December 25, 2011

24 going on 16

This day, in 1987, about 2.30 am, I was born in a Dehradun hospital. When my father went home after my birth, my grandmother asked, "Kya hua?" (meaning: "Is it a boy or a girl?") My father replied, "Hemant hua." I was born in Hemant ritu, the coldest, err... the chilliest, season. And thus the name.

After the sun rose, my sister—who was then one-and-a-half year old—came to the hospital to see me. The hospital-wali sister asked my sister: "Bhaiyya kaisa laga?" And my sister replied with "Pintu". That was the name of the beloved dog we had then. The nurse asked my sister again if she liked her brother, to which she said "****". My father found it cute and **** became my nickname, which I banned before I became a teen. Within 12 hours of my arrival on the planet, I had got two names.

Ummm... This blogpost is likely to be disjointed because I'm in a state of shock. You'd be shocked if the entire Australian  team gets dismissed for 24 runs. Isn't it? I'm shocked 'cuz I turn 24 today. Twenty-four years... When did all this happen? I feel I'm 16, forever a schoolboy. I'm the same, my Utopian beliefs and ideals intact. Still don't smoke, don't drink, don't watch porn. Uh oh! Topic change.

Ok, so what am I gonna do today? The best thing: gonna switch off my mobile phone, show up for work and pray for an 'uneventful' birthday. People celebrate their birthdays, I observe mine. 25/12 is my 9/11 and 26/11. Well, last year, I did go out with my two school friends, did bird-watching on Brigade Road, ate cheez-burst pizza and watched Tees Maar Khan (they liked just Sheela Ki Jawani, I loved the whole film). Yeah, I had fun, but that was just as fun as any other day with friends. Nothing special. I've heard people say how they feel oh-so-special on their birthdays. It must feel really special to feel special... Some day.

Anyway, I hate being at either end of "happy birthday". What? I don't even remember being born. Everybody was born. What's the distinction in being born? Why greet me for that? If you congratulate me for a good headline or a story well edited, that makes sense. But "Happy birthday! Hehehe... Thank you!" I don't get it. I  explained this to a  friend a couple of years ago, since then she doesn't call me on birthdays; and then calls a few days after December 25 to explain why she did not call. Hahahaha...

Another reason I hate birthdays is unmet expectations. When I was a nanha-munna bachcha and used to have birthday party for kids of my street, it was so disappointing to see everyone bring sets of sketchpens as gift. Or an envelope saying "Best wishes" with Rs 21 in it. So unimaginative. I already had sketchpens and money was no use to me then. I stopped having birthday party after class 2.

Talking of gifts, I don't remember how old I was when this happened, but I must not have been more than eight or nine years old. I woke up on the morning of December 25 to see a packet of Melody toffees next to my pillow. I was superhappy; Santa brought it for me. I proclaimed this to my neighbour bhaiyya. Matter of factly, he said my parents had kept it. I was not convinced. By now, I've wised up and know Santa isn't there. I still believe in angels, though.

Talking of Santa, it reminds me how my birthday used to start when I was a kid. A Christian family used to live opposite our house and when the clock used to strike 12, a jeep used to come to their house, with merrymakers, Santa Claus and cake. Every year, I used to peep from my window to see all that. It's been so many years, I've been wanting to go to a church on Christmas, to see what all happens. Want to see Christmas tree, wanna hear Chrishmas carols. Next year, maybe. 

As for now, I hope the Reebok showrooms still have that wonderful denim jacket on discount. That'd be my birthday gift to me. No, actually it's just an excuse to buy that jacket. Still in doubt, should I buy it or not?

P.S. Santa, I haven't given up on you.

December 11, 2011

God turns "impossible" into "i m possible"

There are times we find ourselves stuck. There seems to be no way out; no solution in sight. The problem starts looking more like a fact, something that has to be put up with instead of something that can be solved. Often, there, indeed, is no solution. We give up, abandon hope.

But you know what? When we say "There, indeed, is no solution", it actually means that our limited mind, which is used and trained to be logical and practical, cannot come up with a solution. To say, as a matter of fact, there is no solution is incorrect. Yes, there may not be a way out. But where there is no way, a way will be made. Only if you seek the services of the ultimate problem-solver. God.

Come to think of it. If, for you to live in, God could create the universe—countless galaxies, stars and planets—can he not create a solution to your problem? Do you think any problem is too big for Him? Do you think there's anything bigger than God, the infinite?

The saree that never ended, Thank God

Who came to Draupadi's rescue when Duryodhan was trying to disrobe her? Such a tragedy it was! The daughter of the King of Panchaal, her modesty at stake in the full view of the Kauravas' courtiers even as her husbands could do nothing but watch helplessly. She clutched on to her saree with her hands. Her tormentor's hands were stronger. She held on to her garment with her teeth. Nothing helped. All the human effort on her part went in vain. Then she prayed for help to Lord Krishna, who considered her as a sister. And you know what happened next.

Or, haven't you heard about Meera, Lord Krishna's ardent devotee? She was given a bowl of poison. She consumed it, but by grace of the almighty, the poison turned harmless. Laws of our world say this is impossible. But who created this world and the laws? You think it's a big deal for Him to tweak a rule or make an exception for his children? 

He couldn't die. 
Oops... God killed him
Surely, you must have heard the story of Hiranyakashipu, the raakshas who practiced severe austerities to earn  a boon from Lord Brahma. Pleased by Hiranyakashipu's dedication and discipline, one day Lord Brahma appeared in front of him, to grant him a boon. Hiranyakashipu asked the Lord to make him immortal. This being against the rule of the nature, Lord Brahma told him to ask for something else. And Hiranyakashipu said:
Grant me that I not die:
- by any human being, animal or weapon
- at the hands of any entity, living or non-living
- at the hands of any demigod or demon
- of old age or disease
- within any residence or outside any residence
- during the daytime or night
- neither on the ground nor on the sky.

Knowing full well that his death is practically impossible he started attack on the devatas. Yes, the devatas too knew he cannot be killed, 
which logically makes him invincible. But had they concluded thus and accepted this 'fact', they would have lost the battle against him, the problem. What did they do? They went to Lord Vishnu, asking him to end their woes. And what did Lord Vishnu do? He killed Hiranyakashipu. But how? He had such a boon that made it impossible for him to die, right? Wrong. Nothing is impossible for God.

His Narasimha incarnation killed Hiranyakashipu while maintaining all the conditions of the boon Lord Brahma had granted to the demon. "
He came upon Hiranyakashipu at twilight (when it was neither day nor night) on the threshold of a courtyard (neither indoors nor out), and put the demon on his thighs (neither earth nor space). Using his sharp fingernails (neither animate nor inanimate) as weapons, he disemboweled and killed the demon." (Quoted text from Wikipedia)

Mythology is replete with such incidents where practically and logically impossible things happened when The Supreme One intervened. God is neither practical nor logical; he is just loving. 
Where there is no solution, a solution will be made. He does everything effortlessly. So, ask.

Seek and you will find

You must have heard/read these words from the Bible: "Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you. For every one who asks, receives. He who seeks, finds. To him who knocks, it is opened. If a son asks for bread from any father among you, will he give him a stone? If you then, being evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to those who ask Him!"

Do you think all this is rhetoric? That such things, if they ever actually happened, happened only in the past and that God doesn't show up these days? That miracles don't happen anymore? To this, I'll say, isn't a baby a miracle! Think of it: a sperm cell meets an egg and in nine months you have a living creature—flesh, blood and bones, and a heart, a mind, a soul—breathing, feeling, thinking. It's from a tiny seed that a giant tree originates. A caterpillar turns into a pupa and then into a butterfly. If you just stop taking life for granted and think, everything is a miracle.

A line in a bhajan goes like this: 
Log kehte hain bhagwaan aate nahi, woh to kehta hai tum to bulaate nahi. I was astounded when I first heard it. We say He doesn't come; He says you don't call!

Purpose defeated, not I

Well, I had started writing this post (about a week ago) and wrote the previous one with a desire that a particular friend comes across them and sees hope, gains faith and doesn't give up on his/her highest ideals of love and life. My purpose is defeated by now.

I have been the side-hero of many a failed love story, tried more than my best to help but could not make a dent. In any of those love stories, had it been me in place of the person who gave up, I believe the tale would have ended on the note of "And they lived euphorically ever after..." I've always wished that my words inspire and lift others. And I've always failed. My message was never understood/believed. I've not given up yet, on this trying to help others thing. Gandhiji had said, "My life is my message." And, my life will be my message. While my words never made an impact, the story of my life will. Try talking about faith and hope, and you can see a "whatever" forming in people's mind. I'll achieve the highest ideals of love and life and then people will say, "Yeah, he was right."

Have you seen Bruce Almighty? Towards the end of the movie, Morgan Freeman, playing God, tells Jim Carrey: "You want to see a miracle, son? Be a miracle." The unforgettable line is now my mission.

December 05, 2011

Torment at the end of the road

Weighed down by life's cruelties, she found herself stuck at the end of the road. Watching from above, God whispered: "My child, look up, look around. It's not the end of the road. It's just a bend in the road."

She could not hear; sound of the bygone, happy days was ringing in her ears, haunting her. She could not see; having seen only pain everywhere, she had neither the strength nor the desire to see anything now. She was just standing there, wishing she could be numb so that she could deal with the rest of life, if merely surviving can be called a life. Reading her mind, God thought: "If only she would wish for guidance instead..."

She was devastated. She raised her eyes, but there was the stonewall in front of her. That seemed to be her future—cold and lifeless. She did not want to be here. She looked back at the road, the pleasant journey and let out a sigh. She had dreams, great dreams, grand dreams. She thought of everything she cherished and felt happy. And now she felt sad. Everything she cherished is left behind. Whatever remains will soon be left behind. 
A tear trickled down her cheek. She didn't even care to wipe it. There used to be people who used to wipe her tears for her. But here, at the 'end' of the road, she's alone. And then she cried some more. As a teardrop from her lovely but sad eyes kissed the dirt around her feet, Mother Earth wished if only the poor soul would look around instead of looking at the wall ahead and the past behind.

But she was blank, just like the 'life' and stonewall she had in front of her. This point in journey had taken its toll on her. It was draining her every moment. But now that she had compromised with her highest ideals of life and love, she didn't mind emptiness. The emptier the better. She asked the cruelty that landed her here to drain her completely; the emotionless state would make her immune to her misery. She asked her angels to stonewall her feelings, just like the wall. Meanwhile, her guardian angels were asking that she just ask them for help.

She knew she was once a pretty picture but now she was a picture of pity. Her soul wailed at what she wanted of life and what became of it. She just stood there, clutching on to her dreams, all the while pretty clear that she has to let it go. She has nightmare to embrace, after all. She just stood there, trying to be numb. Observing her, her spiritual guides hoped she hopes a hope.

But she just stood there, tormented. Her once-happy past was tormenting her. The stonewall in front was tormenting her. And the end of the road was tormenting her. And, watching from above, God whispered: "My child, look up, look around. It's not the end of the road. It's just a bend in the road."

December 04, 2011

Troubled by a recurrent dream. Why?

In class 12, I had failed in four out of five subjects in the first pre-board exam, which was held less than three months before the boards. Had scored 88 in English and about half of it in four other subjects taken together. Failed in two or three subjects in the second pre-board and in physics in the third pre-board. A week before the board exams, we had to collect our admit card from the principal. He withheld my admit card. As I had failed in physics in all the three pre-boards, the principal said he'd give me the admit card only after I get "clearance" from the physics teacher that I can pass in the board exam.

I went to the physics teacher, he said he'd hold a test of one-hour duration that would have questions from first three units. About half a dozen defaulters like me appeared for that test. And I failed in that too. That was less than 72 hours before the first board exam—physics.

Of course, there's no way the principal could deny me the admit card. I gave the exam and passed it, all the subjects, to bewilderment and joyous disbelief of my parents, teachers and peers alike.

The haunting

Now, this forms the premise of my recurring nightmare. In the dream, I'm in class 12, the board exams is just a couple of months away and I don't know a zilch. And there're so many problems, in the two books of maths; big, thick books of physics, chemistry; the entire coding and theory of two computer programmes. I don't know a thing. In the dream, I am jittery all the time, wondering how will I—if, at all—pass the exam.

An uphill task is approaching. Accomplishing it is highly improbable. Failing it will have disastrous consequences. I'm very nervous, very anxious, very afraid, very distressed. I have that sinking feeling. Sinking as deep as the core of the earth.

This dream feels so real, so scary that it wakes me up. I get up with my heart still pounding. I look around, realise I'm a post-graduate now, have a decent job. That I passed the board exam. Phew! It takes me some time to gather myself and say, "Ok, relax. That was past."

An omen?

The dream has become more frequent. And more scary. And every time it wakes me up, I'm asking myself if it is an omen. Are Gods/my spiritual guides trying to send some message? As in, time is running out, boy, act fast or face the consequences. What's this dream about?

Taking a cue from the incidence of the concurrence of its recurrence with the apparent evidence of absence of my emotional prudence, I think I've got its essence. When my alliance with friends ends, owing to the prevalence of turbulence, it disheartens me to great lengths. Enters disturbance, leaving no semblance of balance and my heart twists and bends. When I have no audience to my questions, the magnificence of the friend's passive belligerence tends to kill the existence of my effervescence. When pretense replaces innocence, goodbye means good-riddance, the malignance of the distance and other's reluctance to make amends sends me into tense moments.

Gone is fragrance, prevails pungence, but I hope you dance as I wake up to the brilliance of acceptance. Also, as I glance at this instance of my forbiddance 'cuz appearance of my sentiments suggests overbearance, well, s/he misunderstands. Good sense recommends avoiding reminiscence. And I've learnt the lessons, hence the blogpost ends. Meanwhile, I pray for guidance, and another chance.

“This has got to be a nightmare; I haven't woken up yet.
—Curtis Sliwa

November 23, 2011

The rockstar who dresses up like a watchman

This is my premature opinion on the movie. I've watched it twice but am still baffled. Is the story:
(a) flashback-turned-chronological narrative?
(b) told chronologically?
(c) simply a victim of bad editing?
Is it just me or do you too think that the movie is caught in a time warp? 

There's more confusion. Towards the end, we are told the heroine is in coma. We don't know whether she recovered, stayed in coma or died. The film ends just like that. Maybe the filmmakers chose this ending to leave scope for a sequel. In part 1, Ranbir doesn't get the girl, is thus distraught and takes to music. The sequel can start with the girl recovering from coma. In part 2, Ranbir gets the girl, marries her, is thus distraught and takes to music. Hahahaha... I should switch to script-writing from journalism.

Oh, the movie offended the journalist in me. Ranbir thrashes, screams at mediapersons every time they surround him. Journalists, too, have been portrayed as pests who just care for gossip-story, having no regards for anybody's privacy. And then an editor tells a reporter to shun her ego and be shameless, just get a story. GRRR!

Well, the movie is like New Zealand cricket team. There are sparks of brilliance but fails to impress as a whole. There are many scenes that make you giggle. However, there's no touching scene. When a... Wait! By "touching" I mean "moving", emotionally touching, not physical touching. Phew! Gotta be careful. Yeah, there was just one scene that I found touching. That's when the girl asks the hero: "Can you hug me?"

Ranbir is good, indeed. But why has Jordan, the rockstar, been dressed up like Bahadur, the watchman? The heroine, no doubt she's beautiful and I'll indeed follow her if I spot her on Brigade Road but I didn't feel that pull I get when I see Bipasha or Kareena. Supporting cast is good. I want to know more about the girl who played the heroine's younger sister. What's her phone number?

Bore music
The music is such a letdown. Yet again, AR Rehman failed to impress. Not even one hummable tune. Of all the songs in the movie, I liked the sound of just four words altogether. Barring those four words—Sadda haq, aitthe rakh—and the preceding guitar riff, everything else disappointed me. And roping in Mohit Chauhan to be the voice of a rockstar is like casting Rakhi Sawant as a beauty queen. I like Dooba Dooba but Chauhanji as rockstar? No no.

The first time I had gone to watch the movie, I was greatly disappointed. Moreover, the ticket (first day show) cost me Rs 320. Add Rs 90 as auto fare. Ideally, it should have taken no more than Rs 60-70 but the auto driver had tampered the meter. I didn't complain, just didn't want to miss the movie. And that is why I skipped lunch. So there I was, sitting in the AC-freezed cinema hall; hungry, cold, poorer by Rs 410, suffering ads such as "Vicco Turmeric, nahi cosmetic, yeh hai Vicco turmeric ayurvedic cream." And no beautiful girls sitting around me.

My experience was better the second time. A friend bought the ticket and by now, I had abandoned all expectations. So there was no scope for disappointment. Also, I realised that the pest-journalists are actually paparazzi. Real journalism is as different from paparazzi as bharatnatyam is from break dance.

So, how many stars should I give to Rockstar? Hmmm... I'll give one rock and one star. That's enough.

November 11, 2011

Ra.One is just an expensive Shaktimaan

As a child, I never watched Shaktimaan or Captain Vyom. I used to mock my friends for liking shows as puerile as these. But now, having watched Ra.On, I'm in the same category as them. Actually, I watched the movie twice. I liked it. I'm guilty as charged. Sorry, Shaktimaan.

No, I'm not super impressed by the movie. It certainly didn't live up to the hype. There was no edge-of-the-seat moment (barring when Kareena dominated the frames. Whoa! She's looking AMAZING). In fact, the movie starts on an uber-underwhelming note, giving an impression that it's a bachchon ki picture. And Shah Rukh's portrayal of a goofy south Indian is simply disappointing, even appalling. In fact, when the character died in the first half, I was like, "Thank God yeh mar gaya. Bahut bore kar raha tha." 
Although the real Shah Rukh in the movie is a big let down, the virtual Shah Rukh, the superhero, is entertaining. Somewhat.

What's in a name? A lot

Ah, but wait. We all know Ra.One is the villain and the name is a play on Raavan, the bad guy whom Lord Ram killed. I knew Shah Rukh's character in the movie is called G.One. Until I watched the movie, I was bemused: What kind of unpronounceable or meaningless name (G dot One?) is that. In fact, it first seemed like a roll number. Upon watching the movie, I was bewildered. He was named G.One because it's an abbreviation of "Good one" and sounds like jeevan, matlab life. C'mon! A hero called Jeevan? Is it 2011 or 1911?

Too much hype was given to Akon's song, Chhammak Challo. What's the use? I didn't understand even a sentence. The only thing about the song that kept me engaged was Kareena, who was looking smokin' hot in red. But disappointment reached a new low just after the end of the song as we learnt that the Kareena we were drooling upon was actually the evil Ra.One, who had transmogrified into the lady just before the song started. I felt like puking. I was salivating upon (yuck yuck yuck) an evil, video-game character who is male and not too long ago has gouged out somebody's eye! Ugh...

Dumb, annoying robot

And G.One (Jeevan, whatever) is a robot or machine something, supposed to obey orders. During the climax, he is being instructed not to attack Ra.One but just dodge him. "Ok," he says and then rushes towards the villain with a closed fist and gets thrashed. The bewildered child guiding him asks, "Kya kar rahe ho?", to which he answers, "Pit raha hoon."

Is this supposed to be funny? I call it plain dumb. I was like, what kind of jerk head is this robot, which agrees to a command, does exactly the opposite and then acts innocent. Another disenchanting aspect of the climax is the way Ra.One dies. 
Remember what were Gulshan Grover's last words in Mohra (Akshay Kumar-starrer that had the song "Tu cheez badi hai mast-mast" )? "Dirty mind." That's the way a villain dies. Ra.One—a supposed supervillain—died in most disgraceful manner, howling like a drunkard who's being slippered by his wife.  "Aaaaaaaaaaaaaaa... Ooooooooooooo... Aaaaaaaaaaa..." Shame shame.

...I still like the movie

Wait wait wait... I had started writing this post with an intention to hail the movie, 'cuz I liked it. If whatever I've written thus far seems negative, see, that's not the case. I liked the movie, though not too much but liked it. Oh yes, I particularly liked the scene just after the opening sequence, featuring three sahelees of Bruce Lee—Iski Lee, Uski Lee, Sabki Lee. Hahahaha... 

It might not be a gripping movie but my respect for SRK has just increased. Yes, increased. He worked so hard to promote it. He believes in it so much. That unwavering, childlike faith. He's like, "Screw what people say, I'll do what I believe in." That's a rare trait. Well done, King Khan. I'm not being sarcastic. When criticism gets to you, remember that no one kicks a dead dog.

November 10, 2011

Who dreams of a bitch? I do :-/

I had a bizarre dream last night. As the title says, I was hugging a bitch in the dream. By bitch, I mean a real bitch, not a mean, female homo sapien. She had brown fur and was of Indian breed, the kind you'd find on a street in India's middle-class localities. The location was the street where I'm living in Bangalore. I was sitting next to the bitch, my arms around her neck (I know, it's weird).

Ummm... "the bitch", "the bitch" doesn't sound decent. Let's call her Julie (in memory of my late pet, Julie. If I assign any Indian name to the bitch, you may think I've some enmity towards a girl with that name. Anyway, the dream-wali Julie looked a bit like my real Julie. They both had four legs, snake-like tail, two eyes and a wet nose).

Yeah, so I had my arms around Julie's neck, we were sitting on a pavement, lost in conversation. I wasn't speaking in bow-wows, she was speaking in Hindi. I don't remember what exactly we were talking about, just that I was a bit down and sharing it with her, just as I share with friends. Julie impressed me with her wise words; she was analysing the situation—I don't remember what it was—and I was listening, absorbing, nodding. She was comforting me, and I was glad, grateful that she was there for me.

Let's analyse it

That's all. I don't remember anything else. Now, what is the point of this dream, if any?
1. Sigmund Freud says dreams are the royal road to subconscious. Our subconscious is where all our suppressed desires, feelings and impulses are stored. If Freud is right—many scientists say he isn't—then... I mean... What do I find on my royal road to subconscious? A bitch. What's my suppressed desire? To be heard and understood by a bitch. C'mon, a bitch? 
There are other possible interpretations:
2. In real life, I need not keep distance from a girl just because she seems to be a bitch. She may be sweet and understanding, after all. (Hmmm... I need to think about it.)
3. Beware of girls who sweet-talk you. She's a bitch! (Nah, this can't be. Of all my former female friends—all were so sweet until the snub-act—only one's been a bitch. I've no hard feelings for the rest.)
4. I'm willing to settle for a bitch. (Eww... No! the bitch in dream was not a bitchy bitch. Maybe she was the bitch incarnation of my dreamgirl? What am I saying!)    
5. I covet a bitch. Two-legged. (Well, which guy doesn't!)

Whoa! Take a break, Hemant Gairola. This is taking self-analysis to dangerous levels. I pity myself. With open eyes, I dream of a beauty. With eyes closed, I dream of a bitch! Tragic. And what is worse is that this is not my weirdest dream. I'm wallowing in self-pity after writing all this and thus will end here. With a sigh.

Dreaming permits each and everyone of us to be quietly and safely insane every night of our lives.
” —William Dement

October 27, 2011

Diwali, memories and a Dil of Gold

Another Diwali has come and gone. Yet again I notice the giant, conspicuous constellation, Orion, and wonder if it's been keeping an eye on me since I first noticed it, when I was a mop-haired, half-pant wearing skinny kid in my village-like township in Chhattisgarh.

It's been 10 years since I last bought crackers. Parents' assertions that it's a waste of money and media campaigns that said shun crackers as children are employed in the industry worked. Yet another festival spent alone, wishing it were quite the opposite.

I missed being in Balco, where a festival meant all neighbourhood aunties would assemble in one house and make chakli, gujiya, nariyal ki barfi and what not. I was the one who used to get the task of grating the coconut. The 
incentive was that I'd get to drink coconut water and then eat a lion's share of the finished product. Smell of the delicacies used to waft in the houses when chakli was being deep fried or when sweets were being prepared. And when the hardwork was done, smartwork used to begin, of hide 'n' seek. Mummy used to hide the assortment and I used to seek. Needless to say who used to win.

I'm 23 now, staying alone in a room on the third floor of a residential 
apartment in the Silicon Valley of India. Alone, not lonely. But yeah, as I take the stairs to or from my room, I cannot escape the smell of these south Indian delicacies being prepared in these homes. And that brings back the memories. 

The days of yore
I don't think of them 'cuz I miss them. When we were children and the biggest problem in the life used to be a friend who was angry because we had stolen and finished his lunch. The biggest fear used to be geting caught and thrashed by our sports teacher when we used to bunk class and play cricket all day in the school. The biggest injustice life could serve was rain during our games period. The wierdest behaviour was when a friend used to get mighty upset just because you (deliberately) spilled blue ink on the middle of his steel chair on the day of white uniform. Those were the days when you used to get four gupchups for Re 1. Anyone with Rs 2 in his pocket used to be the king for the day.

And look at life now. Not that I'm complaining but yeah, those days were something... Actually, I have no complaints. As of late, life is peaceful. I'm carrying no baggage that usually wears out somebody my age. I'm still friends with all the buggers with whom I grew up, laughed, cried, kneeled outside the classroom for not completing homework, fell in love, failed in pre-boards. 

My gold jewellery

And while my Diwali was devoid of chaklis, fuljhadis, new clothes, gifts and everything synonymous with the festival, I am really not complaining. People buy gold jewellery a day before Diwali. You know what's my gold jewellery like? I've got a heart of gold, a gift from God. A heart of gold... Forgives quickly, loves truly (the bugger loves a lot).

Yeah, the side effect of wearing it on my sleeve is that it often gets bruised. While it is not welcome everywhere, it's alrite. I don't give everyone—this has become one of my fav expressions—either. Ah, this achy-breaky heart! Impurities are going; slowly, steadily, and, at times, painfully. But that's alrite, it's worth it. It's worth it.

“Lovin' might be a mistake but it's worth making” 
— Ronan Keating in I Hope You Dance

October 16, 2011

How to be a rockstar

What sucks about pain? Well, that it sucks, and hurts like hell. What's super about pain? Well, the stupid emotion is, maybe, an essential ingredient in the recipe of a great rockstar. Just finished writing my second song, courtesy the frustration, angst, shame, helplessness etc I'm feeling.

Once upon a time, not so long ago, a certain Kurt Cobain was disillusioned. And he made it known through his music. And even though he passed away at just 26, he still—oh you bet—rules. You know you're famous when cheap T-shirts with your face on them are ubiquitous.

OK, God, I know I asked you to make me a great rockstar but let's not do it this way. Pain hurts. The world has had many rage-ridden, drug-driven rockstars. How about a love-bitten, pranayam-doing one? (Prayanam I do, let cupid shoot me.)

However, to be honest, I'm mighty proud of the pathetic song I've just completed. "Pathetic" is not the value judgment of the song but the theme of it. It's about a distraught, love-starved wretch who's suddenly ashamed and embarrassed for many minor reasons other cannot fathom. Why, it may even fetch us a Grammy.

A friend of mine recently told me that Ranbir Kapoor's upcoming movie "Rockstar" is somewhat like my story. In the movie, Ranbir's character gets disappointed in love and then voices his pain through his songs. For the record, I don't like Ranbir even a bit but I'm eager to watch the movie, regardless of whether I have company or not.

And pain? Bring it on. I'll write a song about it. Ha! I have crawled back from abyss. Least afraid of anything now. Yeah it hurts when misunderstanding ruins a friendship but I can't do much when I'm helpless, other than writing a song.

Talking of helplessness, it's like how an itchy dog with a severed hind leg must be feeling. Talking of helplessness, it's like उल्टी आ रही है और कर भी नहीं सकते| I wish I knew the un-yucky ways of describing it. Never mind, rockstar. Got something to say but can't/won't say? Don't say, sing it! Write it in a song and let the world know what you couldn't let the person know. Rock the world, boy!

“Baby I need you, like a poet needs the pain...” — Bon Jovi in In These Arms

July 06, 2011

My first job is now my former job

And my first job comes to an abrupt end. A beautiful chapter comes to a fugly end. I'm gonna miss that place like, dunno what to say, gonna miss it to so much. For past year and a half, I had no aim other than becoming a better sub-editor. Tried my best to give headlines with a zing, sometimes succeeded too. The Economist stylebook was my Bible. Used to read it, re-read and then re-read it again. I wanted to be flawless, perfect. Used to go through the book of idioms, phrases and allusions so affectionately as if it was a collection of the love letters from my girlfriend.

I have no girlfriend. For the past year and a half, work was my only love. Just how much I loved working! Used to come to work even on my weekly offs, voluntarily. Past year during monsoon, used to end up getting drenched almost every other day while coming to office but still worked full shift, cheerfully, shivering under the fan, only because I absolutely loved my work. Didn't take any casual leave, ever. And until my road accident five months ago, took just two sick leaves altogether, that too when I was sick as a dog.

Talking of accident, that too happened because I chose work over family. My cousin was getting married in my hometown. I hadn't been to home for one and a half years. I had asked for leave, once. Didn't ask twice because there was severe shortage of people in my department. I got my flight tickets cancelled and chose to stay back, for sake of work. And it's during this period that I met with an road accident, while returning from work :-|

I didn't mind being underpaid and overworked (Rs 13,500 a month in a city like Bangalore, give me a break!). Just because I loved my work. But sooner or later, every lover in a one-sided love one day wakes up to reality. Even after increment, my salary is less than that of freshers! Whoa, can't take it, dude.

However, one bitter episode can't make me bitter. Nothing can, in fact. I had loads of fun working here. No other newspaper office, I presume, has such a work atmosphere where employees have so much fun. I'm attached to this job, to 'my' computer, to my colleagues, to my 'Press' pass, to that office. Maybe that's why I turned down all those job offers that came my way during my tenure with the company.

It was my first job. First job, man! Do you realise how special it is! To me it is as special as my first love, first zero in physics, first bike and first accident (minor). I absolutely loved my work. I loved the people I worked with. Feels sad to leave.

But know what? A job that you love but doesn't pay well is like being attracted to a shemale: it seems nice, but fails you at the most crucial spot. Likewise, a job that pays well but doesn't excite you is like an ugly lady you'd date just because she's rich. I choose neither. That is why I, yesterday, walked out of my under-paying job. And that is why I, just a week ago, turned down the job offer from the world's biggest news agency — established in 1799, mind you — even though it was offering me more than twice of what I was getting from my then-current job. (No disrespect intended to the company whose offer I turned down. Utmost disrespect intended to the decision makers of the company I quit.)

I have quit the company. Of course, they will get a new sub-editor, who will sit on 'my' system, will replace me. But know what? I am irreplaceable. I cannot be replaced. No one else can be like Hemant Gairola.

Before ending, I want to tell my friends in reporting department that whenever I got to edit a byline story of any of you, I always strived to edit it as nicely as possible, make it look as good as I could. However, there must have been times when my editing might have disappointed you. I apologise for that. My friends on desk (well, there's hardly anyone left on desk now), I'm gonna miss you all a lot. Missing you already :( Love you guys a lot. I'll give you all free front-row passes of my concerts when I become rock star.

Ah, dunno how to end this piece I'm writing. As a sub-editor I've always taken pride in keeping text as short as possible. But it's alrite. I've left my first job (actually I haven't left, didn't want to leave, the job has left me), I'm a bit senti and need to tell all of it. But it's ok. You guys must be having stories to file, to edit and finish pages on time. All the very best to all of you. Lots of love...



“Choose a job you love and you will never have to work a day in your life.

— Confucius

June 13, 2011

I meditate, she becomes Dalai Lama

It's a dream I saw around a couple of weeks ago, when I was in Goa. In the dream, I was in Balco (the township in Chhattisgarh where I lived for the first 17 years of my life), in our bungalow quarter that has a big lawn. And what do I see on the lawn of the quarter with whom we share our left boundary wall? The girl whom I love was doing Tai Chi there!

She was standing with her feet shoulder-width apart. Slowwwly stretching to her left. Verrryyy slowly. Then stretching to her right in the same slowww manner. I noticed it when I was going out of my house — in the dream — for some work. I return after a couple of hours and she was still there, doing Tai Chi! I didn't go and speak to her, fearing  her "I'm busy". Don't know if she even noticed me.

There must have been more to this dream but I remembered only this much when I woke up. Ok, went to my meditation camp then. (I had gone to Goa to attend a spiritual camp.) After returning that evening, I told my friend — had gone to Goa with a school-time friend — about the dream. First he gave me a blank look. Then, in all seriousness, he said, "It's been just a few days that you started these meditations and she's now doing Tai Chi in your dreams. Looks like if you keep meditating then after a month she'll come in your dreams as Dalai Lama!"

Hahaha... That insightful observation left both of us in splits. I found it funny that's why thought should mention it here on my blog. I wonder how Sigmund Freud would have interpreted this dream, she doing Tai Chi for two hours! Hahaha... But she looked beautiful, as always. And just loved that nonchalant look on her face when she was doing, well, Tai Chi!

"Last night I dreamed I ate a 10-pound marshmallow. When I woke up, the pillow was gone." — Tommy Cooper

May 17, 2011

She's going

And the second reason I chose to work in Bangalore was its climate. The first reason—she. But now she's leaving the city. She's going.

No, I won't miss meeting her. She never met me. Never agreed to meet. I never got to see her. But always hoped to see her. Maybe on M G Road/Brigade Road/Central mall/Garuda mall. Particularly on weekends. Lived two years like that, with a hope. But now she's going. And with her she is taking the distant ray of hope, so what if it never shone upon me.

I'll miss you. Yeah, I feel like asking you when are you going, this, that, and a million questions, but I can't. Because the last time you made it clear you won't meet me, I had resolved never to bug you again. I always ask, you always say no. Been trying and failing for two-and-a-half years now. Want to say a million things, ask a million more, but no. Won't bug you.

I'm gonna feel so alone in this city now, so what if around a crore people live here. Now that you won't be here, it's gonna feel empty. Now that the angel is going, it's not gonna feel like heaven anymore. I feel so sad. I feel empty. (Un)Comfortably numb.

Ain't I a fool to think this way? (Haha... I use "ain't" only because you use the word.) Yeah, I'm a fool. I've lost it all—my mind, my heart. It's funny, I never knew I could love this deeply. Never knew what it's like to love unconditionally, until I fell in love with you.

Does all this lovesick talk sound lame, weak? I'm not weak. True love hasn't weakened anyone. Go anywhere you want to go. You're never away from me. Yeah, you distanced me—nah, discarded me—around 36 months ago. But you're never away from me. You're always here. Always here. A request, though: either come back or help me let go.

I love you. Take care.

"It is strange to write something you know may never be delivered but it is stranger still to imagine it will be."
— Harold Robbins in Never Love A Stranger

April 19, 2011

Bathroom-water cooking (Don't try this at home)

Issued in public interest
Before monsoon turns Bangalore's roads into rivulets and people start considering buying rubber boats to commute, summers tend to get quite merciless. In summers, water supply in Bangalore becomes like Indian Railways' tatkal tickets: everyone wants, only a lucky few get.

In many localities, people hit the road to stage protest, demanding water. Desperate times call for desperate measures. Indeed. As I did once. No, I didn't go down the road screaming "Dhikkara, dhikkara". When my apartment ran out of water during lunch time, I got water from bathroom to cook.

From the perspective of someone who has been there, done that, I'll advise you not to cook food with water taken from the bucket in your bathroom. No matter what. You wouldn't want to learn the lesson the hard way. 

I was making khichdi on that eventful day. Opened tap in the kitchen for water to boil rice. Damn! Wanted water, got only air. What to do? Vegetables were cut and I was hungry. Heck, I'll have my lunch, I thought and took a mug of water from the bucket in my bathroom and poured in my pressure cooker. Used my bathroom mug, by the way. Put the cooker on gas. My lunch will be ready!

Yeah, baby! The problem solver has done it again. Cometh the hour, cometh the man! Started feeling smug for being so awesome at crisis management. Was busy adorning myself with adjectives such as resourceful, creative and what not when the cooker's whistle interrupted my narcissist thought process.

There was my khichdi. It's aroma wafted as I opened the lid, further heightening my sense of triumph. And, it tasted good! 

Ok. Later that night this headache started troubling me. What crap, I thought. Couldn't even fall asleep for so long. Ok. Woke up abruptly about 8.30 am and went to, well, from where I had taken the water for cooking—my bathroom. And then began the three-hour long, intermittent process of puking, so awful that its vivid description may make you puke. All the effort, the emotions that I had put in making this khichdi went down the drain. Literally.

There is one person who rejoiced exceedingly upon learning of my kitchen misadventure. It's alright. He is the first victim of my bathroom-water cooking—my friend whom I had invited for lunch a couple of months ago. Then too the tap was running dry and I had to cook with bathroom water. He made some fuss but then ate it.

Later that day when I was in office, I got a call from him. "Kutte, kameene, tujhe keede padein," he had said along with other expletives, his voice booming in toilet. 

He is jubilant upon learning that I have now suffered the same trauma that I had caused him. His faith in God's justice is renewed. As for me, I never attempted cooking like that again. For the rest of my stay in Bangalore, I chose to be malnourished instead of falling sick. That's why I started looking like a pickpocket, but that's another story.