Friday, March 20, 2009

Chasing Cars

I've finally managed to do it. I've bought my first original MP3. Off Amazon, I paid the grand amount of 0.99 dollars for Snow Patrol's "Chasing Cars". It's a particularly addictive number because it is so incredibly sad somehow. Not the dopey, high as a kite sadness of a Floyd number, but a more real everyday sadness, a mild fever that dogs you through the day, incurable because of it's lack of outward symptoms. 

The band, their site says spent 15 years in the dusty backhalls of music superstardom and in the stifling grip of a niche audience before getting their due in this monster hit. Would they really feel the drop in the ocean of money that their music now is, my own hard-earned 99 cents? Will they ever be grateful for that extra dollar that they earned? I don't really care. Their story is inspiring in so many ways. An artistic creation takes so much out of a person, it's like giving a pound of their own flesh. For long, I have regretted being amongst the cheapskates who'd gobble up anything if it's for free but wouldn't be caught dead spending a buck on something which has really earned it. I managed to jump that divide today and make my teeny-weeny contribution to whichever rockstar binge they might be hosting. It feels pleasant, but not in the way that charity makes you feel. It's more like repaying a mortgage made on your soul.

Thursday, March 19, 2009

St. Patty's

Boston is a good town but by most standards Boston is a dead town. It's got its intellectual airs and old world heritage all right but a little spice wouldn't hurt. The faithful can always argue that's the reason why Boston is Boston, not NYC or Paris. Winters in Massachusetts are not too friendly anyhow, but you'd expect a place which proclaims itself to be the "Hub of the world" to have something more than gusty, chilly winds from the Atlantic in the heart of downtown. Somehow whenever I land up in South Station to get a taste of the 'city life', the place is always desolate except for the odd homeless guy begging for some extra change that I might have. The day I see someone other than him on the streets near South Station, I might just give him some!

March 17th every year is of course a very different day. It's Ireland's biggest do, St. Patrick's Day. Considering the very Irish roots of this ol'town, it is when the green beer starts flowing in the drains of Boston and the Irish shamrock (Read the three leaved pattern that is part of the leprechaun's waistcoat in the above picture) is up for display on every corner. Even though it's not an official holiday, there is a different vibe to the city that day. After office, my pal and me arrived in Boston at about 6:00 in the evening, we ran across troups of drunk guys and girls howling, screeching and hooting at the top of their voices. Evidently they had been on the task since morning. Green dyed hair, green skirts, green eye shadow (Pretty hot) and garish green contact lenses (Pretty nasty) are on display by the hundreds. We took the T down to the Faneuil Hall area where all the action is. There are scores of Irish pubs all around and every one was packed to the rafters with long queues outside by the time we got there. 

We were part of the "Irish for a day" brigade looking for a cheap drinking binge on a day that the Irish spirit serves as a justification for chugging it up. There were places like "The Purple Shamrock" which looked like an awesome place to be in but the huge line of drunk and boisterous Irishmen waiting to get in caused us to chicken out. We settled for a quiet place (No cover charge there too conveniently) called the "Red Sky". Every pub was churning out U2 that night, so it turned out to be a rare pleasure for my hip-hop tortured ears. My brother's team showed up and we moved to another pub across the street "McCormick and Schmick's". 

This was probably the oddest group of St. Patty's revellers. Two Indians straight from India, plus one Indian Bengali born in Canada plus one Indian Punjabi born in Kashmir, brought up in the States, plus a 0% Irish American girl and to cap our multi-ethnic group a girl who was 50% Japanese, 25% Irish and 25% Native American (The other Indian). Phew! Talk about mixing of cultures, there's one radical example for you! And of course, never mind that all of us were all trying to be Irish.

It could've a much more boisterous night but there was precious ol'work to get back to the next day. Just before we left the pub, a band of ruddy Irishmen in kilts and armed with bagpipes and drums marched into our tiny little pub and proceeded to blow our ears out with some catchy Irish tunes. Post this cacophonous farewell, it was time to give up our short lived Irish identities. The taste of Guinness still bitter-good in our tongues, our group parted ways. The locals of Boston were of course were just shifting venues but us villagers were going home before they turn the streetlights off (Just kidding of course, but they might as well in a place like Taunton)! I would kill for days like this. Work because that's where the money comes from, head out to town, pretend to be someone who you are totally not and still be put up with because all everyone wants is a good time. My life is so full of infinite waiting periods between days like these. Hell, my life's mostly like the streets of downtown Boston on a winter day other than St. Patrick's Day.

Monday, March 16, 2009


A couple of rows behind my cubicle in office sits my colleague Mike. I hardly know him at all, except for the "Hi" that we exchange whenever we come across each other and when he needs a little help on the printer which is right next to my cubicle. I don't really think that he knows my name.

Everyone of course knows Mike. He's the guy forever smiling and cheerfully chatting on his earpiece as he handles customer service complaints for the company. All the prettiest women in the office know him and make it a point to smile and talk to him whenever he passes by. Everyone I know is extra hearty in their greetings to him and I really cannot hold that against them. Because Mike is restricted to and moves around in a wheelchair. He is totally incapable of using his legs or even of standing up.

When the printer on top of the table gives out an error message, Mike cannot see it and has to request me to sort out the problem for him. I do my best to treat this request as naturally as possible but I feel his hurt. To be unable to do what normal people don't even need to think about. Walk, run, look out of the window. And to keep such a astounding level of positivity in his life, to take each day as it comes head-on and with a grin. Does the person on the other end of the telephone line cribbing about a late delivery or some other insignificant issue know the enormity of the challenge faced by the person handling his complaint? On the other hand, I am sure Mike doesn't want his customer to know any of these details. He's a proud man giving his 100%, doing as well if not better than his able-bodied counterparts. 

If he could stand, he would've dwarfed us all. At the end of a rough day, I juxtapose my pressing issues against his. Don't tell me that he has to smile because he has no other option. I stare in awe at the strength of his spirit and in shame at the petty complaints of my life. In no way, does this guy deserve my sympathy. He merely commands my respect!