Wednesday, January 03, 2018

Birds of Paradise

It is late in the afternoon. As I sit on the porch to savour this beautiful moment of calm stillness, soaking in the intensely beautiful greenery all around, a lot of movements catch my eye. It is magical and picturesque, to say the least - like a silent motion picture abuzz with countless characters in perfect harmony. With the sun preparing its descent, long creeping shadows fall across the expanse. There is a mild breeze, and it is quite cold this winter day. What appears to be a Honey Buzzard, one of the many species of raptors found in this region, circles overhead calling out intently, mimicking the cry of a kitten. A restless pair of Racket-tailed Drongos flitter about trying to catch insects mid-flight, putting up a spectacular dance of sorts in the air. Warblers, colourful and in plenty, hop about in unison, like a well-choreographed troupe of performers milling about to silent orchestration. Scaly-breasted Munias, an entire community of them, have descended on the wayward grassy patch, diligently scouring it and feeding on grass seeds.

Not far away, a pair of Sunbirds flitter about on the bushy Hibiscus plant, constantly hovering about near the flowers and drilling tiny holes on them in a dexterous effort to extract nectar. Surely, modern-day aviation must have designed the intricacies of mid-air refuelling, learning the ropes from these wonderful birds. A Vernal Hanging Parrot arrives to perch on a Banana plant. For a moment, it does absolutely nothing except to slowly tilt its head in a comical motion. Having satisfied itself, it ambles its way, rather clumsily, to the large unripe cluster of fruits. However, the fruits are not its objective. The heart-shaped crimson-coloured inflorescence, or the 'banana-heart', is what this creature is after. Settling down on the edge in a precarious balance, it begins a meticulous process of tearing away the bracts and extracting nectar.

Meanwhile, on the Silver Oak tree, a family of Scarlet Minivets, bright orange and yellow, are milling about, hopping across branches. They are not alone! Unperturbed by their going about, a flock of Magpie Robins dart to the ground below and make off to the tree, with insects, where they can devour them. It appears to be some sort of a merry-go-round with these radiant white and black creatures jumping about and flying back to their perches of safety and repeating themselves endlessly. Elsewhere, a funny looking White-cheeked Barbet descends on a Papaya tree and investigates the possibility of cutting up a fruit. But, the tender fruit is not ripe yet and the bird abandons its endeavour and flies away, perhaps to locate another possibility.

The neighbouring coffee estate abounds with hectic activity. A Greater Coucal is noisily foraging in the undergrowth. It hops about in a very unbirdlike manner and its striking red eyes stare at me ominously before satisfying itself of the inconsequential nature of my being. Not far away, an extended family of noisy Red-whiskered and Black-collared Bulbuls are enjoying themselves in the bird bath. Vying ardently to secure a moment longer at the bath, they fight and scramble among themselves causing a roisterous ruckus, while a more gentle and well-mannered pair of spotted doves walk about on the courtyard, nibbling scattered grain. And, there are sparrows! Where couldn't they be! A crew of sparrows has perched assertively on prime spots of real-estate - the bushy juvenile Mango tree in the courtyard, the White Bauhinia, the electricity line, and wherever 'sparrowly' possible. From their vantage sit-out, they scurry about to gather grain or seeds and aggressively drive away all competition - often, many times their size!

But, unbeknown to them all is a pair of intent eyes, regarding every move with malevolent glare and discerning these happenings as if to be ready and to pounce on an unsuspecting visitor, like a blitzkrieg! However, on this pristine day, there would be no casualties. His Royal Majesty, Lord Fudicus Cattus Fudicus, aka the Mighty Lord Puddix, the benevolent ruler of the stately provinces of Wayanad, and of our humble home  - the friendly (and opportunistic) neighbourhood tabby is satiated after a veritable meal of leftover fish heads. He is no mood for ambush and so, his subjects, our winged visitors, have survived to live another day, in what is surely paradise regained!

Saturday, December 30, 2017

The Ramparts of 2017

Aside from Franck Vergh's magnificent monochromatic memories of the cold war times, Jason Silva's marvellous insights about anything under the sun, George Carlin's timeless, bold, and extremely hilarious views, David Whyte's intensely wise summations of life itself, and some of the finest books that I have so voraciously and passionately consumed, this year has been one of epic passings. What prevailed during the beginning has long since come to pass, and what occurs now was hardly speculated. In that sense, it has brought about such a phenomenal depth of change that the very scale of it seems incomprehensible in hindsight. To sum it up, life's been shaken and stirred!

But, I couldn't be happier to have gotten outside of my comfort zone, that little inconsequential, paltry, and stale cocoon, with its perpetual shadows and inhibited views. It reeked of putrid familiarity and wasted charm to be in there. Some sort of arrested existence, as if a veil had hideously enveloped the senses and prevented comprehension. Inertia couldn't be better defined.

So, symbolic as it seems to welcome a new beginning, it is, for me, equally important to consign away relics of the old and await the promises and possibilities of the new, and that is truly what life's purpose seems - to let go and to embrace in the spirit of worthy passage and to continue a journey of curiosity and contentment.

May we find new horizons!

Monday, December 25, 2017

The Human Faculty

I'm oft left to wonder how the human mind could construct a form in ways that cannot possibly be imagined and yet be thoroughly enthralling, to say the least. Take, for instance, art, literature, music, or cinema. It is ceaselessly amazing to witness and celebrate human creativity and to realize how marvellous our minds truly are.

What would be more wonderful than to feel absolute rapture, exaltation, and awe when one chances upon a good book or when listening to some fine music? You could say the same about a lot of other things - the outcomes of creative human endeavour and the expression that it results in.

I wonder what fuels creativity. Is it passion? Or desire? Could circumstances and the manner in which one's perceptive abilities are oriented contribute to creative expression? But, I suppose my question is rather purposeless. I should be asking if we reward creativity enough, for it to be taken (and pursued) seriously

Sure, it is easy to imagine a world without human beings - but, would it be easy to comprehend a world without the expression of human creativity?

Friday, December 22, 2017

Silence

What do you make of silence? The experience of extreme quiet, away from all the mechanized din that takes up every moment of life on the wheel (you know what a hamster wheel is, don't you?). What does it take to stop, to examine, to breath, and to revel in nothingness? To let thoughts flow unremittingly and without restraint or consequence, to let go of plans and desires, wants and needs, ambitions and goals. What would it take, even for a moment?

And then, I pause to look up at those marvellous, tall trees that tower into eternity, uttering not so much as even a whimper about the prominence of their timeless existence, the wind that carries along, all-permeating, and yet subtle, the birds and the beasts, their calls never out of place or unsuitable in the world they are a part of, the elements and their natural accordance, all in perfect symmetry and synchrony. How much there is to celebrate in awe the wonder of the natural world. How magical it seems to revel in the perfection and yet the elementary, everyday occurrences of nature. How proverbial, poetic, and romantic it is to be able to partake in this marvel.

Why is it that the noises we make are so damningly difficult to live with? Why don't we fit into the natural world with the same ease and adeptness that all other beings possess? The answer is perhaps in the understanding that we do not belong in such soulful sanctuaries. And, suddenly this realization, momentary as it is, allows me to contend with the miseries that grip my life - the senseless chatter emanating from the television, the odious ringing and beeps of the cellphone, the inconsiderate, distasteful, and uncharitable garble of people around and about, the nauseating pandemonium of vehicles and everything artificial, the commotion and racket of all farcical, clownish religious establishments (and their equally appalling proponents). I could write endlessly about this.

But, silence or just the thought of it - it is meditatively calming and soulful. In silence, I could live on, forever.

Monday, December 18, 2017

Lone Fox Dancing

Books are gateways to idyllic journeys into far-off worlds. They are expeditions of indulgence, for in undertaking such voyages, one is transported to enchanting places and multitudes of emotions. And, as indulgent I am in such gleeful delights, which is, I suppose, the supreme pleasure, of most bibliotaphs, oftentimes, I find myself buying more books than I can possibly consume.

So, one morning, on a whim, and to fight off a gripping sense of inertia that has overrun me lately, I went about to rummage my stockpile (not a 'collection,' since I haven't graduated to such an exalted stature, nor I possibly will), to find myself staring at the 'Lone Fox Dancing' - The Autobiography of Ruskin Bond, a treasure I had acquired not so long so.

To say that the prose was eclectic would be an act of self-aggrandizement and arrogance on my part (for I possess no skills or qualifications to review such a prodigy). But, say it, I nevertheless will, for that is how this master chronicler has woven his account.

Not so long after, I trudged about on winding paths in the misty hills on which stood tall pine and deodar. Overcome by a deep sense of nostalgia (of times from my own childhood spent in the hills of Ooty), I began to understand the ways of a man who had trounced the oft-inescapable (and enforced) notion of a regular life - to search for freedom, for deliverance, to undertake a peregrination of his longing - 'to put pen to paper', as he called it. It wasn't fanciful or lucrative. Far from it, actually. Steeped in strain and struggle, it conveyed the unbounded eagerness of a man resolved to do what he loved. Not that he envisioned it would take him any place. I suppose he didn't care for the outcomes as much as he was enthralled by the machinations of his life and the blissful wilderness that he was so purposefully ensconced in. I doubt he cares even now.

Bond's account is not macerated with his literary pursuits. While there are rich portrayals of that endeavour, the book is much larger than that effort. It is life itself, the comings and goings of people, the rich description of deep, personal emotions associated with such occurrences, some pleasant, others acerbic. It is a work of outstanding artistry that quite effortlessly articulates the mind of a reticent man (in which, being quite withdrawn myself, I found reassuring comfort and tenderness)

In the end, which came about much sooner than I had expected, I was left feeling joyful and troubled - The first for obvious reasons, while the latter for having finished the book all too soon!

But, deep within my being will remain etched forever those snow-capped hills, bungalows from a distant past, coniferous trees, the taste of tangy apricots, and the astounding views from a window that opens to the mountains.

Long may the lone fox dance! 

Monday, May 23, 2016

Moments at Sunset


Our most valuable possession is life itself, for in its span we strive to add meaning and purpose to our existence, explore possibilities, realize potential, build relationships, foster creativity, enliven with hope, make memories and commit to evolve our being. 

But the most striking distinction of all is that we are given an opportunity to be part of a unique tapestry of infinite magnificence and incomprehensible riches. We must, therefore, be eternally grateful for this priceless gift and should endlessly cherish this wonderful marvel because only in doing so do we find true happiness!

Footnote:

Picture taken in Gorai, Mumbai on 28 January 2016

Wednesday, May 18, 2016

The Scorcher

I am blessed with comrades, some of who are pundits in the most bizarre sense! They seem oblivious to the obvious while lamenting at length about possibilities galore. Naturally, imaginations run unrestrained, or, perhaps more appropriately put, illogical.

Now, before you begin to wonder what the bone of contention really is; a certain 'enlightened' someone who is adept in the written word, most casually put forth their 'humble point of view' that there was no bigger sham than that of climate change! Terming the phenomenon as unfounded and largely unscientific, it was argued that this 'ongoing scare' was 'overrated' beyond measure. According to their, ahem, most humble opinion, this was a 'tactic' employed by intergovernmental agencies in order to gain a foothold in the scheme of everyday things, due to they being largely ignored or, according to this wisdom-extraordinaire, not being given their place and due!

Just as one thought uncharacteristic of the aggressive, yet nonsensical campaigning of a certain taco bell loving billionaire and, more recently, the statements of a Harvard educated Indian sociopath, and the rabid pronunciations of a former and failed Indian politician against the nation's Prime Minister on a TV show, this seems to outwit all of them put together, and by epic proportions.

One need only look at the plaguing problems India has been facing lately (not that India is a lone victim of climate change). I reckon it wouldn't take even the most dense minds to misunderstand that climate change is a hideous reality, which unfortunately cannot be wished away! Entire regions facing drought, crop failures, menacingly rising temperatures and almost perennial water shortages should suffice to indicate, i suppose.

Well, i'm expected to end this diatribe without further commotion, but before i leave, i'm curious to know the cause for such a dimwitted assertion; What must have caused your exalted self to falter, i wonder. Was it the extra-strong tobacco that you weren't quite used to? Perhaps the tawdry weed thy smoked for intellectual pursuits? Or, am i entirely wrong blaming the condition on commodities?

Thursday, April 28, 2016

The Woes of My Life

It isn't home anymore. Not the warmth i knew of. Far from it, truth be told. The serenity of my land has long gone. There are only memories left. Today, there is despair and bitterness. My lands are parched and my life is barren.

Not long ago, i had a dream. A dream that meant fulfillment and prosperity. I laboured interminably to enliven that dream. What of it, you may ask. I know not words to explain. I reckon you know my plight already.

My life has been grim. I'm a kind that is now forgotten and relegated to statistics. Meek and impoverished they call me. Politicians sympathize in their deceitful ways. Others, like you, couldn't be more apathetic. Yet, it is my kind that feeds the nation; a staggering billion and more mouths that would be penurious should i embark upon another vocation. No, i speak not with pride, but with angst. This has been my trade, my life, and i do not know another.

Slowly, there are many in my fold who have done away with their lands - their prized possessions handed down through generations. In search of hopeful prospects, they have departed long ago. Why must i not be tempted or forced? There are these new breed of nouveau riche 'developers' lining up at my door with enticing bids, and threats.

Have you, with your know-hows, not read of my quandary? That i tread miles to fetch pales of water to irrigate my fields, and that my children toil under the merciless sun, to say but a few of the many! Oh, what would you know of my predicament? Your cushy jobs and demanding lives would only add to the indifference! Entire villages starve for the lack of water or food. The rains seem eons away. Our crops have failed and our brethren kill themselves. To us, this is desolation. To you this is statistic. There lies the difference.

However, my missive is not all stark. I would like to also imagine a future. One that brings us all that we ever sought. One that makes our lives truly gratifying. Does that sound Utopian? Perhaps, your 'learned sense' does describe it so. Well, it would certainly sound idealistic to many, far too many. And this is because, our future isn't going to be any easier than what it is today, is it? Our fields and farms will make way for buildings, hideous monstrosities of glass and steel, that vie with another to become landmarks of prestige and architectural aesthetics. Our trees would have long been felled to feed endless reams of paper into those fancy devices in your snazzy offices. Rivers and streams would have long been destroyed. Of those left, water would hardly be considered potable. Perhaps, you could consider stocking up your favorite brands of aerated fizz!

What would become of my tribe then, would you ask? As they say 'dead as a Dodo, of course!'

Oh, i know a thing or two that will remain though. Your colossal egos that are dismissive of realities, and your repugnant sense of avarice!

Footnotes:

Written in the backdrop of the prevailing drought in Maharashtra

Wednesday, April 20, 2016

Lost words found again!

Often, there comes a spell, like passing clouds in a sky.
These moments, how they call emphatically.
For they define, though only for a moment, a state of being.

When the dust settles, one discerns that times have changed,
and life is anew. It is, perhaps, in such passing that
journeys begin, and dreams are forged.

All of life is an endeavour to see afresh, joyful hope to seek
and comprehend. Many moons shall pass, and so will those sights.
Only perspectives change leaving realities untainted.

Wanderers we are, of ephemeral nature.
In our moments we shall only accomplish rapture.
It is to ourselves that we shall bring wonder,
should our minds be a passage to the inner.

Monday, April 11, 2016

Goodbye Bombay!

Bombay is not a city. It is a spirit, something of a cult status, perhaps even an extremely personal feeling that has grown from deep within due to the inimitable sights and sounds of a very unique being; a world that cannot exist in parallel. It is not home to people, but to countless dreams that oscillate with fervour and passion in the minds of its beholders prompting them to relentlessly engage in an enduring pursuit called life. It is, perhaps, the single largest importer of dreams, which it permits to be endlessly bartered with the most powerful currency that exists, the currency of hope! But, it may not be a destination as many choose to see it, for it has its bias, like any other - between building and breaking, as often as it will. Of which side it has its tilt towards, one can never actually tell.

The sea that almost surrounds it is not merely an expansive body of water. It can metaphorically be likened to the mind that is constantly engulfed in waves, rattling a person between perpetually definitive states of action and lifeless inertia. While it is regarded as an incomparable beacon of life, it is also mercilessly adept in taking away the living breath, startling its subjects, never offering even so much as a requiem for the departed. Bombay is in many ways synonymous to time, to life itself.

To many, it tenders spectacular offerings of transformation, with promises that are eclectic, irreversible and soaring, not unlike the innumerable skyscrapers that imposingly tower into the skies, seemingly blurring the distance between earth and the heavens. Several others aren't so fortunate. They find themselves in constant trepidation, inundated by woes and demands of life, fallen dreams and squalor of sorts. But, it is home nevertheless. Feeding and sheltering, in varied ways, its dwellers, among which are the bipedal, four-legged, legless and many more vastly and differently constituted.

They say Bombay has only two kinds of people; Those who visit, certain to leave and the others who arrive to remain for generations. So, by that account, i would regard myself to be a traveller who was swept by time with a prearranged interlude of passage. And, in that pause, this tutor extraordinaire would have left in me deep and indelible marks of a life so unique, promises so divine, possibilities so real, people so distinct and experiences so full. And then, it was time to move on.

I shall forever be thankful to it for the wonderful times, brilliant friendships, endless treats to history, and soulful memories that have made life worth celebrating. From the quaint streets of Colaba, to the bustling seaside of Bandra, the resplendent Fort and the iconic Marine Drive, and the stretches from Juhu to Borivali, some reminiscences are eternal.

So as i bid adieu to this mighty megapolis, a place where everything matters, and yet nothing does, a place which was home for what seemed eternity and yet only for an instant, hues of many scintillating moments are now etched deep within.

And, i will forever remember its most valuable teaching - that survival is not an option; it is life itself!

Footnotes:

Written in aftermath

Monday, August 26, 2013

The Living Daylights

Winter mornings in Kerala aren't symbolic or significant. There is a nip in the morning air and the rest is quite the usual. Winters in most parts of Kerala are only indicative of dates on a calendar. They are not a season to expect or experience, particularly along the coastline that is weathered down with searing heat and insufferable humidity.

Some seven hours and a hundred and forty miles away, in Ooty, one wouldn't dare say the same! Nestled in blue mountains, and dotted with conifer and oak, the winds there have a reputation, a notoriety of sorts. Even the arriving sun wouldn't muster enough courage to battle the dew drops of the night before or the omnipresent breeze that can be bone-chilling. Refuge, therefore, is best sought under the covers, many layers of them, until it is deemed appropriate to set about into the day that wouldn't be very different from how it began - sleepy, cold and lethargic!

On the morning of 26 January 2001, when i was roused earlier than usual, i knew it had to be something very important, rather significant. Groggily walking up to the telephone and placing it to my ear, which had now been numbed by the chills, i was greeted by an excited voice who sought to urgently but happily convey an 'arrival.' There were four, she had remarked, and all of them entirely different. I sat up listening to the details and a surge of excitement energized me into exhilaration. As i replaced the receiver onto the cradle, i smiled to myself. Unbeknown to me, i was setting off a chain of events that would last over twelve years. Twelve years today, is close to a third of my life.

Less than forty days after that telephone call, i set foot in Cannanore to begin a new phase. It would be my home for over two years. No sooner had i landed, i paid the 'arrivals' a visit. They were four. Very different, and no larger than fully grown squirrels, huddled up in a corner with their mother. Mixed in lineage, of Chihuahua, Daschund and Terrier, they were a curious lot. Noisy, frolicking and funny, the first you'd notice of them was the attitude they wore and carried; four bundles of fur and the mother were seen trudging along like royalty, never letting go of an opportunity to bark away even at the tiniest object that evoked curiosity or fright.

After a protracted battle with fellow contenders, owners-in-waiting, i settled on one, the one - the little girl with a sandstone coat, not unlike a lion cub, with a fierce temperament, whose idea of a warm welcome was to deliver a sharp bite. For some four weeks that i was her custodian, our roles transformed. Our identities had differed. She was no longer a pet and i no longer a custodian. We were contemporaries instead; she quadruped and i biped. Though devoid of a tail, and different in constitution, i became fast friends with her and it increasingly appeared that she chose me as opposed to the notion that i picked her. Soon, she had a name, one that reflected her person, nature, attitude and being, in all appropriateness and likening - i named her Simbha; signifying the fearless.

April of 2001 we set about to begin a journey that would take us southward, to what would be her ultimate home, in the mountains, in Ooty. Dog and human, in feverish excitement, yet thick of wariness, began their journey mindful that each hadn't undertaken such a monumental feat ever before. Several pairs of curious eyes spied us as we seated ourselves in a bus that was to conduct us to the end of an eight hour journey, transporting us across two neighbouring states, from one home to another!

Arriving home, in Ooty, we received a rousing reception, the new arrival and me, her batman! But Dad would instantly, at his first meeting with her, quip loudly about how tiny as a kitten she looked - a remark that wouldn't go well with her and remain unforgotten till the very end. A month later, when i returned to check on her, she had ingrained herself into the family and bonded very well, having established a place in the hierarchy. Dad was the man who brought supplies - essential in the pecking order, but not one to be very good friends with. Mum was the 'master,' or the mistress in this case; head of the family, an institution to be served with love and loyalty. And then, there were us, Deepu and i, brothers, who were her pets! So, in effect, we had a dog that looked like a cat, and kept pet humans!

The biped 'pets' had rooms for themselves, but visited no more than twice or thrice every year. Their bedding could thus be used to sleep over, jump about like a trampoline and mess up at will. Carpets served as nap stations. The telephone was an object of never-ending curiosity and the television was a mystic glowing box that was to be stared into along with Mum, every evening. The driveway served as a sunning cum watch station, spent barking at passers and chasing birds and cats. And Dad, the supplies guy, was only useful for the late evening snack he offered, before and after which he could be barked, snarled and growled at.

Years passed. My quests took me across the country, crisscrossing Delhi, Pune, Chennai and Mumbai. She remained at home with Mum all along, by her side, supplying her with unending love and limitless compassion. She mastered the art of multiplying happiness, without condition, and spoke volumes with her loving eyes and baring fangs! She charmed us, every bit of the way and we lapped it up seeking more of what she could offer, and offer she did beyond our needs, much further than what each of us were destined for.

In 2009, Mum was diagnosed with peripheral neuropathy - a process resulting in damage to nerves of the peripheral nervous system. It was a sunny summer afternoon in Pune, after my short visit to Ooty, when my phone buzzed indicating Dad's call and the details thereafter. I wasn't sure of how to receive the news and rattled at what the implications could be. Ignorance apart from being blissful can also be scary, when met with a sudden realization of what would be. Deepu was away in Chennai. This meant either of us were a few hours from home, painfully unable to respond to any crisis that may emerge. Eventually, Mum would seek medical assistance outside of Ooty for over 10 months leaving Simbha devastated, depressed and on the brink. I cannot recollect another period in time when she hasn't been by Mum's side other than this excruciating phase which had taken a miserable toll on either. Being reunited with Mum in 2010 was perhaps the happiest part of Simbha's life. Her joy seemed limitless and there appeared a promise of hope. Since then, like before, she would always accompany Mum on her long-distance travels wherever she went, dutifully by her side, slinking away into the shadows, but steadfastly remaining with her at all times. While Mum's doctors continue to wonder and often remark about the brilliant progress she has made at recovery, we have known better - of Simbha's perseverance and consequent success in making the impossible happen. It was dramatic and moving to watch her prod Mum to walk, as she laboured hard to make even one step possible. Bounding off a distance, pausing to look behind and then mildly letting out a woof, she would urge Mum to go forward to her. The activity continued for months, until the patient felt little of the terrible woes that once incapacitated her. I wouldn't attribute it to medical sciences alone. Miracles surely are a part of life too, and in our case, it came on four legs, brandishing a short tail.

Returning home on vacations, Deepu and i were accorded receptions befitting royalty, complete with a welcoming ceremony that would last almost forever. No sooner had that come to a close, she quickly reminded us where our respective places in the hierarchy stood - but not once, without love or kindness, of which she was a living embodiment. She was cuddled, treasured and celebrated, and in return blessed us with love, the kind we hadn't ever seen or experienced before.

Earlier this year, when i visited Ooty for the last time as a resident, Simbha appeared to look her age. She had turned twelve only days before. Her gait and disposition hadn't slowed one bit though. With boundless energy, she charged forward and lept into my arms dressing my face with warm snuzzles and spoke to me with the same intonation that she was used to. However, i couldn't help but notice how twelve years had transformed her - from a bouncing pup to an octogenarian lady at the prime of her age, at the evening of it. There weren't many outward signs of her deterioration, but i knew she was rapidly being consumed from within. Time is an unkind element, badgering the weak, accelerating their pace to oblivion faster than it can possibly be imagined. Perhaps, it is nature's way of deliverance, of liberation, from the woes of the inevitable. Even so, her fire never vanquished. I gather it was too powerful even for time to quell with its pitiless spell. Happy and full of life, running about and deep spirited she carried herself with the disposition of a warrior, surveying the expanses of her empire with the air of a conqueror. I wondered if i'd meet her again. The thought hung on vividly like a bad memory, recalled at every passing instant. Her eyes conveyed reassurance; comforting me that this wasn't about to be the end. I dabbled with doubt and belief, torn in anxiety while she looked up at me more than once with a glance as if to chide me for having tormented myself about something that hadn't yet happened. I returned to Mumbai, not comforted but hopeful. It was a promise that i felt would be honoured. Eventually, the cacophony of everyday life replaced my bother.

Seeking warmer climes, my parents decided to relocate from Ooty this March. Dad had relocated there in 1966 and Mum followed in 1978 after her marriage to him. I arrived in 1979 and Deepu in 1983. Simbha, the third in the line of a tribe of luminary-extraordinaire, arrived in 2001. My quests set me from home in 1996. Returning periodically and setting off to where my pursuits took me, Ooty remained, until earlier this year, home to return to. Though I hadn't been living in Ooty for over a decade now, to imagine permanent relocation of what was home wasn't easy. As a family, we hadn't done it ever before, much less imagined it. Ooty was our base, our hub of life. To conjure the image of another destination in its place was simply unthinkable. But the realities of life often permit that the unthinkable happens! Our home of some three decades sold, parents and Simbha moved to Wayanad, solely assisted by Deepu. I stayed out of the operation, frightfully intimidated at coming to terms with the colossal change.

Early in May this year, i arrived in Wayanad on my maiden visit. As is custom, Simbha welcomed me with unwavering love and livened up my holiday. Extremely cheerful and playful, she brought out the child in me, constantly reminding me that happiness and contentment are central themes of life, all important inspirations upon which our fundamentals should be based. A week sped by in minutes. The close of any vacation isn't easy. This one was doubly difficult. Preparing to leave before daybreak, i strode into her room and picked up a sleeping Simbha. I was surprised at the absence of the usual growl when disturbed. Holding her under her forelegs, clasped within my palms, her paws shot skywards while her hinds loosely hung in the air - a position i often put her in, not unlike the description of Mocassin, Piscine Patel's cat, from Yann Martel's celebrated book Life of Pi. She looked at me groggily, struck by the sudden unease at being roused up at an ungodly hour. Bringing her close, i kissed on her forehead and cheeks and hugged her firm. Still no growls. Her eyes conveyed nothing. They seemed to absorb, and not reflect. I was puzzled. Setting her on the floor, i strode out while she scampered off to her cushion to continue her momentarily troubled slumber. Hours later, when i got off the plane in Mumbai, i was still wondering if i would be blessed to meet her again. There were no answers. Only questions remained.

August 19 was different. It began on a very promising and interesting note. A sense of victory in casting away bygones into the past was endearing. That Monday morning, i began with zeal and energy that hadn't been felt in a long time. Tim Robbins couldn't have been more accurate when, as banker Andy Dufresne, in Shawshank Redemption, he remarked to Ellis Redding (Morgan Freeman) that "hope drives a man insane." My sentiment that Monday morning was not any different. But, remember Baz Luhrmann and his Sunscreen, where he says "The real troubles in your life are apt to be things that never crossed your worried mind; the kind that blindside you at 4pm on some idle Tuesday." Well, only this time, it was a Monday evening and strangely at 4pm!

I hadn't noticed Mum's call coming in at 1810. Neither did i observe Deepu's text of some 10 minutes after. Mum and Dad were in Cannanore attending a family occasion. They had arrived there with Simbha some two days ago and were set to return soon.

At about 1945, as i ambled out, i fished out my phone and ran through a list of unanswered calls, emails and texts. Those from Mum and Deepu stood out like a sore thumb. Even before reading Deepu's message, i knew instinctively what had happened. Deepu's text merely confirmed it. Oddly, i was greeted by the sight of an intrigued Labrador pup intently looking at me as he was being led away. His eyes were transfixed on me. I was puzzled. It took an awfully long while for the bolt to sink in. I decided against returning Mum's call, instead texted Deepu and set about going, not knowing how or what i felt. My mind was fighting the feeling. An increasing sense of denial was to set in, soon giving way for realization that dawned in a rather dull and ugly comportment. My thoughts mirrored the commotion outside, like endless blinding lights of automobiles, scattered and vying to find a way toward a destination their masters intended them to. Blazing horns and the painful clamour of an evening commute made the feeling worse, close to gut wrenching. It soon grew to become anger.

At 2034, i dialled Mum and heard a somber voice that battled hard to keep tears at bay. I fought too. The sense of anger that had now enveloped me made it easier. Gritting my teeth and clenching my fist, i restrained as hard as i could, aware that every beginning had to have a definite end. Less than 3 minutes into the call, i hung up asking to call later. We both wanted time to reorganize ourselves, comprehend and come to terms with a situation that was complex. In such times, silence is a preferred alternative.

At 2127, i rang up Mum a second time. She recounted the day and how they had been troubled by Simbha's growing unease. Handfed meagerly and accepting no more than a few drops of water from Mum, she bounded off, away from watchful eyes and into immortality. The end had come at about 1610. We both agreed on what had truly been a monumental being of extraordinary love.

Between 2151 and 2224, Deepu and i exchanged calls, often stopping off to ring back. Difficult moments ensued. Sobbing painfully, he recounted his lasting meeting with her and how he had departed without farewell, something that was bizarre. I sensed enormous guilt and grief, but did little to console, knowing that time would do a better job. We cried together. Nothing had united us so much in pain and grief before. It was a first. I recollected how Simbha's predecessors had passed on in our youth. Perhaps childhood offers a better mechanism to deal with bereavement, i thought. Or maybe we were too oblivious to comprehend back then. Possibly the strength of adolescence was formidable. Age can make a destitute of emotion.

Alone and bewildered, i made my way to the refrigerator and emptied some cola. It seemed tasteless and reeked of fizz. I gulped it down anyway and made to the shower and let the cold jet sprinkle on me. Vivid accounts of the past, safely etched in memory now came to fore and translated into tears, streaming down my face. I cried. And smiled.

That night as i attempted to sleep, glowing dreams transported me to faraway places, in the mountains, awash with endless hues of green and blue. I tossed about fitfully, shifting through places and time.

And then, i set about to write this post. I needed to write, express in words. This was my way, this is my way. A way of catharsis, a path towards deliverance. A paltry attempt at recounting a splendid existence that can never really be explained.

This is by no means an obituary, that is not how i would want it to be read. That is not how i wrote it. It is a fragmented account, severely limited in expression, of a superhuman life that intimately and absolutely transformed the lives of four people who, i realize, are truly blessed!

We have all, since, returned to our lives, largely out of necessity and partly out of choice. Eventually, time will consign memories to more manageable spaces where recollection would be possible with more cheer than grief.

That is indeed the purpose. To write; to remember and to come to terms with - to remember and celebrate the grace, love and cheer and to come to terms with the grief and pain.

But truth be told, she will always remain what she has always been - iconic.

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

The Tale of U

I measure about a 176 cms skywards. U, close to about two-thirds of that, with a steely blue, somber and strong build wielded imposing construct.

It was not chance that brought us together, but necessity. Going by the call-signs; spear or spike, U lived up the description, apt and fiercely loyal, protecting me from unpredictable ire, that even some of the most sophisticated forms of electronic intelligence, i use, were unprepared to counter.

One dark, wet, evening, last year, i went looking for purpose; a journey that would eventually take me to U and fulfill my quest for security, comfort and preparedness which my world demanded - a world that was increasingly turning unkind, hostile and unremitting, for most part of time.

U was perfect and much more; a head-turner and lifelike, many an onlooker paused to glance at this outsized figure whose sole duty was to protect the master. Between us, we had forged a camaraderie, a sort of a bond that permitted each to communicate with one another at will, without the burdensome semantics of language.

This past Saturday, all of that came to an abrupt end. Out to attend a meeting, at a hideously unfamiliar part of Mumbai, U and i became separated. A feeling of remorse overwhelmed me as i tasted bile in my mouth, unable to comprehend the happening. Sick and disgusted at my callousness, i became immediately aware of the danger that now surrounded me, vulnerable as i was. My world had changed - forever, it seemed!

As if on cue, the moment i had feared and loathed, came to be.

Ominously dark and sinister clouds, hanging in wait, like sleeper cells of terrorists waiting to perpetuate war, let go of a torrent of deluge that struck me. Alas, there was no mercy! The very mortifying infidel that U had kept me from, now found me an easy picking and attacked with spitefully relentless might.

Vanquished, in pride and spirit, i headed home a forlorn being. But even in trounce are lessons to learn. And, as i returned wiser, i thought of U, my umbrella, the generous being that had unconditionally protected me from an increasingly hostile Mumbai monsoon.

An Update:

On 14 August, U, my beloved umbrella, was returned to me. I can consider being among those privileged few who is now reunited with my 'adored.' It turned out that i had left U at a colleague's residence and returned quite absent minded.

The supreme realization of true love is that you set free the object of your affection and upon its return, if it does ever, know that you were meant to be together. U and i are a fitting example!

Now, the incredulous rains of Mumbai have much to fear as U is back on my side, looking after me, every moment i am out in the open. I feel powerful as ever and sometimes, in pride, mock those hapless clouds and their arsenal of water-drops that connive among themselves to launch a scathing strike, only to be met with a God-like phalanx; to be defeated and condemned to be collected in puddles and pools that will eventually be desiccated - miserably!

All thanks to U, my umbrella! :-)

Monday, August 05, 2013

Sometimes

Some dreams, deep and vivid,
fleeting, like floating clouds,
in moments that are, but lost forever,

Some thoughts, like dewdrops,
drip and depart, like shimmering lights,
shrouded in mystical darkness,

Some emotions, weave a shade,
forlorn and uneasy, like drifting spirits,
leaving behind a stain, rancid and dark,

Some places, embrace in comfort,
offer kindly abode, like maples in woods,
where melody is born of skies and wind,

Some worlds, are yonder,
from the pretenses of time, like twinkling stars,
obscured by daylight,

Sometimes, i pause and gather the truth,
that these facets, like colours,
are different, perchance, as unlike shades,
yet, one, and all the very same! 

Monday, July 29, 2013

Some Milestones

80,000+ Page views
6,900+ Comments
400+ Posts
120+ Countries
9+ Years

And, endless love.

Cannot thank you enough for supporting Redefining Oblivion

Monday, July 22, 2013

Shine On You Crazy Diamond

Of a nine-part Pink Floyd composition written by Roger Waters, Richard Wright and David Gilmour, this is a tribute to former band member Syd Barrett. He was their lead guitarist and wrote most of their early hits, but was eased out of the band in 1968, due to erratic behavior patterns. Substance abuse played a big role in his mental illness.

Word has it that Barrett, with a completely shaved head and eyebrows, wandered into the studio while the band was recording Wish You Were Here, although Nick Mason has since stated that he is not entirely certain whether "Shine On You Crazy Diamond" was the particular song being recorded when Barrett was in the studio. Because of his drastically changed appearance, the band could not recognize him for some time. When they eventually recognized Barrett, Roger Waters was so distressed he was reduced to tears.

Someone asked to play the song again and Barrett said a second playback wasn't needed when they'd just heard it. Apparently, when "Wish You Were Here" was played, "He stood up and said, 'Right, when do I put my guitar on?'" Wright recalled. "And of course, he didn't have a guitar with him. And we said, 'Sorry, Syd, the guitar's all done.'" When asked what he thought of Wish You Were Here, Barrett said it sounded a "bit old".

The track was first performed on their 1974 French tour, and recorded for their 1975 concept album Wish You Were Here. To me, this track defines Pink Floyd and its signature progressive psychedelic style. It, undoubtedly, is the best produced pieces of music, that nothing could rival, ever!



Footnotes:

With inputs from Wikipedia

Monday, July 15, 2013

Perfect Symmetry


Footnotes:

Image Description: Tea gardens in Lovedale, outside Ooty

Monday, July 08, 2013

Us and Them

In the company of stars, lights in trance,
moments of splendid indulgence,
wind, mountains, streams and the trees,
all part of an assemblage of happy regales,

Without words or expressions to distort,
those visuals that make for delightful import,
vast meadows of sun-spilled warmth,
set about in green prairies of endless charm,

The everlasting allure of an old world,
against the braggadocio of those newfound ones,
we have always known of the winner before, here,
which those plenty retards know not to care,

Time, to some, is a tool of wise immoderation,
spent well on what is worthy of accommodation,
yet, for some others there is no path or way,
caught drifting in a callously downstream sway.

Footnotes:

Inspired by the second single 'Us and them' from the English progressive rock band, Pink Floyd's eighth studio album 'Dark Side of Moon' released in 1973.

Monday, July 01, 2013

Happy Birthday Bill Watterson

-- For my part I know nothing with any certainty, but the sight of the stars makes me dream ~Bill Waterson, Calvin & Hobbes


Footnotes:

Paying tributes to American artist and the author of the comic strip Calvin and HobbesWilliam "Bill" Boyd Watterson II who was born on July 5, 1958.

Image Courtesy - Google

Monday, June 24, 2013

One Morning in the 0638

It is almost 06:38 one morning, and i'm waiting up, like i do most mornings, for the 0638 to coast in. This is a description of some regular sights that i catch in the process.

The 40 something Cowboy Trapeze Artist (Codename - Uncle) cannot rest until he has hurled himself into the oncoming train even before it has come to a halt. That despite the train being empty! I gather this has to be his most defining personality trait, something he has painstakingly perfected for decades now. Hopefully, he understands the difference between hurling into and hurling onto!

And, there are the Cousins, his accomplices who herd behind him in the act, convinced in the belief that this is their last train to salvation!

Fugitive appears hurriedly from the shadows, with steely pale eyes, always shivering with fear. He scampers in like a shrew that has been pursued by an owl.

Frequent Flier arrives through the bridge and seats himself at the same place as he has done before. Now, bridge is our reference for the train that has parked itself adjacent to ours, scheduled to depart ahead. In case of the bridge not available for transit, he trudges down the track, climbs up the dirty, rusted scaffolding and hoists himself into the carriage. Not an unimpressive antic for a seemingly 50 something tumbler! But stupid, all the same.

Half Moon, the bald 30 something guy is in perpetual hurry, occasionally accompanied by Distressed Damsel who scampers along like a mouse deer.

The Meerkats appear two pit stops later. Teens, enthusiastic and three in number, they seem primarily preoccupied with news from the soccer world, and intermittently raise their heads in unison as if posted on the prairies as lookouts. One of them can be mistaken for a bush baby!

The Twin Cloud, two 'accidental' look-alike colleagues make an occasional entry from one or two pit stops later. They are forever preoccupied, intensely wondering about their work woes, which are, not surprisingly, people specific, and spend the remainder of the journey strategizing.

Motormouth is the most undistinguished of the lot, but is heard the most. He has no qualms yelling his lungs out to comrades who seem utterly disinterested and the rest of us who are thoroughly disgusted. The description is understated, surely.

So much for seemingly serene mornings! 

Monday, June 17, 2013

19 Years Later

What changes 19 years after? Absolutely nothing or absolutely everything. Well, in some rare instances the former is more so, as i was to find out.

D and i went to school together and have known each other since 1986. We spent until 1994 in school, after which we managed to remain in touch. So, when he told me of his visit to Mumbai, i was determined more than anything to meet him, after what was an epoch that passed by.

Warm as ever, characteristically poised, positively sensitive, clear and deep, i noticed that those traits that defined him as a person of excellence not only remained, but were now accentuated with time and understanding.

Our conversations soon deepened into the need for extricating ourselves from the labyrinth of pointless pursuits that now centralized our lives. Soulful conversations, examples, recollections, a great deal of wisdom and remarkably positive reassurances later, i returned a happier man who had inherited the fortune of sharing a defining dream.

Maybe i don't have the apt word to best describe him. I am not sure i even qualify to do so. But it would be close to use the words evolved, aware and mindful.