Long story short…

Stories - Yours and Mine

A car zoomed past me, slightly brushing my jacket, and jerked me back to my senses. I was back in Delhi. I would do well to remember, I thought. I carefully crossed the road.

I was going to meet Shariva. She was still working in the same organization, in Noida. I took the metro, and then an auto to reach sector-135, Noida, and waited outside the SEZ area, where they had all the offices. Where, I had my office too, once.

‘Hello, you here? Give me 10 min,’ she picked up my call and responded curtly. It felt good just hearing her voice. I craved to look at her.

I had my eyes fixed on the entry gate for what seemed like an hour. The long and heavy wooden bar protecting the entry had already been raised and dropped a thousand times by the guards to let the cars pass…

View original post 1,296 more words

Advertisements

Let me walk in peace

‘Hello!’ A booming voice shattered my reverie. I looked around to see where it came from and found a bush some twenty feet up the mountain quivering. Beside it was squatting a scrawny little man. He was scratching his white beard vigorously, and staring at me with his brows furrowed.

‘Yes,’ I shouted back, ‘what happened?’

‘Who are you? Where are you going?’ He demanded.

‘Just going for an evening stroll. Why?’

‘Nothing,’ he relaxed, and continued, ‘Where’re you from?’

‘Somewhere nearby,’ I said rather irritated, and resumed my journey uphill.

I was an outsider here. Local people would stop me on the way like this to complete their inquiries. It felt like they took me for a potential danger to their farms, or livestock. That’s why I would never eye a wandering goat or sheep, lest somebody should hit me with a stick.

I stopped after a while and went to the side of the road and glanced at the valley below. I had reached a substantial height. I inhaled the purity of the air in a long and deep breath, and checked my watch. It had been an hour since I left home.

It was a soothing sight below. A river was smoothly flowing across the farms. I traced the river to find its source on the mountain behind it, and lost it midway around some thick vegetation and rocks. My eyes glided up to the top of the hill, noticing the dense forest on the way.

The clouds were resting comfortably just above the peak, swollen bright white with pride that no one else could reach them. In the greenery below, I could see a speck of white – probably a building, a home. But who would live at that height and how? I need to buy binoculars. I took a mental note.

Must be some kind of temple, I decided, and moved on.

I had made it a point to complete this daily ritual of evening contemplative walks. Besides being very healthy, they gave me food for thought. And I love thinking deep.

I smiled at the thought of reaching ‘my spot’. My spot, was a huge rock positioned beside a road higher up the mountain, shaped like a ledge.

I reached the place and sat on the rock, eyes closed, breathing deep. The air here has a restorative quality to it. Every breath would work like an energy drink.

Generally, this place remained devoid of human existence – it was high and cold and desolate and may be slightly dangerous here – but that day I could hear some noise coming from a distance. A kind of procession – may be religious – I thought. Then I saw people emerging from the far end of the road. I turned and focused back on nature, disconnected with what was happening around.

The sky far away was displaying magic with colours. Turning in all the known and unknown shades of yellow, orange and red. Sometimes I could see the clouds shimmering in gold as well. The Sun was nowhere to be seen, having already set behind a high hill far away. But its rays were still not ready to call it a day, it seemed.

This beauty quietened every voice in my brain, every activity in my body. It brought out best of my memories to the fore. The most beautiful of them were invading my mind, leaving me in a state of trance.

And suddenly, I was pulled back with cruel force. Back from the deepest corners of my soul. And I heard it said again:

‘Who are you?’

I assume it’s their compulsive need to know every single soul around them. It irritated me a lot in the beginning. But I have accepted it now. I know they will come and talk. I have started answering peacefully. In fact, I know a lot many people around now, just because of their persistent intrusions into my privacy.

I have had evening tea with some of them by now, played volleyball, and football with some others. Knowing that the people around know me has made my walks even more pleasurable. I am one of them now.

The Decision of My Life

I am finally doing it.

I have been thinking about taking this step for quite some time now.

Call it anything – a career suicide (that it sure is), or downright stupidity – I have resigned from a very safe and well paying job just to devote all my time to reading and writing. Wow! I can’t believe it.

All the financial stability that I had built so painstakingly over the last 9 years is going down the drain. But I am not really worried about that. The only regret is that I couldn’t wait enough to complete the tenth year – a decade looks good to tell.

The positives are many.

For starters – I am moving to a small and beautiful place in the Himalayas. I can’t describe how it feels when I sit in my balcony looking up to the looming mountain tops piercing into the clouds above. Additionally, a river flowing down in the valley, giving birth to rising clouds that extend up to the ones already there creating a continuous chain of white smoke, always emanates that soothing sound. It all looks so surreal. The air, it’s so pure that a few breaths feel like an overload of oxygen in my lungs. The greenery all around, the serenity, the freshness – all so palpable, you can’t avoid them.

The view from the Balcony:

IMG_20160727_063440079_HDR

The person responsible for transporting me to this heaven of a place is my wife. She works for the government as a teacher, and had a choice to come to this place, but could never come because of my job. I have cleared that way. Now when she goes to school with my son, I have all the time in the world to focus on reading all the great books in the world, and writing. She has bought me at least 3 years of time to invest in myself and my art.

The School:

KV 3

I am well aware of the challenges though. It will no doubt be difficult to adjust to this remote area. Coming from the capital of the country to some unheard of place high atop a mountain isn’t supposed to be an easy transition. The monthly cash loss comes to haunt me in my dreams sometimes, but I am holding up. I know that this is the opportunity of a lifetime, and I am not going to waste it. I am hoping to get the best out of this time, and return victorious. Whatever that means.

The Evenings:

IMG_20160728_184809294_HDR

If nothing else, this will be the longest vacation of my life, and I am loaded with books. I have nothing to complain.

Break the Jinx – Recommence

free_writing

The last two months have been singularly the most uninspirational time of my life as far as writing is concerned. And the ‘lack’ of inspiration wasn’t the only worry. It was in fact much scarier: I felt a sudden and overwhelming indifference that was developing within me towards writing as a craft. The growing perception of the futility of my writing ambitions. I stopped hitting the keypad completely – terrified all the time. Confused at the new state of affairs in my mind.

All this while I knew that even if an amazing idea popped up in my head, I was not going to catch it. Totally opposite to my general approach. Usually, I would not let go of anything that’s worth expressing. In the rare events when I find my life is laden with disappointments and defeats, I would write about conquering them, or facing them, or just about them as they are. But not writing at all – was new, to say the least.

This episode provided me the longest stretch I have had without posting a word. And I can only regret it now. But it wasn’t without a lesson. Rather a sweet reminder of the fact that writing, irrespective of how much you love it, is simply a habit. You might feel you are effortless and natural, and can’t do without it. But it still isn’t self sustaining. Try resting one week, for any reason you can conjecture, you will find it harder to come back. The next week will present a much more compelling case for not sitting and stringing together words. Listen to yourself in such times, and it wouldn’t be long before your so dearly maintained blog is defunct. Interestingly you tend to somehow convince yourself that it is for good – that you never really meant to write that often anyway. That you already have a job which is providing for you and your family, and a blog was a waste of time.

To state the fact: No, it was not, and it will not be, whether you harbor ambitions to be an author some day or not. Writing is an outlet. It is Freedom. A friend, and the best one at that. Just as writing or winning or anything good is a habit, and works wonders for you if done regularly, not writing is a habit too. And as you must be aware that unlike writing, its avoidance is much more effortless. So please pick up the pen again. Read your earlier works once more if you need reassurance, as you might after a gap, and write. Break the jinx by writing anything, but don’t just give in yet. You know you are full of potential that only you are aware of. It requires honing, sharpening, and years of hard work, but you are ready for it. Then persist, and remind yourself the inspiration that forced you to take pains to understand how a blog works.

Happy writing!

The Common Tongue of the World

While reading the immensely talented and committed fellow bloggers the other day, I realized that they all belong to so many different parts of this huge world. Asia, Americas, Europe, Middle East, Africa, Australia – name the continent and you will see someone piecing together his thoughts in words and posting for us to read. This is wonderful. The world has been so evolved that languages change the moment you cross some miles, yet it has been brought together on the same platform by one single common tongue. You might hate it or love it but English has brought us all together. I wouldn’t have been able to appreciate the amazing ideas that you all have, had it not been for this language. While we all have great respect for our different mother tongues, we can’t deny the importance this one language has in the connected world of today.

It is unbelievable that so many like-minded people exist in the far away states of the remotest countries. It would have been an impossibility to even know that let alone connecting. While English was received by us Indians in heritage from the British, many people learn it especially to be able to make their point and express themselves to a wider audience. We, here, aren’t even considered educated without this knowledge. It would leave us jobless and humiliated if we can’t make other people understand in English. Strange and cruel, I used to think. We have our own language here. Why can’t we just handle affairs internally without artificially leaning so heavily on a foreign language? Whatever sore feelings I had, evaporated the day I started reading books. The treasure that these books brought along from all the corners of the earth overwhelmed me. I thank God that I know this language. I know how to understand what the greatest people who walked the earth have to say about the most perplexing situations we face everyday.

Though we have no dearth of writers in our own mother tongue, the awareness of this common tongue takes us beyond borders, mountains, nationalities, and communities. That introduces us to new ideas, strange customs, interesting thoughts, creative art work, and much more. And the fact that so many people around the world pen down their work in English has contributed to its richness. I know there is nothing like being a native speaker, but I believe more than that the dynamism and consistent improvement in this language has been a doing of people living beyond. People who carried it to the farthest corners, even if for the purpose of colonization, spread it for all of us to speak and understand one another.

This common platform provides us the opportunity to connect, to earn our livelihoods, to learn, to express, to entertain ourselves, to roam around the world, and in the end to ink it all down to share with others. The fact that I have been able to share my thoughts with you all using this language reinforces my belief in its usefulness and the freedom it offers to the individuals like me.

Drunk on my love for writing. Are you too?

I had a first after many days today. I had a bottle of beer with my father. I mean not exactly with my father truly; I kind of snatched one away from his kitty, and went into my own room on a date with solitude. I had these two episodes of Game of Thrones season 6 downloaded, and begging to be watched, but something was missing. And bang, my father enters my room asking for something to eat with beer. Up till now, he wasn’t even completely sure that I allow myself having alcohol; “occasionally”, I promised him with the most innocent look I could bring my features to conjure. It has taken me years of hard work to make my parents believe that I still am the good boy they raised. Now a couple of bottles of beer may sound routine to some; for me, having it under the same roof as my father’s was nothing short of magic. Chilled beer in this hot weather plus my favourite show. I couldn’t have asked for more.

A very well known writer once said, write drunk, edit sober. I know some of you reading machines have already got the name, but I can’t remember, I am drunk! I will make sure that I forget to edit afterwards. I will lose my flow. Jokes apart. Writing in itself is more immersing than alcohol can ever be (not for all though, you know who I am addressing). Anything that you love is, for that matter. A piece of writing is nothing less than a peek into the soul of the writer. You can’t write about something you don’t believe in. You can always write against something you don’t believe in though.

When I got initiated into the world of writing I so strongly believed that writing should be sacred. I have read too much to believe that now. Writing instead should be honest. You might touch upon some subjects considered to be taboo, but it still will be honest. You are one unique human being, absolutely unmatched in anything. Why should you be forced to see something as ‘some particular thing’? Everyone has his own perspective. That’s what makes us all interesting. Stop brooding about the good things others have. Count your own. It is simple – if it pleases you, it’s good. Believe me. Until of course, it involves hurting others. Everything has boundaries. Don’t be literally drunk! You don’t have to be a hero, but don’t be a villain either.

In the lives of working professionals, a Saturday is perhaps the most loved day. To start with, the word itself has a pleasant ring to it. The fact that it is followed by something as awaited as Sunday, pulls it ahead of all other days in the race – we all agree that something that has a Monday at the end of its tail can’t be all that good. So make the most of it, not by drowning yourself under the weight of alcohol, but by engaging in a real activity, something constructive. Something creative.

Understand that you can’t put a price on something that generates happiness within you. It is a rare commodity. People may come harsh upon you and tell you that such an activity is forbidden. But then, forbidden is pleasurable as well as achievable. Don’t go overboard though. Excess of everything has repercussions we can’t digest. That’s why they are called bad.

Talking about freedom of writing, I come across so many ingenious writers everyday on internet, that I wonder why aren’t they published yet? But then getting published is not everyone’s aim. I read bloggers that are just incredibly talented and thorough. They are so prepared. They are meticulous and impeccable. I bow in front of them. I learn from them. Even though they do the honours of liking what I write, I know where they stand. And I have a lot to learn from them. It is only their humility that they appreciate others. That is what is amazing in the blogging world. We encourage one another. We appreciate novelty of thoughts, and honesty of expression.

Each one of you is my inspiration. People from all walks of life. Committed to writing. Sharing their lives, and ready to read that of others. Words are music to us writers. Keep creating symphonies. We are here to hear you. Be loud and original enough to reach our ears though, as there is so much of noise around. Once you separate yourself, we will catch you and listen to you. However, don’t just be loud for the sake of it. Put your feelings into your words, and rest assured we will hear, as we are all trying to be heard.

What to choose, what not to?

I was reading a book this morning, completely lost in the words when a back-stretch seemed necessary. With that I lost the focus for a split second, and the problems that I had been avoiding thinking about stormed back into my head. These are the real life problems, the ones we all have to face and deal with even if we don’t want to. And each one of them demands resolving. Think about them logically, choose the best solution as you can, and they will at least stop throbbing your head. Try avoiding them, and they will make sure to seep in at the slightest crack of opportunity.

It is true that life is all about making choices. I belong to a part of the world where parents take care of their children for as long as it is possible. In fact, unless the children leave them, they are more than happy to spend their whole lives with them. Though the world even here is moving towards nuclear families, the first choice is to stay together. And to the surprise of many, I still live with mine. My father is still the main guy at home. For these reasons, choosing for my own self came pretty late as per the standards of the developed world. And now when I have to do it on my own, I realise how difficult this is. My father has made some very big decisions in his life, and I can’t help but respect him, even more now that I understand.

Dealing with people everyday and saying the right things at the right time is the most difficult part of my job, as I feel. For some it is a cakewalk though. Now that may send out the message that I am a reserved person. Actually I am not. It is just the pretentiousness and formal engagements that I dislike. Give me freedom to talk, and I can compete with the people with three bottles of beer down their throats. But now I have finally chosen to be myself after all, and I talk the way I do, and that seems to be working as well.

People from management often tell me to be a little more strict with the team, a little less open with them, and a lot less considerate. I might not win favours with my supervisor, but my team likes me. And that makes my day at work a little less of an ordeal. I like a frequent laugh, and that keeps me fresh.

Having said that I have almost decided not to continue my job. Putting data into excel sheets, and making sense of the numbers don’t excite me any more. This is a tough decision. Another choice I have to make. And somewhere deep inside I am very very afraid. I wish my father could make that choice for me and tell me what I should do. But his choice is so predictable – the job. So I can’t entrust him with this responsibility. Too bad, life would have been so easy. But the universal truth is that only I know what I like or don’t – no one else does.

But this is a problem, and it has to be resolved quickly. I know what I want but the logic, the bloody logic jumps in the way uninvited, too often for my liking. Thank God I have this blog to transfer my thoughts to.