Saturday, April 29, 2017

Post hoc...

I don’t know why “The grapes are sour” is seen as a cautionary tale. It is, for most of us, an accurate representation of how to cope. Of how to make sense of the little injustices, the little inadequacies, while still somehow holding on.

I’d go as far as to say that this is exactly how we’ve been taught to think about life.
There lies little hope, little prospect for redemption in the ostensibly fatalist assumption that every defeat, no matter how trivial, is somehow dependent upon accepting progressively harsher truths that take away from one’s sense of being.

Sure, in a perfectly ideal world, everyone learns from their mistakes. There is any number of second chances, as there are any number of first loves.

Of course, the reality is that allowing for the cold discomfort of what can easily be a hostile interpretation of the truth is something that piles on fairly quickly.
In contrast, a benign interpretation, as long as it does not distance itself from reality in a ridiculous manner, affords at least a little comfort. The chance to center one’s self without going through all those stages of grief. I’ve come to learn that is a precious thing indeed.

Let’s go down this road a little further, while still holding on to moderation. Disappointment from (sometimes unwarranted) expectation is a rite of passage into comprehension. Again, in a perfectly ideal world, we’d learn to temper said expectations. Keep them firmly within that narrow range where they may be kissed, or killed depending on how the dice roll. Since we’re all aware by now that this isn’t a perfect world, the case can be made that being able to separate the very human need to succumb to the optimism of expectations; without necessarily having to deal with the aftermath of those times when they aren’t met, is a indeed a positive thing.
This goes further into not needing external validation from any number of things. People who claim to love you, people who claim to care, and especially people who would do you the utter injustice of not lying to you about either of those things.

“The grapes are sour” is also how, in so many ways, we think about death. There’s frequently some element of “mukti” or freedom of suffering about the description of the passage of an elderly relative. This when we work so very hard (and sometimes hardest just before) to prolong the inevitability of said demise.
And in the case of death that is, or is the result of meaningless evil, well, it’s usually so far outside most ways of relating to everyday reality that it doesn’t matter. It doesn’t claw at one’s sense of right and wrong. The grapes are sour, and they’re further away.

My point is, it’s alright to not deride someone who’s trying to convince themselves of some version “It doesn’t matter. It didn’t matter”. It’s alright to hold their hand.
All of us will have occasion to find ourselves there at one time or another; and I know all of us would like to be part of a world where there is any number of second chances, as there are any number of first loves.

So yes, the grapes are sour. That’s perfectly alright. We’ll make wine.

Friday, October 4, 2013

To silhouettes...

"I love you stupid" was always the implication. I just assumed you omitted the comma for a reason.

I do not know why more addresses do not start with apologies. In moments of greatest strength, they have greatest force. In moments of most weakness, they are perhaps most needed; and in moments that define ordinary continuity, they speak of comprehension.
So yes, I apologize for those tears. All those times I could see them; and all those times when no one could.
I apologize for not listening to your eyes. The smiles began in your eyes. As did the questions. The mirth; and the despair.
And I apologize for those times when I asked you to understand without asking you if you really wanted to.

I do not know why more addresses do not middle with wishes. There is so much that is intended and can be led to fruition if it is just asked for. The problem is, it's never asked for.
So yes, I wish I had more time. It seems all of it was spent glorifying the past and evading the future.
I wish I had better words for worse times.
And I wish I'd heard more of your laughter, for there are times when I fear I will not be able to remember it.

I do not know why more addresses do not end with hope. For even after context is past and recollections are aether, hope persists. And thus, long after context is past and recollections are aether, they are no longer so.
So yes, I hope that you find answers before you find questions. And that you find questions before you find doubt.
I hope you will forget all that you can; and that you will remember all that you must.
And most of all, I hope you ask me again to tell you that story of the first time we met. You do so love it when I do that.

I have asked you to believe in a lot of things for my sake. I intend to ask for another. I want you to believe, more that anything, that you ought never doubt your capacity to affect change. I know that because you've changed me.
There's a kind of strength that comes with being able to let go completely; there's a kind of weakness that comes with holding on. I miss you the way I do, and I do not know why strength appeals to others.
But that matters little, since I know you must leave. But yes, perhaps one day, in the light of a flickering fireplace, you will find a way to come out of memories held in delicate suspension and make it so that the caress of your hands will not be as air on my being anymore.

Goodnight, sweet princess.
You take care of yourself.

Thursday, October 25, 2012

This sunset is different from yesterday's...

I’m sad. No, scratch that… I’m nostalgic.

Jaspal Bhatti passed away today. By now I hope he’s making fun of the contractor responsible for the gates of Heaven and/or taking offence at the idea that no one takes offence at divine hypocrisy.
The man was, by himself, an idealistic eccentric who simply couldn’t take things the way they were. But at least as far as I’m concerned, he was also someone emblematic of a better time; a simpler time. A time that had Flop Show, Keshav Kalsi and that tune from the DD evening news that's kinda burnt itself into our collective subconscious as a people. A time where all that really mattered was you getting the window seat on the school bus and being deceptively mean to the person you liked.

So maybe it’s just me, but it seems another chapter in a very good story has ended. 
Now this isn’t your average story. It doesn’t have any of the usual melodrama, the usual action sequences and sadly enough, the usual bedroom sequences. In fact, the only distinctive thing about it is that it’s “our” story.

Like any obscure writer, I look around a lot (It’s what we do, we obscure writers).
And I see a lot I was always intent on missing before…

There are no new wrinkles on my grandparents’ cheeks. And yet I know they’re getting older.
These people have given me my parents. And the most horrible baths a kid can ever hope not to have. They’ve given me 10 bucks a day for everyday I’ve spent at their place, so that I could bake under the sun while waiting to play video games.
Not to mention the most effective dressing down ever for throwing about 24 eggs on the nearest wall after a singularly inspiring Tom and Jerry tape.
I guess right now I’m left wishing that life were somehow less complicated. And that I could again play cricket with everyone in the backyard. You know, God bless his heart, my Grandfather always used to let me have 7 balls in every over I played. : )
There are just so many people who never get to know what they’re loved the way they are. What is worse is that there are just so many people who can’t tell they love the way they do.

My academic life had me in the same place for five and a half years. And suffice to say, I hated every brick of it. Every vocal professor, every nonfunctional water heater… everything.
And today, even after graduating, each visit to the damn place reminds me that these things that have taken a new hue. One I wasn’t particularly convinced existed.
Imagine yourself glad to see people you couldn’t stand to see before just because you saw them every day. Or basking in the sweet aroma of the autoclave room just so that you don’t forget it. Eating food Hell itself declared unsafe just so that you can bitch about it… All of it, someday, years later... over a fireplace that has gone out, and people who’ve only just come in.

Life is a series of random occurrences. But then… so are me and you.
And there is no friggin’ reset button. 

P.s. My grandfather only took 5 balls in every over he played. : )
P.p.s I've been using Jaspal Bhatti's "Hit and Trial Hospital" joke as mine for 10 years now. 9/10 would do it again.

Thursday, September 27, 2012

It's really the only way...

Unrequited love. That’s when you love without reciprocation.
Everyone has at least once in their lifetime loved unrequitedly. It may have been that time your eyes repeatedly met hers from across that crowded room. Just before she ran to her Scottish boyfriend, Douchebag McVaddaPhone.
Or it may have been when that dude who was being so nice to you asked for advice on how to talk to your best friend and they had to spend all day extracting your pirated copy of Twilight: Breaking Dawn from his colon. By the way, you have weird taste.

If you're still in doubt, there are some other crude tests. These include the “How did I end on this Facebook page AGAIN?” number; the “Whoops, that message wasn’t for you” index and roughly the number of times you’ve come close to doing borderline inappropriate things to your stuffed toy collection.

It’s also possible you feel like asking rhetorical questions. For example:

  • Conventional good looks is all it took? Are you blind to inner beauty or something?
  • I’ve sacrificed a head of cabbage. HOW MUCH MORE, God?
  • No seriously, do you know how much cabbage goes for?
  • Maybe she would’ve understood after the 28th missed call?

But then, I stand by the idea that all great love is unfulfilled. More so considering fulfilled love lends itself to circumstances like deciding who’s going to watch the kids and “What? Paneer? Again?”
So celebrate the very real possibility that you’ll die alone. 
Or that you'll adopt cats and later find yourself hiding in foliage with binoculars; madly hoping that allergy to pepper spray doesn't come into play.

In either case, know this: You may love without tangible cause and hope of fulfillment. But in doing so, you become a martyr. You rise to the idea that you’re inherently better than those who told themselves “it didn’t matter”. You allow yourself hope where others have plummeted to despair.

Make no mistake, you're fighting for a cause. One that is greater than the safety of satisfaction with the present. One that allows you belief in something that will make the world better. And how many people who don’t have bombs strapped to their chests/are Batman get to claim that?

So don’t give up.
And if you do, there’s always Twitter. I will personally retweet all your emo stuff.

Thursday, August 23, 2012


“Iraq has WMDs. AMURRRICA!” – George W. Bush
“They took our jobs” – Literally Hitler
“No Twitter for you, enemy of state!” – Government of India

Yes, these quotes are roughly paraphrased. But they all play upon one thing: Fear.
Fear that unless someone is allowed to have his way with certain free world guarantees, unless someone drops a taxpayer funded smart bomb on a soft target; terrible things will happen to the unsuspecting average person. Children will suffer, food will have too little salt and downloads will be throttled.
Of course, proof and humanity's vestiges of humanity are necessary casualties.

There’s a good chance you’ve not been blocked on Twitter or Facebook. And that the Indian government is still letting people see your adorable kiddy videos on YouTube from when you were six and didn’t realize that people would start to notice if you wore superhero underwear atop your clothes regularly.
However, certain people think that an important part of preventing violence against minorities is blocking Facebook hate pages, Twitter profiles – also ones that mock the PMO (and hopefully that Rick Astley video I’ve seen way too many times).

The world is a lot more connected than it used to be. The actions of any form of government are scrutinized and televised. So I guess the ancient powers that be have to be seen doing something. And the first thing to do when tackling with a problem is to lay blame somewhere – in this case, on the spread of ostensible anti-India sentiment via social networking platforms.

Now the question you want to ask is probably: Isn’t the government doing the right thing by stopping the spread of hate speech and possibly region based violence?
Well, derp, you’re wrong. The question is this: When you suppress freedom of expression and things still don’t come under control, where do you go next?
ecause, you see, things won’t come under control. Not as long as depraved assholes who don’t accept the sanctity of life are actually held accountable. The only thing left to do then will be a further curtailment of whatever behavior that comes up as unfavourable.

There's also the fact that censorship is an inherently flawed concept. The notion of a great big nanny state which decides what’s you can or cannot see starts to have less appeal when you think about the following:
  • The Streisand effect
    Any attempt to hide something has the effect of publicizing that very information and getting it to a much larger audience. 
  • Gaps in the fence
    There’s very little that can be done to suppress that flow of information on the internet. There are ways to circumvent blocks. And ways to circumvent blocks of those blocks. In fact, the only thing you can’t get around anymore is Yo’ mama.
  • Assuming herd mentality
    Mouth-breathers who can get influenced by a non-confirmed piece of information sourced from the Internet can just as easily be influenced by a newspaper or people shouting loudly enough. And by the way, please stop watching those Salman Khan movies. It makes this argument look weak.
  • Controversial efficacy
    Case in point, our respective mothers have been deciding what's good for us for the longest time in an effort to make us better people. Yeah, that *totally* worked.
So finally, it comes down to the relatively benign “Sanjeevani Booti, AMIRITE GUYS?” or the whole “STOP RESISTING, CITIZEN! THIS KICK TO YOUR GROIN WILL SERVE THE GLORY OF CHINA!” way of doing things. I would argue that the former can easily lead to the latter once you start calling the destruction of constitutionally protected statuettes by other names like “National security”.

"Those who surrender freedom for security will not have, nor do they deserve, either one."
- Thomas Jefferson, celebrated bad tempered person.

P.s. Yes, there’s a Godwin in the second sentence of this post. I’ll take that congratulatory plaque now.