Friday, January 2, 2009

Tied together

YouTube as everyone knows is a wonderful new (relatively speaking) outlet for people who find creative expression in multimedia art. However one of my favourite videos on YouTube is a rather simple one which I stumbled upon while looking up for John Denver's "I am sorry".

Try searching for "ukulele - I'm Sorry (John Denver)" on the YouTube search, and it'll come up with a simple, bare-to-bones video. The camera focuses on a ukelele and the hands of the player (a guy in Yokohama) singing "I am sorry" and you can see the snow falling in the background through a window. What I am really fascinated by is the number of elements the video brings together with this one single creative exercise.

Consider this: The very much 'country' song seasoned with the bitter-sweet taste of nostalgia is written by a genius raised in the lap of the Colorado Rockies. It is being sung by a person who is cooped up at home during a snowstorm in Japan, and feels in exactly the kind of contemplative mood required to strum this sublime song. As the snow piles on, the delightful instrument that he cranks out his tune on is right out of Hawaii, each pluck endowed with the sunniness and the good cheer of the Pacific islands. To add to the mix, here I am, an Indian working in America, missing my home just a teeny-weeny bit and finding vague comfort in a song which is essentially sad but one that makes me happy simply because it reminds of times past spent listening to it.

It's a brand new year and I still am confounded by the levels of hatred and sadness that brew on our pretty little planet. Here's to the hope that this year, we'll move closer to seeing the common sense in accepting that we are all tied together in the most curious of ways.

Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Time squeeze

Another year wraps up for me and most of the world. For a measly number of 365 days, my year has seen quite a flurry of activities, each one intruding upon the next. However not all of them were value added activities which is my major grouse. In fact, most of the hours were swallowed by subsistence activities like work and sleep induced by working too hard. 

Hours that could have been spent writing, reading a book (criminal neglect on that count), watching a movie (did watch many, but still yearned for more), indulge in my footloose fantasies (again did indulge in so many of them nevertheless thirsted for more) or just laze around without having the sword of an pending highly uninteresting task poised over me. I can never really come to terms with how boring office life really is. The same old problems to be tended to by the same nauseating fixes ad infinitum. I don't say that I need a new kind of situation to crop up every day, but what irks me is the level of apathy with which I look at both the problems and their solution.

As it turns out, I waste a lot many hours daydreaming about travel and writing during my office hours. The end result is that I spend a lot more hours at work than I need to, which gives me less time to daydream and write after office which in turn sets up the daydreamer theme on my mind when I am at work. Talk about an especially vicious 'vicious circle'!

A practical solution to this seems to be squeeze in more time per time: add more seconds per minute, more minutes per hour and more hours per day. That'd put an end to Calvin's problem of "There's never enough time to do all the nothing you want to!" for good. Waste time till I am bored of wasting time and want to get back to the aching monotony of work. Then again borrowing from the mouth of a 6 year old again "It's only work when someone makes you do it."

I can't foretell what 2009 has in store for me but I nurture a tiny hope that it'd be something exciting. Something like the childhood tales of being pushed into a secret garden of wonders with the walls sealing behind me and where the only way is to move forward, all senses tingling, right into the heart of the adventure.

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

In the garden of Eden

I admit that this post is grossly mistimed. At a time when I should be deep in reflection about the year gone by, it seems a little frivolous to talk about a mere cricket match. 

It was the 13th of May this year, when after a lifetime of watching cricket on the idiot box, did I get to watch my first live cricket match. It was an encounter between the down-and-out Kolkata Knight Riders and the newly resurgent Delhi Daredevils. My friend had arranged for some tickets at the last moment and we raced our motor-bikes like we had never before through thick rush hour traffic to get to our destination. The destination of course being the arena of arenas, the "big enough to require a map of its own" stadium of Eden Gardens. 

Fast as we were, the match was already four balls old by the time we had found our way to our seats. The home team of Kokata was batting first and the expectations ran high. Within the stadium resides a reverbating hum, an animal feeding off the excitement. It's the best quality surround sound you'll ever experience, primarily because you are surrounded in that primal sound. Ancient Rome and gladiatorial contests? Well, at least I knew what it sounded like. The stadium was only filled to 20-30% of its capacity. I couldn't imagine what it must be like when it is fully packed.

The experience of watching a match at the stadium is so unlike watching it on TV. On TV, I'd focus on the game: how the shot was played and how the bowler pitched the ball and all those minute details that the commentators' expert comments and instant replays allow you to luxuriate in. This was different. This asked for a level of involvement far beyond what was required in the confines of my home. Sure, I have jumped on sofas in joy and have given pillows a bloody nose out of frustation during the course of a match but to have a thousand other strangers join in the madness is a tremendously entertaining experience. Then there were the cheerleaders too but our seats in the stadium were ones that were devoid of any sort of entertainment except for the cricket on the field. Therefore my opinion on whether cheerleaders were good for cricket or bad remained unresolved thanks to the lack of first hand experience!

Coming back to the match which I watched, the home team batted disastrously to set a very low target. It seemed like my first match at the Eden Gardens was not destined to end happily. The Delhi Daredevils team were sure to trounce the already demoralised Kolkata team, and it was only a matter of time. Well, someone forgot to tell Shoaib Akhtar.

Under the lights, as the Rawalpindi Express stretched his super strong limbs, the crowds around the stadium took up the chant of "Shoaib!... Shoaib!" Shoaib was returning to cricket after nearly a year of injuries. No one could even remember the last time he had bowled well in a match. There was only blind faith on the part of the Calcutta fans. They nurtured a tremendously immature hope that the zip would come back to his arms all of a sudden, that their voices would be the magic boost to a player who had long lost his fiery reputation.

Before bowling the first ball, Shoaib looked to the crowds and clapped his arms over his head to get the people behind him. Like everyone else in the audience, I joined in the chant even though highly cynical of how big a help our shouts would be. The first delivery as it turned out was a real ripper and within a couple of deliveries Virender Sehwag was sent walking back to the pavilion. We, the crowd were going berserk and Shoaib was recharging himself on our enthusiasm. The balls came deadly and fast. All that was seen of the strong Delhi batting line-up was a procession of scared, fidgety batsmen who seemed to be glad to give up their wickets and get out of the line of fire. The home team pulled it's act together following Shoaib's lead and finished the job with clinical efficiency. A most unexpected victory for Calcutta was the result and so was a sore throat for me and my friends from all the shouting and shrieking. We couldn't have been happier if we had played the match ourselves.

It must feel awesome to know when you take your place in the middle under the lights that millions of people whom you'll never meet in your life are rooting for you. To know that you have the ability to grant that one wish that is on the top of their mind right then,  over and above the pressing needs of daily life. The responsibility that comes tagging along with it may be a cumbersome burden to bear but to be endowed with the capacity of fulfilling such a task has to be an extraordinary feeling. It leaves me with only one silly question for the Almighty: Oh God, why didn't you make me a sports star?