I want to tell you

‘Never believe anyone who tells you that they don’t know what to tell you’.

I blinked clueless. Of course, I had told a lot of folks just that. I opted let silence have its moment.

‘People know exactly what to tell you. They probably aren’t sure if they should tell you or otherwise. Anyways, I know exactly what to tell you. I precisely know where to being. I think I know where I’ll end.’

That seemed fair enough to me. I nodded my head in acknowledgement.

‘I wouldn’t disagree with others when they say that the town where I grew up , was a lousy one. There was nothing interesting ever going on there. The houses were bruised and damaged. The people never had the right amount of money to repair their homes to a satisfied perfection. The houses survived. The residents endured. Unlike the movies and books that I had read, the town wasn’t made of a bed of grass, picket fences of white, there weren’t many colourful vibrant flowers that looked like a rainbow that had fallen from its place in the sky and landed right on our town.

Dusty, filthy, grimy. That was more the realistic description of the place. As I said, I wouldn’t disagree with others on the town. I wouldn’t blame them. They were not the chosen ones. They weren’t kissed by the lady luck. They weren’t your neighbours. I was. The first time I saw you, you were holding on to your mom’s finger as you both walked into your new home. Yours, was just as dilapidated as ours. ‘Is this our new home mommy?’. That was the first time I had heard your voice. I imagined that it would have been sweeter than what I had heard. Eavesdropping , secretly , behind the incognizant comforts of my window made me believe that your voice must have sounded much sweeter in person. I was eight. It was an innocent curiosity. I had to wait restlessly for a few more weeks before I got to meet you in person. Those two weeks I had given my mom hell. I had bugged her and annoyed her to the brink of insanity. She finally managed to pick the cues on my subtle hint to meet you and your family. It took me two weeks to pass that message. Those were the most exciting two weeks of my life.’

I hadn’t realised any of this. I had never strained to even fathom a guess that there could be something beyond the norm. I did feel a bit ashamed and guilty of never having bothered to ask any of these before.

‘Well, so that was that. You did sound sweeter in person. Angelic, that was the word that had popped into my mind that day. The years that followed were good. We were thick as thieves. I thanked the stars for the options. We had none. Advantages of living in a ghost town. The years were kind. The passage of time brought us closer. I was almost sure, back then, that one of us would die in the arms of the other. I knew that we’d grow old in each other’s company. With time, I had learnt of different words that defined that sentiment.’

I was speechless now. I hadn’t known there was love locked away in his heart!

‘Well, so that was that. Your mama died one winter morning . We cried under our tree that night. You cried because your mom wasn’t there anymore. I cried because you cried. I had a nagging feeling of things to come. There wasn’t much that I could do anyway. You’d have eventually made your choice. You’d have moved off , no matter what I could have said.’

I felt bad about the broken heart. Life, I wondered. It wasn’t uncommon for folks to experience a broken heart. Hell, I’ve survived a few jolts myself.

‘So here is the deal. Never believe in anyone who tells you that they don’t know what to tell you. I’ve always known what to tell you. I’ve never had the courage to tell you though. I panicked at first. It was the right moment to tell you what I wanted to. I didn’t. And then a few more opportunities, I had squandered them away. I could have, If I wanted to. I had weighed the options. They weren’t favourable. I knew you wouldn’t leave behind your life in the big city and head back to the town for me. When you wrote to me about that ‘Ricky fella’, and I knew that I had missed my chance. And so I didn’t have a reason to tell you anything anymore.

I’ve spent many months sitting in the dark. I’ve spent a few tears. I struggled with the reality that you wouldn’t be there anymore. I felt hurt and helpless. I hated the way the time had flowed its course. There wasn’t a thing, not one thing, that I could do to change back time. It hurt to accept that. It hurt to know that I was hurting. I guess that was that.

I wish I could tell you all of this. I wish I could tell you all that I’ve always felt. None of that means anything anymore. There is no consolation to having words thrown into your ears. I see the pointlessness to it. We had become two people, separated in mind, time and thought. I couldn’t fight that anymore. It’s still nice to know that someday, when I’m gone, you’d magically get to read this. Wishful thinking. Some times, that’s all there is to things. You hope and then hope some more.

Things are getting better though. I don’t hurt as much. Doctors say that I wont remember much anymore. Amnesia does that to you. Of all the million things I once remembered about you, these days I struggle to hold on to any memory. This is my final fight against the flow of time. I shall not let my words fade away into black. I guess that’s that’.

I couldn’t help myself cry. I had never realised that Mr Credence had this side to him. I was the nurse who looked after the patients in this ward. Mr Cre had been with us for long. We are the kind of hospital where old people, who have nobody to take care of them, come to. We are like a hotel of sorts. Pay for care.

The doctor did say that he had a degrading memory. I wish I could have sat with him, listened to the tale of his life. He had passed away yesterday. I had to pack his things and box them away for scrapping. No next of kin. there wouldn’t be anybody to claim his belongings. Mr Cre’s letter , I found it neatly tucked away in his cupboard. I wish I knew who the lady was in his letter. I wish I could pass his message to her.

I turned off the lights. The room smelt of disinfectant. It was ready to house another soul. It was ready to hear another tale of a life.

Inspired by the words of Pablo Neruda. Thanks Shix. 🙂



Ink and life

ZZZZZZZZZZZZRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRR . That was the noise that quietened the noise in my head. Zzzzzzzzzzzr, then the noise was muffled a bit. And hello pain.

The story doesn’t really start with the numbing pain. In fact, it doesn’t even end on that painful note. The bags packed to Liverpool, I knew it was the right moment to get another tattoo. On an impulse, I had finalized on what I wanted to get. The same impulse got me an appointment. The dates were now set. The design was now set. To go or not to go with the plan, was the only question running in my head.

Getting a second tattoo did pose challenges of a different kind. Once one has experienced the needle, the nature of questions around tattoos does change. Does it hurt? , is a question no longer asked. Of course, it was going to hurt. It was always going to hurt. I knew that. The new batch of questions were around,

Do I really need this one?

Am I dumb enough to go through the process again?

Do I really really really want this one for all my life?

The first tattoo was a child of a lifetime of desire to get inked. I had invested a lot of time into thinking about symbols and formulating the wider deeper meaning of what it stood to represent. I knew that I’d do whatever it took to get that first tattoo. The second one was different. I didn’t have anything to prove to anyone. I didn’t need another tattoo to tell the world that I was demented enough for a tattoo. I hadn’t really invested a lot of time and thoughts into what I wanted. The fact that I wasn’t a 100% sure on what I wanted, also pushed me to have second thoughts about them.

Did I really need one? Yup. Was I dumb enough to go through the process again? Yup. Do I really really really want this for all my life? I guess so.

I guess so. That’s the whole point. There is so much life spent around those words. I GUESS SO. Choices that sit on the fence that separates decisions and doubts. I guess so is the easier road to take. We are almost there. Nearly confident that we are geared up for the unknowns that are ahead of us. There is a fear of that uncertainty. I guess so is a win win state to be in. It’s not the same as staying inert because of the paralysis of fear. It’s not the same as galloping bravely into the arms of the future. It’s a slow , cautious walk in a direction. Any direction.

I guessed that I could use another tattoo. The first thing that came to my mind was the full moon. I remember the many days I’ve spent admiring the ball of white. It wasn’t the white that I fancied. I liked the orange full moon. That was almost immediate. I had opted to ink a full moon that was a ball of Orange. With that in mind, there was a destination to look forward to.

The decision now made, I wanted to spend a little more time understanding the whys of my choice. Moon shares a deep association with spirituality. Spiritual aspirants draw on the moon’s grace in their journey. The colour also had a meaning. I wasn’t surprised by my choices in them. Red and Orange. They both deal with the first two chakras.

The skeptic , within me, calls this as Confirmation bias. I had made my choice and was looking for meanings to tag along. The believer in me laughs at the chain of coincidences. I had never imagined getting a moon, of all things, inked. Far away from dreams of getting skulls and bones, there I was shooting for the moon.

The inking began. I tried to zone out of the pain. The process lasted two hours and there is only so much that one can tune out off. I got chatty with my tattoo artist, Mr Auris. Then I got bored of sitting idle and still. I even braved looking at the needles playing poke -e -man with my skin. In time, I got used to the pain, I was starting to get excited about the final product.

The two hours of pain and dreams did give me the opportunity to think. Somewhere along the first 15 minute mark, I wanted to give up. I didn’t want to believe in the tattoo any more. I didn’t see a purpose. I didn’t see why I had opted to sit through pain. It was the lousiest moment of the entire bloody day. I channelled out the pain by thinking about the image of the moon that I was aiming for, It didn’t bring me peace. Take that Dramatic moments written in literature.

It did distract me away from the pain. The wave of pain subsided. It didn’t feel hurt that bad for a while. The pain kept coming in waves. I sat satisfied that I could sit through it without tears. I had started to enjoy the moment. I was getting a tattoo. I was getting one that had 9 colours in them. That’s two more than the average joe Rainbow!

I guess life is like that. It’s exactly how we choose to reflect and describe. We either make a choice , or sit around wishing that we could make one. We either enjoy the choice made, or lament it. We either write a wonderful tale of purpose and joy, or lament it and blame the many factors that were unlucky. Life is what we make of it. And an ink is what I make of it.

I have a moon on my shoulder. I guess that makes me a star 🙂 and I can live with that.

Oh, live a life doing stupid things, you are bound to learn a lot of lessons. Getting inked during winter, in Liverpool, not the smartest of ideas. It does make me stronger though! A big bar of hazelnut candy made the experience a lot sweeter. Everything feels better with a baby diaper rash ointment!!!!!

I now have my eyes on the next batch! Third time is the CHARM

My tattoo of a full moon


Book review : The marble collector

“Hurtful things are roots,they spread ,branch out, creep under the surface touching other parts of the lives of those they hurt. It’s never one mistake, it’s never one moment, it becomes a series of moments, each moment growing roots and spurting in different directions”

Coverpage of The marble collector

The marble collector, Cecelia Ahern.

There was something about the book that made me pick it. I was oblivious to Cecelia when I picked a copy. Something appealed to my sensibilities and on an impulse, I had clicked it for a speedy delivery. It turned out to be a happy turn of events.

The marble collector is a warm tale of life, love, secrets, resentment and ties that bind a family together. The story starts with a little kid, Fergus, who gets punished at school. He spends a significant portion of the day , locked away in a dark room, under solitary confinement. The darkest of rooms does hold the warmest of light in Fergus’ life. His lifetime passion for marbles starts there.

Decades later, we are introduced to Sabrina Boggs. She leads a stagnated life. A job as a lifeguard in a country club for old people, a marriage in trouble, kids playing on her nerves, all of that renders her bored with her life. She survived her parents’ divorce when she was fifteen. Her dad is now under a special care. Doctors do recommend that stress had caused him to have a stroke and the stroke leaves him with an amnesia. Her dad doesn’t remember a lot. He gets a clean slate, fresh start to life. On days her mom visits the dad, they do enjoy their company. Irony. The couple had separated as they couldn’t tolerate each other any more and now with memories erased, they were finding a companionship that had always evaded them.

One morning, a mystery box arrives at Sabrina’s doorsteps. It has boxes and boxes of marbles in them. It has a note, written by her dad, that serves as an inventory of all the marbles collected. Some are precious, some are cheap, but all of them hold a mystery to Sabrina. Neither she nor her mom knew that their dad , Fergus , collected marbles. Two of the most expensive marbles listed in the inventory are found to be missing. Sabrina tries to find them.

As the road takes Sabrina closer to the missing marbles, they also take her closer to a side of her dad that she never did know. She learns that her dad was passionate about marbles. She learns that her dad had lived two distinct lives. As she inches closer to finding out the missing marbles, she also realizes that she has been missing out on quite a lot of her dad’s other life. Far away from a serious, workaholic man , his other life had been quite on the wild-enough side.

Rest of the tale is how the two worlds reconcile. Does her father regain his memories? Does the man who’d lost his marbles, finally find them? The book is a warm tale of a daughter who is on a quest to find out about her father.

The characters are plenty in the book. There is Fergus, his mom, dad and brothers. There is Fergus’ divorced wife. He still calls her his wife even though she now has been married to someone else. There is Sabrina, caught right in the middle of what she doesn’t know about her dad and what the rest of the world isn’t tell her about him.

The story outlines the price that one pays in order to keep secrets. Why did Fergus keep his passion for marbles a secret? Of course, it is rather silly for a grown man to play around with marbles. Was that silliness , or rather, was keeping that silliness a secret worth the price that he had paid in life? The book is a testament to simple honesty to life. The book talks about how hearts want to be honest. The book talks about how people don’t always readily award honesty. It’s one thing to want honesty but it’s a whole new challenge to hear it out.

The book’s themes centre around choices. It articulates on how a life branches out each time we make choices that keep us from staying true to our character. It is human to want to fit in. It is human to present our finest, best version of ourselves to the people that we want to impress. It is human to lie. An acceptance based on a foundation of lies, context determines if its worth the toll it takes to sustain that. The book captures that fracture. The irony is melancholic at best. We give our best, beyond what that is us, and in the end the relationship crumbles because we couldn’t just give ourselves for what we were.

The other arching theme is around the nature of relationships. Sabrina has a marriage that is under stress. Fergus’ ended up in a divorce. There are aspects that connect the causality of the state of their respective relationships. Honesty , I’d like to believe, is a by-product in a relationship. Contrary to popular sentiment that honesty is the holy grail of relationships, the book made me wonder about the lack of honesty. Why do the characters choose to hold secrets? Why aren’t the characters free to open up? In a relationship, it takes two to tango. Honesty often flows when the two vested people are receptive to each other. There are barriers that keep us away from honesty. Fear aces that list. Fear of losing the person. It’s in that pursuit of holding on to the people we end up doing a whole lot of things that destroy the said relationship.

The other big theme in the book is that of Association. I loved this to bits. Like it or hate it, we do tend to associate things to people. Marbles are a symbol throughout the book. They mean something else to Fergus, they mean something different to Sabrina. We are attached to things and that’s because we are attached to the people in our world. Things hold no meaning by themselves. This association gets delicately conveyed throughout the book. Fantastic job there.

The book did leave me with a thought that honesty in a relationship is probably not an entitlement. It’s earned by both. If honesty is reciprocated with punishing judgement, it is human to avoid confrontation. It’s easier to lie. The simplicity of the choices the characters make, their justified reasons, their individual pursuit of redemption, the consequences on people, I enjoyed every inch of this tale.

I’d definitely recommend the book. A simple story did leave me with lasting thoughts about the many marbles that I’ve lost.



The man who lost his marbles

I don’t live by many principles. I think principles bog us down. I do have a few and fortunately, I’m not a dogmatic bloke. I’ll go ahead and break my cardinal rule, well cardinal enough, and write a bit about a book that I’m currently reading.

The story, or the story so far is about a man who’d lose his marbles. Both literally and figuratively. A marble collector survives a stroke and in the process loses his memories about the marbles that he had passionately loved for most of his life. He does keep that side of his life a secret. Secrets have a tendency to alter our choices in life. His choices take him further away from what he once was.

I’ve been thinking about this subplot today. I’ve been wondering about the men and women who have lost their marbles. Given the nature of life, the fact that it spans decades and in that process , offers us many chances to tweak ourselves, a lot of us remain true to a true north version of ourselves. Some of us change and adapt to the circumstances. Some of us pretend that change and remain glued to our nature.

I see this forced evolution as a means for acceptance or conformance. There is the other side of the spectrum here. There are rebels for the sake of rebellion. They fit into the context of an outcast because they find acceptance in that capacity. Potato, Po-ta-to, tomato deal here. I’d probably categorise all of them into a nice little folder called, ‘Pursuit of identity’.

Within the context of the book and the story so far, it’s about the man who grew up loving marbles. As a young lad, he puts efforts into mastering the different games that can be played with those little balls of glass. It’s a passion that consumes him and goes on to being his identity. Trouble comes brewing when he finds love. He hides his passion from his lady love and they marry. it’s on their honeymoon where he decides to come clean and tell his wife about his love for marbles. He picks an expensive one, that has a heart encapsulated within it. She ridicules him about it. And so he makes that choice to keep a portion of his life a secret. A secret from her, a secret from everyone around and a secret from the wider world.

Choices usually lead to more choices waiting to get made. Sometimes , we have options around them. Sometimes, it’s a forced decision. As far as stories go, I felt it was a trivial confrontation that could have been endured. He could come clean and deal with the consequences. As a reader, it was more than easy for me to conclude and pass judgement.

Then I thought a bit more about it. Aren’t we like the man who lost his marbles. Our reflex , spur of the moment decisions are not always the right ones. They do hold doubly true when it comes to people and our dynamics with them. To hold on to people, we start the game of pretending. We pretend some more and before we realize, we find ourselves leading multiple lives. Not that there is anything wrong with such diversity in the lives that we lead. It’s a simple problem of logistics. The more characters we exhibit, staying true to those traits becomes a challenge.

I think this is where life stops imitating art. Literature holds some of the purest framework for a good living. The words are made of gold, they inspire and stir emotions and are not so much fun to live by. Ideologically ideal is very different from pragma. We blend the shades and enjoy a grey existence. The man who had lost his marbles was a wonderful example of the price that one pays to live in that shade of grey. What part of ourselves should we sacrifice? How much of ourselves can we lose, in order to gain and sustain the people that we hold on to. Is that a sacrifice? Is it always worth it?

And so a Thursday of thoughts spin around a wonderful tale of a man who lost his marbles and his daughter who is trying to piece them all together. On a day like today, books and life, they both amuse me. Fact and fiction compete to be a reality.



A cycle of circles

Hmmmmmmmmmmmmm, followed by a brief moment of a pause. Ahhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh. The mechanical sound of assisted breathing wasn’t anything like I had ever imagined. Breathing. The simple, unappreciated , biologically reflex process of iterative inhaling and exhaling felt sinister and daunting when there was a machine assisting it along the way. I had never paid any attention to the sound of breathing ever before. It was the mechanical hum and a sense of distortion , which felt added to the natural sound of the rhythm ,that had caught my attention.

Hmmmm and an Ahhhhh. It felt scary.

The peace and quiet of the white, dull room of the hospital to the eeriness of the mechanical breathing. There was nothing comforting and assuring about the white walls anymore. It then dawned on me. The reason why hospitals pick those colours to paint their walls. I realized the colours played a role in messing with our psychology. It was a subliminal messaging of sorts. Everything about hospitals were to either assure that things would be ok or to pacify the agitated state of minds. My mind had been racing with many thoughts. I did feel a bit distracted at the moment. I couldn’t explain how I ended up in this state of the mind, but I was there nonetheless.

I saw my dad resting silently. Unaffected by the sounds and noise. Good for him. It felt reassuring to see him rest. The past few days were a nightmare. It all started a few months ago. I think age is just a number. When there is a medical professional at the other side of the table, reminding you of mortality and that in god’s mighty plan, nothing lasts forever; It shakes your steady , concrete foundation. Neither dad nor I were prepared for the news. Dad being dad, took it all with a stiff upper lip and his usual poker face. I am my dad’s son. I didn’t display the crushing emotions publically. Inside, I was just as broke as my dad was. The news had changed our worlds. Yeah, doctors do tend to alter lives, more than god has ever altered.

I found it peaceful to see dad rest. I think , deep down , deep within his rock exterior, he had accepted his fate. He no longer resisted it. Unlike what the self help books prescribe, acceptance does not always translate to a better living. The deeper my dad’s acceptance penetrated within him, the frailer he started to appear. He was a mirage of his former self. Disinterested, disconnected and lived a hopeless existence. It pained me to see him that way. I guess , my dad also endured such a pain. He would no longer look me into my eyes. His gaze found a new way of staying distanced. We no longer spoke. We both had accepted this twisted new fate and silently choose to drift away into fears and oblivion.

That changed a three days ago. A ride in a manic ambulance does that. Circumstance had changed my dad once again. I think it was more to do with the realization of the dwindling eternity of time ahead that forced the change. Weak and distraught, my dad finally managed to see me in my eye. It was a moment , of something that I couldn’t even being to explain. It meant we both had made a choice to live in the present. We both had chose to ignore the future. Future didn’t matter, especially when there wasn’t a future ahead.

The doctors got busy and they wouldn’t let me see dad for a while. The sun had risen and had poised to set. The orange hue of the sunset dictated the flow of time. It was the first of the many conversations that dad and I managed to catch up. It had been a while. We had grown strangers in time. Dad told me of his days. How he’d ride a crowded train, on its steps, for three hours each day. He’d commute through rush to watch mom for five minutes. He’d wait by the gate and watch her walk into her university. He’d watch her leave for home in the evening. That five minutes of bliss was evenly split across the day the and the evening.

Dad paused and asked me about my tryst with love. He had never had the time to contemplate the circle of life that I’d go through. He thought there’d always be time for that chit chat. It was finally the time. I told dad about the heart. Parts broken, parts sewn back together. My dad, rather weakly, brushed my hair and said it was the way of life. He said that people often meet the right people on the rightest moment in time. For some, all it takes is a few minutes. For some, it takes a whole lifetime. Everybody eventually meets their people on the rightest moment in time.

Dad then spoke about how his world had crashed when mom passed away. He confessed his supressed guilt of choosing work to drown his sadness. He felt bad that he wasn’t there enough. None of that mattered anyway. Not any more.

Things improved for a while. We had two more days of long conversations. The doctors would take him away from time to time. Each time he returned, he looked more broke than before. I knew it wouldn’t be long now. There was only so much a man could break. I knew my dad would hit rock bottom fast. I had already reached there.

Hmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmm.. Ahhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh.. The noise started to haunt again. There was dad. There wasn’t much that I had to tell him now. All had been said. I wanted him to know that everything would be alright. I couldn’t find the words. I couldn’t. The body wouldn’t. The last thing that I ever saw was the most beautiful sight of my dad, resting peacefully.

Ah crap, I thought to myself. It wouldn’t last for long.

Fade to black.



Book Review : The trouble with goats and sheep

“You only really need two people to believe in the same thing, to feel as though you just might belong.”

The trouble with goats and sheep , Joanna Cannon.

Coverpage of The trouble with goats and sheep

Sometimes the whole wide world is a small place. There is no vast expanse. There are no far away horizons. The trouble with goats and sheep is a tale of such a small world. 12 to be precise. This is a tale of 12 houses in an avenue. The avenue comes alive because of its inhabitants. The people are fantastically portrayed.

One very hot June in 1976, Mrs Margaret Creasy goes missing. This jolts the residents of the avenue. They are a very tight close knit community. The disappearance disrupts their lives. Mrs Creasy was the heart of the avenue. She spoke to all , without any reservations. Everybody felt warm and nice in her company. Her disappearance leaves a gaping hole in the lives of the 12 families.

Gracie, a ten year old, and her friend Tilly , an almost a ten year old, take it upon themselves to solve the case of the disappearance of Mrs Creasy. The girls do miss her. The embark upon a quest to find her. Their journey takes them to a very interesting junction. If only they could find God , everybody would be protected and all will be better again. By implication, finding god , they feel that they’d manage to bring Mrs Creasy back into their lives again.

And so the kids start their investigation.

The kids go about the neighbourhood asking the adults if they believed in God and if they had seen one. Each character has a representation of god and the diverse answers that the kids get, leave them convinced that god doesn’t really reside in their avenue. God wouldn’t, and there is a reason for that. While kids struggle to uncover the mystery, the adults are holding on to a terrible sinister secret. The adults are nervous about Mrs Creasy’s vanishing act because it had attracted the police’s attention. The adults do worry about what the police might discover.

Hidden away within the confines of the avenue that houses 12 families, One cold winter in 1967 , the residents make that decision to burn down the house with the door #11. Why ? Mr Walter Bishop. Mr Bishop is perceived as creepy , wicked, and a pervert. The families bank on collective evidences to justify their justice. They pick a night ,when Mr Bishop and his mum are away, to burn the house down. The logic behind the act was that without the house, there wouldn’t be a Mr Bishop in their neighbourhood.

The plan goes well. The house does burn down and it is made to appear like an accident. Unfortunately, Mr Bishop and his mum get caught in the blaze. The mum falls victim to the incident. This does bear down a bit on the collective conscious of the residents.

The narrative swings between that winter in 1967 and the current summer in 1976. As the girls prod about Mrs Creasy, we get to uncover the series of events that led to that fateful night. Rest of the tale is about the fate of Mrs Creasy. Is she dead? Was she murdered? Did she leave because she figured out that the residents had killed Bishop’s mom? The community starts to crumble under it’s own weight of guilt and prejudice.

The book is about the collective conscious. This book beautifully captures the dynamics of families living together as a closed community. Each character brings a bag of prejudice and bias to the table. Each character is flawed and broken. Each character tries to fit in, and find that sense of belonging to the wider community.

The conflict between conformance and fitting in with staying unique and true to character is portrayed through the eyes of the two little heroes, Gracie and Tilly. The girls are a social outcast in their school. They do not fit in. They get bullied. Gracie looks up to another kid, Lisa, and tries to ape her to gain acceptance. Gracie is prepared to do what it takes to fit in.

Tilly on the other hand, has an overprotective mom who smothers her all the time. Tilly wants to be free, she wants her dad, who is separated from her mom, to acknowledge her and accept her. Tilly feels that being Gracie’s friend is all the acceptance that she needs in the world. The contrasting nature of the girls serves as the perfect juxtaposition to the community and Mr Bishop , who the community unanimously detests.

The biggest theme explored in the book is about conformance to society and the nature of the society to tolerate people who are different. Under the pressure of wanting to fit in, many of us do the things that we do. We gang up and pick on people who are different. While , as individuals, we do not express strong views; under the safety of numbers, we do tend to promote the ravaging beast that we hold dormant within.

I loved this book. The characters are sculpted to near perfection in the book. It holds a mirror to us as a society. It makes us think.

Give this a shot.



Not on display!

Exciting times indeed. I could play Nostradamus and take a shot at predicting the near future. I see pain and satisfied smiles. Possibly a tinge of disappointment, however, the mood would be still the one of joy and smiles.

Almost an accurate prediction, if there could be one. With the bags almost packed, there was an imminent catch up that I wouldn’t even dream of missing. A quick hop on a train later, I’d be in the land of the Liver bird again. A city that I’ve come to love and that’s mostly because of the crazy bloke who resides there. Funny enough, all the memories of the city are tied to deep conversations, million laughs and a Tattoo. It’s almost time to add a little plural to that word. Tattoos, or at least that seems to be the plan.

For starters, I do not publically display my tattoo. I’ve got one that sits happy on my right shoulder. I could flaunt it, but I usually don’t. I’ve had a few questions being asked about the incognito status of that tattoo. It exists and to the world it doesn’t. That’s almost like I view things around. The world’s acknowledgement doesn’t deny an existence. There is a charm to that obliviousness.

What’s the point of sticking needles, shedding a little blood and enduring a prickly pain?

It’s a statement. To me, it’s a statement that I address to my self. My first tattoo was a semi-circle that contained a kanji that represented fire. I did weave a huge tale around it. The simplest explanation, it looked cool. The most complicated explanation, that’s the way I see life. The second one that’s cruising along my expectations is one of a harvest moon. A big ball of orange-red, decked with imperfections, riddled with lines of distortion. If the artist works a miracle, it has the potential to look beautiful.

What does it represent? It’s a bit too early in the day to stack thoughts to something that doesn’t exist today. Through the needles, I’ll figure something out.

Now that I’m pondering on the subject, the status of incognito, a display that’s denied, how does it affect us? In the cycle of all things considered, recognition plays a very vital role in ensuring satisfaction. We start off on our quest to get recognized and the subsequent desire is to get rewarded for that excellence. With recognition and rewards piling up, we saturate from it and move on to bigger things. We aim for actualisation. A state in which we contribute and still stay numb to the games of recognition and rewards. We are no longer burdened by who takes the credit, the insecurities that keep us on the top of our paranoia fuelled toes. We do, because we can. We help , because we can. We contribute because we can. It’s a fantastic state worth aspiring.

A lot of my personal passions are inclined towards the actualisation. Not necessarily in the purist sense. I do miss the recognition. I’m yet to get rewarded. I endure , I learn and I derive pleasure from the sheer act of contribution. When I don’t have sights on acknowledgement of my skills, there is no pressure. I can deliver at any pace that I see fit. The quality gates are strictly personal. I do set rather high , near impossible , quality standards. It’s fun to strive hard and fail miserably against self imposed yardsticks.

Similarly, a tattoo to me is a representation of a thought. It exists. It’s does not represent a contest that I have to contest in. It does not represent an output which is waiting to get judged and appreciated. It exists.

While getting inked is not everybody’s cup of tea with a fancy cake, I think what it stands to represent is a lesson that caters to most interests. It answers the question, ‘Why do we do the things that we do?’

I am reminded of this movie, Indiana Jones and the last crusade. Indie is on a boat, fighting for survival. The bloke asks him the purpose of his quest. ‘Are you doing this for his glory(God) or for yours?’ It’s such a profound quote that gets tossed around in a swashbuckling flick.

And so the anticipation game begins. It’s going to be a long week of hopes and dreams. The crescendo , in the third act, would probably be played in tears and blood. It’s probably going to be worth it. Or, in the humble words of Homer Simpson- the wise, ‘DOH!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!’



Oddities of Oddities

Sometimes, what They say is true. Not all the time. And most definitely not everything that goes said. The first oddity is that sometimes, things do pan out right. One such specimen of the things that go said is ‘ An idle mind is a devil’s playground’. Indeed.

Science is at odds with beliefs and the existence of a devil is , but of course, questionable at best. There are devils. Stay assured of that. Just as how inevitable the existence of a devil is, an idle mind is right there too. An idle mind is inevitable. Resistance to that idea is futile. The mind eventually, and definitely, does catch up. So back to what they say; It is during this burst of blankness of a mind, where we find our greatest foe.

And just like that, one morning , I learnt something new. I knew what connected Cancer, Alzheimers, Jeff Dahmer, Ted Bundy, MK Gandhi , to name a few personalities. Add a touch of hues across the color spectrum, throw in a bit of archaic Jungian archtypes and the degrees of separation across all the entities were starting to blur. The connection, what was it? , you ask me. It was me. It could have been you. It could be anybody.

The trouble with looking for something in a haystack is that you eventually end up finding something lying dormant there. The idle mind, the random disconnected searches, the indulgence in silly tests to kill time and boredom, and I realized I could be anything and anyone. The digital crawl was eventful in being pointless. It had served its purpose though. The time spent wisely had fuelled the bored mind. The mind is such a fascinating device. It , to me , is almost the most perfect pattern mining tool there ever is. A mind seldom requires a robust rational to dole out sequence of patterns. To it, everything makes sense. To it, nothing makes sense. The lavish knowledge that the mind imparts , relies heavily on the gravity of the moment. The point in time is all what the mind is about.

The longer I let my mind wander aimlessly, the longer I realized the lack of direction in my thoughts. It reflected the lack of direction, I thought , I expressed in my life. Odds stacked, odds imagined, challenges loaded, I got into a biased mode of introspection. The land grew dark and gloomy, the mind descended into grimness. I had reached a point where I felt I was lost to any sight of purpose. The thoughts had hit a saturation point.

Not all is grim in this tale. This is a transient state that most of us loiter into. And then the fantastic happened. Half heartedly, I decided to unwind by hitting the gym. The bed had looked comfortable, the heater hymned a recognizable hum. I was wise to the trap that rested ahead. I knew I wouldn’t sleep, in the shape my mind was in. Hitting the gym was the sensible thing to it.

And so it started. The endurance test of sorts. For both the mind and the body. I decided to not vary out my workout pattern that evening. One cardio machine. One velocity. One activity. The only catch was that I’d burn for as long as I could. I would burn for as long as my grit and determination would let me to. Burn I did.

The first few minutes were horrible. The body expressed a dignified reluctance to defy its inertia. The mind branched wild. Still , was a word that I was a billion miles far away from. As the clock ticked forward, as I started to zone out and tune into the repetition induced state of trance, as my breathing fluctuated between its sudden spike to a practiced rhythm, I knew I had reached the gates of my land of bliss.

This state is called many things by many people. It’s a state where consciousness slips into the unconscious. Unconsciousness takes precedence. As I moved towards the auto pilot mode of the workout, I no longer had to deliberate on thoughts. In fact , it was the other way around. Thoughts first deliberated for that space in my head. Thoughts would struggle to gain a recognition from me. As the state prolonged, the thoughts cleared off. In time, there was nothing else to ponder about. In time, there was nothing.

The songs buzzing in my ear phones, my eyes closed to a lost melody that was heard but not listened to, the emptiness in my head started feeling comfortable. The songs changed, the sweat poured, the body tired, it was time to head back home.

I head back home feeling better, happier and thoughtless. Nothing mattered. I didn’t have the inclination to strain my thoughts towards the idleness that had invaded me all day. There was a sense of joy of staying alive and of existence. There was a joy of being me. There was a joy of not feeling the lull of the burdens that my head conjured.

And just like that, oddities met with oddities. This was an exchange of sorts. The challenges of the mind foiled by introducing challenges to the body. Most of us do the opposite, we calm the mind to foil the body in distress. Most days, it’s all the game of mind over matter and matter over the mind. When we play it, nothing else matters.

A simple thing like a workout has the capacity to reset our daily life. A good workout is just one of the many many ways of achieving this exchange of oddities. Hobbies serve that purpose. Altruism serves that purpose. In fact, anything can serve that purpose if one manages to substitute an unquantifiable commodity with a finite quantified challenge.

The simple pleasures of foxing the self 🙂



Take a hike, Charles Darwin

Darwin, or as his parents named him, Charles Robert Darwin, is not an unknown name to all of us. Right through the text books of science, we got indoctrinated to this theory of evolution through natural selection.

The simplest explanation of that theory is, ‘ Don’t do anything. Mommy nature knows best. You shall be evolved as she sees fit’. That’s Darwin’s sober way of saying , Go with da flow man. The theory has had a profound impact on our understanding of the world around us and our evolution as a species. We’ve earned the right to survive in this planet. As outlined in the anticlimactic premise of ‘War of the worlds’ , Homo sapiens as a species are now used to the inhospitable host that is Planet Earth. Through years of adapting and evolution, we exist without a glitch.

So far so good and that doesn’t make a worthy read in a blog. Let’s talk about the history of eugenics. Simplified and trivialised, Eugenics is the process of aunty ji picking vegetables in the market. She runs her own selection process. Why is the potato too fat, why aren’t the tomatoes in their usual blend of green and red, why is that banana too yellow?? And so the lady goes on, carrying out her perfected unscientific and yet tried and tested execution of food selection.

The markets paid attention to her choices. They started delivering potatoes that weren’t too fat. They picked the right color for that banana. And so you get the picture. Eugenics is man’s science dictating the terms and conditions for what is the best that meets functional and social needs. Eugenics is not a new concept. If I were to believe in what Hollywood has to offer, through the movie 300, we can believe that the ancient Spartans exercised a certain degree of eugenics. They wanted the next generation to meet a certain said standards. They achieved it through careful repopulation. That’s the scientific best that they could manage, given the advancements in science and tech in that era.

Surprisingly enough, even before a certain bloke with a funny moustache had determined ideas about racial purity , governments around the world had actually tried their hand at eugenics. They had celebrated it and accepted it as the best course that the species could take. Funny moustache guy turned the notch all the way to 11 and went nuts with it.

And then as a direct consequence, eugenics became a taboo and got associated to cruel and evil intent. The world refused to indulge in the concept for a while. Slowly and gradually, it started setting it’s eyes on this principle. Of course, we don’t call it eugenics anymore. We have means to identify abnormalities in us , hidden away in the ocean of our genes. We aim to correct it. As we unlock the secrets that are stored away in the DNA, we also unlock the means to dictate the constituents and attributes of what that DNA could represent. Welcome to the new supermarket of Humans. We are getting there. Within a decade, we can customize our progeny.

Grey eyes, black hair, perfectly functioning pituitary glad that would keep the kid from growing fat due to thyroids. The market is ripe, the demand is off the roof and for once, money would meet technology to meet the depths of the human expectation. So far , so good and I really don’t mind. A means to a fulfilling and a happier life is worth the amount of brain power that nerds invest into research. Two thumbs up there.

And so , given this road and where it can take us, It’s the road ahead that looks to be a bit grim. Selective genetics, elimination of imperfections in humans, marketed standards that define what is and what isn’t a perfect human, that scares me. With out any advancements in genetics, the world did manage to dictate that slim is in, fair is in, blue eyes are angelic and the world let its people dwell in misery because of conceived social norms of perfection. All of that, without the ability to alter the genetic makeup. Using just cosmetics, the world managed to divide it’s people. People saw themselves different. The great big divide and inequality still reigns supreme.

That road down the line, the ability to course correct the natural selection of evolution, it challenges both our humanity and also poor old Darwin’s take on mommy nature. As always, it’s not the science that scares me. It’s the way that science gets adopted into the mainstream society. It’s the ability of the society to breed misery , that is a cause for concern.

I do find cyber punk a very interesting genre in science and fiction. Even at a psychology and behaviour strains, cyber punk captivates my attention. Bread and butter of a punk dystopian society is through eugenics. We are slowly inching towards that.

Sure is nice to play god 🙂



The charms of simplicity

It’s almost a weekly affair now. Most Fridays, I make it a point to hit the screen at BFI Imax. I enjoy watching movies on the biggest screen there is. While the experience of watching movies on the screen has been consistently the same, the experience of the movie itself , I’ve felt a change.

Like most of us, I’d head into the movie hall after catching a glimpse of the hype generated in the social webs. The movie does what it does. The expectations either get met or get decimated. Within the first five minutes of walking out of the movie hall, I’d have left a comment on Facebook. Oh yeah, the ritual also starts with checking into the movie hall. Brownie points made of love and pointlessness.

Carrying the routine over an iterative number of 10, I started realizing that the whole exercise of reviewing the movie was in fact detrimental to the movie watching experience. It’s perfectly alright to watch a movie, review it at lengths, infer a billion things from it, share the opinion and get pulled into a heated debate over rubbishing it or justifying the greatness that was on display.

I started to realize that by wanting to make a point, I had ended up missing a point. While a movie, or any other activity or source of distraction that we indulge in, is meant to distract us from the daily routine of life. The 3 hours invested, the book read, the art painted, the music composed, they are a source of escape from the clutches of a routine. Their primary priority is to reset our minds. Leave us feeling fresher by helping us break the cycle of an auto pilot routine.

I then applied a different filter to the viewing experience. Was I entertained? Yes or a No. And that was a sufficient yardstick of a measure to me.

We live in the age of instantaneous mastery of a subject. It usually takes an active internet account, a few wiki pages, a few minutes of quality web crawling to arrive at a certain degree of competence to form an opinion on any given subject. Over the last month, I reckon I’ve invested hours into the process of modelling clay, digital art work rendering, the capabilities of gaming engines like Unreal to have a pulse of what is possible to recreate over a digital medium. While it does make me a theoretical amateur on the subject, I’m also conscious of the fact that I still have zero skills and experience in actually getting any art rendered.

The same goes to other passions that I indulge in. The degree of my participation and my opinions vary based on the time I’ve invested into each of my consuming hobbies.

Goes back to the fundamental question. Why do we do the things we do? Do we do things, because we can and we have the means to do? Do we do things, because we love to reach a state of absolute perfection that garners adoration and admiration of audiences scattered across the globe? Do we do things, because we don’t have anything else to do? I really do wish that I had a hobby when I was a kid. Other kids collected stamps. I had a door, and I’d collect all the stickers that came free with a bar of chocolate. I’d religiously paste them on that door. That was that. My folks could no longer confidently call out the original colour of the door. The world did not have a glimpse of the stickered door.

There was a simple joy of peeling off stickers of He-man, Bat-Man, Gi Joes, Archies and just about anything that would come my way, and sticking them on the fabled door. I even had a sticker of Nag-Raaj there, in all his green glory. I miss that simplicity. I did that because I enjoyed doing it. No other soul in the planet was aware of the brightest satisfied smile that I on my face.

It’s hard for me , especially me, to imagine a world without a share. I often wonder , what it would be like to write and not publish. I do think about the satisfaction of making music and not putting them in sound cloud. There is also a soft satisfaction and contradictorily a longing desire to find an audience, each time I have something to share. I’d like to believe that nobody pays any attention to the content that I create. Certainly the statistics of the portal analytics corroborate that theory. I create content and share them anyways.

I guess man is a social animal and I’m more animal than other animals. There is a sense of accomplishment to it. Rest of the supply chain is something that I don’t mull over. I create what I feel like creating. People consume what they feel like consuming. As long as these two transactions don’t influence each other, I’d like to believe that things would be good.

On that note, What’s your take on simple experiences? When was the last time you enjoyed things without a care for a click or a share. When was the last time where your personal triumph was just your own personal triumph?