Saturday, September 27, 2008

What's wrong with a little madness?

"You must be nuts!"

I've had that line thrown at me in more or less similar words innumerable times. But to have it said to me 5 times on a single day and that too on the occasion of my 24th birthday was a record setter of sorts. 

The reason was that I had just told these folks that I was going skydiving next weekend (My first jump too)! 

I didn't understand all that negativity. What's the compulsion to land back on earth in the same plane that had taken you up? What's so crazy about using a parachute once in a while? 

The 5th person to tell me that was a senior colleague, Doug, with whom I go out for a cigarette break. He's an incredibly jovial guy and being nearly 65 doesn't deter him from being as feisty as a 20 year old when it comes to guy talk. He is perpetually on the edge of retirement but never manages to take that final step.

Conversation under two umbrellas below the "smoking" tree just outside the J&J property limits as the tail end of Hurricane Kyle pelts down rain-  

Doug: "You must be nuts!"

Me: "Yeah! Just a little bit."

Doug: "I would never do that 'cause I am really afraid of heights."

Me: "Umm... Maybe I am too. I am all gung-ho about it now. Don't know how I'll feel though when I am standing in front of an open door with the Atlantic coast 10000 odd feet below me!!! All I can say is that I've been wanting to do this all my life and now I am going to do it!"

Doug: (Pauses) "Care for some advice from an old man?"

Me: "Uhh.... umm"

Doug: (He was going to advice me anyway) "In my life, I have no absolutely no regrets for what I have done. Every mistake has taught me something valuable. My only regrets are for what I've wanted to do but did not!"

Roger that, Doug! That's one piece of advice that is for keeps...

Friday, September 26, 2008

24 done, 76 to go...

Most people I know want to die young. Me? I want to live to be a hundred at least. It will be 24 years since my arrival into the world in about a minute's time. No, not because the past 24 years have been really that amazing though in all fairness they have been pretty kind to a laidback, minimal investment kind of guy like me. It's because I know that I want the following 76 to be each more amazing than the next. Chase every dream harder than ever before. Starting with a skydive next weekend. Wishful thinking, you say? Well, that's what I really excel at!

Thursday, September 25, 2008

New York song

They say that if you stand at Times Square long enough, you'll meet everybody in the world. That is exactly how I felt as I stood under the shimmering neon lights and the multiple screens that pitched a world of products on a cool Friday night. If Times Square is the heart of New York City then I am sure I can relate to its every beat.

The crowded streets with cabs and limos in equal measure, the even more packed sidewalks as you keep doing a jig to avoid the free swinging shopping bags, the towering skyscrapers that oversee the arteries spewing out people and cars are all such quintessential images of NYC that there's nothing more than you had seen in your imagination. But sometimes, the great thrill of travelling is in having your imagination confirmed.

"The greatest metropolis in the world" as NYC regularly projects itself isn't even the half of what a description of the city should be. The clean, sanctified streets of the upper city (a far cry from its gang war, mugger happy days) are a treat to the senses what with all the eye candy that pops out of every corner. Venture just a staircase below and the gritty reality of New York City hits you with the vandalised subway system and nauseating heat due to the not-too-efficient air conditioning. It makes you aware of places which are as much real as the tourist oriented destinations within the city. It's a place where the daily grind and struggle for sustenance is not so pretty at all, and the foundation of this huge city is built. 

That's what I like best about NYC. Despite the best efforts to make a picture postcard out of it, it's a very real and a very alive city. As you wander the streets with the thousands of other tourists or residents, sampling what is felt by many to be the most typical example of urban living, you might not like everything that you see and the fact that you've got to share everything with somebody or the other. That's the whole idea of what a city should be. You don't have to love your neighbour, nor hate him. Just bear with him because he is doing the same for you.