Tuesday, February 27, 2007

Found, Lost & Found Again

School. Seems so far away now. We were kids then. All of us were so different, so naive, unsure of where life would take us, but sure of keeping in touch. Those wonderful friends, the first that we ever made, the groups that we had, the lunches that we ate at each other's houses, the farewell parties that occurred year round in standard twelve, the cricket, the tuitions, the stories, everything seems so removed now, so different from the now that takes up all of our mind's space. Somewhere in between a few friends drifted apart, a few came closer, a few were forgotten and a few rediscovered to be cherished all over again.

Ten pegs of vodka (that's just me by the way!), the best pub in town in which, to quote a friend who took me there for the first time, "It's the music that gets into your head and not the Beer...", and a set of friends to cherish for life. It doesn't get much better than this. All this was prompted by the visit of a friend, a doctor now, one of my closest buddies in school, and probably the one who drifted the farthest apart in the years that followed. They started with Yellow, Wonderwall and Iris and then moved on to Boulevard Of Broken Dreams and some AC DC and Ramstein which I hadn't heard. Then there was Hallowed Be Thy Name and Turn The Page to be followed by Toxicity and after that it was a blurr but yes I remember there was Roadhouse Blues too. We were singing along, arms on each others shoulders and shouting on top of our voices "chadh gayi hai yaar" . The doctor who's high even without drinking was ecstatic to put it mildly. He kept blabbering about school, our group, the times we spent together. It was almost as if the years had been rolled back. We so dearly missed some people. Especially the doctor from Aligarh. Everything was a haze as I somehow read the amount in the bill, made sure to give the waiter a good tip and signed on the debit card slip and grabbed my card. The auto took Rs 50 for a 2 km ride but I was too drunk to argue with him. When I reached home all I remember is that I was high.

He was a very nice guy. Always hyper, a good singer, pertified of exams, chubby, introduced me to english music with MLTR's hit album Someday, fun to be with in general and the best orator I have heard. I still remember his recital of The Highwayman.

The wind was a torrent of darkness upon the gusty trees,
The moon was a ghostly galleon tossed upon cloudy seas.....

Then we went to college. He went to Vellore and I moved to Delhi. He didnt have net access, I didnt call. Initially it was at least the Birthdays and the New Years but slowly even that ended.
And all this while my relation with some friends changed for the better. As the world around us changed and we found oursleves picked up from our nice cozy homes in Bokaro and thrown headlong into it, we changed too. We came closer, got to know each other in a much better way, a more holistic way. Coming back to the friend from Vellore, in short, for all practical purposes we ceased to exist for each other and I only got to know about him through common friends. Sure there were periods of some activity when we met by chance in Bokaro or in Bangalore during my internship but we were more like acquaintances than friends, catching up on stuff we have been doing, generally asking about each other. I didnt like that. We didnt connect. Last year though things slowly started to change. He finished his MBBS, we talked a few times on the phone and he discovered Orkut. So when he got through his PG entrance and said that he would be here for a day, I was totally looking forward to it.

And yesterday night we did connect. Be it in the singing together of Free Falling as I strummed my guitar or the talk of how all of us have ended up doing fine or reminiscing about the school days or talking about what the future holds for each of us or even just abusing each other when totally drunk. And add to it a friend who has perhaps undergone the maximum change from a typical mummy ka laadla to a budding guitarist cum rock enthusiast cum super cool dude to hang out with; the ever confused soon to be married, eternal flirt who has a heart of gold; and the quietest yet a very dear friend (whom I know from Nursery!), and you have a night to remember for a long long time.

School was a great time. No tensions. Success came easily and there were so many people to fall back on. Life was good and easy and simple. We cant possibly hold on to time. What we can though is hold on the people who made it worthwhile, people who have in some small way defined us, people with whom the occasional drink and a chance meeting makes you feel happy to be who you are.
By the way life's still good, just that our demands have increased.

Saturday, February 24, 2007

Let's Jam

The distortion didn't sound well with the Signature acoustic with the pickup. The music shop guy said it was a problem of feedback and pickup and the only way out was to get an electric guitar. My colleague from office hesitated for a moment and started trying out a few electric guitars. After one hour we came out with a 3 input Stranger amplifier, a Zoom distortion and a decent enough electric guitar for my friend to begin the transition from rhythm to lead playing.

I knew that I could sing decently enough along with my guitar and a few friends to listen to and that was my primary motivation behind learning to play the instrument. Yes it was cool and all that too! So when the chance to sing in front of the entire company came up I was hesitant to start with. But something inside me always wanted to do it. Sing on stage. All my life I had either played the tabla for someone or strummed a few chords in a song. So I thought that it might actually be nice to have people play for you while you sing. At least once. Finally, the company outing happened. I sang Aashayein from the movie Iqbal and Woh Lamhe and guess what, we had to do it "once more".

Coming back to yesterday, we had four songs in mind. Free Falling by Tom Petty, Kya Mujhe Pyar Hai from the movie Woh Lamhe, Boulevard of Broken Dreams by Greenday and a medley of a few songs by Atif. We got the guitars to my place and from around 5 in the evening to 10 at night we played music. It was exhilarating. Almost like college days. While singing Aadat, I discovered I could get my voice pretty high without cracking and that was a revealation. I got to practise barre chord progression thanks to my friend who totally rocks at playing rhythm guitar. He picks up things very fast, can change scales at ease and play continuously for hours without getting tired. I was so happy, I was so free. We perform next Friday and will get to practice only on Thursday night with the instruments. Till then I will have to listen to the songs a million times to memorize the lyrics and get a feel of them. I think playing the tabla was easier. But that could well be because I actually spent a few years learning it. But as long as we get a 'once more', nobody's complaining.

Wednesday, February 21, 2007

The New Me

Not exactly ... I meant the blog...
After days of fiddling around with a lot of templates, I have finally found the one which is going to stay for quite sometime. A total lack of work and ideas for a new post were the primary reasons behind this change but in the end I love this one. Love it for the beautiful header image which a friend conceptualised and implemented and also for the colour combination. It looks classy yet simplistic to me. By the way had a lot of trouble making it work for Firefox and IE at the same time. The two colums wudnt just stay the same in both! So had to do a lot of trial and error and html, css shit before finally getting what I wanted but its totally worth the effort. So let the comments flow !

Wednesday, February 14, 2007

The Road and Beyond

The sky was a purple haze as we set off. It was a quarter past six in the morning. Two guys, two bikes and the road. As we drove through the relatively empty streets of Bangalore, the sky changed colours to a dull gray. We crossed a subji mandi already bustling with life at an hour which, thanks to our daily schedule, has almost ceased to exist. The sun came out soon and it was marvelous watching it rise over the hill. I mean we could actually see it rise. A small miracle which happens daily. One which we never see. The road was beautiful, the traffic almost a trickle, the weather, as good as ever.

Living the same life day in day out wears me down.I had grown tired of visiting restaurants. Going to movies didnt excite me as much as they used to and had become more of a routine than a choice. Books and my guitar were probably my best companions at home. I needed to feel alive again.

There was probably nothing extraordinary about the road except that it was beautiful. Beautiful in a way that you can feel but cant really put down in words. The air was crisp and we were cruising along at 50 kmph. And then I saw a long stretch of empty road ahead of me, devoid of any menacing looking trucks or buses. The urge was too much to resist. As I turned on the accelerator till it would turn no more and made furtive glances at the speedometer, making sure at the same time that the road was mostly free of hindrances and potholes, I could feel the adrenaline rush inside me. And in a few seconds I was riding at 100 kmph. It was scary and it was exhilarating. I stayed at that speed for what seemed to me like 5 seconds and even went up by a few more kms before reason took hold of me and slowed me down.

Bangalore was way behind us and so when my friend suggested that we do away with the helmets to let the wind hit our face, it was as if he had read my mind. So I continued riding my Apache behind my friend's Bullet for most of the time with the occasional burst of freedom, spurred by long empty stretches of the road, to be invariably followed by a slowing down or a halt to allow him to catch up.

As I cruised along, humming a few Kishore Kumar numbers, and my latest favourites, a sense of satisfaction took over me. Satisfied to be finally on the road and free from the monotonicity of everyday life. There were so many instances of the two of us riding side by side, smiling, laughing almost, not only because of what the eyes could see but also because of what the heart could feel. As we snaked through the last and the most picturesque stretch of our journey with the hills in the background and the open fields on either side of the narrow winding road, I let go of the handles of my bike and yelled in delight. And I stayed thus for about 10 seconds. Its surprising how at reasonable speed, holding the handles doesnt at all add to the balancing of the bike but I guess my Apache's Red Hot Handling might also have something to do with it!

The place was way better than what we had expected. The fact that there were only the two of us there vastly enhanced the sense of enormity and isolation. There was no music blaring, no families with kids, no lovers seeking secluded spots. The sight of a solitary eagle hovering above the ravine was straight out of some treasure hunt Hollywood movie (Indiana Jones maybe !). We stayed there for a while taking the usual Orkut pics and constantly discussing what a good decision this had turned out to be.

The sun had risen and it was time for the journey back. The jacket had to be tied around the waist as we started our bikes and headed back towards Bangalore and soon, the heat and dust made sure that we even put our helmets on. On the way a speeding truck coming from the opposite direction, trying to overtake a Tata Sumo almost got me killed, as I was left to choosing between 8 inches of the road and getting down from it on the metre wide track of sand and pebbles. I chose the latter, skidded on the sand, fell over and saved any damages to my bike and myself. In the end it was almost comic though it could have been fatal.

Anyway, by around 2 in the afternoon we were back, all dusty and sweaty. I took a bath, watched Ganguly and Sachin turn back the years as they forged a lovely partnership, went for a nap before the partnership was broken and woke up rejuvenated.

At night while getting Smirnoff and Teacher's for the spur of the moment party, a Tata Indica hit me at one of the signals. Only slightly though, but enough for me to get disbalanced and let go of my bike. Again nothing happened. No harm done.

It was very enjoyable and fulfilling. The trip, I mean. And with some luck and free time I intend to do more provided I get my flatmate to tag along with me. Maybe even longer ones but let's not get too far ahead. Let's for the moment cherish the short trip to a place called Chunchi Falls (ya, go ahead and think what you wish of the name !) and the much needed break it provided me from the everyday banality of life.

Thursday, February 08, 2007

Musically Thinking .....

My favourite tracks currently...
Atif Aslam's Doorie and Hum Kis Gali Jaa Rahe Hain
Jaage Hain Der Tak from Guru, especially the part where Rehman sings in his high pitched voice. Fantastic! and also Tere Bina.
Rabbi Shergil's Dilli and Tere Bin from Dilli Heights (a movie).
Kitni Der tak from the same album is another very sweet, sing-along-with-a-guitar song. I am already waiting for this movie.

About Tere Bin. Had heard this song way back when Bulla Ki Jana was a rage. Liked it then for Rabbi's fabulous voice and its melody which was to me quite haunting. Today, courtesy a friend finally got to understand the lyrics and since then have been listening to it almost every 15 minutes. Some say its dedicated to his father or mother. Some say its for a lover. Whatever be the truth, it's an immensly Beautiful song. So if you havent heard it download it and please do.

Tuesday, February 06, 2007

Am I Good Enough

After nearly three months of struggling with the 'misplaced modifiers' , 'parallel constructions' and realising that what sounds right is not always actually right, I am finally through the ordeal. Yet another test taken. Yet another result obtained.

For most of us, all our life is a big test, made up of small sectionals. A constant struggle to prove something to someone who matters and who has the power to decide our future. From the dreaded admission in standard one (about which parents are more concerned than the kid) to the subsequent half yearlies and finals that follow, peppered generously with the class tests; from the entrance examinations for the country's premier universities to the quizzes, majors and minors in college which by their sheer frequency and number lose their significance over a period of time; tests define what we are , often separating us from who we are, for its the former which becomes more important in the scheme of things. Things really get tricky when you do something to prove a point to yourself. You then dont have any fallback. You dont have anyone to blame for being judgemental. To me its the toughest test. To be able to stand in front of yourself successfully, without any guilt, knowing that you would never have to face the 'what if' question.

And then there are the other not so well known tests, individualistic in nature and varying from person to person. Tests which have no fixed judges, no fixed formula for success and at times no clear result. These are the tests that we face day in day out. The self doubts, the internal conflicts, which test our very nature and our relationship with the people we interact everyday.

There's so much to do, so many tests to be taken. And here I am drifting through life. At one moment confused of my direction, at the other, happy to be what I am. At the end of the day I just hope I can stand tall in front of myself.

Hum kis gali jaa rahe hain ....
apna koi thikana nahi
armaanon ki anjuman me
besud hain apni lagan me
apna koi fasaana nahi ...
- from Atif Aslam's Hum Kis Gali Jaa Rahe Hain

Just about sums up my life at this point of time. Atif sings soulfully to put it very simply.