Making the most of it

There could be many bright sides to the otherwise dull situation of you waiting to see a person, in a meeting that you hope would be your last with him, in one of the long, dark and needless to say, hot corridors of an obscure Goverment office that, not surprisingly for its asbestos roof, is called-Barrack 12A, in one of the obscurest of our country's states with the most indifferent people to match moving around, at 2'O clock in the afternoon with an empty stomach and without a book.

However, one of them is that, as I've discovered today, you can pick your nose as much and as long as you like without thinking much about what others are going to think about you.


Changing lanes

I was curious when the Kerala State Road Transport Corporation introduced their new fleet of buses sometimes back. They were way too swanky for the ‘Gods own’ roads and even made the old drivers look like misfits. I wanted to know what would happen to those coloured tickets.

I remember the KSRTC buses best for its excellent drivers apart from the rickety clang-clongs. Whenever I used to board them, I used sit in front behind the driver. It made me feel that I have entered a cockpit of sorts. Only, it was a light green coloured dusty corner with minimal and barely cool switchboards, meters, the usual barely functional gear/brake conglomerate and finally, a dejected but right-on-job driver. Apart from a Road Rash like view of the journey, there was something that I used to really look forward to then-the tickets. From the moment I enter the bus, I would feel restless to know which colour would it be-the brown, the dark green, or the rare and collectible orangish-yellow?

My worst fears were confirmed during my home trip recently when I boarded a bus and saw the conductor slowly coming towards me. The ticketborad, and its neat rows of tightly pinned tickets, was missing. Instead, he held in his hand, a small gadget in which he could enter the code of the place the passenger wished to alight and wait for a second for it to spit out a freshly printed white ticket. Had he looked a bit friendly, I would have definitely asked the conductor if he actually liked them any better. Besides that, I was too busy thanking myself for keeping the tickets from the last few journeys.


Making way

A tree was being cut down to make space for a new parking lot. It was some 7.30 in the morning and they were around seven of them, the cutters. With axes, saw blades and ropes, they went about their work rather lazily as it was made complicated than usual by the relentless drizzle. There were some 50 odd birds flying above, a worried congregation of crows and cranes. That meant some eventualities common with any such case of invasion; some nests would need to be rebuilt, some eggs will hatch prematurely, worse still; some chicks would take their first and last flight down. So under the grey sky, there were white cranes, black crows, grey cutters, and a pale me watching the formalities and watching in particular, the three cranes that were sitting on the topmost branch of the tree being cut, as if nothing was going on.

There were some Auto rickshaw drivers close by, watching the event curiously, sipping their first of the numerous cups of chai of the day. The tree wasn’t giving in easily, but the parking lot has to be built, and realizing the grave need, seven people battled the old wood in the rain in the best way they could. Two of them were holding a rope that was tied to the trunk to make sure the tree is brought down exactly where they wanted to, two people were axing around the bottom of the trunk and the two other stood nearby with the saw blade, waiting for their turn. The last one supervised the tough situation- the tree has to be brought down posing no danger to the commuters and it should not fall on the freshly put concrete in the future parking lot.

Five minutes passed, and the three cranes stay put on the branch that was now shaking a little with each blow of the axe. They sat stil, their claws gripping the branch as if they ar not going to let the tree fall. The others, had put their little brains into good use and are now just making noises and fluttering around. Some of them would have even thought of a new place to build their brand new nest. The cutters, now getting worked up, had found just the right way to begin an otherwise uneventful and wet day. Both cutters took turns and made an asserting sound as they threw each blow.
My eyes went back to the cranes, which were yet to find the going tough as they sat determined and stationary. My point of interest was, specifically, to see that moment when they let go, give up, take flight to join their friends up there and say ‘Goddamn it guys, we could done it if we were together’. The tree began to shake more violently to each blow. The cutters withdrew; content of doing a task duly and the two with the saw took over. The guys holding the rope checked the damage by pulling it hard and displaying to the meager public that no tree, after all, is too big to be shaken.

The saws were doing their job just fine and the tree showed all signs of going down after a good fight. The show was drawing towards an end. The cranes at least seem to be affected now. They moved up the same branch as the rope was pulled again to test if the tree was weak enough. They moved, settled by the root of the branch, closer to the main trunk, and changed their orientations such that they are now visible to everyone standing down. I looked around; there were anxious eyes, probably waiting for the same treat as mine were. To catch that moment of truth which has repeated itself in history, of human civilization winning over the adamant (in most cases like this, stupid too) fellow beings, to see man teaching a few lessons for nature to remember, to see the cranes leaving their branch, giving up and making us closer to our common goal. Oh what a moment that would be. Though we humans are not as silly as the birds to celebrate such a moment, I sensed that a few claps could be expected.

The men stopped sawing. The tree was to be pulled down by the ones holding the rope. They took a deep breath and took some steps backward to make the rope tensed enough. And with a roar that sent an explicit signal to everything on top, they pulled their first. The tree shook violently and the cranes had to balance themselves by spreading their wings. The others who were seated on the nearby trees took off momentarily and seemed to show their rebellious friends what has to be done. The men seemed to be more excited to go for their next try. The rope was tight again as they stepped back and looked at each other, to get the synchronization better this time. A matter of improvisation, though obscure to others around. The holds were strengthened and the tension tested, the one in the front led as he did a counted down to three. And there they go! The birds almost fell off and had to use their wings again but the tree decided to go another round. The spectators were eager, as the drama grew tight. Everyone knew the tree wouldn’t stand the next pull from the mighty ones down here. The other two men left the saw and joined the rope pullers. Added strength, lifted morale. It was all moving towards an end worth celebrating, no matter what the cause was. The count down has begun once again and the birds strangely, looked calmer than ever. The pull, as expected, was the best one, the old tree swayed and slowly started it’s fall, tilting forward and giving up just at the moment it should have swung back, if it were to stand another round, and descending at a pace slower than expected, the rope pullers gave way and some of us stepped back as the tree did its farewell bow. The sigh, which would pronounce the victory, reached everyone’s throats and waited for its turn. The cranes started to loose balance and as the tilt began, spread their wings, calm as ever. The tree fell elegantly and the three cranes never let go. The sighs, denied of their moments, choked the onlookers. The cranes had held on, and when the tree hit the ground were slammed to the surface, and were killed instantly. One had bounced off the branch, and was lying a little away from his friends who were still clasping the branch they were sitting on.

The crowd dispersed slowly, and some auto drivers were the first to move forward towards the tree, one of them with a plastic bag in his hand. He finally separated the dead cranes were from their fallen home and stuffed all three in his bag; they would probably be fed to some hungry kids later in the day. The cutters wiped their sweat and moved towards the next tree. I looked up as one of them worked his axe down the trunk. The perched birds flew off as the vibrations reached the top and settled on the next tree. Except for five cranes, on the topmost branch.


The beginnings..

It’s been a while since I had put anything new in here. The problem, as always, was time. This time though, it was not the lack of it.

I am home finally, and am spending my days sitting lazy, swimming in time. I know the statement might confuse those who know me as I do the same every other day and the days in between-whether I am home or anywhere else. The difference is, now, it just feels plain nice. I spend my day re-reading old books, re-watching the seen-films, re-thinking my old thoughts and re-doing things that I used to do as a kid (You know there’s always that convertible-corner that was your own private office-cum-bedroom- cum-kitchen-cum-car-cum-spaceship. Also there’s the wall that used to be your consistent opponent in the games you are yet to invent a name for).

I was, for a long time now, longing for such a homecoming. For those who don’t know much about my existence, home for me is a greeeen strip of land in a small village called Perumudiyur in central Kerala. Long time back, when I was still kid enough to shy away from lady nurses and bathing soaps, this place meant for me, the world itself, as viewed by the most inquisitive pair of eyes in the whole district of Palakkad, from a high enough level of four feet from the ground. It had everything and everyone that I needed. A huge old house, three and a half acres full of gallant trees with grass taller than me and under them, snakes, mosquitoes, snails and flowers; paddy fields in front of the house and a streamlet flowing through them, grandmother, her retarded brother (I am yet to find a friend so true) and a karyasthan who used to look after the cultivation and oversee both my spare time and the laborers. A world so wonderful, responsive, right and feudalist enough for a young boy to grow up and belong.

The place today, is only a pattern of reminders of olden times. A lot of things have changed. Corners have been straightened, walls brought down, people and conversations, buried.
But even then, not even once was this place unable of making that odd beat of my heart forget its turn when I entered its gates. That lump in my throat has never failed to choke me every time I walked to the place my grandmother is buried.I have felt lost each time I took a walk between the trees still managing to stand. I am so glad to be back here. I had once written to a friend of mine about how this place peels off everything that I’ve managed to gather in and around me for years and leaves me with just those memories that this place has given me.

If there is anything that would be of your interest among all this nothingness around me, I swear I’ll fight my laziness to keep you posted about it.


I got a haircut

The fact that it’s been three years since the last one makes it quite an event and well deserving of a post of its own.


A door to the heavens

Early morning, as the cycle rickshaw made its way through the never-ending line of pedestrians to Swargadwar, Puri’s own sacred beach, it made me realise the first mistake of the day. A top angle point of view of holi isn’t all that great; the moment is pretty much earth-borne. And atop my rickshaw, I am clearly not a part of what is moving down there, busy baldheads incongruously embraced by colours, lepers at regular intervals and local beggars taking their day off to rub their untouchable shoulders with the babus from Bengal. They are all marching forward in great anticipation but cogently hiding what’s ahead around that distant corner. A sizable chunk of colour-splashed mankind, up and racing the sun.
Finally we leave the lot behind and the rickshaw puller gives out a sigh of relief as the long road shows mercy and starts winding down. It runs a straight line between the rows of shops and widens up before taking its final turn to the left. And there…the shops, the people and finally the road itself gives way to the eternal stretch ahead.

Life ceases, God begins.

Hundreds of dots silhouetted against the sun that glows sublimely from inside the gloomy blanket of an atmosphere thickened with prayers. They raise their hands to the sky, and move down to the sea, only to be swept fiercely back by the dark viscous waves. The colour of the holi disappears in the retrieving tides, revealing heads and limbs burdened and bowed down by guilt and confessions never made. The prayers convert into a roar loud enough to pierce the gloom overhead. The skies open up and the subjects of the Lord of the Lords bathe their sins off in the ephemeral radiance of their benevolent One.

There are other sights too, like that of our own Jack and Ross on honeymoon doing the Titanic with widespread arms, minus the ship but nevertheless greeting the sun as the local photographer captures the moment without fail. A little far away, an old woman, for a brief time forgets her date with the God and decides to have her time playing with the water.
I spend around thirty minutes allowing myself to be swept by the surreal surroundings. I make my way through the unvarying invocations and look around, only to realise I am only being looked at, from high up there.

On my way back, as I walk the road with the blessed ones, I don’t forget to take a look back. There are people still rushing in, leaving life behind and diving into the dark waters, dirty with the sins of the ones who dipped before. Colours and sins disappear, that’s what happens around that corner, all that crowd blend into one, to call out to Him in the same voice. The roar lowers down and I hear my rickshaw puller’s voice on top of it. He is waiting above the uphill wind. I wonder why he isn’t taking a dip. May be he’ll have a private date with the benevolent One later. May be for now, he’s too busy counting the money he gets carrying the reluctant sinners to Him.


A pin in my brain

One eventless day, after hours of sitting alone and checking and rechecking my Things To Do-list, I managed to find the existential grounds beneath the words like ‘urgent’ and ‘priority’. I realised that there’s nothing much to do for the day. For a prolonged second I even felt there’s nothing to do at all, any given day...if you actually think about it.

Then I switched my computer on, and was online in no time. There was finally something that was urgent. I needed to know if my condition was curable.

This has followed me since I can remember, the urge to go stationary. My body wants more and more of it. I could just sit there, for hours, watching TV, surfing net, pretending to read a book or even blissful, doing nothing. Sit and rot, Just do it.
Crazy things happen in between though, like my mind splits into two - one starts yelling to get up and do something, and the other reassures me that I am doing something, propositioning the vacuum and trying to make sense of all the nothingness there is. My body is the one who waits, for the spat to get over, for the conclusion.

Wikipedia-arguably the best thing that happened online since the explosion of pornography, describes my condition as ‘severe procrastination’. Apparently it's not such a healthy situation for a being to be in. But, most definitely, nobody has died because of it so far. As it turned out what was missing in the little pieces of information I already had was just the jargon. There isn’t quite an enlightening insight about it. Buddha must have had something different. Crudely put, it’s just the laziness, gone sour. Of course it might be the symptoms of chronic depression just around the corner.

Nonetheless, my online research (yep, it indeed is a lot of hard work) did succeed in finding souls who celebrate the condition. What's more, I even found out that some of the inspiring greats of times-past and present were the ones to define the lmitlessness of procrastination. Leonardo Da Vinci, it seems deserved a capital P in this regard. What do you guys think he was doing all those twenty years that took him to complete Mona lisa? Isaac Newton was out there under the tree when the apple fell on him for no other reason either. Mark Twain is supposed t ohave famously said, "Never put off for tomorrow what you can put off to the day after tomorrow". The other names include Isaac Asimov, Albert Einstein and guess who, Larry Page himself. I even managed to stumble upon something curiously funny called 'International Society for the Promotion of Procrastination' at http://math.usask.ca/~bickis/prox.html. You would also find some quotes inspiring you to do nothing at http://www.ucalgary.ca/~steel/procrastinus/quotes/quotes.html

Anyways, I do want to try and fight this highly respectable disorder. One needs to get over it, at least for a change. Its tough though, on a day when you would think that you have actually laid the ghost to rest and start walking the new road, you would sense the dark clouds hiding behind the buildings with no windows. Inside them, you would hear ,people crying, tired of over resting. Before you could tell yourself that you are not inside them, the doors shut and there’s darkness. The professors of void appear and sadness broods over.
One day I’ll chase them. When I’ll get used to the dark probably, when I could see things. Some thing to throw at them, or even hit them with- a remote control, or the bowl of potato wafers, even my computer’s mouse. I wait on, chewing on my moist sigh, for a silver bolt of lightning from between the dark clouds to strike me and light up my world.



I keep thinking.
What’s wrong with us?

I keep telling myself not to give much thought about it.
There’s people all around. I stand stranded in middle of nothingness.
My self has stopped reflecting. I take them all in. People. Time, Things and everything else. Succumbed to the womb of a black inkpot, I stand stranded.
Or is there anything around?

I keep looking.
At myself. In the mirrors and everywhere else.

I try to see where came from. I stare at myself, as the dark corridors of my house and those creaky wooden stairs build around me. I realise I am standing at one of the bulky windows of Vadakkeyara. Looking out to see if I could still see those sights. The rain. The neelanmaavu and beyond. Far off, near the veli, the souls laid to rest keep talking, about the crack in the walls. They say it’s all covered up but they can hear the sounds. The neelanmaavu broods over in front of me, waiting for its turn and watching us. I close my eyes, only to realize they were never open.

I keep trying to talk.
To the forgotten. To the omnipresent.

My mind is still beside the placid green water in the well and the ezhuthachanprani in it. Nothing moves. Everything is still and afloat. Everything. The do’s, never done, and the don’ts, repeated. Memories and dreams pretending to ignore the dead faces around. Thoughts and actions.
Suddenly,something fell on all of us with a big sound. A huge branch. On top, the kilichundan sways as if it has shed the weight of its lifetime. The ezhuthachanprani and everything else dissolves tracelessly and disappears.

I keep walking.
Past the well.

Past the moovandan that never grew to bear fruits. Past everything to the vadekkethodi, there, across the kalluvettiyakuzhi, I see her lying. “Just an afternoon nap”, says the vazha placed on top of her. “Out of habit, nothing else”. She’ll get up soon. Just in time for her tea and after that she’ll have a little bit of time to see what sukumaran is up to, before molu comes. “Had it been the older times, when you used to listen” says vazha hesitantly,“ she’d have had time to talk also, about what she had seen and heard”. I look at her, ignoring vazha’s insignificant conversation. I try telling her I need to go. She’s deep asleep. The mole on her stomach resemble the inert ezhuthachanprani. The stomach moves up and down slowly, in regular but late intervals. “The lesser you breathe, the longer you’ll live” says vazha. I get up.

I keep counting.
The number of maavus. Maybe they are counting us too. I look down the well. The ezhuthachanprani is still there. It is eating the leaves of the fallen branch. I pick a stone, covered with its own share of moss, waiting to rest under the bed of memories.

I lie back and start the television. And everything comes back at me again. The dos and the don’ts, the faces and the limbs, memories and dreams. But now, they’re all moving. They surround me. I close my eyes and the noise sinks the voice of the mapla shouting outside, asking in his voice coated with the dust of tobacco, “maavu kodukkando?”

I keep thinking.
What’s wrong with us?
I keep telling myself not to give much thought about it.


Joining the bandwidth wagon

Here’s blog number 60,000001, give or take a few tens of thousands.
I am doing this only after each and every cell of my body found necessary, a bit of virtuality, an existence between nowhere, contradicted only by the inane and abundant space around. I humbly claim my share of this ‘As you saw, the rest shall reap’ wonderland. Cyberspace, here I come.