Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Hum Sab Ek Hain.

This is Mr. Diss.

This is Guss.

This is Ting.

Together they own an ad agency called DissGussTing Ads. I have their lives all figured out. Diss does the innovating. Guss is the graphics guy. Ting is multipurpose lifesaver. They specialise in campaigns on pest control. And they're not related to each other.

Yeah, I was bored. You have no idea.

Monday, September 28, 2009

Right. So yesterday was the weirdest day this pujo, and that's saying something. First I slept all day and was groggy when awake, so I accidentally brushed my teeth with my grandfather's Dabur Lal Dant Manjan. Then I got spat upon under the Park Circus 4 no. bridge, pan pik all over my shoulders. Both look and smell more or less the same, so I'm surmising that old people really use Lal Dant Manjan as an excuse, all they really want is to have their mouths smelling like khaini. Then it started raining and I happened to be unsuitably attired for both rain and neon pandal with UV lights. Then I rode to Gariahat on a bus where a woman's dangly bangle kept getting entangled in my hair. But was that all? Oh no, oh no, it is always my lot to be standing next to a fat mashima with all of her body pressed against mine. Nothing else compares. Nothing, I tell you. But this mashima yesterday had a furry purse that kept tickling my armpit. Purse. With Fur. Held up to the the very arm that's trying to hold onto a bus railing. You'd think the creator had some sympathy.

Following this I elbowed and was elbowed by several people while trying to find an auto to take me home. Found one finally. Git posing as driver said the fare was twenty-five bucks because he wasn't taking the main road. I agreed because there was nothing else to be done, but then the fun started. I guess forty minutes riding through tiny bylanes around Dhakuria, Selimpur and Garfa does that. I must've passed a total of twelve pandals, with people dancing to the dhak like crazy in each of them. One bright pink pandal was constructed across a tiny road, so we drove right through it, and there was a little kid tugging at the kola-bou with a manic smile on his face. Another pandal with the dhak and loudspeakers had a carrom club right next to it, and if you saw the faces under that overhead light you'd be be surprised at the isolation. Nothing deafens, nothing distracts, nothing matters but the board. It saddens me that I no longer play carrom, that look of concentration in people's eyes as they align, and pause, and strike, it beats everything else. Even the game.

It's strange how I never realised there are houses packed in this tight little grid well inside a city area. I mean, I know they must exist but it's not like they're everyday headlines, you can't possibly be if you're a good twenty minutes away from the nearest rickshaw stand or bus stop. But they still stand. I wish I could be more coherent about this. But the best way I can explain it is that there is a Dhakuria, and then there is an inner Dhakuria. One I pass everyday. The other's just a lot of bylanes, almost like a broom closet. Or a cramped backstage area. You pass through it and behind it and always in the dark so that you can reach the spotlight.

The spotlight usually sucks.

Sunday, September 27, 2009

There is a
bar called
somewhere on the Bypass.

You've got to be kidding me.

Saturday, September 26, 2009

One-Week Story, Part Six

It is a Monday morning again and I'm sitting in a train that is running six hours late. It is a different route and a different direction altogether, but you know where to be. There shall be a station, and there shall be the grass, and the dust, and the world taking its siesta, and I shall wait. Soon I shall get a mobile, but for now it must be this haphazard planning, this sudden running away, this hurried consent to meeting at remote places. I shall tell you about how the countryside looks from a railway window, and you shall agree to come.

And then we shall walk, like we always do, towards the train.

Friday, September 25, 2009

One-Week Story, Part Five

My watch says Friday so I take it off and fling it away as far as I can throw it. It flies up and lands somewhere in the middle of all the grass. We are walking amidst long rows of grass tufts and I'm back at square one, suddenly panicking about where we're going now that we're here, now that we've found it, now that the waiting is over. Now has never been a good state to be in as far as I'm concerned, every time the stupidity returns and I find myself wanting to go back to the start, to the initial talk, to the booking, to the boarding, to the berth.

You do most of the talking. You point at this, and that, and talk about the difference between dustpaths and pavements, and I listen, clamping down a vague worry into a box. I then sit on it and listen some more.

Right in the middle of all the grass, right where there is nothing but grey and yellow and an indeterminate shade of the sky above, I stop and tell you I have something to say. It's the moment I've been travelling for; I'd ideally want a black umbrella and a distant source of music on the scene too but one can't ask for everything. Somewhere in the distance I hear the tinkle of a bicycle bell on the path we passed sometime back. The crossing will close soon.

So I tell you about the very first time I fell in love.

You listen with a frown, and then say, what of it? Things like this happen.

It's how everyone reacts. People are progressive now, more's the pity, it always accounts for a lack of drama. I sigh and say, ok, and then take your hand and pull you towards the train tracks. There is grass bordering them and growing out of them and in between them. There is a faint breeze playing around which will soon turn into a faint rumble and then magnify into a sound like no other. It always seems like there will be a whistle, but there never is, trains don't whistle anymore. We leave our bags and start running and in my head I can see the slow movement of two lines, one on a track and one running towards it, a clean perpendicular intersection just about to happen, but no, just in time we stop, and you seem to know what to do. Just as the train appears in the horizon you pull me close and kiss me, and there is this sibilance of sound and tone in everything around me. If there were birds they would fly off trees. If there were trees they would fly off their roots. If there were people they would fly out of the way. Everything would move away just in time, except maybe for the grass, which always remains, and us.

There is a draught all around turning into a gale, and the noise is getting unbearably close, but you're still holding me tight and I know what to do. Just like I've always known.

At the right moment I incline my body forwards and fall. As if an invisible hand has placed itself in the small of my back and decided to push, suddenly. We stagger forward together and crash downwards, just as there is a sudden blackness all around and the train is no longer a train but the night. We crash downwards just as the noise suddenly stops, just as everything else stops, just as the grass suddenly seems a whole lot taller, pressed against our faces along with heated metal.

It always happens like this, every single time. And this is, in fact, a love story.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

One-Week Story, Part Four

It is a Thursday and it feels like three entire lives since last evening. The station has faded, so has the name. I daresay I have it written down in my diary somewhere, but what matters is the words that haven't gone in there.



It's almost nine, you must have been bored. Bet you bought one of those chhamia-chhaila novels. What, I can see them. There. Look.

For one moment I stop and look at the Wheeler stall. There is a sudden gush from a drinking water fountain, I hear someone gargling loudly and spitting out a mouthful, and then everything swims back into focus again as I realise I know how to play this.

Ohho, it was a detective novel. Proper murder and everything. Do you plan to go anywhere for the night or do we sit on the bench here?

Let's ask around.

Suddenly it is night, but I don't communicate nights well. I don't communicate unknown rooms with noisy table fans and rickety beds well. Besides, it's Thursday now. It is Thursday and we are at a tea stall in the morning. We eat crumbly biscuits out of a glass jar, and get reacquainted with each other, noticing differences in face and body not visible in artificial lighting. I say 'we' but that is a force of habit now, within just one day, it always happens this way; the truth is that I have no idea what you are thinking.

There is a sudden decisive gulp of tea and you tap a biscuit like you're ashing a cigarette. The crumbs fall on my toe and I look at you and think, he's going to speak, what will he say?

Let's stay here another night, you say. Another night of proper sleep and tomorrow we start walking.

Turns out I do have an idea. The cloud of foolishness lifts away slowly and calmly - we did this the last time I ran away too. We did this every time.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

One-Week Story, Part Three

Wednesday. I sit with a rumpled newspaper in my lap and a Hindi pulp novel with a gaudy front in my hand that I bought from a Wheeler because I was afraid I'd forgotten the language altogether. You'd laugh at this pretentiousness if you were around, but it's a good four hours till you arrive and I'll have read it and binned it by then. There is a dog that insists on sleeping under the bench with one paw over my foot, and I've changed into something cleaner and am avoiding everyone's gaze. The delay doesn't bother me, but this station is smaller than I thought. What I miss the most here are the overhead announcements crackling into life suddenly and then zooming away. Like startled crows. Like that sudden feeling in my stomach when I called from a phone booth and tapped and tapped my fingernail on the wall through an eternity of static, and then you answered.

Get a mobile, you said.

I never know what to say to things like this. In my head I play out beautiful meetings and dialogues with a world of meaning in them, and then you say, Get a mobile. Just like the first time I told you I was leaving, and asked if you would meet me, and you said, Book the tickets. Nothing more and nothing less, just a brusque sentence. Almost an order. Which is perhaps why I have to wait for an evening of intoxication before I can tell you what I need to. About trains. About grass. About stagnation. About running away. Only then are the decisions made.

All my life I have wanted to sit in a station like this, I'm glad I'm doing it again. That first time I didn't tell you about, I ran away and sat in a station much like this, only in a different place and with overhead announcements. I was younger and being sized up by coolies because there was no empty bench and I was sitting on a newspaper spread on the floor, all alone. I had a comic book and a mineral water bottle and a firm belief in things happening for the best, which has now changed into that persistent feeling of idiocy, but I'm here, aren't I. The station turns bronze for a brief moment as the sun goes down and because there will be no use for the cloak room and a sleepless night, I put up my feet and go back to the novel. There is always someone waiting at a platform, squatting on the floor with a faraway look in their eyes, so I'm not alone. Trolleys trundle by with sacks on them once in a while, but soon they are part of the landscape too, and the entire station waits.

I've been told that time slows down in anticipation of that one definite moment when things start happening too fast for a minute to hold them all within it, and since that is exactly what will happen in a few hours I am willing to be a part of the stupor for now. The entire station waits, and I wait too, only I know the novel will add that air of nonchalance I'm hoping for. You'd definitely laugh at this pretentiousness if you arrived in time.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

One-Week Story, Part Two

Tuesday afternoon and I want to blow the train up. A man ran over my foot with his fancy suitcase and the baby next to me was sick and there were only apologies when all of it was cleaned up, no soap. There is no soap anywhere on this train and a baby was sick next to me. That automatically implies it was sick all over me. The entrance is crowded and I cannot change now because there is no place to open a bag, three stations have gone by and the number of unreserved passengers is unbelievable. Three stations ago I had clean clothes and unimpaired eyesight. Now there are legs in hawaii chappals dangling from the berths above, and subtle catcalls and raucous songs, and I am getting off at the next station if it kills me.

I told you I liked trains. If I told you I first fell in love on one you'd have looked the other way and that would've been it. No one says things like that anymore, no one believes them either. If it is a story from long ago one keeps it wrapped up and hidden, and if it is worth telling one looks for an occasion. There never was one because we spoke about trains in a depressingly glitzy atmosphere, we looked at photographs in a gallery and used big words. Now my right shoulder smells like it never belonged to a world in which galleries existed, and I am silently furious because I was sincere when I said I liked trains.

Only you laughed and turned away from the wall, and said, then you've never been on one.

Monday, September 21, 2009

One-Week Story, Part One

Monday morning and my skin now smells like it was meant to, it tends to happen when you've spent thirty hours in a train with warm air flying in and whipping hair and clothes and odours around the compartment. There's a peculiar yellowness that the world outside a train takes on in the summer, and somewhere along the way it comes in through the windows and settles on the passengers till everything is a warm yellow tone. Not a golden yellow but a deep ochre, you can see it in the fields outside and in the mounds of earth and the plateaus that flash by. You can even see it in the rivers.

I told you about this yellowness sometime back and you said, what about the grass tufts? There is dry grass that springs up between railway tracks and around fields, even along roads, but always in long lines of circular masses. And it's grey.

I told you they weren't grass tufts at all but fuzzy pods of some wispy alien material dropped down by a spaceship. Or, I said, it's like they're droppings. From some really, really large bird with a bad tummy. Nothing else explains the way the grass is scattered here and there. And I looked at you, suddenly mortified, fairly certain that you would tell me to shut up because I was drunk.

Instead you said, let's take a train to somewhere with all this grass, we'll walk in it and find out where it comes from. And because I'm singularly trusting and more than a little unemployed, I booked a ticket and here I am, smelling like I was meant to at two in the afternoon, wondering where to get off, and if you will be there too. I stop looking at turmeric mounds outside and spoon posterpaint yellow daal into my rice, and feel stupid.
I feel like writing a story.

Sunday, September 20, 2009

I remember first wanting to go to Kumartuli at nine, it's stayed since then as a want that just didn't work out till Friday. And now that I've been I think I won't return. It's not the narrow lanes or the little workshops stuffed to bursting with limbs and gaudy cloth, it's that the place is haunted. I can't explain how. There was this smell of clay that brought back a texture. I was immediately reminded of the way clay modelling classes used to feel at age nine - I'd walk out with hands squirming with the smell of wet earth, feeling slimy when dry, feeling dirty when all of it had been washed off, black clay still packed tight under the fingernails, that overwhelming coolness of the skin for hours after. It was one of my favourite courses though, clay modelling. Kumartuli is like clay modelling class round-the-clock and on a scale larger than I'd imagined, only the products, they scare me. It's not even the products, really, it's that the men who create these statues live with them. I don't know how they cannot be haunted, I wouldn't last a night in the place. Lions looking over me jaws extended, fake whiskers still, paws ready to swipe, but never doing anything. Just gleaming and sending out the smell of varnish. Red lips and pointed teeth. Angry eyes everywhere. Doing nothing but gleaming and giving off that smell of varnish till I'm dizzy, the very thought scares me.

This is the closest I could get to a fairly spacious workshop, and it still scared me.

It isn't even all of this. It's all the claustrophobia. And a cracked moulded hand I saw languishing by the side of a road.

Friday, September 18, 2009

There is this house on the way to Arindam's place. It looks like a rath, no kidding. There is bright new yellow paint and purple borders and extra detailing on the latticework till it beams down on everyone walking along the road like a large eggyolk moulded into a cuboid. The colour is what does the trick, but so is the fact that every other building on the street has peeling paint and rusty bolts on it trying to look like it's not secretly appalled. All this ostentation.

Passersby stare at the building a lot, naturally, but what they don't know is that it comes alive at night, moves neatly out of the space it occupies like a book flying off a shelf, and goes up and down the street, imagine that. Maybe it acts like a video game, moves through the streets like in a maze it has to navigate. I want to communicate to the world how exactly a building going up and down a sleeping street at night is scary, like Pacman on a larger scale, but it's beyond me now so I'll talk about love, everyone does that so it must be safe.

The deal is, there's a reason Frank Sinatra's the patron saint of unrequited love, I forget who called him that first. With others I get the feeling like they've known love and lost it, and so they write a sad song because they've a right to it, who doesn't. A Leonard Cohen or a Billy Joel works that way and it's allright, but this guy, I get the feeling that he's never had the chance because he's always been a little too fond of being alone. I don't know why. There's a reason a Sinatra song goes I Get a Kick Out of You and sounds like the most heartbreaking thing I've ever heard. You don't get that all the time. You especially don't get it if he's thinking of making things go right, it's like he doesn't care except that at that point of time it's better than nothing to do. Even New York, New York, it's the happiest song in the world but there has to be a reason he's leaving. I don't know why this gets me all weepy but it does, just the fact that I can still want to philosophise about Something Stupid, bloody Something Stupid, which goes back a good seven years, hmm. I really need to find cooler things to talk about.

On a completely different note, behold my eloquence.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Fists of air clasped and held so that the moment does not ever escape me. Are these statues lining the streets really men? They have smooth limbs and clean chests and eyes with lashes that fan out onto the cheeks like little feathers, in impossibly fine brushstrokes. And crinkly hair and goldfoil crowns, are these men smiling cherubically at me as I walk past?

Twenty rows of identical cloned gods all waiting to be taken away.

Is it because you have created something that you must find a god to attribute it to? There is sweat going into gleaming metal, and there is toil and hard work in carved beds and bicycle parts, and yet these impossibly perfect figures must be hailed for something that mortal hands have created. Vishwakarma puja confounds me; if it wasn't for the kites I'd ignore it altogether. But no. Steel grey skies and beflowered workshops work in favour of tiny little diamonds darting around in the air.

Kites give me the queer pain described in the Anne books.


I wrote this last Vishwakarma Puja, not without reason, but it still makes me cringe now. Things like this always do. It always hurts when time puts things in perspective so you might as well laugh.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

I really don't care who reads my blog anymore. There are some things I write down and some I don't, so if this gets personal it's only a matter of conjecture what I've kept suppressed. Hehe. University's a lot of love, to the point where it's ok if I'm pissed the entire day, which I have been all of today, as long as I reach a point where I can realise, by the glow of a yellow road, that I could spend the night lying amongst the stones here and still be allright.

You get up to pee and go into the bushes. You whisper and listen to voices in the dark. Always the amber streetlights. Later you totter and ride home in a bus and sit on a bench somewhere for sometime and think about vehicles. I'm really a hyper person in disguise and thinking about cars and things always calms me down, so there's no reason anyone else shouldn't feel the same, because no one's unique. Really. Everyone has a crappy life but the fact is, the fact is, you have a university that lets you unburden your sorrows by dancing around it at night. That's all I need. Give me a guitar too and I'll be delirious. No kidding. Alcohol isn't really what gets you intoxicated, it's the people, every single time. Otherwise we'd be doing the Dilip Kumar act all alone and being fabulously miserable by ourselves.

And, btw, I'm not anymore. So shut up.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Bucket baths pip shower baths every single time because they involve mugs, just like Mack the Knife pips everything else Darin sang because it's Mack the Knife.

Monday, September 14, 2009

I kid thee not, there are very few pictures of me that I really really like. It just doesn't happen. But for this one image, Sambit DC should be hoisted up on a pedestal and showered with Pepsi. I kid thee not, I love this photograph beyond reason and belief. It isn't the railway tracks. It's that I'm on them, and if I had my way with the world I'd continue walking down, kicking stones out of the way and whistling a tune. I even know the song I'd be whistling.

Saturday, September 12, 2009

Everytime I get onto a bus the blasted love of public transport flows in and settles till I'm going Arre wah wah wah waaaah in the very same way as in the song, even the grin in my head is like Kishore Kumar, which is a little scary but that isn't the point. I got pickpocketed today. Or my pocket was picked, whichever sounds right. It isn't fair that this should happen on the very weekend I have to buy birthday presents and have more money in my wallet than necessary, but does the weary world lift a wrinkled eyelid if I have to live on ten rupees a day for the next three weeks? Of course it doesn't. Does the bleeding pickpocket care that I was stranded for half a bleeding hour outside Zeeshan on a hungry stomach with no bleeding money for a bleeding roll? Of course he doesn't. Does anybody care that I had to be snubbed by the snooty people at SBI for wanting to cancel my card? Fathers in taxis will vouch for the opposite but right now it's all my fault, neh? Feel free to kick me if I go around saying it was a learning experience and I'm wiser now, because at the end of the day I'll still go wah wah wah waaaah at public transport, even the fact that it comes with pickpockets gives it that edge over, ah, kickboxing.

Problem is, pickpockets are all I have till outer space exploration comes calling. Or the next train ticket, whichever gets precedence in the bigger plan of things. Phaaaaaah. Maybe I should just drop acid and tell everyone I had a cosmic experience or something.

Friday, September 11, 2009

When I am really pissed
Like the times I'm not really pissed, but want to sit where I am and not open my mouth
Till I decide I want to again,
and someone decides to ma-aake me
When I'd much rather liss-tun to the myoo-sic behind me
And not, and not and not
I decide to sound smart.

So I screw up my eyes and I say something incorrigible
so I'll be told to shut up
And then I can be quiet because I have the
But I never suc-seed
at the end of the day we all taaalk caaaaaack.

This is sing-in-the-shower song. I sang it in the shower. Then I came out and drew this. I call it Happy Panic, or, Nahiiiiiiin.

Hreehahaha. I am Getting Creative. Mujhe koi nahin rok sakta.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

The times are nightfall, look, their light grows less;
The times are winter, watch, a world undone:
They waste, they wither worse; they as they run
Or bring more or more blazon man’s distress.
And I not help. Nor word now of success:
All is from wreck, here, there, to rescue one—
Work which to see scarce so much as begun
Makes welcome death, does dear forgetfulness.

Or what is else? There is your world within.
There rid the dragons, root out there the sin.
Your will is law in that small commonweal…

- Gerard Manley Hopkins.

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

It's horrible that I can no longer read as fast or as prolongedly as I used to. Fuck you, prolongedly is a word. I very badly want to reread all of Sherlock Holmes because something tells me it will change the complete lack of purpose in my life right now, I'm just one decision short of becoming a hotshot scholar researching crime fiction, but I just don't have the time. There are other things to read. Ever since reading became what I do during the time I'm getting educated, all I feel like doing after getting back home is doing other things. Like colouring. With crayons.

I miss Mister Clean crayons. They had these silver and gold crayons that were pretty useless because they looked horrible on white paper, so every time a box finished I'd have a barely-used silver and gold crayon left. I kept them because they smelt nice. By class five I had maybe twenty each of silver and gold crayons in a box made expressly for silver and gold crayons, I'm sure it's around somewhere. It doesn't really matter if a silver-and-gold crayon drawing hinders my potential research scholar dreams, does it?

I'm ashamed I asked.

Monday, September 7, 2009

December the 24th was the best day of last year. I think it was the day I truly got out of school-mode. There is this certain way of telling time and space and relationships in general that fourteen years of time-tables gives you. Or maybe it was just me, others seem to do fine without it. Anyway, there was this range of reactions to the world that this timetable had set down for me, and because I was usually sitting by myself watching the world go by for the better part, I always knew what they'd be, come any situation. But here I was, sick to my stomach and unable to lift my head and feeling like crap on Christmas Eve, and I knew school had ended by the way I felt good about everything that had happened from July till then. Because all of it had been a vast, vast lunch period, with me in the playground thinking I was part of a game, chain chain or Magnet or whatever, and it didn't matter. The people would always be there, and so would the rules, and so would the game, only I didn't have to be the fat kid panting along trying to keep up anymore.

Things have been the same since then, only I think I've changed a little. I no longer care if people had the wrong idea all along. Chances are it was always like that. My Hindi teacher, for example, always assumed I hated Hindi, and my Math teacher thought I was doing sums in my register.

People are always wrong about other people.

Friday, September 4, 2009

It happens everytime I attend a classical music recital or concert. I sit in my seat and find myself lulled to a point where I think I'm about to fall asleep, but then some stray note hits me and I sit up and wonder why I don't delve into things like this more, listen to the flute, listen to the sitar, listen to whatever it is, and then I feel incredibly tiny and incredibly ignorant, but so much at peace with myself that I can feel the difference in tone when I open my mouth to speak next. It is always the same. For a long time after, everything is shaant. Just that. There isn't a good enough equivalent in English to describe this.

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Oh my god I love mud. I LOVE MUD dye hear? When I have a house of my own I shall incorporate a special multipurpose mud pit into it.

This post sounds like that Dirrrty video now. Eww.

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

I want to beapartofit and make a brand newstartofit, dum dum de dum.

You can't fight against the world very much if you're a que sera sera kind of person. I mean, everything is disgusting nonsense and sometimes it climbs one rung higher and becomes depressing nonsense, but what can you do? What can I do? There will always be little things to make me happy till I realise, once I get back home, that I was supposed to have been in the depressing nonsense mode all along.

On the downside today was the coconut gelato, but even that was followed by good food. On the A+ double star side I'd put the film studies department's hidden staircase, all kinds of mud, the belated birthday present and all the Happydent White I bought today. Also an epic win for departmental football, but then you'll see me grinning stupidly every time anyone does anything in the department. Looks like I'm not bad at being clannish at all; I think I could fight for honour, or at least cheer for it, either way I get that feeling of having accomplished something. So give or take a plastic yellow fork buried somewhere on a patch of ground covered with pawprints, I'm happy for the earth and for the sky and someday I shall turn all of this into a story, what else is there?

Give or take a couple of differing viewpoints, we outdo others at useless things. Bootless things. Everything. Spot on, eh?