Wednesday, August 22, 2007

How Things Change

When I went to engineering this would have been a demographic impossibility.

Sigh. Once more... Well Never Mind

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Right Now

I have the terribly irritating habit of listening to the same song again and again, till my ears can’t take it anymore.

Currently, that song is “Me and Bobby McGee”, written by Kris Kristofferson, originally performed by Roger Miller, and made, oh so famous by Janis Joplin (after changing Bobby’s gender, some lyrics, and adding a hell lot of Jazz). Her rendition made it to number #148 on Rolling Stone’s 500 Greatest Songs of All Time. Kristofferson and Joplin had been dating till just before the song was written, and though Kristofferson denied it; Joplin is rumored to have been the inspiration for this song (mostly arising from the line on slipping away in Salinas).

It was the last song that Joplin was to record. Released posthumously- making it only the second song to top the charts after the singer had passed away. Joplin’s slipping away into the night, from a heroin overdose, followed that of Jimi Hendrix a week before. Both were aged 27. Their deaths, coming less than three months after Jim Morrison was found dead in his Paris apartment bathtub, dealt one of the biggest blows to rock and roll. He too was aged 27.

Ironically, the heroin that killed her, was prepared by a substitute taster, who made the batch “too pure”. Among its victims the same night were many of the LA jet set.

Depressing stuff. So much talent wasted. Such levels of self-destruction.

Janis Joplin, Keith Moon, Jimi Hendrix, Jim Morrison, Kurt Cobain. Sometimes, life does not give a second chance.

Or does it… Johnny Cash, Ozzy, Ray Charles. All saved by love.

I think Lennon got it right. Probably all you do indeed need is love.

Anyway, the song is brilliant. Lyrics evoking some very strong imagery … “Windshield wipers slapping time” and the super famous “Freedom’s just another word for nothing left to lose”, Joplin’s powerful and distinctive voice- rasping through the speakers is amazing.

Spent the long weekend shopping (so many irresistible offers on everything from M&S shirts to Honda Civics), getting done in by gimmicks to buy things I have no use for (have over a hundred shirts now, all of them either white or blue), stuffing myself with whatever I can eat (which is pretty much anything that’s moved when alive), read some very ordinary posts, and just for kicks flattered the authors by posting glowing comments (I guess they couldn't be bothered), being dragged to and falling asleep in a random play, drinking, getting horribly hung over, moaning over the lack of good books or movies (not even Rat a-fucking too ee) , sorting out admin matters of life (a dated passport, buying new hand towels, polishing shoes), and some meaningless chronicling at Smokerings and working only a little bit.

Just push play and Sing-a-long. I have taken the liberty of changing the gender back, but kept some of Joplin’s defining touches.

Me and Bobby McGee
Busted flat in Baton Rouge, waiting for the trains,
And I’s feeling nearly faded as my jeans.
Bobby thumbed a diesel down just before it rained,
Took us all the way to New Orleans.

I pulled my harpoon out of my dirty red bandana
And was playing soft while Bobby sang the blues,
With them windshield wipers slapping time and
I was holding Bobby’s hand in mine
We finally sang up every song that driver knew.

Freedom's just another word for nothing left to lose,

Nothing don't mean nothing honey if it ain't free, now now.
Feeling good was easy; Lord, when Bobby sang the blues,
You know feeling good was good enough for me,

Good enough for me and my Bobby McGee.

From the Kentucky coalmines to the California sun,

Hey, Bobby shared the secrets of my soul.

Through all kinds of weather, through everything we done,

Hey Bobby baby! kept me from the cold.

One day up near Salinas, lord, I let her slip away,
She was looking for that love I hope she’ll find,
Well I’d trade all my tomorrows for a single yesterday,
To be holding Bobby’s body close to mine.

Freedom’s just another word for nothing left to lose,
And nothing left was all she left to me,
Feeling good was easy, Lord, when Bobby sang the blues,
And buddy, that was good enough for me.
Good enough for me and my Bobby McGee.

La la la, la la la la, la la la,

la la la laLa la la la la Bobby McGee.

La la la la la, la la la la la

La la la la la, Bobby McGee, la.

La La la, la la la la la la,

La La la la la la la la la, hey now Bobby now Bobby McGee yeah.

Na na na na na na na na, na na na na na na na na na na na

Hey now Bobby now, Bobby McGee, yeah

Next post: Freedom's just another word for nothing left to lose.

Saturday, August 18, 2007

The Irrelevance of Reciprocity

RESTAURANT: Bombay Talkie, New York City
ON THE MENU AS: Unrequited Love
PREPARATION: 2½ ounces of gin, a half-ounce of sugar syrup infused overnight with saffron, and 1½ ounces of sweet lime juice; shaken with ice.
PRICE: $10

Often in life we are told stories of unrequited love. Everyone has heard them, in lore, or real life. Most have probably experienced it as well. Today, I wonder how important reciprocity is really.

Sometimes I have felt affection towards people, and understandably only on a few occasions it has been reciprocated. I think back, and I realize that they didn’t feel the same, can in no manner take away from what I felt for them. Conversely, when reciprocated, I didn’t feel a stronger affection, just because I was loved back. At best reciprocity adds longevity to relationships. At worst, it just creates expectations.

The reasons why I am thinking of this is because lately a friend of mine, has been going on and on about how he is growing old, and no one loves him. It is becoming too much, and of late I have only a few drinking buddies left. Though I wear this absolutely stoic expression during the discussions, I realize that he is indeed serious. But presenting my views to him is unlikely to be of any consequence.

Now I have a very strong sense of ego, which does blur the objective train of thought that I am now trying to pursue. And I realize the agony over unrequited love, is nothing but an outcome of ego. It is a manifestation of an exaggeration of the self, which finds it difficult to deal with rejection. But truly, honestly, reciprocation does nothing.

Once you have a thing going, and by a thing I mean an essentially exclusive relationship, it leads to a whole host of experiences, which is difficult to go through by yourself. I guess it is a desire to have those experiences that make it so important for us to have a closure in our affections.

But unfortunately, in life there are, as Arundhati Roy so aptly put, Laws of Love. Which lay down who is to be loved by whom, and how much. Actually, it isn’t a law, a theorem, because those have some basis. It is an axiom. No reason, no argument, just that it is.

Which is when people bemoan their unrequited love, it is so boring, because as an outsider, you know that while one person is in love, the other is merely thinking, should I get into this, what is there in it for me, or worse, is there going to be a better deal soon? Its not nice, but it is true.

Of course, there might exist cosmic moments when both parties are equally in love (if it is possible), and then they go into the sunset holding hands. But most of the time, it is just two people having a very good time in each others company, and calling it love.

And think it is unreal.
And hence I think reciprocity is the most exaggerated concept of our lives.

And I think I am not making any sense in this post.

"In the end the love you take is equal to the love you make."
The Beatles

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

More Than a Lot

"The same night whitening the same trees.
We, of that time, are no longer the same."

Tonight I Can Write, Pablo Neruda. (0)

(This post comes with a background score. Just push play and read on)

I really don’t think I can live alone. Whether I live with people in the real world, or peep into their lives through books, newspapers, movies, music; they are indispensable. Fortunately, perhaps, I cannot watch TV.

For the last fifteen years or so, I have been living on my own, with infrequent company. My family, I spend a sum total of two weeks, over the course of the calendar year. So that’s not much.

Under such circumstances, it is natural for one to develop ties, albeit by accident, elsewhere, and remarkably one finds that such ties… are capable of such joys, and remorse.

Biological ties, I guess, stay, despite distance, or time, despite your actions (within certain tolerances), or inaction. The Other wither away, mostly as a consequence of the same.

And before They wither away, mostly the going is good.

At times like this, Time steps in, fills spaces, brings comfort, the comfort of familiarity. Of waking up next to someone warm. Of coming home- sometimes to an ear-to-ear grin, sometimes a frown. Of long conversations and shared silences. Tastes, and more importantly, shared distastes. Of unconditional discretion (1) conveyed through understanding nods. And sometimes, through scathing criticisms.

It is only much later, that it is confessed, that that advice was given without always understanding everything. In the knowledge that once the frustration had passed, I would know exactly what to do, and how best to do it.

All criticisms, however mild, were well considered.

Finally perhaps, the comfort of a shared conscience. (Once you get there, together you have basically made a trip to a place from where there is nowhere to go- in a pleasant sort of way.)

Later, Time… that bitch is gone. There is so little left of it, and then I am running, running to stash in every possible experience. And then suddenly it is over. (2)

“Time is the enemy of lovers, the thief that robs them of precious moments together. The foe that raises doubts and questions.”

There is this Space. With only one thing left to say: “I wish I had seen this coming, or I wish I had done that, or I wish…” And way too late in the day, I realize that the one wish I was granted with is this gift of friendship.

However, looking back, there were no missed steps, nothing that could’ve been done any differently. If things were conducted a little by design, it would hardly have been this perfect.

On a particularly wet morning, passing through Mahim on my way to work I see people scurrying for cover- in the melee there is this handicapped man, on the contraption they drive themselves around, and seated next to him is a child, in a raincoat and a school bag. They seemed to be enjoying themselves immensely. The child clapping his hands, the man laughing out loud, while the world gets drenched to the bone around them.

Then, one particularly bacchanalian night, I walk back home, and there is a little more than a mild drizzle, and I am carefully evading puddles. It is an hour or two past midnight. There is a solitary tarpaulin hutment, next to a stinky garbage dump, huddled inside a family of about 8. They are eating out of a paper bag, and from the look on their faces, one would think that they are looking out from the verandah of their beach front property in Goa, fascinated by the rains, and eating the best food in the world.

Probably I read too much into all this, but know what, these sights mean more than a bit to me.

Fondness, I guess, dwells in the unlikeliest of habitats, weathering the worst storms. Togetherness, it seems, makes up for quite a bit.

There is a person at work who recently moved to a desk on my left. We call him Mr. Reality Check. He is my batch business school, got married between graduating and joining the first job, the same time during which I was tripping on Kovalam beach. He has a house, and a school going kid. He has decent savings, and the house is worth three times his investment. He showed me a spreadsheet which he uses to track multiple household bills. All these disclosures in a matter of a week or so. He asks me why I am not married, and what savings I have, and what I do with all my money.

While such people are usually the butt of my ridicule all the time, I do realize that I am pissing away my money, and chasing off anyone who has ever loved me. That as I am growing old busy having a good time or fighting those imaginary demons in my head, slowly things are being taken away from me. And that I won’t realize what’s gone for quite a few years.

I wonder what will it take, for a person like me to embrace such a life. I, who can write a thousand word post on relationships, can advocate love, why is it so difficult to be able to hold on. To get beyond relationships, love and affection which comes with a Use By date to begin with.

I have been told that in writing, and in life in general, I have a problem with closure, with endings. So I will leave this now, with this reliable borrowed expression.

For Chivo:

Because, we are also what we lose.

Amores Perros


0. I know this has been quoted recently, but it is somehow apt for the moment.
1. Indra Nooyi:

You know, people like us get very lonely, because you cannot share too much with other people. So you come home and he is there and you can discuss anything with him and he gives you sound advice.
2. Woody Allen:
There's an old joke - um... two elderly women are at a Catskill mountain resort, and one of 'em says, "Boy, the food at this place is really terrible." The other one says, "Yeah, I know; and such small portions." Well, that's essentially how I feel about life - full of loneliness, and misery, and suffering, and unhappiness, and it's all over much too quickly.