Friday, June 13, 2014

Wonderwall!

As she walked along the backstage corridor, the chants and cheer grew louder and louder and she felt her pulse quickening! It was terrifying to face an audience as huge and electrifying as this. She was young and famous, probably not on the lines of a Madonna or Avril Lavigne but in her own way, she was a star! She had been the voice of some of the latest chartbusters in Bollywood and the crowd loved her versatility. But this was her first stage performance.

She had probably had an audience in hundreds in the past but most of the time she was used to hearing her voice within the premises of the studio or the walls of her home! The audience here was at least a twenty times more and this was her first attempt at capturing the heart of a university crowd that she had once been a part of. She had ten minutes to collect her thoughts, figure out what her opening number should be. A flurry of visuals crossed her imagination as she tried to calm herself down!

Scene 1: Fifteen years ago and she is a starry eyed-teenager, waiting for the band to arrive. Her enthusiasm is limitless as she stands in the front row, frantically searching for him. Every person in the ground was eagerly waiting for the lead singer but she was waiting for who she thought was the love of her life! As he gets on the stage, strikes a guitar chord, winks at her and calls over the mic "this is for someone special", she can feel herself floating away!

Scene 2: It's a perfect holiday and she is sitting on that beach side karaoke cafe, enjoying every sip of that beer and every bit of conversation with three of her closest friends! One of them urges her to go ahead and grab the mic and she responds jokingly, "Not enough beers down my friend!". Two hours later, she is facing a drunk audience, unsure of how she let herself be pursuaded when she hears one of her friends start the lyrics and after that the dias was her stage!

Scene 3: It's her 25th birthday and she has a bunch of friends around her, all of them having one thing in common - they know her! Her guests fail to make conversations among themselves for they are as strange to each other as the person on the next table. She is overcome by emotions as one of her closest friends is moving far far away but she can't let that show. She hates being called weak! But she silently enjoys her scotch and thinks of those years together when the club music suddenly stops and she hears "This one is for the birthday girl" and the last memory that night was of her dancing away to those tunes...

Scene 4: This was just a few weeks ago or may be months... It was a beautiful cozy party, about a dozen people gathered to celebrate the professional success of one of them. Their friendship was at least a decade old. They all remember how different they looked when they had met years before. They had gone through so much together that being with each other was the only way of life they knew! It's almost dawn and they are still reminiscing when someone says, "Hey! Long since you sang just for us!" And this time she needs no persuasion.

She feels all refreshed all of a sudden when someone calls out "You are on in five." There is a sudden flight in her steps as she bounces on to that stage, closes her eyes, hears the bass guitar at the back, and feels herself melting in those lyrics "And after all, you're my Wonderwall!"

Monday, May 26, 2014

The Unforgiven

He stood there in the middle of a crowd of hundreds, lost in his own world, wondering how she will look in the beautiful wedding gown that they had together selected for her. There was chattering everywhere, a typical wedding venue, with the general atmosphere of merriment and celebration. For him, the noise was a mere whisper as his mind tried to filter out the sounds to focus on the one thought that mattered to him... the role that every man wanted to see the love of his life in... As a bride!

His eyes kept moving back and forth between the door and the ring in his hand. His mind wandered over the scattered memories of the last three years, which seemed a little more concrete than a dream at this moment. He struggled to recollect, though not with much success, the first moment when he had seen her. He snapped back to reality when his best friend, standing next to him, nudged him slightly, and he realized that he had been staring at the entrance for what seemed like an eternity.

And then she walked in, surrounded by flowers and giggling girls, but all he could see was her angelic face in that beautiful attire. He could hear people whispering that she looked like a princess, and he just wondered, "hadn't she looked this beautiful all along!?!" She lifted her head slightly and as if on cue, he turned and caught her eye. Even from this distance, he was confident that he could see tears in her eyes. He quickly averted his eyes, not sure how appropriate it was to stare at the bride, but then again, he noticed every eye fixated on her, and relaxed a bit.

She walked slowly towards him, and his mind did a quick re run of their memories together. In those two minutes, he lived the past three years. She stopped just short of the altar and looked up uncertainly at him, just a fleeting glance, as a hand reached out to her and she stepped up and stood opposite to him. He looked at her and then at the ring that he held in his hand, as he started welling up. His hand involuntarily reached forward, as his best friend took the ring from him and all he could see from his teary eyes were her lowered eyes and her wet cheeks!

Monday, May 19, 2014

The Toblerone story

The blank farewell note

This time it's again one of those blogs where I try in best to describe someone close to me. It's an episode in a series of blogs that I have come to write to immortalize people through my words. And years down the line, when I read this blog, I'm sure I will be as confused about his personality as I am today!

This blog marks the end of a six year period (an "era" you might say if you are a fan of F.R.I.E.N.D.S!!) that I have known him as a super smart guy, then as an annoying buddy, then a colleague and then finally a fantastic friend! My vague memories of him as a classmate haven't been altered a lot over the years. He was a confused soul then and he continues to be one still. People might describe him as a difficult-to-comprehend person! He has his own set of principles, ideals I would call them, and lives in a world which probably he alone understands.

Nevertheless, his complicated world has never prevented me from admiring him. I remember rejoicing during my college days when I got a job alongside him in the same company! Silly as it may sound, to be employed alongside someone you hold in high esteem is kind of an honor, at least at a personal level. He was for a long time, sort of, like a role model for me (though not in that elevated godly sense of the word but a milder version :) ) until I realized that I can never have the kind of dedication and commitment that he has towards a task and henceforth had to stop trying to emulate him!!

There is something very peculiar about him that needs a mention here. As I remember from a recent conversation, I had described him as someone closest to an idealist guy that I have seen in real life. While half his thoughts may not really connect with everyone, you need to understand him to absorb that bottom line of his personality. If there is a practical way and a right way to do something, he chooses the latter! I think the last time I came across a guy like that was Howard Roark in Fountainhead!

At a point in time when I had given up trying to convince him that the right way won't take you much forward in this inexplicable world, he proved to me in his own subtle yet assertive way that I was indeed wrong! I hate him for doing that in his sarcastic, condescending way (but that's how he always has been!) and at the same time adore and even kind of envy his internal strength and level headed approach towards life. And now that he is on the other end of the world (almost the farthest time zone possible) I can't help but wonder how badly I am gonna miss that clarity of thought which he brought about in every conversation we had!

This guy, who has called me by a million senseless nicknames over the years including moron, nutcase and devil, just made my day today in the sweetest possible way. For someone who always seemed as non-caring and detached as humanly possible, the Toblerone bar with the blank post-it that he left on my desk as a farewell note said much more than he ever managed to convey in our six years of friendship! Someone lightheartedly teased me that he has no words of good-bye for you... Come to think of it, how poetically fitting that sounds!

Friday, April 25, 2014

You’ve got a friend!

10 sure-shot ways to become my friend at first sight!



I recently realized that there is a subtle yet prevalent pattern among the kind of people that I am really attached to. And there is a strong though often overseen differentiating factor between people who I prefer to call as my “confidantes” and others who range somewhere between plain acquaintances to buddies. The conclusion is that I have a strong sense of affinity towards people who have a close connection with books in particular and literature in general. Somehow, a person who is an avid reader or writer, has a special “aura” to the personality that is apparently a key differentiator for me. So that’s how I came up with a list of “first meeting episodes” that potentially act as a screening factor, more like a sign board that blinks the moment I come across such situation “Well, you’ve got a friend!”
1.       A random acquaintance who starts following you on “good reads” and you realize that they happen to like the same kind of books that you read
2.       Someone tells you that they had a perfect weekend because they could spend the entire time at home curled up in bed with a cup of coffee and a brilliant book to keep company
3.       When you see someone getting annoyed because a book they lent to someone else came back “dog-eared” and he/she can’t stop cribbing about it all day, as if a long built trust had been lost on this one instance
4.       A discussion with the office colleagues where someone happens to quote one of your favorite authors, and you are the only one in the entire gang who responds with a knowing smile, while others are still figuring out the Latin words just spoken
5.       Someone complaining that they have stopped buying books for the only reason that his/her bedroom does not provide the luxury of having any more books (this is so true for so many Mumbai residents!!!!)
6.       Someone else picks up the same book that you have been searching for long, at a Crossword or a Landmark, and you end up having a 45 minutes conversation with that person, first on the book, then on the author and then on your respective collections in general
7.       A friend’s friend who happens to mention in an introductory conversation that he/she is a fellow blogger and manages to squeeze some time out of the jam packed schedule of work to write, at least once a month
8.       You go to someone’s place for the first time and they end up showing you the one thing you always wanted in your dream home – a floor-to-ceiling book shelf filled with a range of genres from classic to fiction to humor
9.       A travelling partner that you come across by chance who is as engrossed in his/her book as you are and better yet, the book turns out to be a preferred author or one that you have read already
10.   A person longing to get hold of a laptop as soon as he/she finishes a trip just so the memories of that trip can be captured into blogs or journal and thus immortalized through words forever
If you fall in any of the above categories, you are probably a friend already and if not, I will get to you soon!
PS: Many may find this blog too pretentious, but then when it comes to literature, I am a snob without doubts!

Sunday, April 6, 2014

Coming back to life

She walked through the woods, all alone with only the whisper from the trees and the chirping of birds for company. And she didn't ask for more. Her mind was full of thoughts, so many that it was becoming harder by the minute to keep track of the tangential directions that her thoughts were taking. She stopped short in her path, for there was an unmistakeable presence of another person, or probably just another thought stream that was disturbing hers, she was unable to tell. But it was there and she could experience it as much as the breeze caressing her hair, or the leaves rustling against her bare feet.

She tried to focus, disentangle the multiple paradigms that the turmoil insider her was giving birth to. She chose a bench to sit on, trying desperately but in vain to streamline her confused mind - for her out-of-control mind began to wander, jumping from one world to another, unsettling her emotionally. Her soft sobs seemed to blend into the music of the woods. Her face buried in her palms, she tried to let go of the demons inside, clinging on to the ray of hope that peace will prevail at the other end of the agony. 

As she lost track of the time in the switching games being played by her mind, the world seemed to empty around her. Her twenty five years of life resembled a fading memory, as she struggled to recollect the faces of the people who mattered to her. Lately, she had been frequented by this experience of living in a parallel universe. She often found herself waking up, only to realize that she hadn't been sleeping at all. People around her had seen her go into a shell all of a sudden and then switch back, as if from a nightmare. She herself noticed her sweating palms and trembling fingers, unable to figure out where she had spent the last few minutes! 

But those minutes were real, so real that she ended up battling between illusions and reality to put her life story in place. She lifted her face to look at the rays of the sun that filtered through the leaves to touch her feet. As she dried her eyes, she felt a hand on her shoulder and turned with shock and fear clouding her, expecting to see a ghost or a spirit. It took her a few minutes to come to terms with what she saw, for there was nothing but the empty woods all around her. 

And then she heard it! Someone calling out, repeatedly her name as if from a distance. She snapped back to see a coffee mug in her hand, her mom yelling from the kitchen, "have you still not finished your coffee?"! She turned to look at the clock, remembering the last time she had noticed the time. Yes! It had been those same thirteen minutes! As it was every single time!

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Musings in office...

A world unknown when u stepped into
This familiarity is a gift from a defined few
I ran after time to keep up with the speed
To catch up with that metaphorical success indeed
Along the way, unknown to the self
Unimaginable bonds of togetherness materialised in itself
To this day it escaped the mind that this is for life to stay
The comfort in a group of individuals so peculiar in every way
Never before never after could a work setting be so flattering
That empowered you to be yourself at the expense of the world's ridiculing.
And as the circle spreads across the world reaching out far and wide
The  heart prays relentlessly for strength against an inevitable divide
Did circumstances force us to rejoice in each other's company, probably so...
But the irony of life made me whole heartedly adore
Not just the jokes jibes teasing and fun
But the most satisfying feeling of being a special one!

- Dedicated to my team

Sunday, January 12, 2014

Sisterhood!



My first memory of her is a child who was much cuter than what I see her now as! She used to look identical to these Cerelac TV commercial kids, who all look the same by the way. And as minimum as I remember of our early days together, we weren’t really the closest of buddies. I guess most of the siblings aren’t for you always have the fear that the younger one would blabber about your escapades (as few as they were) in front of your parents! Long story short, I used to think of myself as the cool kinds, which I certainly wasn’t for I was as much a geek that I considered her. And well, the cooler kids don’t hang out with people younger to them! I guess the age difference is too apparent when you are 10 and 8 and not so much when you turn 26 and 24!

The formative years were a love-hate relationship to say the least! There are flashback-like-images in my mind, of us shouting the hell out of each other and spending days as strangers at home, conversing in front of parents to avoid the bashing. But nevertheless, staying out of each other’s way, it was just convenient! I am not proud to say this, but there was a satisfaction in just grouping up with my cousins, and teasing the little kid. Which I realize now is pathetic and despite all my beliefs back then, it made me look nowhere close to a bully! Thank god I grew up and learnt to behave once I reached college. May be seeing a world outside, brings common sense, if not intelligence, in you! I guess the unsaid pact between us was that we step up for each other, irrespective of the situation. What started initially as self-defense, more like you keep my secret and I keep yours, became a habit! And to this day, we have that oath!

Our relationship took an unexpected turn when I left for my MBA hostel. After years of sharing a room, and being annoyed by each others’ habits, me with how much of a nerd she was, and she with how obsessed I was about dressing up to look all cool (being a jerk to be precise!), the clich├ęd trick of being apart bringing people closer just worked! So from just tolerating, to being protective, to missing each other was quite a pleasant surprise! After that I guess, there was a couple of years of fallout, as we lost track of each other, she busy in Bangalore with her masters and I with my first job in Mumbai. But the best thing that destiny did for me was her Ph.D.! That brought us in the same city and that’s when we actually became friends J

So with all that background, today she is someone I look up to. She has a life that I will trade any day for! She is pursuing doctorate in a subject that I had struggle getting a decent score in, at high school level. She lives in the most posh area in Mumbai. She almost has a poetic lifestyle and she doesn’t have the most hated thing in my life – Monday blues!!! Of all the things that figure in my fun-time list, shopping with her and cooking for her are probably my favorites.

She is still that cute little kid, who used to hate wearing glasses and be terrified of exams. But her sensible and thoughtful persona does a good cover-up job! I adore her for all the emotions that she displays but more so for those hidden ones which connect me to her more than anyone else! How she became the most indispensable person in my life is something I have no answer for, but probably the thing I am most thankful for!
From that annoying little brat to a wonderful, self-possessed, judicious woman – that’s my baby sister for you!

-          Dedicated to Charanya Ravi


P.S.: When I re-read the blog, the pedantic and elderly tone is impossible to miss! Not sure if it’s because I am writing about her or am I really aging!!