which still do not bring me closer to a mind of calm. The changed year, the changed geography, the ransacked comforts of a comfort zone so gleefully lost in, I found myself hanging by a thought of hope. In a world that did not make sense, I stopped fighting tooth and nail trying to dispute the things that did make some sense. 

” Did you have a chance to have some breakfast beta? ” the uncle ji asked in his usual kind polite soft voice.

The Sunday caught me by surprised. I had an early start to the day and spent the morning catching cold winds in the city. I set out to find a new joint for a breakfast and my shoes carried me to the roads that I had no time for before. I found a musical instrument shop and food vs music, I had made my choice. And then the grand scheme of things to be kicked in. A quick call later, I was to move house that very morning. 


Annoyed at the lack of time to lose myself into music, I rushed back home to brave the chores. It was fun, setting up a house twice. Through the mad frenzy of ins and outs, the bloke who wanted to occupy my current house, his dad popped the question that made sense to him. Have you had breakfast yet? In his kind voice he enquired. 

And just like that, I was handed a few bits of raisins and almonds. It was what was left of his offering to the gods that morning. His god had found me in a form that I once so cherished. Reverently I stretched my palm and pocketed the dry fruits. It was a funny moment of sorts. I neither had a fond liking for dried fruits, nor have I let myself dwell into thoughts of grace. With the house moved, standing alone trying to catch a breather, I found myself staring at them raisins. 

I smiled a thankful smile of acknowledgement. I had fallen right into grace. To a teller of stories , it was nothing short of the miracles of the grand scheme of things to be. A silent gesture of kindness from the universe that I was along the right road, looked after and cared for. It was an assurance of sorts, that through the darkest of days and hardest of challenges, I could take comforts to knowing that I wasn’t going to be ever alone again.

The cynic in me managed a laugh. So now we are playing both sides, he teased. From one confirmation bias to another, I felt like a dazed chameleon mimicking an ocean of colours. 


As a thinker of thoughts that I tinker through thoughts, I’m glad that I found myself a little changed from before. I smiled and uttered to myself as a sign of strength, it was a statement of my resolve. 

In a world that does not make sense, we fight tooth and nail disputing the ones that do make sense

I decided to fight no more. Yeah, I’m going to let myself fall into grace. 


Karthik

The usual


The usual is a confused term that reeks of routine and quite possibly an air of mundane that comfort zone provides. The usual is both a trap and a challenge worth aspiring. 


It’s funny the way this year has played itself out so far. I went from a creature addicted to a routine to a wanderer without a pursuit in mind. Ah yes, we had barely covered two lines and I went off the rocker with philosophy. 

Back to the usual! It’s a word that signifies an identity. Back in Chennai, I would walk into the trusty coffee-day or the ever so popular starbucks and I knew instantly that I was in a place of comfort. A place that knew my name. It acknowledged me with a smile. The blokes were friends. Home has always been where the heart was and it felt like shops were following the same route.


I couldn’t explain it before. I thought things were that and never really tried to understand them better. I took the many folks’s kindness and smiles for granted and kept myself from questioning the whys around them. One simply does not go monkeying around things that are obviously working fine. 


With a kat out of the bag and monkeying hitting a grinding stand still, I was forced to understand the warm welcome of smiles that I had managed back home. Was it the place, was it the people, or was it something sinister at play? Yeah, nothing sinister about it, but admit it, the word felt cool when we read it !!!! 🙂


And so as I wondered over the matter, Yesterday I managed to open doors on a chilly windy morning and the answers were waiting to stare me down on my face.

Would that be the usual LUV“, her friendly voice announced. 

“Yes Ma’am”, I greeted back with a smile.


The usual, took me a week to find and finally it was there. 


There is this tiny coffee shop right next to my office. A shop which is neither branded nor the fan favourite of the office goers in this building. Since it was only coffee shop that I could find, I managed to step right in. After all, how bad could another soul make a coffee in comparison to the hell broth that i brew every morning!!!!!!!


The first cup from the Monday the previous week was epic. I managed to make in a strange request. I wanted a helping of chocolate powder before the shot of espresso was infused to make the cappuccino. The bloke smiled and his “yes, but of course” with a thumbs up was the first friendly gesture of that week. 


Two visits and a two days later, all I’d do is walk in at 9, he’d greet me with a smile and coffee was served. Exactly the way I had asked for it on day one. Small cappuccino, one spoon chocolate, one spoon sugar. 

Over the weekend, I had to hit work. The only coffee shop I knew , the board on it’s road had read Closed. Dejected and disappointed, I made it back to my desk without a cup. I returned an hour later, the sign still read Closed but the bloke was inside and he did look busy. Meekly, I walked in and asked if they were open for business. Happened that they were and they forgot to turn the board to Open.


I met his wide family that day. Adorable lil kid, his ever smiling ever so kind and friendly wife. There was mother there, but I didnt know it was her son or her daughter’s shop. I let that bit be. I thought it was a little too forward to intrude and ask. I wasn’t in Chennai anymore. Back in Chennai, I could have probably asked where their ancestors first learnt to make a coffee without worrying about offending anyone. As cultures change, the nature and meanings of questions also do change. 


Anywho, after that week, I’ve walked into that shop a lot of times and have turned their board to Open on a few occasions. “Bless you Luv“, the usual greeting would come. Or the “Thanks Mate” thumbs up would follow. It’s been two weeks here and this wanderer , who was not in pursuit of “The usual” managed to stumble upon it anyways.

The simpler explanation no longer eluded me. Wear a smile, spread a little sun shine, brave that courage to make conversations with strangers, treat people as people and not as machines which are designed to execute a designated task, I think no matter where in the world we manage to lose ourselves to, there will always be THE USUAL waiting for you.


Karthik

Hop on,  it’s time. 

“Hey, nice to see you again, my friend” she looked at me and gently whispered.


I stood beside her and smiled. The winter had set in, gentle showers blanketed the city in a cozy cold embrace. My beat down green cardigan spoke volumes about the vagabond that I had become. No city was my home. No land was where the heart rested. The soft jaded black denim had been my constant companion in far too many travels. 

“It’s sure been a while” I replied.

She turned her head towards the window to her left. The large window gave her a comforting glimpse into the hustle and bustle of the city below. It felt like a subtle reminder of the world outside. For what it was worth, the window had served its purpose of keeping her connected to the world around her. She felt both a part of it and strangely yet peacefully detached from it. Life was the umbilical chord that kept her prisoner. I found the irony amusing. 


The first time I saw her, it probably was decades ago. So delicate, so young. She addressed me as “Uncle”, the way kids are used to addressing strangers. The chain that was life felt so different back then. Back then, it was not a leash cast upon her neck. It didn’t keep her anchored. I guess , both life and her, I met them when they were delicate. 

I spent a week beside her. She was a curious little one. She had far too many simple questions about everything about the world. She had far too many simple questions which I couldn’t explain in simple terms. Her novice view of faith, life, the way of the world was a refreshing change. She had a lovely uncomplicated view of the world. 

And soon it was the time for me to leave. I knew the repercussions. I got demoted and stomached the ire of a few suits. I knew I would outgrow the dissent. It was a simple trade off to me and I gladly traded off. 


From time to time, I’d check up on my little friend. She was a bundle of joy to watch. Through the ages, the child that she was never grew. Through the freckles and wrinkles, the innocence in her heart had never crumpled. She had managed to evade the change that most people are subjected to. She had managed to remain the same. Remain herself. Unassuming, unapologetic and unconditionally just her. 

She’d spot a pair of crows and make a wish. She’d spot a black car and go mute till she managed to spot a red one. A game that kids played, it added to her charm as an adult. Everyday, she’d make the time to play with dogs that loitered in her neighbourhood. She’d leave a bowl of milk for the stray cats. She was a child masquerading as an adult in a good way. The goodness in her had never ceased.


Through the roller coaster of life, I watched her silently. She smiled when she could. She cried when she couldn’t. She sang when she was happy, she’d hum a melancholic tune when she was sad. She always made it a point to spread the sunshine that was her to the world around her. Most folks could never see her sadness. She didn’t feel that the world needed another wistful tale to cry about. 

She found love, blessed soul. Blessed with a slice of herself in time too. From a child to a teenager. From an Adult to a mother. From a mother to a grandmother, I saw her in silence. I saw her mesmerised by the beauty in her heart and face. I decided to break that silence today. It finally was time for us to talk.


“You’ve not aged much. I don’t think I remember how you used to look. It doesn’t matter though. You still look calm and peaceful. Almost the way when you met me first” she said. 

I couldn’t disagree. It was both my gift and curse. We were meant to be. We were void of change. It happened that we could choose that courage to change. A choice that came at a price. 

“And you, darling, are still as beautiful as the day I saw you. Who knew that the wrinkles will make you look beautiful” I joked.

She smiled weak. 

“Is it time?” she enquired.

I stood in silence. It has never been an easy question to answer.

“I don’t know if I’m afraid. I knew this life was a gift. I should have died in that crash years ago, my mother used to tell me. I think you had a part to play. I’ve lived life the way I wanted to. I don’t have regrets. I’ll miss watching my grand daughter play, but I guess that’s all there is to it. I’ll miss the people here who have been my world.” 

She paused and then looked intently into my eyes in hopes of uncovering a possible secret or some big wide explanation that magically makes sense and restores balance. I had nothing to offer. 

“Please tell me that I’ve lived my life proper”, she broke the silence again.

“Absolutely darling. I knew it the day I saw you. You, of all the people I’ve ferried across, definitely deserved a shot at life. I still don’t regret my choice. I broke our rules for what I believed in. You proved me right. “

I saw a sense of accomplishment beaming from her face. She felt at peace. She felt she had repaid a long standing debt. 

“Chin up, princess. There is so much more that I have to show you. Buckle up for the ride. It’s going to be fun”, I gently whispered. She closed her eyes. Instinctively I kissed her forehead for luck. 


The machines in the room alerted alarmingly to summon the attention of the doctors around. Right through the ruckus, we both walked out holding each other’s hand. The white light was blinding for a moment. 


Karthik

Ain’t no Swansong 

“And there you go. You just made a brand new friend. I’m Sandy” .



The more things change, the more they start to resemble the place where we started. There would be subtle differences to the moment. It’s the subtle difference that stands the define the whole change, the journey towards that change.

I found myself along that road. 

As I walked the roads of a new city with doubts and an unsettling heaviness in my heart, I managed to sneak past a day without indulging in thoughts. I was a man with a plan. There were chores to be accomplished before I could let my thoughts run wild. I tried hard to pretend to be a grown up and thought long about the necessities to keep the house machinery running. I guess it’s safe enough to say that I sacrificed a Saturday in pursuit of pretending to be an adult. Alternately, I could say that I spent the Saturday trying not to pretend that I was a goofy kid. Either way we played them sentences, the obviousness was blatant. 


The Sunday was a different deal. With chores behind me, fewer things to pick up, I was finally free to do what I love doing the most. Think!!!! 

I decided to hit the other part of the town that I had not ventured the previous day. The roads were starting to look familiar. A city hall, a high street, the same set of branded shops littered the city. I finally found a comfort zone in the form of a White chocolate Mocha at star bucks. Once again, I caught the barista gobsmacked with a name that was hard to spell and write to a new bloke. 

Armed with a coffee in hand, each step I took uphill, I couldn’t help but wonder. The roads felt the same. The coffee tasted similar and familiar. The new faces around me were still new. Each face probably had a thought running amok. I saw a few street musicians. An old bloke playing popular pieces on his banjo. I saw two university kids jamming on a the guitar and beat box voiced by another. I saw their moment of aspiration in their brave effort. They were there to do something. They were giving their dreams a voice and an outlet. They braved the mild showers of the city.

As I stood admiring the music, a howl distracted me. University kids I tell you!!! And just like that I felt caught between a youthful energetic town of university kids and blokes who had their hands full with a life of their making. The roads indeed were different. Different from the hustle and bustle of London, different from the chaos that I call Chennai. So many differences and yet something so small and peaceful connected them. My mind was lost in this city as it has managed to wander in cities before.


Deep down I choose to accept the moment and embrace it. There were roads unwinding in directions around me. My shoes were begging for me to walk them around and soak in the people and the place. I guess the subtle change was a distinct lack of anxiety over where I was or What was to come next. 


The maverick that I had feared for so long, today was flying free in a strange land. 


The last 48 hours, I’ve braved a few smiles and dismissed my fears that have plagued my mind for a while. I met new folks, enjoyed a few laughs and curious questions over where I came from. I’ve had a few adventures too in that short burst of time. From BATMAN coming to my rescue, yes, your heard me right. BATMAN did save the day, to the power of tamarind to power technology. From misguided shopping done under the cloak of ignorance to the satisfaction of brewing up my own cup o coffee, It’s been a fun 48 hours.

As i start this Monday on an optimistic note, I can’t help but feel grateful. A moment of pause to see all the dots plotted. In a blurry haze, the dots are taking shape. The picture is taking form. Exciting times indeed. A brave new world, of sorts 🙂

Sandy saw the pile of things shopped in my cart and asked if I had moved new to town. We got into a conversation about how different Sheffied was from London or Chennai for that matter. 

“This is a wonderful town. Friendly and quieter and slower than London. You will like it here. The way we’ve been carrying a conversation, I really don’t think you have anything to worry about. You are going to be just fine. “

We both smiled. “And You’ve just made a brand new friend”, he said. 

Inclusion at many levels. It’s good to be a wanderer. Roads more wandered, woods more lost in, finally lead to the road where one gets to discover oneself. Yeah, Looking forward to it.

Karthik

An Upma story 

Till 2011, I could never associate myself to a south Indian cuisine! Done deal. No ifs, no buts to it. A long regiment of hogging Paneer masala or them Palak Paneer with Naans was a staple routine of eating out. Yeah, that now said, eating out was quite a routine too. Ate out almost everyday. 



“He hates beans. No Avarakkai too. Totally no kootu (stew if I got the translation right) “, my mom would go on. Damn, now that I reflect, I was a fussy choosey eater. I had a longer list of things that I’d not even bother eating. Throwing in tantrums to blatant refusal to have dinner at home, I kinda did that all. I was not so young and completely lost in my ways of being stupid and remaining spoilt. 


My mom and I had a wonderful little conversation this morning. The last few days have been a little mad hectic and I asked her to not pack lunch. Oh, yeah, detour, add that to the million ways I’ve been stupid list. For the longest while, I refused to carry food from home. Right from school 😉 Cool kids never packed lunch. HELL YEAH! 


I’ve made mixed vegetable Upma da, my mom declared. Since you are flying off soon, would be nice if you can carry it today, she wrapped her love and care soaked lunch proposal. Sure ma, I obliged.

By the time I bailed out of home, I couldn’t help but overhear my mom beaming with pride over the mobile. Oh no no no.. he eats whatever I make. He’s become good now!!!! 

I giggled and shook my head and waved my usual byes to my mom and made it to desk.


Its funny the simple tale of upma. From feeling that air of entitlement where I had no qualms about wasting food, even worse, REJECTING food, I had come a very very very long way in keeping my mouth shut and eating with relentless appreciation of the hard work that my mom puts into serving me food everyday! 


If life was a movie, this would be the perfect time for a flash back. Khaki trousers, while shirt, a chubby me and a head load of hair, I’d probably open the scene with a punch dialogue that would be like’ AIYAAAAAAAAAAAAAAA UPMA VA ‘ (what the hell, upma again? ) 

The plate would fly. Plates were not engineered keeping aerodynamics in mind. I’d prove them engineers wrong. Unidentified flying plate of upma would be spotted. Tempers would flare , doors would go slammed. What the hell, upma, I’d probably mutter and eventually walk out to hang out with my friends. That would be that. 

Neither I offered an apology nor my mom would wait for one. She’d made a mental note to cook something as a backup besides upma. 


2010 was my first stint onsite. Yeah. It built a lot of character indeed. From staying homeless to feeling shy to open the fridge in a stranger’s house, I quietly endured it all. Every morning I’d walk outside to face the Lagan river in Belfast. I’d lie through my teeth about the life in the lap of luxury that I was leading. My proud parents would hear my tales patiently and probably took comforts in knowing that they did they job well and that I had managed to acquire a career. 

As things stabilized, I had a roof of my own. I’d go on to cook and it was a nightmarish experiment of sorts. In Belfast, the Idlies were scarce. Naans were plenty. A new found zeal for my south Indian identity crept on and I thought it was probably nice to have a south Indian meal from time to time. 


Washing dishes, keeping the house clean, the daily chores of maintaining the house and the mighty cribbing and whining about the ways of life later, I soon came to the obvious untold realization that my mom was doing this for decades. She’s never openly accepted to be sick. (Touch wood). She’s never found herself skipping a routine and pushing us to eat food outside. To mom, motherhood was about serving food. She never differentiates between me and the entire wide world. She sees everybody as her ward and food is her way of showing love. So much love and yet so little expectations outta that . Her love puts all Hollywood/Bollywood/WOODS all over the world’s love stories to shame! 


Somewhere the distance helped. I returned and decided to stop making a fuss about what was served. As it turns out, I am a huge fan of pepper rasam and Avarakkai!!!! Its funny how little things are appreciated the most when we lose access to them. I cant help but wonder about the million things that I’m taking for granted and denying them an acknowledgement in exchange for a few things that I so desperately pursue! 


Moral of the story. While my mom packed Upma today for lunch, her proud smile and her constant desire to dish out food as long as I’m around is a testament to her love. Not wise to the ways of technology, not wise to the ways of this materialistic world, my mother has been a constant and a fantastic teacher of staying modest and humble. Does sting because I’m a lousy learner. 

Upma sure tastes awesome today, everyday. 🙂 


Karthik

Of betrayed friends

blueeyes

 

Where are you ? My friends that I need

Were you bored of standing by me?

Jaded by the roller coaster ride

The nights you kept kind vigil

by bringing me peace, that I otherwise couldn’t find.


Where are you ? My friends that I need

Were you bored of standing by me?

Tired of my mistakes iterated

Blows after blows you softened

By standing tall and keeping me fenced.


Where are you ? My friends that I need

Were you bored of standing by me?

When I wouldn’t budge and learn things new

When my mind fluttered and heart sank

You flowed an ocean to keep me sane


Where are you ? My friends that I need

Were you bored of standing by me?

Bored of seeing me weak

t’was a time when I lost my face

mirrors cracked and you blurred my own reflection


Where are you ? My friends that I need

Were you bored of standing by me? 

Did you finally throw your hands

Call it quits and desert my eyes

Today you weren’t there. And I need you the most


Where are you ? My friends that I need

Have you left me , my friend

Am I a stranger now? Am I no more to you?

Distraught , despaired and broken

I searched and yearned abandoned.

 

Were you showing me my resolve?

Were you teaching me my strength

Were you my teacher in testing times

or Were you a saint detached ?


And so my friend spoke. 

My very own, my tears

The depth was deep of sorrows vast

Waters ran shallow, the well had run dry

Learn to live without me, he said

Learn to live, he said

I am but a fool’s comfort

I’m your betrayer, destroyer of your peace


For long I watched you frail

For long I waited a change

The longer I was, the longer you were

A junkie symbiotic, hooked and stained.

I’m leaving you my friend, he said

We can’t thrive together, I see

I’d bring your end and your end would bring mine too

And that I cant let be


You were my muse

The object of my whim

I set you free my friend

My love soaked betrayal indeed.


Karthik

The magic 8 ball

Photo shot by my buddy : Bharrat  http://flickr.com/bkminc

“Dude…., What happened?”. 



The phone buzzed and I yanked the smart menace from my pocket to give it a scan. I was waiting for a message alright but this time around, it came from the wrong sender. I wasn’t really waiting intently for Vicky to drop me a text.


“Bad mess man. Things got outta hand. I’m a little worried”, I replied.


The minute passed by without any other vibrating interruption. 


Restlessness had a way of finding my otherwise carefree life. Matters of the heart and restlessness were a couple meant to be, I reckoned. A simple conversation led to complicated discussions over pointless directions to life and presto, ugly fight. This time it felt different. This time, I felt an odd conviction in the spiteful heated exchange. We had managed to tear across the veils of niceness to reveal a dormant darkness that was now wide out in the open. The exchange made me wonder if everything that we had was based on a lie which was now crumbling to nothing under our feet. 


“Listen… try Magic 8 ball” , the phone buzzed to activity again.


“What??? What’s that?” I enquired. 


A long wait later, the explanation came in the form of a stupid wiki page. I skimmed through the verbose in a hurry and understood the crux of it. One had to ask a question and the magic 8 ball would offer a simple counselling with “Yes”, “No”, or a “maybe”. Digital 8 balls would offer phrases which would hint towards that yes , no or a maybe. 

“Let me give it a shot”, I confirmed. 


The skeptical cynic that I was, I decided to vet it before I popped the questions that meant a lot to me. 

“Am I a rock n roll fan? ” , I quizzed the ball .

Connecting to the oracle for an answer….. , a message was displayed while the 8 ball was trying to determine the secrets of being me. 
“Definitely YES”, it replied after a momentary pause. 

I smiled. I was satisfied with the answer. Cool, I thought to myself. I put the ball to a few more questions. I wanted to test the bias of the 8 ball. It answered a few of my questions. Some were yeses, some were no. Convinced that this 8 ball was accurately predicting my fate, I decided to pop the question.


“What’s it saying” Vicky buzzed. I guess he was as impatient as I was. Friend indeed kinda moment it was. 

“5 mins.. wait” , I replied in a hurry.


It was unsettling. The question was clear as clear can be in my head. I didn’t have to think hard to articulate it. The hesitation hinged on the fact that I wasn’t ready to accept the answer which I was terrified of. I wasn’t prepared to hear the inevitable being conveyed. The magic 8 ball had got all my questions answered right. To my mind, it was spot on with it’s answers. I was convinced that this 8 ball was the door to predicting my future. I had access to the secrets that fate had in store for me. It was unsettling.

I mustered the courage to type in the question. My mind, body , soul and everything that was connected to me were intently focused on what the 8 ball had to say.



SCREEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEECH. 

It was a moment’s notice. The moment had overwhelmed me and I couldn’t help but steer my attention away from the road. Thank god I wasn’t driving fast. In my moment of utmost attention to the magic ball, I had not realized that I had jumped a signal. My bike banged a car head on. The impact had flung me away from the two wheeler. The driver of the car got down. 

He wasn’t angry and he wasn’t screaming at me. That was a whole different new!!!! I half expected to get punched by him!


“Are you ok kid? ” , he asked with a certain concern.

“I….I’m ok sir”, I replied brushing off the road rash I had managed to acquire. 


“Eyes on the road , young man”, He said. “Whatever conversation that you are having, what ever it is that you were busy doing, Kinda would have amounted to nothing had you died this very instant“. “Take care, man”, he said as he walked back to his car and drove off. 


It was a close call. The shock of the accident had yanked me away from the digital reality that I was lost into. I’d rather meet her and talk to her instead of waiting for some application to tell me my fate!!!! I had tempted my fate today. 


I picked up my bike, and before I revved it up, I did the smart thing of putting my phone on silent. 

I guess the magic 8 ball did predict my future. It reminded me to stay alive to have a future 🙂


Karthik

Apples and oranges Oh My!!! 

Lets cut to the chase. All talks on apples and oranges and our minds associate the words with the word “COMPARISON“. I could be talking about the apple I Phone and Orange network. But no. The mind goes to the word comparison. 



And that ladies and gentlemen, is because of the magic of association


In a world of Averages, if we are not a part of the average section of the graph, chances are good that we are either slackers or we are ultra achievers. And so the realization dawns that both slackers and achievers are kinda upto something that the average section of the world seems to be incapable of doing. The very distinction between slackers and achievers is based on “parameters” and an underlying assumption that the parameters are universal and accepted norm. 


Okie dokie. So The blog seems to be hinging around Association , conclusions based on them associations, and hence it’s inevitably talking about Comparisons. Damn straight. That’s what this blog is about. 


And so I suddenly wondered about Albert Einstein’s kid’s names. I’ve not read about them ever before. I had no reason to read about his kids. I wasn’t sure if he even had one(some). Kinda didn’t really matter if Alby was ‘Settled’. The fact that it barely matters is because he’s achieved so much more that this aspect of his life barely matters to the wider world. 

The thought took me back to 2016. It was a hard phase of the year. I sat down to list out the nature of my life. I wrote down the list of things that made me realize that I was a loser. I also wrote a list of things which made me feel that I had managed to accomplish something in life. The list penned down , I let my thoughts flow around how people viewed me. What people chose to see in me. What people thought defined me. There was a massive diversity to that point of view.


How people viewed me was a very subjective matter. It really depended on the sample set of who were viewing me. From the maamis and maams of my world, They couldn’t care a damn about how much I could write or how much time I invested in music. That’s ok pa. You should find a wife who is interested in literature or a teacher or something would be their standard response. 

I viewed myself from the eyes of the set of budding writers that I managed to meet last year. They saw me as a Murakami / Proust wannabe. Your words reflect a profound journey of life Karthik, they’d tell me from time to time. Addressing myself as the goofy kid in the city felt ridiculous. I felt amused at how far their assessment of me was from how I viewed myself. I neither protested nor let it go to my head. I smiled and thanked them for their kind words. I walked out of the hall feeling a little scared that I might never measure up to their expectations. 

From a rocking rebel to a bloke who flaunts process, to a soft spoken gentle mannered bloke, From being an eccentric crazy nut bag, there are far too many versions of me in the eyes of people who pass me by. I’m all of it and I’m none of it. What I am , unfortunately did not really matter much to the world which had measured and paraphrased me to a neat crisp gist. 

Back to the association and the comparison. We can’t help but compare. We view the world around us. The averages around us seem to be the norm of what is and what should be. There are days when I comply to that average. There are days when I’m in a blatant state of non conformance. How I view myself is determined by which side of me I choose to indulge. Am I the guy who’s had a hand in a few passions, or Am I the bloke who’s missed the simple milestones that everybody could coast through easily!!!!! Which one mattered more? 

I don’t have an answer to that question. I don’t know what matters to me more. I don’t know because I’m playing for both teams. I secretly enjoy my accomplishments and In secrecy, I am guilty and ashamed of falling flat on world’s simple milestones which others comply quite easily. 


The decisive factor is that association. What do I associate with the words ‘Normal’, ‘Successful’, ‘Doing good’. or the negative ones like ‘Loser’, ‘Failure’, ‘Embarrassment’. 

We live in a world of apples and oranges. When we try hard to be an apple, the world wants us to be like the zesty orange. When we switch gears and aspire and work towards being a clementine, the world says we make a lousy apple. And then we are green in the land of red apples and Mandarin when the world roots for a sweet orange. 

We live in a world of comparison. We are judged. Regardless of folks around us letting us in on how we are being judged, regardless of knowledge or ignorance, we are but definitely being judged. There is no easy way around it. Make due with what we are and power on. 

Einstein’s kid? Got a name yet???? 

The sheer pointlessness that is Einstein’s kid’s name is, is a reflection of the pointlessness that keeps us miserable and unhappy. Maybe something to think about 🙂



Karthik

At the gates of heaven

My heart seemed to have a rhythm of its own. The palpitation kicked in and I could feel the tremors of a wild beating on my shirt. I forced a swallowing of my saliva and hoped it would calm the beats. I tried. I obviously failed. I took deep breaths and then gave up. I was clueless to the ways of calming my heart. 



Left by myself, I could hear the echoing of my heels clicking against the pristine white tiled floor. The walls were two toned. Blue and white. A quick thought flashed in my head. Abi always liked blue and white. I guess I wasn’t surprised that his house was coated in blue and white. Each step I took, the reverberating sound of my heels clicking felt unsettling. klickkkkkkkk, klooooooock, klickkkkkkkk, klockkkkkkkk, It almost felt like a song of chirping grandfather clock. 


A short walk later, I was finally there. I gazed my eyes upon his peaceful childlike face. Nothing had changed in the last one year. The peace in his face was something that even angels would covet. I paused on that gaze for a while. I still wasn’t sure about kicking off a conversation. All the history, everything we had been through and I still didn’t have anything to talk about! 

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Abimanyu was a friend of my friend. We had met over a dinner. What started as a casual flirt, his silly charm did a number on me. I liked the simplicity he brought to life. He always had the right set of funny lines. He handled himself well and he made me feel safe and comfortable. I could say that I was happy and myself when I was with him. 

The first few months, it was usually a routine of sorts. We’d make it a point to meet on Fridays. We both chose to keep things on the down low. We didn’t want our friends making a deal out of what we apparently had. We both felt that it was too early to even speculate a commitment. I enjoyed the secrecy. I definitely enjoyed the attention. 

We had our favourite coffee place in the city. Their cakes were heavenly. We’d usually share a slice of chocolate gateau. Coffee soon was followed by walking under the mesmerizing night lights of the city. The council park was the best pick to walk at night. The gentle rustle of leaves by the breeze, the moon surrounded by its twinkling admires, in time we both had managed to fall for each other and fall head over heels over our nice comfortable magical routine. 

“Like a necklace made of a massive Pearl and glittering diamonds”, Abi would describe the night sky. He was as sweet as sweet could be. He was the best that had happened to my life that year. He was everything that one could ask for. I enjoyed his company. He was a breeze to strike conversations with. I could talk just about anything with him. He was charming and caring. He felt sincere. I had almost started to believe that blokes like him only existed in the books of fiction stacked neatly in libraries. He was different.

The time we were together, I had never seen him lose his cool. I was absolutely certain that he was incapable of raising is voice. Deep down, the perfection which I felt he was, made me feel uncomfortable. Life had taught me that when things were too good to be true, they usually weren’t true. I put him through a scanner and he passed quite comfortably. Deep down, my instincts were screaming that he had a dark side to him. They were hidden away behind his calm baby like smile. 
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I saw him through the grilled door. He was sitting still. Things considered, his calmness was quite unnerving. I waited for the guard to buzz me through the sentinel door. The button pushed , the silence of the room echoed with activity. The door electrically slid making an humming noise. The subtle ruckus turned his gaze towards me. He was dressed in blue. Perfect, I thought to myself. He stood up to greet me. 

We hugged upon our first meet in ages. 

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I stayed conspicuous of Abi’s anger. That was probably his only evil. He was irritable at times and that fuelled his rage. It was a rare oddity, his temper outbursts. It was a force to reckon with. While I was worried about this darkness in him, I brushed it aside by assuring myself that he was perfect otherwise. I made a conscious effort to not incite that rage in him. I knew women who had put up with things more worse than anger issues. I consoled myself that I could live with it. 

In hindsight, maybe I shouldn’t have. If only I was as smart back then as I am now. 

As we grew closer together, we couldn’t help but converge the other influences that affected our lives. He for one was not enthusiastic of my workplace. The late hours, my colleagues, there was this constant nagging sense of insecurity in him. I’d assure him that there was nothing that he would have to worry about. Most days it worked like a charm. He’d not show his dissent. There were days when our arguments would get ugly. He’d apologize later, I’d apologize later. Patching up was an easy affair. 

That eventful evening, I unlocked my doors and found him sitting in the dark. He asked me about the evening and I said I was at work. My answer made him lose his cool. He said he had dropped by my work earlier that evening. The guard had told him that I had left for the day.

Of course that was true. A colleague was getting married later next month and our team of quirky goofballs decided to hit the city to celebrate. I didn’t make much of the thing and I didn’t deem that information worth sharing. As his anger spiralled out of control, I soon found myself confronting my greatest fears. 

There he was, he held a kitchen knife in his hand. He accused me of betraying his trust and he declared his resentment of ever having known me. With that, one swift motion, he stabbed himself. I cried out and in no time our neighbours came to our rescue. He was hospitalised. He’s been hospitalised ever since. The doctors said there was something wrong with his mind. 

***************************************

We broke our embrace and we spoke a little about his new life. He seemed to be happy. Thirty minutes of pointless , directionless, stoic conversation later , it was time for me to leave. We parted ways with a smile. I’ll be back again to see you, I assured him. He finally let go of my hands. I saw the tears leave his eyes and race towards his cheeks. I got up and headed back towards the grilled door. 



***************************************

How’s she doctor, I finally asked. Is her condition improving? 

The coldness in the doctor’s face was a testament to the news that I didn’t want to hear. 

She’s losing grip over reality, the doctor declared. It was a year ago right, when she stabbed you on new year’s eve? Her fragile mind fractured again and ever since, she’s come to believe that you had stabbed yourself. The truth was probably too much for her to handle. She lives in a reality of her own. Her schizophrenia is degenerative. There are days of docile lucidity. Today was one. There are days when she gets hysterical. Paranoid Schizo is a tough battle to wage against. Give her time. Maybe things will get better. We can only hope at this point in time. 

I don’t know doc, I protested. She seemed alright when we first met. She was a bit excessively suspicious. I thought it was normal for couples for feel that tinge of insecurity. She could never come to terms with the fact that things were working good between us. She always felt that I was hiding away something. Something waiting to explode. The more time we spent together, her restlessness grew. 

That new years eve, I was waiting for her at her place. I said I visited her office and the guard said that she had left. She lost it. She said I doubted her and that I didn’t trust her. She said she knew that there would be a day when I’d show my true self and I would unleash hell upon her life. It’s sad. Such a wonderful woman, with demons as her mind. 

I walked away from the asylum. Heaven, the place was called. I found it hard to comfort myself by saying that she was in heaven! Trapped in heaven by the hell her mind created, I mused. Cest la vie! 

Karthik 

The things I don’t understand 

It’s been a while since I’ve been to the movies. Imagine my surprise when the flag was on display and the audience was instructed ( coz we cant really tag it to a request now can we! ) to raise when the anthem was being played. It was a nice sight to see all our folks stand still and pay their respect to the song. 




While I complied to the ask, I spent the next hour and so wondering about the nature of the act. Not that Assassins creed was a lousy terrible movie that couldn’t hold my attention. It tried and I watched it as sincerely as I could force myself to sit through it. I had far better thoughts running in my head.



Coming to the purpose such a gesture serves, I think it was a fantastic show of resolve and sensibilities that all of us stood still. I guess that means we are patriotic. Sure , why not. I love my land. I see no reason why I’d not choose to respect it. It’s the context that made little sense to me. 


I think respect is a commodity that comes best when it’s natural. This felt forced upon. Come to think about it, are we an insecure nation that we must remind ourselves at every given opportunity to vet our national inclination at each junction? Why in a movie hall? What’s so significant about playing the national song in a movie hall. A place which is the least of all formal places there can be, engaged in an activity which neither does tax the mind or has an intent to keep us intellectually engaged that requires our undivided attention! 

It made sense pay my respect to the anthem when it was played in my school. It was a formal gathering of sorts, the everyday prayers and stuff. It was a time dedicated for a purpose. And the intent was along the lines of inculcating values into young impressionable minds. While all of us complied with the anthem, most of us still had the phones screaming out their flashy ringtones through the movie. Civic sense took a sharp beating immediately. 


Are we at war? I guess one could argue along the lines of the surgical strikes and say that we are a nation which is in a state of war. But that aint true. We’ve survived decades in the same status quo. There has always been skirmishes across the fence. We’ve always retaliated. We’ve always had two nations , each taking pride at it’s ability to stand ground. It cant be the state of war. 

We are at an age where nationalism is abundantly displayed over the net. We tag folks into categories at the speed of light. Nationalist, Feminist, bhakt, Sexist, right winged, communist, a series of ISTs that run rampant. I don’t even know how many ISTs that I can be categorized under. Maybe we could borrow potter’s sorting hat to ease into an amicable solution. 

So this time around , what are we trying to achieve? I thought and then thought some more and gave up. It’s my duty as a citizen to pay respect to my nation’s song. It’s a mandate as being a human to exercise a little common sense. And so there I was. Trapped between staying duty bound and silently laughing at a few policy maker’s decision to give their insecurities an indulgence! 

I guess there will always be things that I will never really understand! Ignorance is bliss and I’m Zen-like! 

Karthik