An Excuse to Write
Wednesday, January 26, 2005
  Spring Saga

You know when people ascribe the phrase ".... an experience I shall never forget" to a series of events and you just don't get what the big deal is? I think I can finally understand.

Sometimes it's a potent permutation of old friends and new friends, long walks and long talks, unrelenting music and impromptu dancing, stretches of green trees and stretches of computers, the warm winter sun and the cold serene moon...

I was at the IIT Kharagpur Spring Fest! And I must state the obvious here: it was an experience I shall never ever forget. There's only so much I can do to stop myself from bobbing my head and going "...we had fun! We had fun!" I am yet to get over it and for good reason.

Everything lined up perfectly. Even though it didn't seem like that at the time.

First and foremost, I was allowed to go. No pleading. No fuss. My first time out with friends, no parents and teachers involved.

We rushed out of the train on to a platform we recognized at the last possible moment as Kharagpur. The clean cold air carried this sense of anticipation. IIT's main building shimmered on the horizon, its presence absolute and reassuring. The campus, itself, consisted of sweeps of concrete and green, in perfect harmony.

The craziness caught on...

I slept about an average of 2½ hours per day.

Exploring in the woods, Head&Shoulders, TimelessClassic, DeepBlueSea and me! Struggling with branches, singing Gazab Ka Hai Din, thinking of every horror movie where you cursed the characters for venturing into unknown territory and then getting lost (Take a bow, DeepBlueSea). Collectively transforming rumbling loudspeaker sounds into roars, making helpful suggestions like “Run!” (DeepBlueSea again) and examining every trampled branch to find our way back. Scaring the hell out of our other friends by telling them that DeepBlueSea aka Jinx broke her foot and the camera failing when the task of capturing their anxious faces presented itself.

I, along with DeepBlueSea, shed off all forms of nagging scruples. I managed to steer clear of all my fellow college mates with whom I didn’t want to hang out with, but had to be civil to.

Meeting up with WhyAmIStillSingle? for a cup of coffee resulted in having to be sneaked into SF's main enclosure and into the open air auditorium for Parikrama. Chanting Sarre Jahan Se Achcha, being played on electric guitar, after a heartfelt chanting of We don't Need No Education?! Shifting seats till Parikrama seems to be performing for us personally.

Footloose, WhyAmIStillSingle?, TimelessClassic and me at lunch: 50 minutes of talking and 10 minutes of actual eating.

I do not remember making my way through any line. I remember being passed off as faculty members’ kids, as participants, as IIT students. I remember hurrying along deserted roads looking for a safe place to climb over the wall; DeepBlueSea takes off her borrowed heels, as she’s lagging behind, and just then a guard notices us, cycles ahead, and looms on the horizon ominously. We slow down, apprehensive and tired. And he states with a straight face, “Wahan se kudiyega. Ladkiyan hain. Aasani hogi”!

Again the FootTappingFour at the Strings concert. Alternating between yapping and imaginative impromptu dancing - sitting down, standing up, balancing on tops of seats, making our contribution to the sea of stars of mobiles and suddenly falling back to stare at the blue tinted sky. (During this whole deal, DeepBlueSea was deep in conversation with Mr.RockTrivia…sheesh…)

If we had any worries, we danced them away.

The only moment of frustration that (I care to) remember was at the fashion parade, when I was at the edge of the group and was contemplating lining the heads of everyone on my right perfectly and then firing off a shotgun, letting the same bullet shoot through all their heads! Though this Chain Shotgun Massacre idea did eventually slip out of my mind…

‘Twas a Wodehousian world I was in – the kind that is personified in light Hindi musicals. Not a care in the world! Friends, laughter and music. Being able to burst into song and dance sequences, including the Ross-Monica dance with Head&Shoulders, anywhere whether in broad daylight or in the middle of the night. Climbing trees, doing all kinds of nautanki, taking personality tests together (Footloose, DeepBlueSea and me are “super cool flirts”, by the way), riding (and singing along) on the handlebar of a cycle (yaar, that took effort; Gramophone you have some stamina), talking and singing and talking…

Besides all the fervour, there were these surreal moments. Lounging on the top of a silver, sloping roof, six stories high on a chilly night…When I first stood on its edge, I was overpowered. There was nothing between the heavens and me; all my vision contained was the high ridges of the roof and empty space rolling beyond its edge. Amusingly enough though, there was Suicide/SuicidalTendenciesPersonified, living up to his name, Footloose playing Snakes on his mobile and ManChild sleeping on the roof to keep me grounded.

This was the world of my dreams. Not having to answer to anyone. Being in great company. Losing inhibitions. By the end, these words kept ringing in my head…

Dhul gayi hai ruh lekin dil ko yeh ehsaas hai
Yeh saadgi chand lamhon ko hi mere saath hai
Phaaslon ke gard mein yeh saadgi kho jaayegi
Sheher jaake zindagi phir sheher ki ho jaayegi
Monday, January 10, 2005
  Wicked ship names!
A new addition to my list of favourite authors is Iain M. Banks and his Culture series.

His form of science fiction is quite different from what I'm accustomed to. I consider this element in sci-fi necessary: Asking "What if... (so and so is invented or such a situation occurs in the immediate/far-away future?" and spinning a story around it. Take Asimov; robots and the technology behind them formed the crux of his stories. The explanation of some technology and its possible consequences always takes up a sizeable portion of science fiction. But with Banks, this is actually played down. There is no technology but this world that is never fully explained. More importantly, the human drama is handled beautifully.

But more, much more than that. Check out his wackiness! These are names of intelligent, sentient ships. Read them as names of warships and you'll know what I mean.

ROU = Rapid Offensive Unit
GCU = General Contact Unit
GSV = General Service Vehicle
LSV = Limited Service Vehicle
VFP = Very Fast Picket (also dROU - demilitaraized ROU)
Superlifter = Very very fast
These are from a throw-away conversation from Look to Windward which consists entirely of ship-names being tossed around...
Sunday, January 09, 2005
  Power of Music

I am always amazed the way music can affect. Your emotions can resonate with a song; it can take you for a ride. And you can’t always point out what moved you. Was it the melody, the rhythm, the lyrics? Did it evoke some association that eludes your conscious thinking? Some songs so strongly remind me of certain people or situations that they seem to provoke equally powerful sentiments.

Did you ever feel that way? As if somebody found the keys to your consciousness and decided to play heavy tones of depression, sharp notes of desperation, soft refrains of nostalgia and a racy tune of high spirits? Was listening to Naach. I could taste the searing ambition in my mouth in Saara Saara. More than that, a sense of sadism, masochism, longing and futility has found its way in Makarand Deshpande’s rendition of Rakht Ka Hai, that is rousing in me uneasy fascination.

Friday, January 07, 2005
  Consuming Coffee

My first proper purchase of the year was the January Edition of National Geographic (Are my consumerist tendencies showing by the act of giving such importance to a purchase?) that proclaims to know “Why we love Caffeine”.

And I have to admit it was the delicious-looking cup of coffee on the cover and the magic word Caffeine that prompted the purchase. More than that I am drinking (what can be considered to be a small shot) of cappuccino as I write this. If you’re thinking, “…an inclination for the dramatic?” I’d agree. Heck, if I had a song about coffee that I liked I’d be probably be listening to that instead of Teri mehfil mein qismat azmakar from Mughal e Azam. Digressions aside, I love my boosts of caffeine and I enjoyed the total of five sips of coffee I just had. The world seems to feel the same too. I wouldn’t have put my bet on it as the world’s most popular mood-altering and habit-forming drug, but that’s just because I don’t think of it as a drug. Oh, the deviousness of associations!

Though it expresses concern for heavy caffeine users it also attributes possible alleviation of pain, asthma symptoms, migraine headaches and jet lag to moderate amounts of caffeine. Actually, the article is quite balanced on its take on caffeine consumption. Its no doctor’s crusade against tea and coffee and no Starbucks (or rather Barista) campaign to present coffee as an elixir of life. It empathizes and understands our attachment with caffeine. Yet it throws up information (and pictures) that if you pay attention to will make you want to maybe cut down a little.

But the catch is that even as you (or I) drink in that article, or any similar one, your predilection towards your favourite caffeine delivery system probably won’t wear off. (Digressing, is this how chain-smokers react? With complete antipathy towards facts?) Unless you experience some of its attributed side effects, that is. Even then it is hard to let go. My dad did alter his caffeine pattern. He realized that the combination of tea and milk caused acidity, so he switched to liquor tea, dragging me with him. Not that it was involuntary; just that pouring out a cup whenever he made tea was too much of a habit, at the time, to break.

Which is my point! Whenever I have to sit down and concentrate on something (read: study) coffee sets the mood. It’s more the ritual, the going through the motions of consumption, than anything else. I used to leave cups untouched until I realized the effectiveness of one small (but hot) dose (sipped slowly). The presence of a hot steaming cup, with its characteristic smell, focuses my attention towards the task at hand. And when I was in the office, like everybody else, I depended on two cups of machine-spewed coffee a day. It wasn’t a taste explosion, but ‘twas better than nothing.

I declare myself as a low to medium caffeine user; I don’t have pills, energy drinks or even cold drinks and I’ll take my risk. I’m not forgoing my cup of coffee no matter what Jack James says. Would you?

In retrospect, I seem to be too attatched to this coffee business.

"You write because you need to write, or because you hope someone will listen, or because writing will mend something broken inside you, or bring something back to life-" - Jay Makintosh (from Blackberry Wine) I need to write. I need to rearrange and refine sentences. I want to ponder over how to put that thought in words; so that it fits in the scheme of things just so. Words can create magic and I want to get lost in them for some part of each day's life.

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Location: Calcutta, West Bengal, India
July 2004 / August 2004 / September 2004 / October 2004 / November 2004 / January 2005 / February 2005 / March 2005 / April 2005 / June 2005 / July 2005 / August 2005 / May 2006 / June 2006 / March 2007 /

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