With love,from Bangalore.

Bangalore, the city they say has many stories entwined.
One such story happened when I reached my campus in Chokanahalli. First things first, the moment I entered the campus I saw a Bank of Baroda ATM. “Yes”, I said, “good for me I have all my money in BOB”. I stepped inside to withdraw some cash and the moment I turned around you were there. Lost. Clueless. A little on the borderline of intriguing.

I left the kiosk, and somehow you continued to remain with me.
A couple of weeks in the campus and I skipped a heartbeat again. I was fighting with the caterer in the mess for another gulab jamun, and I found you again , this time sitting on a chair like a boss! I couldn’t help but wonder at your frills and the enticing distinction that serenaded around you. I pegged at my friend standing next to me and asked her to check you out, she apathetically shrugged, “No biggie, pretty average Indian stuff”. That shit hurt! Pretty average?! What?! You Punjabi chicks from Delhi and your loud attitude!! I say super awesome.
The first semester went by, with a few glances here and there, some stolen moments near the ATM, sometimes in and around the campus. You were always hard to miss. Always.
As fate would have it, I enter the classroom the first day of the next semester, with my good friend Arti in a separate section, I entered this alien room not knowing where and in which seat would I end up. I almost ended up sad, when this tall guy got out of my way and I saw you! I saw YOU! For a minute I thought I have entered the wrong classroom. Then I came across this list again and almost foolishly tried to get a seat where I could admire you from all the strategic angles as I could. In retrospect I did!

 

You were a charmer all through. I kept praying that may I continue in this same classroom where I can continue to have this advantage of getting a feel of being around you. And this is exactly what happened. Every moment of mine, that I spent in there, I spent it in your silent company. You never spoke to me. I never spoke to you either. I always glanced at you, sometimes when you were looking away and sometimes as a reflection on my laptop. But we never spoke to each other.
And the day I left, I took a bus to the airport with Akhil and the mallu gang. Right when I was about to board the bus, I clicked my phone and I saw you again. The moment I was in the bus , I closed my eyes and smiled. You were still with me.
I never could believe that I could love someone in silence…
….. My beloved blue bagūüėĄ

Musical Monotheism 

I was making my weekly train journey from Bhubaneswar (place where I live) to Bhadrak (place where I am posted). I boarded the 7 am Puri-Howrah Shatabdi. Train journeys have always proven to be preferred places for three of my most favourite activities- reading, listening to music and admiring the country side.
As it happens, Indian Railways have proven to be the sine quo non for our national integrity as much as our music. One cannot really fail to marvel at the pivotal role Indian Railways played in our Freedom Movement, uniting a well-read erudite like Bhagat Singh with the brave heart of Bhavra, Chandrasekhar Azad ! I can go on and on about how fond I am of Indian Railways.
Cut to the point where I decide to get out of the metal-box A/C compartment to stand at the entrance gate of the bogie. I can stand there for hours and hours at stretch! I can leave my hair open(precisely because I hate tieing my hair ), I can talk to the wind, I can stand there and close my eyes and D.R.E.A.M, I can stare & wonder at the marvels of the hinterland that belongs to the never ending enigma called India, I can stand there and listen to music LOUDLY and endlessly!
That’s when I decided to indulge in some music for a solid stretch of time and decided to skim through every song that I had collected recently. This was the moment when it struck me- that the music in my iPhone is actually quite a reflection of the music in my soul that has been piercing my psyche like anything.
By the time I crossed Korai(happens to be the birth place of Abdaal Sir and a pleasantly inspiring indicator that I am indeed quite close to where he is;) ), I had listened to the exuberantly cheesy Bollywood number from the movie Fanaa- “Des Rangila” for quite a number of times on the loop. I love Bollywood for its cliches because in a world where everyone is trying to be cool/ hot in some respect or the other it’s the cliches that end up sticking to the reality that matters. 

The words of the song that said 

“Dhani pagdi pehne mausam hai neeli chadar taane ambar hai”

This , while I was crossing the Kathajodi tributary of Mahanadi ..
And the repeatations of..

“Des Rangila Rangila ..Des Mera Rangila”

That, and the occasionally reverberating Vande Mataram while you cross Jajpur Road where you come across children selling tea on the station platform.
With every word in the song and every bit of hackneyed and cliched my-nation-my-pride kind of emotions that one can think of , I couldn’t stop marvelling at the sheer beauty of the passion with which every inch of this country has been painted!
There is another song from SRK’s movie Swades, the title track “yeh jo des hai tera” , that was next on my list. For quite a long time this song has literally terrorised me! Civil Services,has always been at the back of my mind for many years but after I graduated I had literally shut that corner of my mind thinking that I am not good enough. I was overpowered by fear and felt that I am not good enough for a challenging profession like that. It was during those days that Swades would be repeatedly aired on TV and I would simply shut it down because this song would terrorise me,jolt me up like a powerful reminder and a small clear voice in my head would scream ,”Hey LOSER! Get up and LIVE! Start chasing the REAL STUFF!”
Of course today, with my CSE application down, my grandfathers tricolour in my pockets and a daily staring contest with fear, this song is like my morning cup of coffee- quite literally. Today I can’t imagine waking up without this song.

“Mitti ki hai jo khushbu,tu kaise bhulaega….

Ye wo bandhan hai jo kabhi toot nhi sakta”

Moving on, I kept on shuffling through my entire collection in iTunes and apart from a couple of Rafi and Richard Marx songs, the entire collection had multiple variations of Vande Mataram, Jana Gana Mana and Mera Rang De Basanti Chola(Sonu Nigam’s version being an absolute favourite). Variations of Vande Mataram starting from guitar to piano, jana gana mana sung by school kids in Amsterdam to numerous Bollywood hits like Bharat Humko Jaan Se Pyara hai & Des Mere, I thought no one could have a better collection than that.
It was then that I realised, my iTunes is a reflection of everything that’s important to me today. It is in essence my soul safely embedded in iOS interface.
At this point I had to take out my pocket diary to note down a few of those windy thoughts..

Neeche zameen hai, upar asmaan hai..

Kuch Faisla-e-junoon hai mera , kuch Mera muqaddar hai..

Dunbar’s Number..err pass..

Dunbar’s number, every time you pass it be sure something ugly inside you is about to happen . This is exactly what happens when you swallow more food than your calorific requirement and what your metabolic system can take – you spit out.

Those people that time forgot – the guy who claimed to be in love with me all through school , college and even after that and I simply could never reciprocate , the girlfriend who chose to compete rather than stay friends , the kid from that part of the unprotected ¬†, unclean mess of servant’s quarters who got bitten by a snake and collapsed , the old , old man who used to drive my car and drop me to college and suddenly he was gone , the girl with the long pony tail who would wave at me when I would work out early mornings on my terrace…

Its like people are racing to be forgotten , to become a little more obscure, a little more brazen , lost and absolutely insignificant in all their existence as if they aren’t human , as if all along they have been these obscure globs of flesh and bone that can speak ..and somehow bring moments into our lives to which we just choose to shut our senses..

Yet again, I have reached the point of collapse and a little more off the brim and its flooded..

With people calling me up on my office phone and enquiring if the bank is that monstrous a place that I have literally stopped using WhatsApp and other such medium , I couldn’t come up with something graspable. I would have had to begin with the Dunbar’s number, its effect on my emotional ¬†landscape and what digital detoxification does to you. When you are tired enough to reply to every text out there , you sure are tired enough to explain what tires you.

Someone just asked me today , why aren’t you in touch …”studying too much?” …all I could come up was , “Yes, studying grammar”!

With my room  looking like a war room, my apartment looking like a bunker  and my body looking like that of a wounded soldier torn to pieces and eyes so bloodshot , almost lifeless , I dare say this is how I prefer it.

Le Cirque wouldn’t continue to be luxury if you keep on eating and excreting it out! Imagine what would happen if you ate only and only for the purpose of excreting it out after having assimilated all your vital nutrients…like blobs of protein, carbs and vitamins …no spices,sugar or vodka! Imagine , just eating those blobs ,chewing them shamelessly and excreting them out! Now imagine being stuck with a life that happens to have a job which is your Le Cirque , and your HA,TA,pay package being your blobs of nutrients and you keep on just chewing it and excreting out day-in and day-out! Just drawing your salary and paying your bills with no other story in between!

The story !

Trust me, if you have been brought up on a heavy dose of scary Fagins and Oliver Twists , you remain like that orphan all your life…trying to build your story and stopping anybody else from coming into your way of writing that part of the dazzling story…the story which belongs to no body else other than you…

Just like food needs to be savoured and life needs a story ,and the occasional oxygen , the heart needs its dreams …the dreams need their passion…the passions need their energies..the energies need their valves..

And above all, time…

To the spices , sugar and vodka…and everything nice in between..

Its about time.

 

 

The Greater Canvass

If you are doing your job very peacefully, trust me you are doing something very wrong. If you are accepting all orders coming your way without putting a piece of your own mind on it, trust me you are not doing any justice to your existence. And this piece goes out to the day when she began with her first real fight.

I am not going to get into the details (that’s what the “sarkari” peeps do) but since when have we needed every single detail to bring out the structural flaws ¬†in our system.

 

There is something ugly about the beauty which comes with an extreme sense of spinelessness. There is something ugly about the women who are beautiful , only . She was told its a man’s world and she knew it from day one. Those “Good morning madam jee’s” were not earned , they were a mark of crass sarcasm for the entire day’s fight that awaited her at BOD (beginning-of-day) point. Its surprising when people think that their minds are caged inside their funny looking faces and no one can get a look at that,the hell they can. Anyways , if there would be nothing there to stop you,pull you back,challenge you,push you hard,hit you,knock you down …how the hell are you supposed to enjoy every minute of killing the lesser you, the YOU that is afraid to shine on!

She paints, more in her mind (and occasionally on her laptop) than she does on the canvass. That’s because she is busy, trying to make the simple point that this is a world where the hungry stomach needs food and we better work for it. Simple as it is and yet people complicate this very reality. ¬†With every stroke of her brush it just got uglier , that reminds of The Picture of Dorian Gray. And the Dorian Gray effect she was told she had on people around, though hard for me to believe. The picture was planned, more complete and perfect in her mind than what she wanted. She had to purposefully create the imperfections to paint them perfect , as if there was some kind of reward for it. She did not paint a palatial house, that would just be something ordinary. Comfort makes you ordinary. She painted worn out running shoes because she was a runner. To complete it , she added a backpack – a wanderer’s best friend!

Starting from the point where she looked , she painted a road – more grassy , more green , somehow warning her that the reason it hasn’t been walked on is the presence of pitfalls hidden beneath the green meadows. She painted a smile on her face, after all she knew all her Robert Frost poetries about The Road Not Taken and she believed every poetry in the world, every goddamn poetry! And there had to be pitfalls , she felt rewarded every time she could feel some part of her body aching while trying to walk on.

She had to paint it differently and that’s why she needed to paint more light around the lady in her picture than at the end of the road. She wasn’t looking for any light, she was the light and it was her duty to keep the road safe at this hour of the night, to stay put and keep the light on.

And just as she lifted her brush to paint a little more darkness at the end of the road, it was already morning…the morning to begin with those “Good Morning madam jee’s” and an entire day ahead to remind her why she needs to keep the light on , the heat on , the fire on.

The picture isn’t complete yet, nor is the canvass enough .

Shall be needing a bigger canvass this time and I will be God damned , more shades of danger.

Of Love Energies

Before I start, its not about “the love” between a young man and woman. Love ka naam sunte hi dimag unidirectional ho jata hai!

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Ever noticed the way a gun works? Its the perfect point-and-touch interface. Either the bullet stays inside the barrel peacefully or it simply burns out to reach its destination, whether it successfully reaches its target or not is a different matter. Neither should the bullet rest too long nor should it burn out unproductive. Lesson learnt?!

I come across so many people with the same daunting question , “I don’t know what I want to do with my life”. The more I consume myself in search of the fire-and-ice the more I believe that it isn’t the destination or end means that being put first makes things productive and worthwhile. Putting the ends first is the classic example of CAT aspirants concocting there dream webs around the pay packages of IIMs or UPSC aspirants putting the ala-ghar-ala-naukri perception in their minds. As far as reality goes, these end means are not even worth a mention. You don’t come to IIMs or become an IAS officer for a starting salary! ¬†I haven’t come across really anybody who achieved anything out of their careers thinking about where their next cheque is going to come from.

The point is, it needs to be a fire-and-ice journey. The journey which goes on to become an all-encompassing all-consuming story of absolute dedication , hard work and will power is bound to have those fierce moments of the fire-in-your-belly emotion and at the same time the calm and peace accompanied by the sheer joy of having given your 100%.

The fire is there to consume the good part of you and demolish the demon of mediocre pursuits. The ice is there to pacify and reaffirm. The fire will push you to the edge every single time you decide to settle for something lesser. The ice will uphold and cherish all that you earned for yourself.

Surprisingly, past 2 years of banking taught me some lessons I am going to put to some good use.

  • Maker & Checker – Every transaction will have a maker and checker, maker is the person who initiates and checker is the person who verifies. Ever come across a person who made you believe you were less in any aspect or an emotional transaction which would only last till the point of seamy jokes and not beyond that?! The moment that happens , steer clear. We all need a maker-checker in our psyche to protect us from unhealthy,unproductive and frivolous emotional transactions.
  • Overdraft – Ever felt like a Monday on a Sunday morning?! Probably the overdraft of undirected energies has already worked out beyond its limit. Watch out where you actually need to use it and where not.
  • Non Performing Assets – People and relationships which lack the fire-and-ice element ; they are your NPAs. No amount of emotional “provisioning” can help you out of the mess. Steer clear. ¬†People who will never have enough time for you despite you making all the time in the world for them, people who will never accept you for who you are, people who won’t look beyond what meets the eye and indulge you in their frivolity – ¬†Bad Assets. Write them off in your loss account and the moment you decide to steer clear from them everything about the balance sheet of your emotional dealings will be in peace.
  • Yield To Maturity – This important aspect YTMs is an important ¬†determinant of bond investments. Ever thought of relationships as an important investment of your emotions and time?! Of course they are. The unconditionality of any form of affection comes with an underlying condition that they are constantly in the process of maturing and graduating into our daily doses of happiness and inspiration. A little calculation of this aspects saves so much drama!
  • Risk Management – Every decision you make will have an element of risk to it. Being on the edge takes risk, not the John Rambo kind of risk but calculated risk. You need to take calculated intelligent risk from time to time or else mediocrity is right around the corner to supersede all your colourful dreams.
  • Insurance – ¬†A lesson that my mistakes from teen years taught me – always , always have a plan B. Sometimes what you plan is simply not meant to happen and the reasons could be many. The destination that you headed for is just a place which you felt was right for you. On the contrary , you might end up with something even better. Another rule of finance -“don’t put all your eggs in one single basket”.
  • Bank balance – ¬†A bank account is only good enough till the point it has some balance in it! You will only be good enough for most people when you are successful or probably when you look your best. If you are very lucky you will probably find people who would still be around when you have hit your rock bottom. Hang on to them!

 

Love-for the craft or a person concerned , has absolutely no meaningful existence without the passion , without the fire and ice. Love energies when consumed the right way can make way for the story to end beautifully. If it has to be a story worth a tell, its bound to require work. Make sure to fall in love with the job,the person, the activity that consumes most of your time… If there isn’t a romance happening out there it simply isn’t worth it..

 

 

When Mr Darcy met Mr Castle!

Mr Castle had this obsession with the tall book shelves of the New York State library and like any other Sunday morning he was strolling around the stack of pulp fictions from the 19th century that is when he met him , the man so clad in Regency that he had to look at his watch for the date. Yes, it was 2015 and he had the opportunity to time travel and thus began the conversation :

Mr Castle : Hey! I am a little surprised. Care to clarify, if the library is holding some kind of costume drama jig with those regency outfits?

Mr Darcy : How am I in a position to answer that. I had the very opportunity of descending through the time travel tunnel and reach here. Are you the famous writer Mr Castle? I was told I can find you right here.

Mr Castle : Me? You have come to meet me here? And there is a time travel tunnel? That is so cool. Becket is going to love this. And who told you I shall be here? I mean, Mr Darcy all the way from the regency era is here to meet me. That is so freaking cool.

Mr Darcy : Well, I might have a bit of a situation with the Americanized and the very modern English diction you put into use, but I wanted to see you. I am very disappointed and I was told you are the man who could help me.

Mr Castle : Told by who? And why are you disappointed?

Mr Darcy : Our very fair lady from Bath Miss Jane Austen was there to pay me a visit last week and she mentioned if there is a murder there is one person that can be counted on and that is you. Besides, the victim has a very close relation to both of us.

Mr Castle : Jane Austen herself recommended my name? This is beyond my coolest of theories. How am I even known there?

Mr Darcy : Well, people in this era practically still carry around the weight of the past. The past is no different.

Mr Castle : You were talking of a murder. Who is the victim?

Mr Darcy : Our victim is “the modern day romantic”!

Mr Castle : That short guy gave it all upfront and took the nearest bullet and was strangulated ruthlessly by “the invisible hands of capitalism” and “the benign perils of seduction”.

Mr Darcy : Yes , I have your Derrick Storm books in my library. I am aware of how charmingly you put it for the murderer. You are the voice of the victim. Isn’t it what Miss Becket says?

Mr Castle : They have my novels there? That is so cool. Yes that is exactly what Becket said. By the way it’s mrs Becket now *smirks*

Mr Darcy : I have been told that you both try to emulate me and Lizzie in the manner of your romance?

Mr Castle : Really? Well practically every love story has some or the other reference to your classic love story with Miss Bennet, but I wouldn’t deny there are quite a few similarities between you and me. For example , you have the biggest library and I am one of the greatest novelists. You have your thousands of pounds and I have my grands of dollars. You are the dashing lord and I am referred to as “ruggedly handsome”. And the greatest punch of all is that we both had toil hard for our respective ladies .

Mr Darcy : I had to “put up the struggle” and you called her “the most frustrating person ever”.

Mr Castle : I know , right?

Mr Darcy : I am afraid my time here is limited. Shall we begin with the investigation then?

Mr Castle : Oh yeah sure! So what have we got?

Mr Darcy : Look at the savage there, staring at her like a beast with another woman in his arms. Look at the person there, sitting with a lady and playing away his…er ..what is that thing exactly?

Mr Castle : Mobile. That is a mobile phone. Actually we call them smart phones.

Mr Darcy : Smart? How is a thing supposed to be smart? Or mobile?

Mr Castle : Well, “The modern day romantic” is nothing more than a shady victim of the painful evolution of “hormonal” emotions.

Mr Darcy : Outrageous! How can you even speak of such things?

Mr Castle : Oh yeah we can. We speak about EVERYTHING.

Mr Darcy : Everything? MMhhm. Let us speak of the murder. What do you think what killed him?

Mr Castle : I would say, distorted vision, lack of empathy, improper judgement, disrespectful mannerisms and above all the very absence of a backbone!

Mr Darcy : How do these men forget that they cannot go on with a life where conviction is replaced with options?

Mr Castle : I guess that’s because we aren’t taught to believe, to fight, to nail it and be devoted. Most of these modern romantics out there are in a quest to become a Darcy but the Darcy in them never sees the light of the day and they end up being the new Wickhams and very proudly at that.

Mr Darcy : Miss Jane, was appalled with this whole Wickham situation going on with the ladies.

Mr Castle : Even I tried the ” bad boy charm” on Becket. And damn, she cut it out in the very 1st episode. Doesn’t work with the smart ladies out there I tell you.

Mr Darcy : We had our fair share of women who fell victim to that trap. Look at Mary, what has become of her after she married Wickham!

Mr Castle : And when Alexis dated that hippie!

Mr Darcy : Is there any hope left? I see men like you but do they allow men of honour like you live peacefully?

Mr Castle : That is a tough one, but we like being the modern day Darcy’s and love to hear our Beckets call us that ūüėČ

Mr Darcy : So shall I leave assured, that not all is lost?

Mr Castle : Ofcourse not! Mr Darcy was born to teach men how to love and how to live.

Mr Darcy : And with men like you carrying forward the legacy I can take back this message to Miss Austen that her pearls of wisdom are still safe.

Mr Castle : And even if there is some danger around, that is because these pearls of wisdom are priceless.

Mr Darcy : And so are men like you, Mr Castle! I am afraid my time is over .

Mr Castle : I know what I need to do. We say Au Revoir and shake hands like gentlemen! But I have a bit of a request.

Mr Darcy : Request? Please go ahead.

Mr Castle : Can I have that hat? Becket is going to go crazy!

Mr Darcy(handing out the hat and shaking hands) : Only if she believes in you and doesn’t rubbish it out as one of your wild theories.

Mr Castle : My love and regards for every one at Pemberley!

Mr Darcy : My best wishes for the entire NYPD. Happy investigating!

And thus ends my beautiful dream with the realisation that I have got to head out to office without combing my hair again ūüėÄ

I am every-woman-out there. I am ANNA.

ANNA KARENINA BY LEO TOLSTOY. An epic novel and an all time favourite. Nothing better to start off a new blog with an old love.

Any friend who has been close enough would be surprised to see that I chose Tolstoy over Austen for a start(the name of the site should be a good enough hint). But over the years , from idolising Elizabeth and fantasising Anna to idolising Anna and fantasising Elizabeth, my perceptions have changed. Not that I love Pride and Prejudice and Jane Austen any less , its just that there is an additional window of outlook from where I see now.

Anna is every man’s dream and every man’s horror. But I have been told men love danger. She is a woman who who will give her man whatever he wants and take from him whatever she wants. Anna, you selfish, egotistical woman! You left your husband and even your son, for what? Another man, who was way lesser a man than your husband. And why? For all that fire-and-ice. Yeah, every woman out there is looking around and sinning around for this fire-and-ice but who goes to these heights? ¬†Or should I say who stoops to these levels? But then had you not been the selfish, egotistical , fire and ice searching nonsensical woman , how else would we learn what Karenin did wrong and what Mr Darcy did right ? Had Karenin even for once demonstrated a spark of jealousy you would have stuck around like a loyal wife and dumped your Count Vronsky right there down the drain like sour milk because you would have found your fire and ice, rage with a blanket of love that is so warm that it burns you but so engrossing that you want to keep on burning. Women of every age and timeline will break their heels and fall flat for the man who does that for her.

Anna and Elizabeth cross paths where both these women show traits wherein they believe in going after what they want. They never follow the Yash Chopra rule book of pointless “balidan” and sacrifice. They do what they got to do. They are selfish to the extent their character extrapolates. And don’t expect that if being a woman I am being selfish that means I am going to be unapologetic about it. Ofcourse I will apologise if I have been selfish, I am after all no satan! Just like Anna apologises to her husband, just like the romantic (roll my eyes , take a deep sigh, have a mini dreamathon about Mr Darcy and start writing again) ¬†apologies shared by Mr Darcy and Elizabeth. Badass – even though this word never featured in these respective books(dude, these are classics!) , these women were just that.

These women make sense because they are imperfect, as imperfect as my hair on any bad hair day! They will not accept a man who objectifies them. They will equally despise the man who will not display the regressive traits of a man in love , typically at that. They will make mistakes knowingly or unknowingly, but they will have the nerves to come out and make amends. They will accept the course of destiny once they have made their choices , but no matter where it leads them they will not cease to be their own masters. Its like with these women, you begin to question even the very existence of society.

Now I need to apologise and make amends too. I got the title wrong. Anna or Elizabeth for that matter , they are too extra-ordinary to be any woman.