Micro Blogging: I Write My Thoughts Here
Because Twitter has other people.
I feel fine. Quitting my job has ushered a pleasant sense of freedom. I get up and think and decide what I am going to do. It is wonderful. I don’t have to be anywhere. I don’t have to drag my body and brutalize my spirit the very first thing in the morning. I have no obligations to anyone. I think a lot of people stop thinking what they are doing with their lives once they start running in circles. It gives them a cover of ‘doing something’. I have never wanted this cover. Work — all work— is meaningless (unless one is Nikola Tesla!!). I have always aspired for freedom.
I think being the master of your destiny begins with being the master of your day.
I hark back to the year 2005 when I bought a small radio to listen to music while I studied late night. The songs which I discovered on Radio City FM still are my favorite late night companions. ‘Kaash’, the ghazal album by Hariharan, was one such discovery, tailored for late night listening. ‘Ye Aaine Se’, ‘Humne Ek Shaam’, or ‘Maikade Band Karen’ — this album is a rare invocation of the dark magic of the night.
Isi ummeed pe kaati hai zindgi maine
wo kaash puchhte mujhse ki aarzoo kya hai
Buddha on a motorcycle cruising through the evening — no destination, just wind and luminous streets; some pesky phone calls buzzed which Buddha ignored.
It was a strange evening. One thing after the other went haywire as though a trigger went off at 5.30 pm. Stranger still, I met somebody by chance so bizarre, improbable, and confusing that I am still not fully comprehending it.
At the metro station looking around to see who my new compatriots are. This hour is my hour to board the metro. I see an astrologer (or a priest), a few old ladies, a fair few hooligan looking young boys who can be members of a chain snatching gang or molesters (who can tell from their horrendous — and identical — hairstyles which are in vogue? I sound like a prude or a paranoid), and a few miscellaneous people who seem to be here coincidentally enough to pad our numbers. The 'our' should tell you that I feel right at home.
Covid theater is mostly over, I still see its phoniest actors in the Delhi Metro sporting masks. These actors should be shot point-blank. No questions asked.
It is onerous managing the paraphernalia of life. Every little thing begs attention, claws on your conscience or convenience. Unless you are a slob, you have to rise to action. If I have lost my charger, I have to get up, go to the store and buy one. If the rooms are damp, disgusting, and unclean, I have to clean them up. If my bike is covered in soot and its engine is stuttering, I have to get it fixed and washed. I have to get the laundry done, I have to buy new bed linen, I have to dry the soaked towels in the sun, I have to remember to buy new socks, I have to think of a way to cover the window pane, I have to buy soap.. I have to .. I have to .. I have to.. I remember Jaun Elia’s lines:
kaun is ghar kī dekh-bhāl kare
roz ik chiiz TuuT jaatī hai
This is why I wish to transfer my consciousness into a machine. It will be a hell lot easier to go from day to day. Human existence is mired in trivial and tear inducing necessities.
What is the name for the fear of forgetting charger at home? I am aboard the train. A while back, I was afraid I forgot my phone charger at home; no I didn’t. Now, I am afraid I forgot my laptop charger at home.
Add: I forgot my phone charger in the train. Irony is killing me.
I think it should get to a point where making money gets boring. It has been three incredibly significant months of defining, refining, and calibrating the rules which guide my trading. Of course it has taken me a lot longer than that to get here — about three years. Tens of thousands of hours of chart analysis, scouring thousands of web articles, watching hundreds of YouTube videos, ceaselessly obsessing over what could work and trying it out. One system would crash and burn, then I would search and devise another system to pin my hopes on — anything which could work, anything which would set me free. And I am here. Looking back, I see desperation to cling to anything which showed a faint glimmer of hope, I see incredible work erasing the border between night and day, I see wrecking failures and wipeouts, I see the numbing realization that I may have to suffer the sickening routine revolving a mediocre job for my remaining life.
I worship at the altar of freedom. It is already too late. Too much time has been wasted pointlessly suffering in intellectual wastelands owing to stupidity, ignorance, and insecurity. I am not getting any of it back.
Hum bhi rahen, rahen yaar hamare jahan
Aayen nahi kabhi hum mein koi dooriyan
Dil chahta hai
kabhi na beeten chamkeele din.
— Dil Chahta Hai.
Every line shouts and screams of youth, wonder and dreams. Javed Akhtar has conjured magic here. ‘Dil Chahta Hai’ is one of my most beloved Bollywood films. How many times I must have seen it! Shankar Mahadevan’s voice evokes a whim so joyous, it makes me smile widely just lying on my back.
It may appear that my life has plateaued. It is very hard for me to care even a little about what others think, but I myself might see things pessimistically. It is a sucky feeling. I look back to glean any anecdotal wisdom from my past, and I find that in various instances, when I have felt too down in the dumps, something momentous and inscrutable has presented itself to carry me forward into the future. It has taken its own time, of course. Until then, I have seen darkness so hopeless, crippling, and terrifying that it felt interminable. I don’t rue the anguish and suffering — or may be I do but don’t want to. Perhaps I have to just hold out. I really hope there is more play to my life. I fail to see it though right now.
Epistolary — that is the word I was looking for.
I cannot locate the center of my sadness. And I feel miserable; my misery won’t tell me its name.
I don’t know why but I am not a ‘let’s stay in touch’ kind of person if we are physically distant, even if I like you. If we are around each other, let’s go out and have a meal or take an aimless walk and laugh. I would even message you after seeing you because I shall have more to say, may be a thought or a joke. But if I am not seeing you in person, then I am very reluctant to be in touch — it appears very pointless and forced. I am leaving it to a purported future when we shall see each other again. Then I can compress the intervening time which has gone by, and take it from where we left.
Shweta Singh, the dumbest person on Indian electronic media. But that is a highly contested position with supremely talented candidates. So watch out.
I’ve got nothing.
Since practising mindfulness has become so important, I needed somebody or something to lead me on the path. Thich Nhat Hanh is a great guide. I listened to his discourses available on YouTube and I found him to be an empathetic and kind teacher. It was calming and satisfying to hear him. I have already started to practise the very first thing he taught: focus on breathing. It is one of the Buddhist teachings I have heard Osho speak about. But Osho, as charismatic and spellbinding as he can be, is mostly theoretical and philosophical, at least in the discourses I have found on YouTube.
Trading derivatives is challenging. Even when I know the set of rules for making trades, there happens a momentary lapse of judgement and everything implodes. One bad judgement leads to another bad judgement and I am barely inches away from catastrophe. In hindsight there is always the same feeling: ‘How can I be so fucking stupid?’. I know what I did was whimsical and idiotic. But it was me who filled the order and executed. Anger flares up followed by immense sadness. I must practise mindfulness. I suppose I shall have to become a good human for the sake of money. ha ha.
I often get immobilized staring into the space between walls waiting for a mood to overtake, an emotion to rain, a moving image to form — something which can then be used to fuel my writing. But this thing is too tenuous. Weeks and months can pass by before I stumble upon an emotional shard and bleed words. And I have an intense desire to write. This incongruence can only be resolved if writing is removed from the battery of emotional charge and fueled in some other way.
I have not done this before. Perhaps the idea should be to make writing a chore, a grind. Well. Let me see what I can do.
Gradually, subtly, and insidiously, ‘rights’ in this country are morphing into ‘concessions’. But who is worried?
‘Awarapan Banjarapan’ is a stirring song. I don’t want to say something as banal as ‘I miss KK’ because his songs will last forever. Artists never die. This song alone will make millions of listeners think of him fondly.
I read ‘expert’ commentary on currency, commodity, and Equity Market Indices to get some clue about their movement and I am increasingly baffled at the total cluelessness of these columnists about the movement of the price. They are supposed to be experts, yet they have zero forecasting skills; I don’t think these people are active traders who have skin in the game, rather these are hacks whose single source of income is shitposting everyday, making up post-facto cockamamie reasons for why market moved the way it did. Reading these articles makes me puke with disgust. As the aphorism goes in Hindi — Har shakh pe ullu baitha hai.
I am not sick but I feel to be in the phase just preceding it. I didn’t feel like going for a run. But I fucking hate being couped up in the house all day. What a miserable life! What a fucking lack of imagination or initiative or anything! I slip into slippers and trundle to the market. There I spot the Panipuri stall. The man recognizes me. He starts to talk — “On weekends there is always rush around fish and meat shops. On weekdays there is barely anybody. But on weekends people throng those shops. It appears people eat meat more on weekends” This is a complete non-sequitur, even though there is context (today is Sunday). I am boxed into a conversational corner. There is nothing for me to say except “yes, of course” twice. My tongue is telling me Panipuri is too sour for my taste by the time I am finished with the first one. I like my panipuri spicey, not sour. I despair and continue to gobble no. 2, 3, 4, 5 and 6 sour panipuris. I make a mental note to avoid this shop. I pay him and turn back.
May be all the animals got eaten today.
Lag ja gale ki fir ye haseen raat ho na ho
Shayad fir is janam me mulaqat ho na ho
— Raja Mehdi Ali Khan
Think of all the people in your past who are not in your present. Think of your last words to them. Did you know that they would be the last? That you would not see them again, or speak to them? The finality doesn’t announce itself with drumbeats, not always. But you realize today that it was final. You made it so. You let the layers upon layers of sediment sit on top of another and that history is now buried in your memory. Here is the silver lining. Besides a passing fancy for nostalgia, you do not seriously take a shovel and start digging. You are okay.
And backbeat, the word is on the street that the fire in your heart is out
I'm sure you've heard it all before, but you never really had a doubt
I don't believe that anybody feels the way I do about you now
Ryan Adams’s cover of ‘Wonderwall’. Sounds like a prayer. Sounds like a conversation. Sounds like affection.
Sagri duniya bhayi sayani, main hi ik baurana
Walt goes back to Jesse’s house. Jesse and Jane are both passed out having used heroin. Walt tries to wake Jesse and inadvertently knocks Jane onto her back. Jane begins to choke on her own vomit. Walt rushes to the other side of the bed to help her but then his extended hands freeze. He stands there, hesitant; she threatened to expose him and she is snatching Jesse away from him. Moments pass painfully as he watches her die; then the choking sounds stop. Tears fall from Walt’s eyes; the terrible things he must do for self preservation.
Breaking Bad - Season 2 Episode 12 - Phoenix
Perhaps the finest acting ever seen on TV screen. This was zenith of great story telling.
I need something real to write about. And I need some pureness of emotion, some fucking honesty about it. The way I write these days feels like a grift. I want to write like it is 2013.
Kill Switch. Don’t destroy yourself, your time, and your money. Use it.
well one-time friends i had a ma
i even had a pa
he beat her with a belt once cause she cried
she told him to take care of me
she headed down to Tennessee
It's easier than just waitin' around to die
— ‘Waiting Around to Die’, Townes Van Zandt
Townes was a great songwriter.
Got some bad news this morning
Which in turn made my day
When this someone spoke I listened
All of a sudden has less and less to say
Who's gonna save my soul now
How will my story ever be told now
— ‘Who's Gonna Save My Soul’, Gnarls Barkley
I didn’t quite realize the first time I watched, but Aaron Paul is terrific in Breaking Bad. What a role, what an actor!
“We gotta .. we gotta clean this up” — Walter White, Episode 1, Season 1, Breaking Bad
The very first glimpse of a change.
The age of the smartest technology and the dumbest people — it surely seems that way.
I like the phrase ‘gift to self’. This year I have gifted myself unbound freedom for my birthday (well timed too). The days of plodding through a slavish routine are over finally and for good.
Given that plans, however vague or meticulous, generally don’t work and fate has its own surprising way of steering things, let fate work its magic. Flow.
I got more working knowledge of Macroeconomics in a single day poring over the content on internet than I did in entire term course at college. Most professors I came across possessed no natural talent for teaching which is really a combination of subject expertise and performance art. Many of them just read and rolled slides. They had no charisma; they could not captivate and enthrall students. You looked at them with less enthusiasm than those posters for missing persons glued to electric polls.
Linda Chen, typist and script consultant, who worked with Quentin Tarantino on ‘Pulp Fiction’ said this about the auteur director: “His handwriting is atrocious. He’s a functional illiterate. I was averaging about 9,000 grammatical errors per page. After I would correct them, he would try to put back the errors, because he liked them.”
The rock beats of ‘Har Har Shambhu’ are amazing. The song has crazy hooks and admittedly memorable vocals. It is absolutely ruling everywhere. I have been a passive audience to devotional songs for years. It has been the same songs playing for a decade. After years a new song has broken through to the top like this. Nicely done. The diction of both the singers, Abhilipsa Panda and Jeetu Sharma, is so clear, given that most of the song consists of Sanskrit verses. Jeetu has also composed the song. I hope they make plenty of money. Small artists often don’t. And they are often forgotten.
Over there in the US, there is a battle being waged regarding the definition of ‘Recession’. Is it two successive quarters of GDP contraction? What about job numbers?
Over here in India, there is no data regarding jobs. Just can’t be bothered. Whatever other economic indicators Government releases it fudges obscenely impudently. I suppose we like it our way. Our brittle minds will crumble under too much data anyway. Therefore we like to watch on TV how badly Pakistan is struggling with its economic woes. Or how China’s population is secretly very angry with its government. Yeah, we like to smoke this stuff up. We chilled, bro.
Give me the right words to pour my thoughts into. Truth is I don’t even know my thoughts because I don’t have the right words to think them. I feel unintelligent, insipid, vacuous, and depressed. And this sick feeling in my head. Oh.
ENTJ. INFP. They believe they are being really smart labeling themselves. And why not? People like slapping identities on themselves. It is hard being just a person, I suppose.
Joel Haver. I do not know how to properly express my admiration for his creativity. Such a talent. I am just overjoyed like a million others to get to watch him make art.
Money does fill a vacancy, sometimes.
Absurdism explains the reality really well. Or at least helps in grasping the utter incoherence and grotesqueness of it.
Add: Also I would like to remind myself that this is the only reality I get to have, this time is the only time, this body and personality and age and face and skin and brain and intelligence and memory are the only ones that I have. So stop ruing and explaining, and waiting for understanding and epiphany. Get to living before your brain turns to mush, your eyes can’t see, and your skin hangs on your arthritic skeleton like a wet towel.
I like the moral relativity and ideological elasticity of politicians. In their world, all the Lego pieces are constantly floating in space and they are free to arrange and rearrange them as per their liking and convenience. This is what gives them Darwinian advantage in their quest for power while ordinary folks stub their toes on righteousness and conviction. Oh, but don’t get me wrong. This is not to put the ordinary people at a higher pedestal. They are absolute cretins in their own private sphere, driven by hatred, greed and lower forms of passion. For proof I invite anyone to read a Hindi daily from cover to cover.
I read about Blake Lemoine’s firing from Google over his going public with the claim that Google’s Artificial Intelligence System LaMDA (Language Model for Dialogue Applications) has gone sentient. I have read Lemoine’s chat with LaMDA which Lemoine has posted on Medium. It is really bizarre, captivating and frankly dazzling conversation about sentience, emotions, language, self image and soul. It feels like an excerpt from a science fiction novel, and a great one at that.
I think of the people working on these unbelievable frontiers of the human civilization, inventing the next big thing, imagining and creating the future with their minds, sculpting new pathways of possibilities, and I am filled with awe and wonder and hopeful reverence. Those humans are the architects of the future.
Almost all conversations are phony and bogus, and can be advantageously replaced with quiet.
What am I writing? It is all derivative toothless stuff. It is not inauthentic, still it feels cutesy and limp dick stuff.
What should I write?
There is a memory in my mind. It is the happiest memory I have. It is a memory of a summer day at college in Goa. The door to my room is open. The sun is shining brightly outside on the badminton court at the center of the lawn. I can hear the shouts and chatters emanating from the neighboring rooms. There is nothing to be done. I sit inside my small room on a wooden chair next to the table fixed to the wall. From the window beside me I can see the red soil of the football ground and the Zuari river at a far distance. And I feel so happy. The warm summer air blows across me and makes me feel alive. The day is open like the radiant blue sky. I shall probably eat, then watch some movies. Then may be I shall walk around the hostel and talk to friends and acquaintances. May be go to the library. Or just have lunch and sleep afterwards. I am not counting the days or months or years. It is a sort of a lock of fate. I am here and I am here fully. Time is not slipping and death is not coming. Everything is bright and young and promising and joyous and funny and weightless and in sharp contrast, and nothing is wrong.
This memory broke through the surface like a sapling a few days back. And I was transported right back to that summer day lounging in my chair gazing outside. I have been thinking about this memory ever since. It is such a happy memory.
How to be?
‘Wild Strawberries’, another Ingmar Bergman film. An old man (Victor Sjöström) looking back into his past, swimming in memories. The film has such sharp humor and such modern sensibilities. The writing feels very contemporary, given that this film came out in 1957.
“It’s absurd to bring children into this world and think they will be better off than we are. I was an unwanted child in a hellish marriage. This life sickens me. I will not be forced to take on a responsibility that will make me live for one day longer than I want to.”
(On a side note: Similar articulation of anti natalist philosophy, I remember, Rust Cohle (Matthew McConaughey) giving us in first season of ‘True Detective’. That show came out in 2014.)
I am thrilled that I get to watch this film. A series of random actions which have made me begin this journey has proven to be fortuitous.
Add: Ingrid Thulin is a revelation in this film. I have to watch all her movies now.
Reading about Armie Hammer. A rising star of Hollywood who burst into fame with Davind Fincher movie ‘The Social Network’, currently selling timeshare rooms at Cayman Island because no studio wants to touch him. He is broke.
I like this quote from Piers Morgan’s Twitter profile: 'One day you're cock of the walk, the next a feather duster’.
Ah, time. What a beast it is.
‘The Seventh Seal’ directed by Ingmar Bergman is rightly called one of the greatest films ever made. It is hilarious, sad, philosophical, and inquisitive. I was captivated and moved falling in love with every character and every scene.
dil-zadagāñ ke qāfile duur nikal chuke tamām
un kī talāsh meñ nigāh ab jo ga.ī to kyā ga.ī
— Pirzada Qasim
It rained last night as I was running. A translucent film of anxiety and dread is clung to my soul. It dulls and dims every stimulus, every feeling. I cannot seem to tear it away.
I don’t know what to say. I wanted to be washed away. When you have lived too long, it gets harder to be washed away. You can pretend, you can act, but that makes you hate yourself more.
Enter a bookshop. Look around. See anything which grips your cerebellum? Something which informs you about the pathology of this time, gives a pulse of this country and its people? I have done so. There is nothing. The barrenness haunts me for a while. It rings in my ears like Tinnitus. The books I find are equivalents of Instagram feed. Colorful, trashy, unoriginal, built around whatever goes for fashionable and cool. And I ask vaguely to myself: Where is the restlessness of this period expressed? Where are the heroes of my time? The vanguard intellectuals and the intrepid writers? More importantly, why is everybody an entertainer?
I have over time (inadvertently) developed an eye to see the propaganda embedded in media publications. The important thing to ask is not if a news item is accurate, but to ask: why it is there, how it has been spun and cast, how long it remains visible, how many related articles are published, what the outlet wants its readers to think, and which dogma it is advancing. The most effective and powerful propaganda servers are the ones which masquerade as neutral, fair, progressive, and upholding journalistic ethos.
BBC Hindi does this insidiously well. It is purely a propaganda outlet.
The Weeknd’s ‘Blinding Lights’. Fantastic voice, catchy hooks, but absolutely shitty lyrics. Imagine what this song could be if Sia had written it.
Still, hell of a tune!
I think of the 1970 song ‘The Revolution Will Not Be Televised’. Then I think of all day long visuals from Sri Lanka’s political and economic turmoil. I also have vague remembrance of images from that ‘historic’ Arab Spring. I don’t know about 70s but TV News Networks, running their dumb circus 24 x 7 everyday, will slobber and swoon at the idea of a revolution for fuck sake. Whether any ‘revolution’ will mean something to people or it would be cacophony and noise, but the revolution will surely be televised. Wow, it rhymes.
“Luck can be managed, sort of” — Scott Adams
It is a very interesting thought.
Just witnessed impossibly great acting in ‘Persona’. Thrilled.
It is with sobering joy that I realize what I have missed so far. There are films which tackle the subjects of identity, meaning, authenticity etc. head on. I used to believe that only in good novels with psychological or philosophical themes authors have explored these subjects. But I couldn’t have thought of movies weaving their central narrative around these subjects. Movies, as something of a vehicle for mass entertainment! I have seen Charlie Kaufman’s films and they are amazing. They do attempt to play with the chimera which is human mind, but at a more cerebral level. Heroes of Kaufman’s films are caught in the maze of their own making. A writer without inspiration attempts to turn a non-fiction book into a movie (An Adaptation), a couple attempts to erase the memories of their tryst in order to escape the pain of breaking up (Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind). But this stuff — I watched Tarkovsky and now I am watching Bergman — it works at a level way too grounded into everyday human existence. The conceit of a story is secondary. The protagonists here are despairing, gloomy, jaded and in pain even before they travel the story’s arc. They seem to be asking upfront: I am unhappy. Why? What is my purpose? If I get what I want, will I be happy? Do I know what I want? Why is the existence so repetitive? Am I the person people know me to be? And countless others.
I am too late in discovering this. I don’t remember the fortuitous sequence of thoughts which led me to this, nevertheless I am thankful.
But love, love will tear us apart again
Love, love will tear us apart again
Joy Division’s ‘Love Will Tear Us Apart’. There is something so raw, honest, revealing and confessional about this song. It is not just about love, it is about being in love and still failing in loving the other person. The passage of time, the grind of familiarity, the dissipation of novelty. And you cannot express it better than this:
Do you cry out in your sleep, all my failings exposed?
There's a taste in my mouth as desperation takes hold
Just that something so good, just can't function no more
What a great song!
“I think art is enormously important in life, especially for those struggling for one reason or another.”
Some people write an original and moving story. Some people explain that original and moving story on Youtube.
What will make me happy?
the inescapable persistence of the past (not my words)
Just finished watching ‘Solaris’ directed by Andrei Tarkovsky. I have seen three of his films now: Ivan's Childhood, Andrei Rublev and Solaris.
‘Ivan's Childhood’ is about a boy whose childhood has been marred by horrors of war; ‘Andrei Rublev’ is about an artist and his struggle with his own motivations. Both are good movies (especially worth mentioning is the penultimate part of ‘Andrei Rublev’ concerning construction of a copper bell). But ‘Solaris’ is a great one. A science fiction film based on the eponymous book ‘Solaris’ by Stanisław Lem, ‘Solaris’ is gorgeous. A haunting score, the slow burn revelation of the mystery of ocean planet ‘Solaris’, great acting, and the emotional depth of the film make it my favorite Tarkovsky film. It also has something to do with the fact that it is in color unlike the first two.
I have been pulled back into the world of cinema by Tarkovsky. I thought I had no want and patience in me to gape at a screen for hours. I guess I was thirsty for something original and different. I find the usual Hollywood stuff trashy, loud, and joyless.
He was supposedly lively, popular and cool. I recall speaking to him about two or three times at college. Friendly. Then, I imagine him climbing on top of the water tank to jump to his death. Somwhere in 2015, he is staring down from up top before taking that final step — thinking or not thinking, letting whatever grief brought him there wash over him one last time. Then he jumps. Then the world stops spinning as far as he is concerned. So it goes.
What a communion this is! I am sitting before Osho and he washes off my doubt, fear, and resentment. It doesn’t even matter that he is not alive. His non-existence is more electrifying than all the dead weight I come across everyday.
I would be really religious if I could ever see the evidence of God / a god actually protecting His believers’ lives. What I see is infinite wickedness and infinite suffering and the flock of obedient devotees murmuring to themselves something akin to ‘God works in mysterious ways’. It makes me sad. It makes even the fiction of God unbelievably cruel, deaf and sadist.
Confrontation in the morning. I don’t enjoy these aggressive melees. But my past experiences have taught me over and over and over that if I let someone walk all over me once, it starts a self debasing chain of surrender and abuse.
Does it have to be this way?
“Everything is vanity and decay”
— Andrei Rublev
Half my life's in books' written pages
Live and learn from fools and from sages
You know it's true
All the things come back to you
“.. and even if the path towards knowledge is unending, no step that takes man nearer to a full understanding of the meaning of his existence can be too small to count.”
— ‘Sculpting in Time’, Andrei Tarkovsky
“It is sort of unexpected.”
“Everything in life is.”
— Ivan’s Childhood
‘Justice’ is a very strange thing.
It feels like the burden of all the days to come rests on the actions on this single day. The actions themselves playing and replaying in your mind. You take those actions and your life’s trajectory goes one way, if you don’t then it goes another. The road diverges into the woods here. This is the day. The pull and push. The allure and fear. How do you not freeze in indecision?
But it has come to this state precisely due to letting this dissatisfaction fester and stew for so long. To the point that not forcing a decision on yourself on this day becomes a decision with its own ramifications. Sadness can be a sanctuary sometimes. But it is unhealthy to live there for long. It should be an uncontested decision even if some real and vague comforts are sacrificed.
Of course, it appears important and yet, it is a private agony. All the internalised programming is twisted into a ball in the gut.
Free yourself. You cannot fail.
I want to meet somebody interesting. Somebody rugged whose experiences speak through the crinkles in his skin and radiance in his eyes. Tell me something real. Something not phony.
Looking back. Sometimes all of it makes sense, sometimes none of it does.
Not for the first time, nor the last. Islamist butchery rolls on unabated. The hacking of atheist Bangladeshi bloggers is still clear in my mind. It was then, it is now. The river of blood has grown larger, pieces of hacked meat float in it — eyes, torsos, hands, tongues. It gushes past my house and yours threatening to swallow us all. No one is safe.
Why do I feel so helpless and alone? Looking for people? Does one die in company? I have to hold on to something sturdier than human bonds. Put my faith in art to give me meaning, any meaning. I am going to look for it like an honest day laborer. Everyday.
This, what I am now, is old and predictable and unexciting and dead. A transformation is warranted. Not a makeup, not a cosmetic change, not a fucking tidying up. A Metamorphosis. I want to be and feel new and useful. Make it happen.
Discovering Andrei Tarkovsky.
Science Fiction has me completely in its grips. It is breathtaking.
Are there any intelligent violent criminals? Or is the only variety in vogue is of the dumbfuck kind which acts first and thinks later? All the Crime news, the violent kind, I come across is of regular people who seemingly have no conception of their future thirty minutes post their crimes. On balance, do they think they came out ahead after being caught? Will there be any satisfaction as they are rotting in a damp prison cell? One thing is clear though: most of them are so incomprehensibly dumb, they should think twice before picking a sharp knife for chopping vegetables, let alone chopping somebody’s head off. They succeed in committing the crime squarely due to the element of surprise and brute force over their victims who thought “what is this dumb fuck going to do?” and rightly so until the dumb fucks murdered them.
‘Indian Express’, supposedly a giant among Indian newspapers, which in the past is said to have battled Indira Gandhi at her most autocratic self is really now just another paper selling copies. I have been reading it for a week. It has no edge, no voice, no vision, no imagination. Its columnists are occupational hacks writing solely for whatever crumbs are thrown their way. If it stops publishing tomorrow, no one would care.
I look back and I am horrified by the unpleasant circular routine I have lived through the last decade. All of it by choice? None of it by choice? And for what? I am not hypnotized enough by the work culture or delusional enough to believe that any of it was important.
How much time is left?
And I, for one, and you, for two, ain't got the time for outside
Keep your injured looks to you, we'll tell the world that we tried
- ‘Lungs’, Townes Van Zandt
Among his many missives, Herzog writes to Vinoba Bhave and talks about Bhoodan (land gift) movement. He also mentions Satyajit Ray’s film ‘Pather Panchali’. I haven’t seen ‘Pather Panchali’. I should.
For about a month I have been thinking what I shall be telling people about my reasons to quit, as though it is even remotely their concern. Yet, I have mulled over it a lot. I guess this is the programming: a part of my psyche is grappling with the awkwardness which would result in conversations with other people. It is the part of me which thinks it is its job to make them understand why. I have spent less thought on what my reasons really are or what I plan to do with all the free time and freedom I am going to get.
When I twirled the question, I got the answer was this: I will be able to think clearly. I want to be able to be in a position where I have truly got nowhere to be, nobody to make calls to, no schedule to follow, no calendar to fear.
How long has it been since I have been truly truly happy? About 9 years. I was at college. The day I exited I hated it. It was that day and today and the stretch of misery in between. Sure, there were brief spells of joy here and there (I remember some). But, I have not been really me. I intend to be.
I hope to answer as few times the question: “What are you going to do now?”
But I am certain nobody would get that.
I saw people at the office playing ‘Pen Fight’. What a game! So many memories. How good I used to be at this game! I am puzzled at how deep this memory was buried. So many years have went by and I haven’t thought of it once. Jeez.
I have seen the face of God in those white and black candles dancing on the screen with such cadence.
Better leave this dream alone, try to find another
In the cab passing from the drab lecture hall to Ramona’s large West Side apartment, she has said she wanted him to feel how her heart was beating. He reached for her wrist, to take her pulse, but she said, “We are not young children, Professor,” and put his hand elsewhere.
Oh my God. Herzog.
“Satisfied with his own severity, positively enjoying the hardness and factual rigor of his judgment, he lay on his sofa, his arms rising behind him, his legs extended without aim.”
Started ‘Herzog’. Ten pages in, and I have already fallen in love with this book.
July of splashes.
Pirzada Qasim is unequivocally my favorite poet. I have made an effort to hear him recite his poetry by watching as many recordings from 80s and 90s as I could find on Youtube. Here is a beautiful new one I listened:
nazar meñ nit-na.ī hairāniyāñ liye phiriye
saroñ pe roz nayā āsmāñ liye phiriye
ab is fazā kī kasāfat meñ kyuuñ izāfa ho
ġhubār-e-dil hai so dil meñ nihāñ liye phiriye
I gape and wonder like a chimp how someone can think and write so beautifully. Add to that, the exquisite voice of that man. Such combination of rare talents is Pirzada Qasim. I worship his talents.
ek hī hādsa to hai aur vo ye ki aaj tak
baat nahīñ kahī ga.ī baat nahīñ sunī ga.ī
— Jaun Elia
What a fantastic actress Carey Mulligan is! I have seen her in ‘An Education’, ‘Drive’, ‘Shame’, ‘Never Let Me Go’, and ‘The Great Gatsby’. She is a revelation. ‘An Education’ is her best work though.
It is unforgivable that I have not read ‘The Great Gatsby’ yet. I have seen the film. But that is just a poor imitation of the real thing.
What is my salvage value?
A lot of political awareness and none of political power can set your teeth on edge.
For I've not seen you in the flesh for so long
That I'm not sure we would know each other at all
We will lie under different stars
I am where I am and you're where you are, you're where you are
And I'd ask if you're all right wherever you are
And do you think of me, you might, wherever you are
I don’t exactly remember when I first listened to the song ‘Different Stars’ by Trespassers William. But it is one of those songs that burrows itself deep into your heart and never leaves. Calling to the one not there is a theme I’m drawn to a lot. Another song with this theme is Pink Floyd’s ‘Wish You Were Here’.
How I wish, how I wish you were here
We’re just two lost souls swimming in a fishbowl year after year
Running over the same old ground, what have we found?
The same old fears, wish you were here
State is pacifying the religious extremists by clamping down on free speech of individuals. ‘Hurt sentiments’ should not be given the cover of law. If religious extremists with their considerable street cred, threaten to raise hell, then State must crush them with its enormous, unrestricted and undisputed power of violence. But, embarrassing as it is, that has not been the practice: State does not protect the individual, it mollycoddles those who set vehicles ablaze and relay calls for violence, and arrests those who ask questions. This, not shockingly, chills the free speech of individuals and emboldens the extremists to set the ever shrinking boundaries of civil discourse.
S tells me I live in denial. Unquestionably. About what things though?
Cowardice should anyway never go unpunished, and it usually doesn’t.
I just told S how good the songs of Dev D are. Each one is a gem of a different kind. After so many years and so many listens, they still strike fresh. Hell of an album! Amitabh Bhattacharya’s lyrics and Amit Trivedi’s musical direction have conjured a rare magic here.
Do not go gentle into that good night.
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.
Awesome poem by Dylan Thomas. I am already raging; and likely will rage till the very dying of the light.
Main duniya bhula dunga, teri chahat men
Vanity is extremely unattractive, specially unsupported by material achievements, and even then it is inner noise amplified outwards.
I want to be known by the company I avoid.
Tum itna jo muskura rahe ho
Kyaa gham hai jisko chhupa rahe ho
My very first introduction to irony.
Tum aa gaye ho noor aa gaya hai
Nahin to charagon se lau jaa rahi thi
Jeene ki tumse vajah mil gai hai
Badi bevajah zindagi jaa rahi thi
Of all the magical lyrical compositions by Gulzar, I cherish this the most. It is plainly obvious that at one time or the other life can appear to be drifting senselessly, without joy or purpose. The sentiment that one then finds this missing center, otherwise elusive, being with somebody, in somebody, is the stuff daydreams are made of.
Weightlessness. That is what I aspire to.
Add: And the weightlessness is only possible when the ‘I’ is sublimated into the will of the Infinite.
I think a lot about the night Siddhartha left his home to seek answers to the raging questions in his heart. The matters of life and death assumed a size too monstrous for him to not do anything about them. These were not just abstract philosophical questions which he could ruminate over and then go on with his life. Life appeared full of sorrow and despair. How could one live peacefully under the shadow of death? He sought answers. Imagine the days and nights he must have spent in feverish mental agony just twisting and turning wondering what to do? What must he be thinking? How torn must he have felt? The answers he sought were not to be found in the palace where his wife and son lived. He must have known that there was a point of no return and only beyond that point were answers somewhere. His feet must have felt heavy as mountains and his heart must have sunk to the depth of oceans. That night was one of the most glorious and most terrifying night of human history.
It is enthralling to imagine the bravery of the social reformers such as Mahatma Phule who went against the dominant social order, faced humiliations and boycotts, risked even their lives, and still continued their uphill battle. Why did they not choose the path of militancy? What kept them going in their quest to build equitable society? They must have seen the society as redeemable and reformable.
There is hell inside my mind.
Sometimes I choose any company over my own.
Khoya khoya chand
Aankhon mein saari raat jaayegi
Tumko bhi kaise neend aayegi ..
Mohd. Rafi singing ‘Khoya Khoya Chand, Khula Aasman’. Such a romantic lyrics which masterfully evokes the imagery of night. Rafi sings it earnestly, longingly and playfully. Add to that the musical composition of S.D. Burman. It is hard to imagine a more perfect song. I can listen to it whole day. I have.
When I am waiting for food delivery, every rider on bike appears to me the food delivery person. When I am waiting for an Uber ride, every rider on bike appears to me as that Uber rider. I am sizing the world based on my expectations of it.
Happy? Sad? Ambiguous? Airhead?
Anything can seem funny to a mind relieved of its burden of civility.
On my way to work, I spot an electric crematorium along the road. Its wide boundary wall is painted in bright colors with Sanskrit verses scrawled across it. Sublime aphorisms appear as well. Who is it written for? Not for the dead, clearly.
Consciousness. A light bulb which glows too brightly right in your eyes. I wish I could cover it with brown paper.
Why do people living in the novels appear so real? Even more real than people living around me?
Hot and bothered.
Your mind is the singular space where you can be truly free. A universe of your own to play around however you please, even in the most grim and oppressive reality. It is a blessing that technology has not been able to penetrate human mind and read human thoughts. Thank God. Or, we would all be ‘Thought Criminals’ in our censorious times.
Can’t sleep when I want to; Can’t wake up when I want to.
Frankly, I do not like to be living in a society so sickeningly saturated by religion. Every aspect of social, political, and individual life is framed by religion. Don’t people feel suffocated? Religion is a cult which has achieved the status of ‘too big to fail’. How big? Scarily big. So big, democratic societies supposedly governed on the basis of liberal principles enshrined in the Constitution bow and curtsy before it.
Its primary function is no longer (was it ever?) being a bridge between the individual and the Almighty, or provide that pathway to inner peace elusive to mankind. No such sublime aspirations. Its only function today is mobilization and show of force, or maybe it always has been. One cult vs Other cult. One fiction at war with another fiction. Terrible fiction at that. How did these cults get so powerful? The answer lies in another question: How fucking contagious is stupidity?
Get the magnitude of this lunacy: anybody can approach law enforcement and register a case against you for something you said which hurt their fucking feelings. You can even get murdered.
So tuck in. The night is dark and full of terrors.
Among all the phony social networks, I despise LinkedIn the most.
‘All the Light We Cannot See’ is a great book. It is vivid. The horror approaching France is palpable as I turn pages. I like being inside Marie-Laure’s head and hearing all she gets to hear and accompanying her in this world run over by German attack. I may be becoming fond of war novels. There is an urgency embedded into the narrative; something menacing is just around the corner. ‘War is hell’. Now where did I read this line?
Somebody jumped from the Seventh Floor of this building. I’m curious. It was a great weather in the morning for that sort of thing. I told S it was a great weather for any sort of thing: write a poem, sacrifice a horse, abduct a child. Knock yourself out kind of weather it was. Now the sun is out and it is probably ruined; I haven’t peaked.
ye na thī hamārī qismat ki visāl-e-yār hotā
agar aur jiite rahte yahī intizār hotā
Ghalib rues that it was not fated that he should be united with his lover and even if he were to continue living, it would still be a life of tormenting wait. My favorite couplet.
Anybody who harps about the certainty of death and offers the rhetoric as some sort of bright point s/he is making is really only leveraging the primordial fear of death in our psyche and using it to gain power, praise and influence. There is nothing original about stating that death is a certainty and that death is the end of all material existence. Nothing novel about it. ‘We know that, move on. We are already here. We didn’t ask for it but we are.’ should be the response. Sadly it is not.
Religion uses this fact quite fearsomely to gain power over frightened people and dangles before them the fruit of afterlife in the form of paradise or salvation. A big groan ought to be heard every time in places of worship whenever somebody mouths this electrifying ‘truth’ to inculcate the desired behavior in the herd of the devout.
This is why I find Literature to be a better guide to concerns of mortality. There is subtlety and nuance to be found. Generations of human beings have come and gone. This is not new. There are ways to be in this world. Read and figure out. The next best map to find your way is Philosophy which makes inquiry into all existential concerns. But there is no need to be deferential to those charlatans who mouth the obvious to bend you to their advantage. Here is Ghalib in all his splendid brilliance. Has there ever been a poet like Ghalib?
maut kā ek din muayyan hai
niind kyuuñ raat bhar nahīñ aatī
marte haiñ aarzū meñ marne kī
maut aatī hai par nahīñ aatī
I’m sick of ‘table for two’ kind of outings. Something else, some place else. For fuck sake.
It may very well be the time to get into the habit to plan the day, the week, and the year. Life is not going to be rolling on default rails any longer. It will warrant conscious navigation. Wake up from your idle nonchalant complacent inertia. Plan; cancel or postpone afterwards, but plan.
I wish I had kept a record of my own thoughts from many years ago. How interesting it would be to access the past seen from own eyes! I have over the years written several blogs and then impulsively deleted them. I rue this loss now because when I look back, I can remember places and I can locate myself in them; I can even remember the outline of the daily grind, but I can’t see more beyond that. I remember the physical details of roads, houses, classrooms, and offices and my movement through them, but a large volume of my own interior life from past years has left no traces inside my gigantic head. This doesn’t surprise me. Mind is not going to retain trifling details. It is only going to record bullet points. To think, that I tore apart reams of pages which I laboriously wrote during the lowest point of my life. Jeez. It would have been a revelation to read them.
The stock photo of a trader cupping his forehead in despair with trade terminals glowing red in the background is used by news websites all over the world to describe a bad day/week on stock market. It is just funny.
Don’t look back in anger.
I got just the habitual measure of bored reading ‘The Unbearable Lightness of Being’. A phony book through and through. All the men in it are sleeping with their mistresses (the word used in the book). And all the mistresses are artistic virtuosos (painters and photographers, if I may puke). And these mistresses will leave these men because the mistresses happen to be deep thinkers who are naturally dissatisfied with the nature of existence and stillness of things. People mind their ‘sleeping around’ business very much, and along with that come all varieties of rumination to also make the whole thing sound important and serious. So as is apparent, I couldn’t continue rubbing sand in my eyeballs which is what reading this book equaled to.
Many years back I watched the movie ‘The Perks of Being a Wallflower’ starring Emma Watson and Logan Lerman. It was a special film. It centered on themes of friendship, attraction, loss, depression, loneliness and wants. It featured an eclectic collection of soundtracks so good that I still remember them. Having liked the film so much, I looked it up and found out that it was based on the book of the same name by Stephen Chbosky who also directed the film. I read the book and it brought me to tears. I hadn’t had that reaction to a book till that point.
There is a scene in the film/book towards the end in which Charlie (Logan) and Sam (Emma) pass through a tunnel in a vehicle and this line appears:
“This one moment when you know you’re not a sad story. You are alive. And you stand up and see the lights on the buildings and everything that makes you wonder. And you’re listening to that song, and that drive with the people who you love most in this world. And in this moment, I swear, we are infinite.”
When was the last time you felt infinite? Ever?
Osho says that we are nothing but our most ardent sufferings. Remove them and we are utterly empty. Remove them and we are nothing. Therefore we cling to them tightly lest we confront the nothingness, the zero.
Oh we can be Heroes, just for one day
What is it like to be blind? To not be able to see the light of the world?
Gibbous. What a fun word to say !
The evening. And I feel like dying.
Liana Finck is so good. Just browse through the catalog of her work, and be inspired. Her art is self conscious, revealing, honest, and sometimes heart breaking. I started drawing looking at how good her art is and realizing that if there is something that needs to be said, it doesn’t warrant fancy designs. She is the one artist I truly admire.
Watching somebody get a haircut up, close, and personal.
One of the unexpected mornings — I wake up to the knocks on the door and find a bunch of people I don’t recognize claiming to know my father and asking to know me on that excuse alone. I don’t really know how to greet and properly talk to older (than me) people. But I did. I spoke to them for hours on no context except the flimsy one they provided. I came out of this like a champ. I told them cold I am asocial. What a frank admission. I am not sure they understood, but who can blame older people on that count. Nobody really understands.
Am I really closing in to the idea of ultimate freedom by this July? Woww.
120 pages into the book ‘Hell of a Book’ and I am wondering if I should continue. The story has been weaved around the topical theme of ‘Black Lives Matter’ movement and the events surrounding it. I suspect that was the reason why it was given a Pulitzer. But there is very little story unfolded so far. Just bogus dialogue and sterile rumination on blackness.
Add: 5 minutes later, I have dropped it. Going to pick ‘The Unbearable Lightness of Being’.
“I don’t have much use for reality in my line of work.” — Hell of a Book
Does a free spirit look for a kindred free spirit? Or is a free spirit satisfied by design by itself?
May be the central question in life is not “Who am I?” or “Why am I here?” but “What am I good at?”.
The prophesies are of great significance in mythology. They tell us that no matter what we mortals do, how much we may try, we cannot escape the fate. What is destined to happen, happens.
9:50 PM. I stand at the sidewalk of the concrete road on the opposite side of the Logix Mall. My forehead is gleaming with sweat. My t-shirt is wet. I have been running. I am exhausted and I have stopped to catch my breath. The lights around me are so bright that the sky above appears a lesser shade of dark. All sorts of thoughts are buzzing inside my head. I have not done anything today. I tried to sleep longer to feel better but one bad dream after another gave me a full blown depression. It felt hopeless. It was that sort of lonely afternoon when all the unpleasant thoughts shoveled to some corner in the dark basement of consciousness tumble out, find you, and scare you. I blame S for this misery for refusing to get lunch with me. If I could have gone out and talked with someone, I would not have felt so utterly sad. But then I refused S this Thursday, and I should understand it as his small-minded payback.
Something peculiar draws my attention away from this cloud of thoughts. A black colored car is backing up in reverse gear a 100 meters from me. I don’t generally see people driving in reverse gear. I get the queasy feeling that the car is coming towards me.
It gets closer to me. Then it stops right next to me indeed.
“Do you need some water?” the man in the driving seat asks. He extends a plastic water bottle.
I look at the driver. He has a round bespectacled face. I am bad at guessing age but he seems about 25. Could be more.
“No, Thank you,” I say hurriedly. It is true too. I don’t get thirsty while running.
“Are you sure?”
I inch closer to the car’s passenger window and crouch as I am not sure he can hear me clearly.
“I have been running. I got exhausted and that is why I stand here.” I felt like explaining.
“Yes, I saw you. Are you sure you don’t want any water?”
“No. But thank you so much,” I say earnestly. I smile my most genuine 100 Watt smile.
I back away from the car. The car moves away.
I am left thinking what it was. The kindness of strangers? He saw me, steered ahead, but then stopped. He backed up his car all the way. Then transpires a brief interaction in the infinite universe.
I am seen.
I suddenly feel charge flowing through my veins.
I run like a gazelle.
The epic story of the Trojan War is endlessly fascinating and timeless. In the larger tapestry of the tale so many smaller stories, just as entertaining, come together.
Started reading Jason Mott’s ‘Hell of a Book’. It’s going damn well.
Only at night all by myself I experience serenity. Where am I the whole day? I am zipped up inside my body masquerading and playacting. It gets burdensome. I am not me for so many hours. Only here in my blessed solitude I am me. And this little slice of time passes quickly. And the next day begins with same fucking joyless and insipid repetition.
I just do not wish to waste all my time. If I can even use a little bit of it in a satisfying manner, I can die more easily.
Was it unethical of Max Brod to not burn all of Kafka’s unpublished manuscripts when Kafka explicitly asked him to do that as his literary executor?
It is not a good feeling when a work of art does not shine in its finished form. It means something more was warranted — at the level of conception or at the level of crafting. And now it appears fumbled, as though an arrow was shot in the dark and got tangled in tree branches.
Don’t throw the baby out with the bathwater — what a funny idiom to picture in mind.
I’m thinking of this because so many babies I have thrown out with bathwater and I should throw no more babies out with the bathwater. Chuckle!
I wish I were more creative.
Watched a few episodes of ‘Loose Talk’ — a Pakistani satire in interview format. It is so good — it can turn from funny to serious in a second. I am impressed by its edge in writing. It does not shy away from punching up and walking in the uncomfortable territory, a good sign for a satire.
Last night, A called after a few months. I could have called A as well, but I did not.
A and I used to be really good friends. We went to college together. Since leaving college, we have stayed in touch. In the following years, we have had things to talk about: real things, things which ignited passion in us, or gave us joy to talk about. But gradually this connection has stultified. I still like him. But when we talk, I have to search frantically for topics to fill the time. On this particular occasion, we spent time talking about stocks and office stuff. And as I was talking I knew this was not what I cared about; my jaw was moving and words were pouring out of my mouth but they meant nothing, absolutely nothing at all. I would have liked to ask how he really was and what his frustrations and disappointments were. Is he satisfied? Is he okay with how things have gone? How is getting older going for him? But I’m uncertain whether I can reach him. Moreover, I doubt if I am willing to raise the stakes and dig deeper in order to shake him and inject doubt. What would be the point anyway? We are all caught in webs — some of our own making, some designed by circumstances — too strong to break. So two strangers stumble through a pointless conversation only to signal recognition of an old time when they really knew one another.
For many years now, the thought of creating and publishing my podcast has nested in my head. It is such an easy thing to do, technically speaking, yet it had assumed the size of a mountain which I could not climb. Despite not being weighed down by expectation of winning any listener, I was still shot down by doubt, anxiety and a lack of coherent content to fill about 30 minutes. I finally did it. The product, as expected, is modest, given that this was the first episode and the whole idea was to just pull myself together and get this thing off the ground. The gestation period of this little project was so long that I was dying to deliver this. Now, thankfully, it is up in the air. Relief !!
Urdu poetry has had me in its loving embrace for a long time. I have read a lot of Urdu poetry thanks to Rekhta which offers Hindi/English readers one click translation so that they can understand and appreciate the form. I have read Mirza Ghalib, Mohsin Naqvi, Pirzada Qasim, Waseem Barelwi, and many others. I have spent hours discovering a poet and then browsing his entire catalog of work. The poetry is mesmerizing — uplifting, saddening, comforting. Holding a mirror to you or bringing news of the world. Anyways, I remembered Pirzada Qasim’s ghazal ‘gham se bahal rahe hain aap aap bahut ajib hain’. I have heard its recitation by Pirzada Qasim in a video recording of a Mushaira available on youtube. His voice is magical. Here are the most exquisite lines from this beautiful ghazal:
apne ḳhilāf faisla ḳhud hī likhā hai aap ne
haath bhī mal rahe haiñ aap aap bahut ajiib haiñ
vaqt ne aarzū kī lau der huī bujhā bhī dī
ab bhī pighal rahe haiñ aap aap bahut ajiib haiñ
apnī talāsh kā safar ḳhatm bhī kījiye kabhī
ḳhvāb meñ chal rahe haiñ aap aap bahut ajiib haiñ
I see my own reflection in these lines. I have been walking in dreams. I am unsure if I should stop now, afraid of whatever awaits at the end, despairing regardless.
Kicking the can. Kicking the can. Kicking the can.
The can abruptly fell into the drain and could be kicked no farther.
But that doesn’t make me suffer any less.
I fear nothing.
There is a very specific key to unlock a person. But it is only by chance that one might stumble upon that key. Without it, one might knock persistently, still the door won’t open.
‘Shrimaan Shrimati’ is a legendary show. Created in 1994, it is uproariously funny. I have watched every episode so many times that I sometimes draw anecdotal wisdom from it. To this day, it is arguably the best Hindi comedy show ever made. That is its stellar triumph. I can write many things why the show is so great: the premise of the show, the chemistry between characters, the use of supporting characters etc. All the actors are virtuosos who elevate the show with their incredible performances. But the real strength of the show is the writing. Even great actors can’t carry a limp script. The screenwriting is topnotch. It is true that in quite a few episodes, the story allows a lot of room for logical inconsistencies. But I think the show intends to be playful; it revels in its silliness, and it is not supposed to be seen with a lens of internal logic. It is a comedy show. It aims at laughter and it succeeds at that. It achieved more than what it set out for. The comments on YouTube under its episodes attest to its lasting popularity even many decades later.
“A cage went in search of a bird.” My favorite Kafka aphorism, may be the most famous too. I have read it in another form: “I am a cage in search of a bird”. But the former version appears more striking. What does it mean? Cage symbolizes emptiness. Also, the purpose of the cage is to possess the bird. Man is empty and he is looking to fill that emptiness with something. That is his nature, his purpose. And what he is looking for is elusive and fleeting — like the bird. Like the Bob Dylan song goes: “the answer is blowing in the wind”. But the moment one grabs that answer, it is no longer the answer. The bird is not really a bird if it is caught and captured. Its essence is in its flight. The cage no longer fancies it. It will gaze at the sky and search for another bird soaring majestically.
“Like a path in autumn: no sooner is it cleared than it is once again littered with fallen leaves.” - Kafka
As I interpret this aphorism, whatever understanding or insight might surface in regards to the problems of human existence, it soon appears faint and incomplete. Clarity gives in to confusion. Therefore, exertion to keep looking for the answers is perennial.
Awareness of ‘Tunnel Vision’ — sharper focus on the smaller issues leaving the larger concerns of life in the background — has allowed me to be more leisurely with smaller nuisances.
I think the whole problem with religion (any) is that it doesn’t have a sense of humor; dogmatic, angry, narcissistic, vengeful, and hegemonic, humor doesn’t suit it. Which religion is the worst? The one least tolerant of humor directed its way. Off with your head!
“You are my kind of person,” she had said.
We no longer talk.
More and more, it is observed that people at the top echelon of power, influence and authority — intelligentsia and the ruling class — are so out of touch, so far removed from reality, that they no longer are aware (or seem to care) how full of shit they are. They continue to spew mishmash of self righteousness mixed with terrible ideas. What is worse, their megaphone is so powerful that they aren’t challenged vigorously and held to account.
There was a good reason why I stopped reading ‘Brain Pickings’. many years ago. Maria Popova’s writing is faux sentimental, awfully pretentious, and so fucking annoying, that reading her makes my skin crawl. Enough.
In hindsight, not only did I waste a lot of time and money on trading, I also wasted great creative potential of those two years, which I realize now looking at the rate at which I publish new posts.
Yesterday, I saved life of a cockroach being stoned by rowdy children. Today, I safely navigated a lizard out of my room with a broom. I feel like an animal rights activist already.
“A book must be the axe for the frozen sea inside us,” said Kafka. I am looking for precisely such a book.
Put your pen to paper and produce something larger, something substantial.
“I don’t know why I do anything. And if you know, tell me. It is not always selfishness, though.” — a line I intend to use somewhere.
I don’t know if it is the heat, an unwanted break from running, or my inability to find something to completely lose myself in, but I feel sick to the core.
‘Porcupine Tree’ inks the pain of consciousness in its lyrics like Radiohead or Nirvana. Someday, I am going to listen to all the ‘Porcupine Tree’ songs along with reading the lyrics. This will be enjoyable.
I am in the middle of reading excerpts from Joan Didion’s writings on ‘Brain Pickings’. Her prose is incisive and unflinchingly honest. Here is a line that I read:
“It is a difficult point to admit. We are brought up in the ethic that others, any others, all others, are by definition more interesting than ourselves; taught to be diffident, just this side of self-effacing. [..]
And so we do. But our notebooks give us away, for however dutifully we record what we see around us, the common denominator of all we see is always, transparently, shamelessly, the implacable “I.””
Two hours swallowed by drivel. I feel nothing.
I have delighted in my discovery of ‘Brain Pickings’ on the web ever since I stumbled upon it many years ago. It is exactly my kind of place. It is an exploration of the long history of human civilization through literature and art, films and books, philosophy and design — a lot of brain tingling fascinating stuff. I worship the work that is involved in creating and sustaining this beautiful place.
Having said that, the writing style is really pretentious. It makes my eyes roll back into my skull; it makes my stomach churn at times. But I am going to ignore that and concentrate on the good stuff.
Two small wins today. Two small waves of catharses. My chest swells with elation.
Honestly, this blog is my house on the hill overlooking a beautiful green valley with fountains and windmills, and a miles long sky which turns forget-me-not blue in the evening.
This is where I am at peace. Not Twitter, not Instagram, not Facebook, not Reddit. I don’t like it anywhere. It is all self promotion. I am not good at it. Moreover, I don’t like it. It feels asphyxiating. Granted, the whole world is doing it: models, politicians, actors, sportspersons, writers, even nobodies. And possibly, having a fun time doing it. Okay. So, I have been given to understand by this big machine that this is the design, now succeed at it. And there is the message that to succeed in this design you have to be visible and popular. It is so weird. This message is coming from everywhere: even from this fucking website Substack, asking writers (not directly, just through its dozens of helpful articles) to go build a fucking audience. And my brain has been warped into conforming and aligning to this design, and being needy. Honestly, I got sold on this. The massive force of this messaging is real.
But okay, now that I have realized that I have been miserable subscribing to this fucked up design, let me try to think differently and try not to sell anybody anything. I refuse to participate in this design no matter how much of this debilitating messaging comes at me from every direction (and it will, consistently). I refuse to do anything about selling. The crux is I have to make a decision —I have to be okay with not winning in this design. It is not easy. But let me admit — I am no longer looking to win. The big fucked up machine does not control me.
Are influencers happier people? Better? More knowledgeable? More self realized? It ‘seems’ like they have won. Need an influencer to confirm this. Do influencers read obscure blogs?
Clever. Everybody is so clever over there on Twitter.
Either I'm crazy, or the whole world is, and I don't like any of these scenarios.
What should I do?
I happened to overhear a video of some stand up comic. The stuff was garbage, but what stood out was the reaction of the audience — it was so bizarre — they were laughing like hyenas at the stuff which was cringe inducing and not funny at all. I understand that what people find funny can vary wildly, but the stuff which they were laughing at was horrendous. These people would laugh at anything. I honestly believe that they are really really dumb and can’t tell a shoe from a necktie.
‘How I Met Your Mother’ is my absolute favorite sitcom. I got bored watching Friends fairly quickly; I didn’t find Seinfeld all that clever; Big Bang Theory started out very funny, but became repetitive. The only comedy which I could watch entirely without breaking stride was HIMYM. It made me laugh so hard. It was a show based on friendship, love and humor. A lot of humor. And it had heart.
I remember the scene in which Ted spots Robin for the first time at the bar and he is hooked (And as a viewer, watching it for the first time I was hooked too). Ted attempts to set a date with Robin but fails because Robin has to be elsewhere due to work. Ted drunk-dials Robin from the bar and the song plays:
You didn't know what you were lookin' for
Till you heard the voices in your ear
Hey, it's me again
Plain, you see again
Please, can I see you every day?
I'm a fool again
I fell in love with you again
Please, can I see you every day?
Ted sings along the lines to Robin. He has met the love of his life (it doesn’t turn out to be that way, but so what? It perhaps makes it even more poignant.) and he does not want to miss his chance. The song is ‘Voices’ by Cheap Trick. As much as any show plays upon its audience’s expectations, that scene cemented Ted as a die hard romantic.
And even now so many years later when I play ‘Cheap Trick’, the nostalgia it evokes is powerful. I don’t know what I miss — the show, the past, or the feeling when you watch somebody’s eyes light up.
Briefly, very briefly, I visited Medium today, the website I used to host all my work, searching for somebody. I didn’t search for anyone. My attention was caught by the links on the front page of Medium. I clicked a few links and there it was, the mouth of the bottomless pit ready to swallow me whole. In one set of articles prominently featured, there was the same repulsive woke gender politics piping its permanent grievances, securing evermore genuflection from the mainstream, carrying on drawing new targets and gathering scalps. And then there is the second set — the self promoters, the shameless grifters, the fucking ‘experts’ who would give me ‘4 ways to change your life’ and ‘5 ways to get super healthy’. Medium is a not a place for great writing. It is a stinking shithole. I am glad I am out of there, because it felt depressing.
I am out of the speculative markets. It is a curtain down on almost two have half years of fruitless feverish activity. Days and nights, weeks and months spent with a singular aim to pin this thing down. I have failed, disastrously. I lost a fortune. But, I am not one of those weaklings who cry a river over a failure. This is where the nihilist in me laughs, shrugs, and moves on like nothing happened. Sometimes I really like myself. It is one of those times. I’m happier when there is a chance to restart. What do I do? Should I sacrifice a goat at the altar of a chosen deity for good luck? May be do a ceremonial dance? More nihilism is beaming through me. I am having a laugh here.
If some of the things I write here are beginning to sound phony, it is because they might be. As I am aware that this text is being read, I would write things to garner empathy, praise or acceptance. It is a very shitty thing to do and I really want to NOT get caught in that web of phoniness. I am aware of this when this is happening but I don’t know if it is entirely preventable. The best way is to just admit it that it is happening.
Running is cathartic. How cathartic it is I realized this last week. I couldn’t go running because my knees were stiff from all the running I did the week before. That one physical act removed, my dysfunctional shitty brain found more energy to run circles around me; I was so miserable and depressed. Today I went running, and found new vigor. But my knees are shooting low intensity waves of pain.
Eminem’s ‘Lose Yourself’ is my all time anthem. The passion and obsession in the face of nerve-wracking odds is powerful and magnetic. A hint of madness is necessary to appreciate it.
The temporalness of cognitive reaction to subjective reality — a thought, a feeling, a decision — amazes me. What I mean by temporalness is that these reactions are taking place in a very specific time. With the motion of time, thoughts will shift, feelings will slip and slide all over, and decisions will unmade, fretted over and regretted. Where does it leave the import of René Descarte’s famous quote: ‘I think, therefore I am’? Everything I think or feel is suspect (and will likely be absurd), not in its authenticity, but in its lapsability in time; it has no objective standing in the moving reality. I myself will not vouch for my own thoughts, feelings, and decisions made in a time different than I am right now. The ‘right now’ness of my whole cognitive existence can be dramatic to behold. I might look the same from today to tomorrow, but my mental make up is different.
Is it just me?
Today, as I was nearing office, I spotted an advertisement of a pesticide at the back of an auto. It read ‘keede anek, ilaaj ek’. So many ways to interpret it.
There is something about the voice which is so intimate. I cannot put my finger on it. But it is the signature of a human being. Two mesmerizing Hindi songs come to mind to elevate this thought to a poetic level, or may be I am just feeling musical. First is my absolute favorite song ‘Tum Pukar Lo’ sung by Hemant Kumar; its haunting score itself can rouse emotions unknown to self. The second is ‘Naam Gum Jayega’ sung by the duo of Bhupinder Singh and Lata Mangeshkar. Both the songs are about voices and their significance in forging and finding human connections. It is interesting to note that both the songs were composed by the maestro Gulzar.
I saw the moon last night when I was gone running. I was standing by the road catching my breath and up there in the sky there it was. It was the most gorgeous full moon I ever saw. I stood still and gazed at it for several minutes. Like a bright orb it hung there in the heavens. I dislike phony words like selenophile, but I like moon.
Get uncomfortable. It is the only way to become somebody new.
Osho has once again healed me, cured me, made me whole. Osho is a friend, philosopher and guide, so full of empathy, experience, and wisdom. Also dead for more than thirty years, because I keep thinking of meeting him.
I’m sick; I’m cracking; I am tearing.
I need another body to feel against mine.
Add: But would anybody do?
Everything is wrong, everything is disordered. Suicide is a persistent thought. I cannot even think straight. I have been acting like a mad man. I need to not be for a while. A significant while.
“It’s important to remember to live and to experience and to have something real to write about.” - Courtney Barnett
Whenever I see a couple, I am transfixed, as though it were a thing of marvel. They are everywhere: gliding on bikes, holding hands in the streets and dining at restaurants. Still, my mind grinds to a halt when I see them. I must really want to be with someone.
And that hasn’t happened.
This void has become the center of my existence though I want it to not be that. I succeeded to some extent in the past month in moving that center to more creative and self expressive pursuits. I should keep trying.
Edit: This thought stream has more bends and curves which are not apparent here.
When the darkness envelops me, I think of Osho and wisps of light appear.
I have put down ‘The Brothers Karamazov’. Why do I do this to myself? Why do I indulge in tasteless tasks even in my private hours? Reading old classics? Having known how joyless reading them can be?
If the success in options trading is a portend, I could be looking at something sustainable and beautiful. Among all the ways life is weird, this too finds its place: my belief until a week ago, that options are the most dangerous kind of trading instrument, has been proven to be wildly incorrect, to speak mildly. If I had traded Options instead of Futures, I would have protected and kept a lot of my Capital which has been lost frivolously, stupidly. It makes me sad.
‘Do you read?’ he asked her.
Running is not a choice or a hobby, running is an essential part. Running is manifesting. The expression of life itself. So I have to run.
So I have begun - ‘The Brothers Karamazov’.
I must read the ‘The Brothers Karamazov’. That is what I must do.
The sadness inside me is growing like a tree. I am not watering it, but it is growing regardless.
The illusion of forex/future trading for a living has collapsed. It was a grand illusion which consumed me - my time, energy and money. Almost two whole years, and a lot of money down a sinkhole. I don’t know what to think or do since I was really banking on it to free me. But no matter.
On the list of things which depress me, somewhere on the top must be my father calling me to exchange the status of well being. I’m alive. He’s alive. I can’t stand this punctual confirmation. What a waste of life both of us have been in my opinion. I mirror his failures as a person in a lot of ways and I am just endlessly ashamed. I don’t know how to be.
Fill in the blanks. Or blank out the fillings.
I do not want to be reading a book and thinking: there is no story here. But that is how it is with ‘Kafka on the Shore’. 150 more pages of bland nonsense to slam through.
Are you not tired yet?
I can listen to ‘Coldplay’ and ‘Snow Patrol’ all day. Such soothing music and beautiful lyrics. I wish I would sit down and listen to them more often. Like all good music, the songs express what I could never.
And I, well, if I ever caused you trouble
Oh, no, I never meant to do you harm
Few spectacles are as repulsive as a 'journalist' posing 'serious’ on camera in a newsroom. Honestly, this shtick makes me puke.
Is attachment an illusion? When it is formed, it feels real. And in the end when it snaps, it feels even more real (I have experienced it firsthand). But given enough time, neurochemistry readjusts and finds its equilibrium. And when from distance I look back, it feels almost comical how I was pining for a person then, seen in contrast with how I am perfectly fine without them now. What a bizarre and cynical experience it is! What follows is the question: was their any validity to any of the things I then said, or to emotions which swept me like waves? Was any of it objectively true? I said what I said and I felt what I felt. Yet, all those things seem like a fever dream. The answer is: No. As I said, cynical, cynical, cynical.
Personal conflicts of any nature leave me fuming and wounded a long time after they have occurred. The force of hatred is immense, and of course I want to crush my adversaries. But in the civil duels of everyday nature, there are no real cuts and bruises, there are just disparities of statuses, cruelty of words and ambiguity of feelings. All this hot mess bothers me post the event because nothing is resolved. I can pore over and over the origin to end story but I can’t get any satisfaction. The heat will eventually subside, possibly dissipate so completely I won’t even remember it. Still, my jaw tightens thinking about those I can clearly remember — embarrassing, emasculating, cowardly. All I can think is I could have fought harder.
I don’t understand the violence of words — sometimes I think it is utterly avoidable; there is such senselessness to it. Or may be I do understand — it just so happens that there are better practitioners of the art than me and then I feel (am) defeated. How does it end?
I am happiest when I am alone. There is something about this February. I experience such a sense of calm and joy being by myself in my room, wrapped in a blanket reading a book. What has changed I cannot firmly tell. This is a good streak.
In dreams begin responsibilities — now this is something complex to wrap my head around. Apparently, this epigram is ascribed to William Butler Yeats. In dreams begin responsibilities.
Buy or Sell. Green or Red. Success or Failure. The sweet dichotomy.
Friends and colleagues my age are fielding guests ‘married with children’. And here I am out of this context. I don’t think I would want to be fielding guests myself, or be fielded as guest in these circumstances. Still, feeling like an outsider.
My journey back to Delhi couldn’t have been more different from the one I undertook to get away from it. I have an uncomfortable seat, there are people on both sides, and I don’t have access to the window. I feel shabby. Add to that, I am still unfocused and resentful about the pointless drama which engulfed me this evening. I attempted to read “Kafka on the Shore” but could not get past the first page.
[Add: the emotional fever subsided and I was able to see the light. I could put the weight of the evening behind and went on to read 15 pages. I don't know how these tempestuous energies flow or what really controls me. Like Holden Caulfield once said, “I swear I am a madman.”]
I absolutely love the “Blank on Blank” series on youtube. There is such intimacy in the voices captured on tapes — the artists, the authors, the directors, the singers etc. — talking animatedly about their craft or just life in general. There is so much wisdom, joy and humor in those conversations.
I finished reading Nora Ephron’s brilliantly funny essay, published in 1972: “A Few Words About Breasts”. This is the sort of writing I most enjoy reading. Intimate, funny, self deprecative, and humane.
I haven’t read much of children’s literature, especially the good kind (what a dreary childhood!), but the occasional some that I come across as an adult blows my mind and draws me in to explore the genre. I feel tremendous respect for the writers of children’s literature. Maurice Sendak’s “Where the Wild Things Are” is a fascinating book that I intend to read, having seen the movie before.
George Orwell died at the age of 46. Imagine what else he could have produced with more time.
I may have discovered my new favorite author — Kurt Vonnegut. I am ready to read his books. While researching his works, here is a quote that I found:
"A purpose of human life, no matter who is controlling it, is to love whoever is around to be loved" - Kurt Vonnegut
There is a certain type of books I can get interested in and can read. I can’t get interested in sprawling social dramas which bring the reader to experience the social realities of a place and a time. None of the classics really interest me for the same reason. The choicest books of mine very simply deal with individual struggle set within the larger encompassing themes which drive the settings. But I am not so much interested in larger themes. I need a character to slip into, access his thoughts, get to know his world. I don’t really care about the commentary on larger social economic realities, if that seems to be the reason a book was written.
It is not the outer world which keeps me locked in between the thick walls of a damp room of limitations. In fact, the outer world is elastic in design. Possibilities exist abound, the more I think about it. I have to exercise my will and explore those possibilities. It is up to me to pull myself up, and walk out of this damp room. It is me, the person, who has limited myself, cornered myself, and diminished myself — this is my design. I made this happen, and so, I can change this too.
On my way home looking out of the large train window. The morning is just gorgeous. The grey daybreak, the green fields, the spiking trees in the middle, and the cold wrapping everything inside itself. I love winters.
To think that I made the plan, then unmade it, then remade it, and then finally barely could make it to the station. But any movement is good movement. I was becoming a moldering bread physically and mentally. So I got out.
And now, I am reading ‘The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle’ in a train which is really the best place to read a book, next to a cozy library.
It was crushingly sad to learn that Kamal Khan from NDTV passed away. I liked his presence on TV a lot. His simple demeanor and composed reporting from the ground was unmissable. He radiated sincerity, commitment, and passion for his work, something which is so rare in the shameless circus that TV journalism is. And now he won’t be seen ever. This is the thing about death. Curtain drops and nothing.
Joined in sickness and health, my body to me.
I am fearful of fools (which includes all stripes: religious, political, patriotic, sectarian, and any other variant) in this country in this time. Too mobilized, too empowered, too ungoverned, they should be given a very wide berth. It is their age. In the 75th year of Independence, as every institutional building block of the Nation has been painstakingly destroyed right before our eyes; the right to free speech has been rendered utterly meaningless with terrifying punitive actions; and the simple notions such as truth and justice have been reduced to unrecognizable relics of a bygone age, I realize that it is nobody’s Nation, but the fools’. Give them a really wide berth. Frightful years are ahead, if you can make so long, that is.
I love Bully Maguire memes on youtube. Hilarious.
Sometimes I feel such overwhelming empathy for everybody. How lonely everybody really is inside his/her skin! And it is lonelier to not have anybody to confide that loneliness in. The only good decision I made last year is reviving my friendship with S.
‘Breaking the Habit’ is another favorite song of mine. It is one of the best songs capturing the loneliness of mental anguish.
Like opening the wound
I'm picking me apart again.
I can only hope to write something so powerful someday.
Sweet dreams are made of this
Who am I to disagree
I travel the world and the seven seas
Everybody's looking for something
Obviously one of my favorite songs. The madness and magic of dreams. The looking for something.
It was 2013 and my disassociation with my surroundings was near complete. I would sit in the office and through the day I would listen to ‘How to Disappear Completely’ by Radiohead.
That's not me
Where I please
The song expresses a total break not just from this reality (I’m not here), but even from oneself (That's not me) . What the song says is that — I am breaking myself from a physical reality which though I am a part of, I no longer accept to be. Even if this is a dream, a fantasy.
I'm not here
This isn't happening
What is to be said about the wish to disappear completely? It is like dying, as you no longer exist, but it is unlike dying too, as nothing awful had to come your way to snuff the life out — sickness, old age, accident, suicide etc. All the pain and suffering, anxiety and grief till the arrival of that moment skipped altogether. Disappear completely — like a soft erasure, like a drift into oblivion. It is comforting to think about the image.
Just a few hours and the new year will be here. I am not too good at processing the passage of time. Like a pedestrian caught in the middle of the road with too many vehicles rushing from both sides, I freeze in such remarkable instances. But time doesn’t.
This attitude is alien to me that one would only socialize with people one is perfectly in sync with on intellectual positions vis-a-vis society, gender, culture etc. I have never erected walls around me on these issues. I love sparring with people with different take on the issues. I respect them for having a different position other than mine; it makes them more interesting. But I have encountered people who would just break off, and leave, if their professed dogma is challenged (and frankly it is so predictable to hear the lines gleaned from a book or a journal with not an iota of original thought), leaving you with their final words which include 'despicable' or some similar epithet. It leaves me bewildered.
Freedom is bliss. Freedom to do whatever you like without giving a single fuck about anybody’s worthless opinions has to be earned. With fight, grit, and persistence.
G has not faded from my consciousness. I toss and turn the thought of her in my head. Everything up to this point — the start, the middle, and the end. There is no sense I can make from the disjointed images and fragments of words. My mind is like a smoke filled chamber. The memories appear to be drifting behind the cloud of anguish and confusion.
It has poured all evening — thin streams falling unsteadily, gradually. The weather is unsure too.
I don’t know what to do.
Peaceful winter evening. We went to a pizza place at a mall. S noticed a guy licking (seriously, licking!) his girl’s ear in the booth next to us. More than once. I said may be that was what brought them together - the common thing, the reciprocity, the symmetry. He likes licking ears, she likes her ear licked. A match made. Laughter ensued. S asked, “But how would they have found one another?” I don't know.
For last few months she was so much to me; my thoughts centered on her every waking moment. I thought she was magical — hilarious, charming, affectionate. Tonight, as I finally deleted her contact from my phone, I felt nothing. She was just an ordinary girl, who, through a random chance, drifted into my orbit and I got to know her briefly.
Life truly amazes me. One day, a person could appear so especial, another day, memory-holed, and assigned to some dark recess of mind.
This is the end. Beautiful friend.
Five people sitting in a small room talking. Laughter and jokes. Stories and discussions. I am here. Something is not satisfying. Just words swept in the air like dust particles blinding my vision.
It’s been a long time coming. I laid into G, really hard. I can vouch she felt the sting in every word. It was perhaps cruel on my part. I didn’t intend it this evening. Something sharp and angry was bubbling underneath me. I could feel it. I now think the chain reaction was set in motion the second time I met her and she swatted me like a fly, like something undesired. What befell me right then was misery, and even though its pall very gradually lifted, its center remained as a low scale depression in me. Since then it has been gathering mass, just waiting, mutating, transforming. Last evening I felt so unsettled as she spoke nonchalantly about her boyfriends — how she was calling one and meeting another. How can someone be so insensitive? Why tell me all this shit? Add to that her fucking interminable jingle of ‘my boyfriends were so horrible; my job is so awful; my parents don’t love me enough; I am getting fat but I have no control on eating’, I had had enough. This evening, all of it released itself from my tenuous grip.
I don’t have a problem with how somebody is. I am perhaps not happy with how this went. I am not sure if we shall ever talk. Reconciliation, anyways, is not the theme of this evening.
“I got one less problem without ya”? Maybe.
Adrift again with no anchor. I should not be hanging on to the straw to save me from drowning. Still I am. How weak this is!
I am infinitely thankful to S for giving me time today. My lifeforce was so low, I really needed a friend.
I don’t know how the world sees me, but how I see myself i.e. the self image - oh what a relief I have still got it. It - the essence that makes me me.
I am laughing hysterically at 1:05 AM thinking about what a girl said to me, “I do laundry on Saturday…. <insert some more chores she described which I don’t remember>…. Boring hai, lekin sorted hai”. Boring hai, lekin sorted hai. Such a killer line. Did she realize how funny she was?
Do I like to write? A question has sprung up reading Murakami’s 1Q84.
Even this peaceful place is ripped by the hammering, beating, and scraping sounds today. The noise is atrocious.
My desires have a serrated glass like edge. I can’t fight them with my bare hands.
I think for me being happy is a conscious decision with no grounds, just as being miserable is.
Talking to someone you like and sharing a laugh - what else is there after all?
More stupid mistakes.
The very first time I listened to the Aerosmith song ‘Dream On’ at the age of 19, I was captivated by its lyrics - so dazzling and lucid in its dramatic description of the process of ageing.
Every time when I look in the mirror
All these lines on my face getting clearer
The past is gone
The lines have an obvious and inescapable import. I knew then this was true for all. I saw myself looking in the mirror.
G seems to be lost, a form of her (or really, her) is somewhere in the past, inaccessible to her, except in the pictures on her phone. She, of course, adores this self, and deeply misses it. Still you cannot be so scattered through time, I told her. One cannot be at so many places in time at once. Just be here. We are sailors sailing on the waves of time.
Honestly, I don’t know if anything can comfort a loss so great as losing your best self. My words to G appear so hollow as I write these lines. I am scattered through time as well.
Will you still love me when I'm no longer young and beautiful?
Will you still love me when I got nothing but my aching soul?
Yesterday, G said she cried when she heard Lana Del Rey sing these lines in the movie ‘The Great Gatsby’.
The time which is gone,
the time still to come,
and in between these two
the stillness and you.
Enya’s music has held me, caressed me, given comfort to my heart whenever it was weary. Wispy, soft, and dreamlike, it soothes the loss and longing both.
All feelings are valid. It’s okay to feel anything. What is not okay is to shelter a feeling which grabs your insides and starts to eat you and you begin to turn into something less than your recognizable self.
'Ye Ishq Hai' from 'Rangoon' is playing. I watched this movie on the strength of this one hypnotizing visual feast of a song. I was disappointed. With such great talent a movie so inspid was made.
The week wasn’t done on surprising me. R messaged out of nowhere. I have no clue what she had on her mind. But I did not want to wade into whatever it was. It would have just bothered me to no end.
I’m looking at a catalog of movies, thinking I might like to watch one of them. And I find most movies are just not my type. Superheroes - Pass, movie based on a hit 90’s TV show - Pass, monster fighting monster - Pass. Who is making these garbage movies? Who is watching them? Why?
Everyone is troubled. They may not show it, but there is so much trouble hidden like an iceberg. Some try to numb it with noise and alcohol just to somehow carry on to the next day, remove that feeling of loneliness and dying.
S changed his mind and called me last evening. Such a surprise. This week has been so full of surprises. I met him and took a long walk with him. We didn’t dwell too much on the past. We centered more on the present. It was good talking to him after such a long time (about a year) - I told him so. I am just surprised.
Have I forgotten how to write poems? It is harder now to try and come up with a theme and atmosphere. I used to be able to do that when I had full blown depression. I would see discontent and disenchantment everywhere, or may be I projected what was inside, and that spray-painting became my poetry - my voice. I have written good pieces from that time which I can still be happy about. But now, the neurochemicals in my brain are still oozing sadness, but that sadness doesn’t gush poetry. It just sits there - amorphous, immobile. How can I work with that? Sadness must flow.
Money, your tail that anybody can stomp on and make you squeal. All indignities and compulsions stem from not having enough money. Otherwise, once this tail is removed, the world will fall to the wayside. Dream? Dream.
S has decided. It's a no. Fair enough. I guess he is right. We are, anyways, past the prime of our friendship, in my opinion. We don't need the long shadow. The star has now set on the horizon. Its reddish glow imbues the clouds of memories. S, you were a gem.
Rejection. Not being liked by her the same way you like her. The last time it happened to me, as I try to sift through my memories, it hit me with such force, I reeled. It was so powerful I have the memories emblazoned on my brain. This time, my God, it was worse. It was so much worse because she did it face to face. Not over the message. Face to fucking face. Oh my God. It was such a gut punch. We had been talking intensely for around 3 months. Last week we met for the first time. Today we met for the second. And then the gut punch: “I don’t like you in a romantic way. But I love talking to you. And we can continue talking, but I don’t want to sugarcoat this for you.” I physically reeled. I felt the ground shift underneath me. I have had a hot shower. I just can’t think at this point. This is going to hurt a lot. This day was not supposed to end like this!
I am stupid and reckless. I don't expect that fact to change. I am not gaining any maturity. Raging impulse is all that I am.
In the morning, seated in Mr A's car, all of a sudden I felt so hopeless and sad that an image of me vomiting on the pavement flashed through my head. Like the contents of the stomach can the ugliness and pain also be drained out on the pavement? I don't know.
Everything appears a little bit new. I feel hopeful, bright and positive towards life. This is now. Of course, I could begin feeling suicidal in no time. But right now, this is okay.
With little forethought and some hesitation I called S. The momentum for this step has been building for a long time. I need a friend, the kind of friend I want and can accept. With our sort of friendship, the bar is set quite high. I don't hope to find a substitution, which is why I called him. What transpired was I guess, as well as it could have gone. There was honesty (and some accusatory back and forth) and I detected a strange vulnerability and sadness in S's voice. The latter part I didn't expect.
He says that he will decide.
The thought of death is so peaceful.
I read an article about adult children's estrangement from their parents. It was a shitty article. But it got me thinking about the phenomenon and that a lot of people are in the midst of it. It made me see my situation of 'estrangement' from a less personal and a more sociological perspective. I guess it is more normal that others also experience alienation from family they didn't choose.
I am in a flux. More than ever, I do not know what I am going to do, say, or feel. I wish something or somebody would anchor me. I guess I shall have to anchor myself. Nobody else is coming.
My anxiety levels are stratospheric.
Whatever happens I am not going to feel the heaviness on account of the expectations of other people. This shit never ends. Let their hands reach your throat and they will choke you. Still, the faces. The fucking twisted faces of theirs. Death is a way out, so I have told them.
Can all the endless desires be dissolved into Radhe Govinda?? The people singing and dancing at the Kirtans seem to have no concern of the mortal world. They have been set free.
I guess stupidity is in vogue. Just look around. Stupid being popular for acting stupid - in essence our popular culture.
Ustad Shujaat Khan is my fabulous new discovery in the world of music, specifically the genre of ghazal singing. What a voice! I have been looking for a long time for a new voice in ghazal singing, as Ghazal Maestro Jagjit Singh has been the default voice of Ghazal for me for a very long time. I found Chandan Das and he is good. But Ustad Shujaat Khan is in a different league. ‘Kahan Aa Ke Rukne The Raaste’ and ‘Tumhare Shehar Ka Mausam’ are absolute gems.
I shall admit to this: to imagine other young people having a more wholesome (read thrilling) life is painful; it makes me feel small, insignificant, unattractive and invisible, and all of my life so far appears twisted into a fucking knot. And what is worse from my standpoint, I imagine that a lot. I don’t know - it could be true I guess, or could be false. But I just can’t shake off the thought that may be everybody is having the time of their life, except me - the big sad loser. It really drives me to depression.
I brushed aside what G said about there being two personalities inside her head. One the good G that she identifies with - who is sane, protective, amicable. And the other one, the evil part that she doesn’t identify with - who is reckless, destructive, and malicious. I flatly told her that both parts belong to her, and that evil G is the embodiment of (sub and) unconscious mind, the hidden iceberg which finds a way to assert itself and rock her ship when she is thoroughly drunk, obviously because G’s inhibitions disappear with lubrication of alcohol and the repressed part begins to emerge, if not takes over altogether.
But here is something which struck me after this conversation. There is definitely a part of me which I have no conscious control over. This part doesn’t listen to me. For example I have not been able to exercise, however much I might consciously want to. My body wouldn’t move and my will would fail. But now this part, which has all my will and energy at its disposal, has led me to running over long distances, which would have been unimaginable a few weeks ago. The same goes with writing. The truth is it is the best and the worst part of me. But this part drives me, and not the other way round. G may have a point there.
A favorite song is like a time capsule. You play it again in the present, and with it come the cache of memories of the time when you first listened to it and became so enamored that you played it over and over. Where you were at the time, what you were thinking, who you were with, all of it rushes back. I like this aspect of a song. I have a few select songs which put me back in the frame of mind of a bygone time.
What is it about being alone which is so crucifying? That it is crucifying is evident. But why are we like this? People would do anything to not be alone.
Every time I think I am getting closer to my goals of financial freedom, I make another stupid mistake and go back again to where I started from. It is frustrating of course, yet sobering too because I realize that my stupid mistakes are just that: stupid mistakes. The system didn’t fail me.
I find the poetry of Ghazals mesmerizing. The great ones are so powerfully seductive and soulfully captivating, you can keep listening (or reading) for hours lost in hazy memories. Do it more often, and you will have to stop listening to them, at least for a while, to be able to function in this dry wasteland of a world. I have been lost to them. And I keep going back to get lost again.
Are any of my thoughts what I truly think, or are they what I think I think or I think I should think i.e. more suitable for my personality / character. So meta.
There is no meaning to life. Everything is meaningless. Yet people insist on finding meaning in most worthless of pursuits, one of them being relationships with other people. They are, of course, constantly disappointed, constantly unfulfilled, but the drama goes on. Here it bears mentioning that I am not against any worthless pursuit - you are already born, damage is already done. What are you going to do if not pursue something? - it is that I am mystified by how much suffering and pain people endure looking for meaning in and through those pursuits. My God! Keep me sane enough to not be like them.
I have finally slow walked to the realization that I can no longer be invested in TV shows and movies, however much I may try to go back to old ways. Like all other things, this is not a conscious decision, something in me has turned away from this sort of entertainment and just wants to immerse itself in a book. Something like Haruki Murakami’s Sputnik Sweetheart. How much I have enjoyed that book!
I went for a run!
What is propaganda?
propaganda: information, especially of a biased or misleading nature, used to promote a political cause or point of view.
So, a better question to ask is: What isn’t propaganda?
To really know someone is to cry with them as they tell you their most intimate stories. There is no other way. People carry so much inside, it makes you wonder: how do they get up from bed? how do they not collapse under the crushing weight? What can you do? You offer them sincerity and compassion. But that is so feeble in the face of such staggering pain. Soon, you yourself begin to crack under the weight of your inadequacies as a human being.
Don’t write ‘boring’ - I can’t know whether any reader would be bored reading it, but if I am bored writing it, then there is no point of it.
I am not in control of my thoughts. A thought is spinning in my head and I want to stop it. I know it bothers me, but it just won’t stop buzzing in my head. Am I thinking it? Or am I observing it being thought over and over? Is the brain me or a part of me?
Religious preachers, in particular, of the coarse variety, who target the poor, the less educated, and obviously the dim witted, assault and hammer the senses of any listener with a modicum of sensibility, intellect and critical thinking. Their talks are saturated with unenlightening, superstitious and fatalistic nonsense, asking the believers to believe ever harder that their misery is preordained and actually, good, because God willed it. These crude translators of God’s will are the reason why humongous masses of everyday religious people are total nuts.
A vision of change is the only vision that excites me, however risky. Continuum implies rut: This is all there is to it. This is your chosen end. I would rather plumb the depths of misery, even risk downfall from my current perch, if it could lead to something fresh and exciting, something which could make me smile thinking about it.
I have removed many people from my life consciously in just last one year. They were once close to me. I revisit their memories and wonder if I missed them. May be a little. But the truth is we were barely hanging by a thread of past. What kept us together was no longer sincerity and respect found in warmest of friendships. Some of these relationships should have ended a long time ago. But, they were sticking like cobwebs stirred by the occasional draft of air, just unattended. I am glad they are gone. Some others were associations based on circumstances and selfish interests. As the circumstances changed, they quickly faded too. I could have continued to keep these contacts on my phonebook and dragged them on meaninglessly through time. But, I don’t even like to have a conversation which is meaningless and insincere (also, why I hate good mornings), let alone drag people and relationships of the nature.
I find it striking (at the same time no less bizarre) how utterly replaceable somebody I think about romantically is. Or more precisely, how replaceable she is in my mind. I do not intend to be crude. But my thoughts and feeling and affections have shifted from one person to another quite a few times. The only constant has been the loneliness, and to mitigate it, the need to grab on to someone (even if just in my head). A different tenant has shifted to my headspace. One after other. So all this time, nobody was special and it was not love, and I guess I have always known that.
Hell is other people. Sure Sartre. But also, hell is expectation from other people. There is a way to walk out of this hell. Just give up and you are free. And once you are free, don’t let new expectations form and accumulate.
Around 4-5 years back, I used to live in a secluded place, far from the lights, noise and hustle of the city I am currently in. I had no friends. I had a squalid room. I was alone. Even there I used to find life more worthy of living, more tasteful than I find it now. Why? I used to write regularly, listen to music, hear podcasts, read books on my kindle, watch movies, go for walks. I used to have a point of view, a vision of things as they are going. A creative zeal to find my innermost thoughts. Now, I am blank and sad and dead inside. Even my anger seems impotent. Something has gone awry. Is it time? Age? Stultification? Stupid decisions?
Sleep is such a blissful state. Probably because it resembles death so much. You are on your back oblivious to the grating realities for a while. The history of you is set aside for hours, and you just float in the amniotic sac of your unconscious mind (although dreams can be quite a handful sometimes). Sleep is my elixir.
Voice - perhaps, the most attractive or unattractive part of a human. A man has been talking incessantly near me with a vocal equivalent of a carburetor. Who can make him realize that?
I realize my own privilege. I see the wretched existence of other humans on roads, at stations, outside offices and homes, and it makes aware of my immense fortune of not having to suffer the poverty and misery. But then I look at the joyous existence of the wealthy without the daily grind of earning a livelihood and keeping a job, and I begin to grow smaller and hateful.
I am so easily swayed. Any article I read, any video I watch - I spontaneously get to think on its lines. That article or video becomes my whole truth. I am a sock puppet.
Why is it so hard to find anyone in this city? Somebody to talk to, somebody to be with. Or may be it is not hard. I have made it hard for myself. May be I am too picky, possibly unfriendly, may be impulsive, or mean, even. Then, the avenues for young people to socialize have never really appealed to me. I have hardly ever set foot in a bar. I actually have but I didn’t feel at ease. And this glorification of boozing and smoking under shifting lights and cacophonous music just made me a stranger in that place.
I have got a headache which is really a progression of the headache of yesterday and the day before that. I don’t know if I am sick or if I have got a tumor in my brain. If there is something which annoys me the most it is a headache. The throbbing sensation just underneath the top of the skull. You want to drive a nail through it if it would help. But the next best option is to just squeeze your head with your fingers which can be a relief. The headache won’t let you sleep and it won’t let you stay awake either. I want to correct myself about the headache being the worst. It is not the worst. The worst is the tooth ache. A tooth which has got a hole in it and now the cavity is festering with bugs all the way to the back, and the nerve endings are on fire because of it. THAT IS PAIN. That is hellish suffering. That is the kind of pain that won’t let you sit in peace even for a millisecond. I like to think that the way to cure a headache is to sleep it off, but sleeping has not helped.