Sunday, August 31, 2008

Rock On

Cut out the part that Arjun Rampal has no idea of a guitar fret board and that 'brain tumor' is too cliched a concept to make an emotional impact with today's audience and Rock On is a very good movie. No, I don't like Farhan Akhtar's voice when he's not singing but otherwise he does a decent job of playing the role of a filthy rich I Banker living a 'half life'. Although he sings most of the songs in the movie and does a very good job at that, yet, for me it's this song which brings out all the singing talent this guy has. Absolutely loved his false voice in this one. The music is spot on and sounds even better when seen in the movie. The long hair and the costumes are cool without being over the board. Purab Kohli either knows to play the drums or does a super impersonation of a drummer. True, there are cues taken from Almost Famous and School Of Rock like when Farhan Akhtar does a Jack Black and jumps into the crowd during their last gig and even the stage is very Pink Floyd-ish but its all quite neatly done. A nice, feel good movie especially if you ever harboured a dream of having a band and are passionate about music.

Saturday, August 30, 2008

Saturday Morning

Classic Rock and Hit Factory are showing on VH1. And they are playing some pretty amazing music. I'm sitting on one chair with my feet on another, writing the first draft of an essay. The smell of aaloo parathe coming from our kitchen makes me more hungry than I actually am. Plans are on to go to Purple Haze in the evening. It's been a while, so let's see. First day of my 'time out ' and already this Saturday feels better.

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Just Another Post

Thoughts keep swirling in my head these days. Mostly when I'm on my bike. More so when I'm coming back home late and the roads are empty. For the last week or so, everyday, I have composed a post in my mind only to come back home and not at all feel like writing or even thinking about it anymore. Don' t really know what it is. Maybe it's the night. I have come to dislike them. They tend to make me very inactive and gloomy. Days seem so much better now.
Reminds me of these lines from a song.

The days are better, the nights are still so lonely

I've begun to find things in my job which I like. Strange, right. Because it has happened because of this whole process I'm going through to get me out of it and start a new journey. Even for the introspective guy that I am, this has been quite a revelation. I won't bore you again by repeating what this process has come to mean to me but I think it has given me a very very different perspective on most things. I am more comfortable with my self. I am not satisfied though. Far from it. And I remember the conversation I had with a friend over the weekend. About what our friends and families expect from us. What we, expect from ourselves. About batchmates and juniors getting 'ahead'. About 'wasting' quite a few years of our lives in chasing something which doesn't seem so real now. About winning and achieving. About things evening out in the long run.

In some ways, I'm not happy with myself. I have not achieved the targets I had set . And I have no illusions about it. I do not like to talk about those topics. They make me uncomfortable. But I don't want to jump from one uncertainty to another. And right now, I think I know a lot more about what I want to do and why this entire thing of not living up to expectations was in a way necessary.

I know a lot of this talk comes from the belief that things will go the way I expect them to. And right now, I would want to keep it that way.

Things have started to happen actually. Little ones. A push here and a nudge there. A friend giving an idea, a colleague coming up with an impressive point for an essay. Like I have said earlier, I'm quite liking this part of my life. I don't know how it will end. And even though I'm not quite the quotation fan as this guy, yet this one's too close to my beliefs.

Stupidity consists in wanting to reach conclusions. We are a thread, and we want to know the whole design. - Gustave Flaubert

P.S. I just read this again and it sounds nothing like the way I used to write. Anyway..

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

These Days

Suddenly there is lot to write. I no longer feel so frustrated with my life. There's much to think about. Write about. There's so much which can change. Isn't this the best part? Hoping, wishing. Struggling to find your way. Little victories which come after every few days. Small periods of setbacks. Stupid tricks that your mind plays to keep your spirits up.
Suddenly I feel more aware of myself and the world around. It's like I can look at things more clearly. It's a mix of confidence, dreams and fears. It's like being alone in a zone where no one else really matters. I like this shell of mine and I would rather be in it than have conversations with my friends. Doesn't mean I have stopped talking to people or I don't need them. The problem is that I would end up talking about a particular club in some B School and why I would totally love to be there. Don't think my friends would be too interested in that! But I need this shell more than anything or anyone right now.
Suddenly the setbacks and failures of the past which left me broken don't matter anymore. Because I'm sick of remembering them. Because I think I deserve a fresh start. Yes, I hate that word but I really think I do.
And suddenly this feels like such a huge emotional journey. Not only because it could set you on course for your entire life but also because, it's like looking at your life again, more closely, in a different light.

Saturday, August 09, 2008

This Part Of My Life Is...

About giving it all without the fear of losing.

After downing 300ml of Absolut Vodka in a Friday night drinking binge, sleeping for 2 hours, watching a totally atrocious but insanely funny Harold & Kumar Escape from Guantanamo Bay at 6 in the morning in the widest computer screen that I have ever seen, having Idli Vada and filter coffee to get rid of the hangover; I came back home riding my bike in an cold, overcast Bangalore morning. A cup of tea, half an hour of sleep like trance, the house owner's appearance after a hiatus of 4 months and a signature on a Rs 21,000 cheque; I was up and running in no time. Well, not exactly running. More like typing sentences for 'para 5' of my Goals Essay version 1.2. Had to get the crisper, clearer, better sounding version 2.0 ready by the end of the day.

I must have worked for a good 6-7 hours on my application stuff today. A running nose and the gloomy weather didn't offer many better options though. And I had made good progress on the recommendation front on Friday, so decided to keep the tempo going.
I have the basic structure to the all important 'Why MBA' essay more or less ready. More than the basic actually! I would say 60-70% is done. Sentences would have to be edited and transformed. Word repetitions removed and all that 'good writing' skills brought to the table. But I'm not too disappointed with what I have. And I've also sort of done the customization (why this school) part for Kellogg. And yes, I have a killer last line for the Kellogg version of this essay! At least I think so, anyway. I hope the middle - the lead up from my current work to my short term goal and MBA gets more seamless in the days to come. That's one part which still bugs me.

So this makes it the 3rd essay, after the professional and non-professional leadership/significant achievement one that I have sort of taken care of. The background/values/what will you bring to the class essay is still in the random scribbles state but I have a nice 'impact' beginning to it in mind. And it will be a totally unique one. No doubt about that.

By late evening, I had grown tired of thinking about the essays. So I thought I would get down to creating the logins for Tuck, Kellogg and Ross and set the ball rolling for the application process. That took a good 2 hours or so but there was a sense of urgency in doing it which I liked. I hate filling up these data forms by the way. Especially the GPA part.

Exactly 2 months to go before the first of my deadlines. I'm not feeling too bad about this. There's a hell lot to be done actually and I'm planning to take a week off around the end of this month. And for all those who have been issued a warning of getting bombarded with my essay drafts for review, just hold on for a little longer. You'll soon get your chance to comment on, critique and bash my essays.

So far, so good. Hope it gets even better.

Thursday, August 07, 2008

Number One Hundred

The ones which remained as 'drafts' ....

26 Jan '08
[a conversation with my friendly neighborhood uncle. felt like dad talking to me. i was touched]

Hello Uncle

Atish, I heard the sound of Guitar and was wondering how come you're home so early.

Didn't go to office today. Wasn't feeling well. So akele hoon to socha guitar baja loon thoda...

Oh! I was wondering ye ladke log itni jaldi kaise aa gae... So I decided to call you up. Such a nice way to connect.... music. Come over for a cup of tea. I just had mine but wouldn't mind having another cup. Come.

Ok uncle, I'll be there in 5 minutes.
Do cup chai aur kuch toast vagaira le aana....

Nahi uncle, bas chai... kaafi late lunch kara tha

Ok. So, how have you been. I'm sorry yaar I couldn't talk to you guys properly that day. I was so busy with all the guests.......

Arre it was absolutely fine uncle. The Biryani was so awesome, we didnt have anything else on our minds! The weather was fabulous, the music was just right and you couldnt have chosen a better place for the reception. So your son left.......

......achcha ye sab choro, you tell me how have you been. What happened to your plans for MBA?

Applying this year....

You know Atish, it's very easy to lose sight. I mean you remind me of my days back in the 70s when I had just joined Phillips and stayed with friends just like you do. Of course Bombay in those days was not like what it is today and with a princely salary of Rs 700 we couldn't lead the kind of life you guys are living. What I mean, Atish, is that, it's the 'good life' that you guys are leading. Weekends spent with friends, eating out. Then you have your music. You have a great degree... you can let things drift and then by the time you wake up, it might be a little too late..

27 Nov '07
[the few minutes in the mild Bangalore winter morning, sipping tea...meant a lot those days]

I stand on the balcony, the sun on my face. The music comes floating from the hall. It's a bright morning in Bangalore and there's a slight chill in the air. I have a cup of tea in my hand. It's the start of another day. At times I'm joined by my flatmate. If it's his playlist then it's on shuffle and anything from Kishore to Atif to Hootie & The Blowfish is equally likely to come up next. If it's mine, then it's following some pattern. Third Eye Blind one day, Scorpions the other, Scrubs soundtrack or Simon & Garfunkel. I like the way my day starts. Earlier I used to make tea for both of us. Now our cook does that. I think he's slightly better than me!

I had my first cup of tea when I was four. On the train while going to Puri. Kullhad vali chai. I never had milk in the morning after that. Cha, it was. In the evening when dad came back from work, I used to have my second cup. And did I tell u. I finished entire packets of biscuits in one go! Mom and dad talked about office and other 'grown up' stuff. I chipped in with anything remotely interesting at school. I always associated this evening tea with a very relaxed atmosphere.

In college, milk replaced the morning tea (whenever I had breakfast, that is) on most days. The 5 o' clock extra messing tea was more frequent though. The best, by a long distance was the one we drank at Sassi. Especially during the winters. Especially after bread omelet. I can't remember any occasion when somebody would refuse to go to Sassi for a cup of tea. It was almost a part of the curriculum.
Then there was the 'Dip Tea' near the Library, to be taken in between classes or during Music events at the Convo. On the rare occasion when I found myself in the institute at night doing something relate to academics, yet again this was the place to have tea and take a break.

21 Jul '07
[when i felt like writing about independence. especially financial]

Its been just over a year since I entered a new phase in my life. One typically characterized by more independence at all levels, particularly financial. And going with my ideology of 'kal ka kal dekhenge' I have made sure that my bank balance is never able to shoot up beyond a certain level. I also managed to convince my dad that all serious investments and future planning would only start a year or so later. So all of it basically meant I went ahead and bought whatever I felt like and I could. A bike, a laptop, a guitar. I'm absolutely loving it. Savoring this free existence along with the knowledge that I'm not doing anything wrong.

29 Mar '07
[my first and only attempt at fiction. i was downright pathetic and somehow always felt that i was copying both the form and content from somewhere.. old man and the sea? dont know. the idea, however came from this picture my dad had taken in Puri. of a man and his son, standing by the boat with the day's catch.]

He was about fourteen. Standing there with his back to the sea, his dark, wet skin glistening in the last rays of the sun, he was a picture of satisfaction. In front of him lay the day's catch, enough to ensure a week's supplies. His father tended to the boat looking for any cracks or damages while he played with the sand. Soon, both headed towards the wholesale market as the setting sun marked the end of yet another day. A day spent on a small boat in the middle of the sea. At the wholesale market, they would sell their catch to the local dealer who would in turn head to the man responsible for packaging, cold storage and transportation and a few days later, some Bengali in New Delhi's C R Park would eat the same fish for dinner, cooked deliciously in mustard oil by his wife, knowing little about the fourteen year old who formed the first link, in a series of many, between him and the fish on his plate.

Life was tough but not unfair in the little village in coastal Andhra. Most of the population earned their livelihood from the bounties of the sea. The sea which gave them their life. Shrinivas, or Shrini as he was called had gone along with his father in his fishing boat for as long as he could remember. He loved the sea and its sights and sounds. The sunrise which would see them push their tiny boat over the waves and head for calmer waters in the middle of the sea never failed to amaze him. The lazy afternoons which saw them taking a rest in the shadow of the boat's mast after having cast the net, waiting for the fish to come, soothed him. Wherever the eyes went, there was water, dotted with a few boats here and there, of fellow villagers and fishermen. There was no sound except that of the waves lapping the sides of the boat and the birds flying by. Shrini chatted with his father, learning new tricks everyday, hearing stories of the sea when his father was his age. That's the way it had always been. They were a generation of fisherman, each following the same method to learn the tricks of the trade. To them it was the only way to grow up, to lead a life.

25 Jan '07
[about friendship..]

They are the people you spend your entire day with. Once out of home, they are the ones that make you feel at home, become your family. Sure they were there even when you were a kid and had your ma and baba besides you. You had the "best friends" and the other friends, the ones you grew up playing cricket, badminton and a whole lot of on-the-road games. Then college happens and more importantly you get to know about a certain place called Hostel. Friendship takes on a completely different hue as you start to live day in day out with the same set of people who start exerting their influences on your life involuntarily. You pick up some of their styles. Be it the manner of speaking or their posture....

Monday, August 04, 2008

Never Let Me Go

I don't know how you pick your books. I read the title and the blurb. So when I found this book - Never Let Me Go by Kazuo Ishiguro among the others my father had recently bought, I thought it might be a good time to get back to reading again.

The story is about Kathy, Tommy and Ruth as they spend their lives in Hailsham, a boarding school in the English countryside. As a thirty-something Kathy starts reminiscing about her childhood days, we are drawn to a world where everyone is brought up to become 'carers' and 'donors'. Ishiguro conjures up a world which is difficult to comprehend. We dont even fully know what these terms mean. Yet, he manages to put in the same ethos, the same doubts, the same little joys that we all must have felt while growing up. From the sense of pride in collecting items, to the fear of asking an elder about something we know is forbidden, from the love-hate relationships we had with our friends to the games we played; the process of growing up, getting to know the world around us but at the same time having one of our own is vividly portrayed throughout the narrative.

Reading the book is almost like walking through mist. There's a sense of apprehension which never leaves you. You are not quite sure of what to expect though you have some idea of what's coming. A delicate thread binds all the three principal characters. You can almost feel that it could snap anytime and change the course of the novel. It is this sense of fragility which makes the novel a pageturner. It's hard to 'let go'. Because even though as you read on and begin to feel that the end would leave you unsatisfied and sad, yet you want to get to it. To know for sure.

Never Let Me Go is a novel about a special bunch of kids. Their visions of adulthood, their struggle to come to terms with who they are and their hopes of achieving something which isn't meant for them. It's a story of friendship and love and the complex dynamics that rule most human relations. It hits you and would stay with you long after you have closed the book. It doesn't leave a good feeling even. It leaves you with more questions than answers. But it's a unique story. So removed from reality yet so close to it. And the most striking thing was the fact that at so many levels, I was able to identify with it. The english countryside description with its hillocks and ponds reminded me of similar ones I have read or listened to. And so many emotions which Kathy, Tommy and Ruth go through have been ones that I have felt in the near past.

It's an odd world that this novel is set in. Even after having read it only recently and now writing about it, I don't really know how to talk about it. Except that it's very human. And it has got an amazing pace to it. Not too fast. Not too slow. I didn't quite like his other book, 'When We Were Orphans'. But this one definitely makes me want to read more from Ishiguro.