Friday, February 19, 2010

The happiest days of our lives

It was late afternoon yesterday and the repeated refreshing of the Internet scoreboard brought no good news. Work was impossible to attend to so you had to go down to the office cafeteria where the TVs were and find it already packed. The look on the people's faces already there seem to in agreement with your worst fears. If any team could avoid victory from this stage on, it could only be India. As an Indian cricket fan, that is a fear you learn to live with and internalize.

Only one wicket to be removed for glory and the opposition had been hanging in there for a 100 odd balls already. The two batsman looked invulnerable, a wall of stone to the little pebbles being hurled by the Indian bowlers. The slightest of non-chances were greeted with a roar both from the Eden Gardens and inside our cafeteria, both desperate for any opportunity to relieve a little bit of the intolerable pressure building up inside. The overs were running out rapidly as end of day approached. Sachin was given the ball but even his magic failed this time around. A couple of really close calls did occur as the balls turned unexpectedly sharply and could've have ended the match but we were getting that sinking feeling that the fickle Lady Luck was not on our team's side today.

You began to console yourself as the cafeteria began to empty with 5-6 overs to go. Not everyone had the time and the gumption to stomach that feeling of defeat. You hung on putting on a brave face and mouthing "If we lose, we lose, but we stay to watch and support till the end." without feeling even the smallest shred of optimism as a bitter taste of dejection welled up in your mouth. Whatever happens in life happens for the eventual good, you had to explain in vain to the painful sensation in your heart. After all South Africa played really well, didn't they? They deserved to save the match. Accept reality and move on. Can't expect everything in life to go your way, can you?

The TV broadcast showed the crowd in the stadium to have gone silent too. One or two eternal optimists tried to drum up a "India! India!" chant in the stands without much success. Everyone it seemed had resigned to their fate. Then... on the second ball of what could have been the last over for the day, a flash flood of happiness! He's out! He's out! He's out! Oh my God, its over! India win! India win! India freakin' win! What a feeling, what an God awesome mad stupendous feeling of relief, of surprise, of redemption! The world around you is delirious with pleasure, pleasure that runs right from the heart to the depths of your soul. There's a buzz in your brain, an incomparable high as the people around you perform their own personalized version of a situation induced lunatic dance. The world is once again a wonderful place to be in and you love it, all of it, down to the smallest pebble in the deepest ocean!

"What is joy without some pain,
What use is the sun, without the rain,
This is my life, this is my song,
Let it play... freakin' all day long!"

Thursday, February 18, 2010

How am I supposed to live without you :P

I have been guilty of extreme overuse of emoticons like ":P"s, ":D"s and ";)"s etc. It's about time I stopped using them in all of my comments if I want to be taken seriously on any matter! So much so that I have to specifically state that I am not joking just to prove that there was no sarcasm intended. I have been trying quite hard to de-addict myself but so far the attempts have been a disaster.

A buddy of mine (popularly known in our college circuit as the Great Digital Artist :P, Felix Jamestin) once told me that where words do not suffice, use an emoticon. Though I didn't realize the depth of his statement at that moment, I do acknowledge it now. How "I love you :P" means exactly the opposite of "I hate you :P", and if not the opposite, some hidden complicated message just by adding the "Phffffffffffttttt" tongue poking sound of my most favoured emoticon is very very interesting. It's like the written language has added a comic book flavour to it with these, the simplified representation of emotions which carry far more deeper hints to what the person is saying than the words themselves. It's always quite wonderful to have this niggling doubt in the mind, "Did the statement really mean what I thought it meant or was it more like the opposite thanks to the ":D" or the ":P" or the ";)" that followed?" Guessing games are really great fun especially if you end up guessing right!

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

The Incredibles

I am sure everyone have their own weird tantrum stories. Kids are little monsters most of the time if my favourite little childhood tantrum (out of the ones which I remember) is an indication. Being the youngest in my family by a long margin, I was always being molly-coddled by my parents to the extent that they indulged me like they were my grandparents! I used to sleep right in between Mom and Dad for many many childhood years, come what may, an honour not to be shared with my elder brother or sister under any circumstances whatsoever.

Not satisfied even with this position of privilege, I had one tremendously annoying habit. At any time of the night, I might find myself awake and thirsty. Irrespective of whether the time was 1:00 AM, 2:00 AM or 3:00 AM and whether the season was winter or summer, I would bawl out aloud "Jollllllllllllll" (which means water in Bengali) despite the fact that I was completely capable of getting out of the bed and fetching myself a glass of water. I must have continued with this terribly sadistic torture on my folks until I was 10 or 11, yet not a single memory do I have about either of my parents grumbling about this spectacularly unreasonable demand of mine. Religiously either one of them would get up, go to the kitchen, pour a glass of water and get it to me as I lay prostate on the bed they'd have liked to stay a little longer on. In retrospect, I think what a pain in the behind I was and what did I ever do to receive this kind of royal treatment!

So when I read Ayn Randian philosophies of "selfishness" being the only ultimate virtue and about how every kind of "sacrifice" is a tool for weak people who are less talented and capable to gain attention, I laugh, laugh aloud. I know not all parents are ideal but I am sure the good ones outnumber the bad ones a million to one. What a fool I'd be to sneer at such devotion that my parents or indeed most parents show their kids, what a monster I'd be to say that they loved me so incredibly deeply and unconditionally and still do just for their personal benefit.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

"Hamdard kaa sinkaaraa"

Tonight's a very special night in Calcutta. The moon is brightly lighting up my terrace but hidden away by the thinnest of rain bearing clouds. As I type right now, I think it has started raining as I hear water hitting the tin ledges of my neighbour's house. I live for days like these when the air has that promise of rain, a delicious hint of coolness which is like a turbo charge to my office strained body.

No wonder, that for the first time in my life I won a game of dog-tag. Every night when I come back from office, I have to involuntarily participate in this toughest of physical challenges. It's true that when I first enter home, my dog treats me in a manner worthy of a Biblical story of the second coming of Jesus Christ but after a few minutes she is playfully biting my ankles. The reason? I have to entertain her in a game of what I call "dog-tag" which essentially is alternate sessions of me chasing her and she chasing me. On normal days, I am like that wasted guy at the beginning of the old time DD ad of "Hamdard kaa Sinkaara" wheezing along without much hope. "Yeh bechaaraa kaam kaa bojh kaa maaraa, isey chahiye Hamdard kaa Sinkara" could easily be my status at the end of every working day.

Today however, I was more the guy at the end of the ad who after a dose of the magic medicine shoots up the stairs long before the lift gets there , smiling with all his healthy teeth. In fact, I ran with such enthusiasm that after two years of trying and failing, I finally got my dog to just plop down in front of my feet, tired and tongue lolling out in submission. After this abject surrender by my rival, I sat down next to her on this night blessed by a beaming moon and revelled in my victory. The secret to life's happiness can be just so simple sometimes. Work like a dog and then play with a dog! Just when I was getting trippy on the wonderful breeze that the Ganga was blowing across a drowsy Calcutta, a sharp nip on my elbow shattered my reverie. My dog had recharged too. Seems like there was some kind of a series on. I had barely won the first match. Oh well! I guess this "sinkaaraa" was not for humans alone.

Friend feed overload

I almost quit Facebook yesterday. I really did seriously consider it. No, not because I am among the unfortunate few whose mom is on FB and have to deal with questions like "Who is that?" or worser still "What is that?" on every picture or comment posted. That's a pain I have learnt to live with in this, the information age. I like getting on to Facebook and Orkut too much to really quit it whole-sale. Commenting and album surfing are too much of a fun activity to give up completely. The only reason the thought ran across my head was that I came online on Yahoo Messenger after many years and ran into a very rare kind of friend.

Rare because this buddy of mine is not on any of the social networks be it Orkut or Facebook or any of the others (Are there any left alive?). Back in the day, he mistakenly signed up for Yahoo and that's where he remains. One of my closest friends, we had spent the majority of our school life as part of our regular crew of pals hanging out, playing terrace cricket, early morning cycle races, pre-tuition post-tuition video gaming and all those wonderful things that only kids can get away with. Growing up sucks (Boo hoo) but that's a different issue and here I will get back to the topic. It was so awesome to get in touch with him again. Where are you, what are you up to, how's the old hometown, remember how we used to sneak past the stadium security guards to religiously play our game of evening cricket, you went to the US?, you bought a Pulsar - hey me too, mine's red! - all questions and answers put forward with an intention of actually listening and filling in the gaps. Waves of nostalgia and a uber cool buddy-buddy feeling swamped us both.

As opposed to if he were on FB. Every week or so, his face would pop on my news-feed or if he were as hyperactive as me, he would pop up daily! I would know where he was, how he was and all those details without ever having to talk to him as in virtual terms he'd be shouting about it from the rooftops. When I'd talk to him, there wasn't much to talk about now because "Hey, I went to the US!" would be met with "I know... (those pictures you uploaded stayed on my home page forever)", "Hey! I bought a red Pulsar" would be replied by "Yeah, I saw your status message...(and the 10000 comments that followed below it)" So boring, so meaningless would be our conversation since there wasn't anything to really learn and laugh about.

Facebook, Orkut and their brothers have driven a real thrill out of our lives. To bump into somebody from our past in a foreign city, to jump up in joy and to negotiate the stream of questions from both ends - all that is unfortunately something that happened to people in the past. Now that someone is a friend, he/she stays on your life's home page and within easy contact forever. Forever in this case is boring because it is just too much information. Almost everything you wanted to know or did not want to know is on public display. Sometimes a long separation is necessary to make the old connections even stronger. In an ironical twist, this post is going onto my FB status, but I was tempted, really tempted yesterday to get the mystery and adventure of not knowing back into my life.

Monday, February 15, 2010

Ode to my guitar

Stinkin' piece of useless wood, with strings of steel and noisy tones,
Why must one labour thus, for melody from your magic bones,
Your sound's so soothing if into the right hands you fall,
The fingers mortal but the song strummed... not at all.

How long must the wait be, before you play my chosen theme,
What God-awful patience will it take, to live out this cherished dream,
The day the world outside is like a laughable side actor,
The day when my guitar is all I need for heaven 'n' thereafter.