Saturday, January 17, 2009

Homeward bound

After 7 months, an incredible adventure comes to an end. A country that has dominated popular culture for reasons good or bad has become even more familiar from first-hand experience. There are a number of untouched destinations that I'd have loved to brush upon but I'll have to save them for another time. San Francisco, with its windswept beauty is definitely at the top of the heap from my first visit to the USA. The sparking orb of energy that is New York city comes a close second. And in general, the real thrill of exploring a foreign country lies in finding out how folks are entirely different but at the same time exactly alike too. But it's time to go home.

It's time to go back to the bustling crowds and the chaos, where peace and quiet are like distant relatives known only through a family photo from 20 years ago. But all the turmoil is cut off on the outside. On the inside, my mind will be at the greatest possible peace. It's a sense of belonging that completely swamps all other ill-feeling. I guess that's why they call it home.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Monster fetish

A major landmark in the most ordinary townscape of Bharuch was Panchbatti (literally meaning 'Five lights'), an intersection where 4 different roads met at a roundabout. It was the only location in town briefly deemed busy enough to deserve traffic lights. But that misconception of popularity persisted only for a couple of months. The municipality decided quite wisely to re-instate a bored looking cop at the intersection to oversee any traffic misbehaviour at the roundabout leaving the signals unattended and unwanted. Right next to Panchbatti stood our favourite haunt from our school days, the cinema hall Relief.

Class-mates from all sides of the town would find this to be the most convenient of meeting locations and besides this was the cheapest of the lot in our town's cinema halls. Right opposite stood "Basant", the shady, run-down theatre which ran B-movies with their usual  innuendo filled names and provocative posters. Each of the titles were a hot topic of discussion and amusement amongst us friends. But finding out the title was where our courage ran out. None of us actually dared to cross the road and investigate the story for ourselves. We were content to be on this side of the road at Relief Talkies where 'our' kind of movies played.

Relief was earmarked for all the Hollywood movies that ever came to Bharuch. All the most bloodthirsty creatures and action heroes to have come out of any studio in LA made a stop-over at this corner of small town Gujarat. And keeping in mind their clientele at this halt, they all spoke chaste Hindi! It was an experience that was extremely sidesplitting and aggravating at the same time for us the convent educated lot who supposedly had a better grip on the Queen's language than most of our fellow cinema-goers. It was inevitably entertaining in one way or the other. If you haven't seen Samuel L. Jackson deliver a rousing speech in Hindi and then promptly be bitten in half by a super-intelligent shark, you've really missed something. 

All through our school years, starting from early adolescence, this cinema hall would be central in our planning. Parked motorcycles would be our conference rooms as we would plan out the rest of the evening, debating whether it would end in front of the milk shake stall at the railway station or on the grass of GNFC colony lawns after a short burst of cricketing activity. The conversation would taper away whenever an attractive girl swept by to pick up flow again only when she was out of sight. Then it'd be time for the show to begin and for us to enter the dark confines of the hall. It'd be time for an entry into the world of rampaging dinosaurs, lovesick giant gorillas and nubile blondes brought to life by our voluntary suspension of reality.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

"I am a believer"

"I am a believer. I believe that there is no point in thinking different because every new idea possible has already been thought of. Of course, there is no sense in going off the beaten path. Is everyone else a fool to stick to what has already been proven to work? Why take a risk when it is known that by playing safe, a life of peace and comfort is ensured. When others say that something is not practical, they must be correct. Surely they know more about you than you yourself do by virtue of being around longer. Passion will not feed a hungry stomach they say and the taste of adventure will turn bitter as soon as you step outside the comfy confines of regularity. Walk with the masses because there is safety in numbers. The restlessness bred by familiarity is only an incitement for you to step into the mine-field of uncertainty and depression that a 'unconventional' career is. Smother your dreams under the very pillow that you envision them on. Don't try to fix what ain't broke."

Read that aloud and tell me if you've ever sounded more stupid to yourself. In case, you are still having difficulty in putting enough faith in your castle-in-the-air ideas, give it one more go "I am a believer..."