Thursday, November 30, 2006

Book Review "An Equal Music" by Vikram Seth. :)

I am reading this book by Vikram Seth, it is called “An Equal Music”.
It is a story about a musician Michael , who plays in a quartet. They play Bach, Schubart, Mozart and the likes.
He runs away from Vienna, betraying his Teacher and his Love Julia, who is a fellow student and a great musician .He lives a fugitive life in London. Years later he meets his ex-girlfriend, now married with a son in London and he realizes that he had never fallen out of Love. They get reacquainted and a few days later he discovers that she has gone stone deaf. All this while she has been reading his lips.

I finished up the story in the first paragraph because the story is nothing. The book is a very long poem. His words sing, fall in love, and get hurt and betrayed. If all those feelings could speak, they could have spoken in the exact words that he writes. It is really intriguing to know that someone can take total charge of your mind as you read the book. He doesn’t waste time on long descriptions, but you get the characters completely in the first few pages.

There are certain things that we are not taught as children, which we learn only from the situations we go through. Like the gray between the black and the white. When we don’t know if we are wrong or the other is. The place in our hearts that is taken up or abandoned by the whim of a whimsical musician or a person with a lot more things to do with his life. The turns that make us wonder why we came this far if it was not meant any further and the understanding that suddenly springs up in our hearts in between fits of anger. It takes us a while to adjust to the grays of life and then somehow the blacks and the whites seem to fade and we see the grayness of every black and white situation. We learn to understand. We learn to take care of ourselves despite our association with people who might not stay with us, and we learn to let go even before we hold on to someone. I think this is what is written best in this book.

They reunite and they never bother if it is adultery, rather, she never thinks of it like that. She takes his leaving her, her going deaf and then her leading two lives; one with him and the other with her legitimate family with silence. The chapters become silent when they talk about her. The words become silent and when you read about her, your heart is also filled with the same pristine silence. Everything about her is like the void between two breaths. I like the easy abandon that he attributes to her character. When she goes away easily from his flat, and never tells him when he will see her again. She comes back when she feels like but every time she does, he is thrown into this maddening euphoria.
When he describes music, his words give us everything except the actual music. They describe every little detail and make us one with the audience. When he writes about the applause, we applaud with it! He can write silence and sound alike and I really liked the way he paces his book. It is never too slow or never too furious. It is just right.

It is set in London, so it feels as cold, as damp and sometimes surprisingly refreshing like the London weather. You go through all the moods that you are capable of being in reading this book. It is an absolute treat!

Wednesday, November 29, 2006

November Rain :)

On damp rainy day like this, I’d rather stay home.
Roam around in my pajamas wearing white fluffy socks
I’d love to have a sip of coffee now and then,
And read a book that sounds like an extended verse.
I’d watch TV when I get bored or just call up a friend
Who knows me from a long ago and who has shared a million laughs with me!
I’d switch off my cell-phone along with the fraction of mind
That worries about office and work..
I wont bother if they use my desk to keep their dirty coffee mugs
I won’t worry about people calling office to ask me random questions
I wont bother about someone wishing that I hadn’t taken an off!
I would cook my lunch looking up the recipe
On an exotic Mexican culinary website
And I would run out of the house twice or thrice
To buy the ingredients of my lunch!
I’d doze off with the book on my face
And suddenly wake up by teatime
I’d put some cardamom and a tinge of sugar
To get my perfect masala chai!!
Early evening will take me out
For a brisk walk in the neighborhood
I would smell the trees that look like
They have just had a refreshing bath!!
I wish I could do things like these
On an eccentric rainy day in November,
My mind says it all but my feet get in the car
And drive me to the same hurry of work
I don’t feel sorry, for everyone’s tied
To what they should and would like to do
But I am just glad that at least my mind
Can stay back at home and have some fun!

Monday, November 27, 2006

Catching Cats. ;)

It takes the greatest effort in the whole world to put a grown cat in a bag.
I had to do this on two occasions in my life, and it must be said that I was left bleeding and Guilty.
It is a well-known fact that I get along well with cats. They find me amusing, good natured, even-tempered and full of love. The moment any cat gets to know that I am in its vicinity; it comes and circles me with a perfectly feigned innocence. They come meowing from all directions and jump on my lap. They get cuddled, stroked and talked to in a language that even humans wont understand.
Every time people with cats are entertaining me, their cats insist on sharing my pillow, my blanket and my cup of milk, which owing to my excessively kind nature I allow!

Certain cat-harassed people also use me to get rid of their cats.
Whenever a certain cat is being a damn nuisance in the household they think about me. When it starts using the beds to relieve itself, or drink milk while it is still being boiled. When it scratches on the wall making everybody’s hair go up in ninety degrees to their scalp or when it is delivering kittens and contributing to the cat populace with an exponential rate of increase they all think about me.
They try it themselves first, but all of them tell me that as soon as they even think of leaving it beyond the city border, the cat becomes suspicious, defensive and cantankerous. It eyes everyone with a curious doubt. Waiting patiently to reach for the milk bowl till it’s owner is way outside the range of being able to catch it. Or sprinting in the opposite direction at 80 KMPH whenever any one is seen with a sufficiently large jute bag. It begins to demonstrate the fact that it possesses retractable claws way too frequently for a normal unalarmed cat.

Then I am summoned. The cat forgets it’s present state of emergency when I step into the picture. It turns into this devastatingly mollified ball of fur. It will jump, rub it’s back against my calves, meow in heart-breaking melodious voice and make every attempt to be the milk of feline magnanimity. I spend about an hour with it and it starts feeling as secure as a baby feels when it is around it’s mother. If the cat is specifically stubborn I catnap with it and bring it at ease. All this while it’s owners are standing around equipped with a large airy jute bag and a nylon string to tie it with. I tell them to stay attentive as the cat could be put swiftly in the bag any moment. They all stand with their senses on their fingertips. It gives me great pleasure to see them look at me all awe-struck and earnest. Like I am their Savior.

One swift movement and I have the cat in my hand. It still thinks that I am picking it up out of genuine love. Then it’s owners run towards me with the bag wide open. At this point the cat looks at me with an expression that says, “Brutus you too??” I feel a sharp needle of pain pricking my heart but I reason it out with the “practicalities” of life like all idiots do to save their skin and hide their sin. We put it in the bag, in the mean time the fiery cat has taken a fraction of it’s revenge by scratching me right across my arm and has left a bloodstained sleeve. I put it in and we tie the bag.
The bag starts dancing and meowing around. You wonder if you should laugh at it, pity it or take it as your ticket to hell. But I do neither. I just look at it with my cup of tea (which the generous owners make in return for the services I offer)

Then I take it in my hands and start walking towards the car. Whenever it touches my knee or my calf, the cat makes sure that it leaves it’s mark. So I have to walk with the bag held at least a foot away from my body. Add a constant meowing and twisting in all possible directions. It is rather depressing and exasperating but you have got to do what you decide. While I am taking this customary walk people peep out of their windows, men on scooters turn their heads around (but I assume that it is because of my enigma..yeah I am THAT stupid), school children stop playing and start following me with an authentic question mark on their faces. I dump the bag in the car and get on the wheel.

I drive with my attention distributed on the road, and on the wriggling bag on the passenger seat. I drive to a distance from where the cat will take it’s remaining eight lives to come back to where it was picked up from. I choose a spot that provides ample scope for breeding of mice or occasionally around a biryani shop or a mutton shop so that my victim can at least hope for some leftovers. I park my car at the side and take the bag out. I point it away from my face (yeah I don’t want to disrupt my already average visage) and open it. For a second there is no movement. I gulp imagining the worse but then suddenly the cat runs out. It runs out with the fuel of panic and fear and with the newfound hope that it can still see the blue blue sky. It runs hard and when it is safely out of my reach, it looks back. I could die a million times over never to have a cat look at me that way again. It is one of the most helpless looks that you ever get and that too from a creature as snobbish as a cat. It says, “ You selfish B****, you duped me. You made a fool of me. You broke my heart. I hope you become a cat in your next life and I can repay your debt”

I return home with a heavy heart and a bleeding arm. But I always wish the cat all the very best. When I drop them off, I pray that they get over fed and turn into booming, boisterous, ravaging tigers that are invincible. That will need the efforts of a hundred Mes to be uprooted from their homes. I wish them luck, and I take all the bad karma off their pasts!

Thursday, November 23, 2006

The Gym Prayer. ;) ( To be sung before every workout)

O Mighty God of Fitness!!
With thy chiseled abs and sinewy arms,
You make the Arnolds and the Angelinas
You control the BMR of bodies fighting to keep fit
You give us the inspiration to stay away from Junk Food
You make us get up at Godly hours to hit the Gym
You make us give up Dinners in order to stay slim
You make us believe that someday we will lose the flab
You make us hope against hope that one day we’ll wear that spaghetti strap!
You are the driving force behind Nike and Adidas
You are every deep breath that goes inside us in the Yoga Class.
We offer you the honest sweat that trickles down our tired brow,
We offer you the denial through which we make ourselves Go
With all due respect to your consideration
With sincere gratitude for what I’ve already Got,
But tell me buddy, just once and for all,
When do I become the object of your Thought??!!

Friday, November 17, 2006

Why am I here? :D :P

I have homework at my meditation class. I have to think of an answer to the Question “Why are you here?”

I am here because I was a cat in my past life. I was way too haughty. I used to sprawl on the sofa and refuse to get up even if the Queen walked in. I spent my days in idle sloth, bathing myself in the morning sun and demanding food every other hour. I was practically worry-less.
I purred by the night and caught about five hundred and sixty eight mice in my entire lifetime.

There were moments of panic in my life when the neighbor’s dog used to chase me out of their fence while I was trying to catch an unsuspecting sparrow. I used to contemplate on the irony of life at such times. About how a victor (ME) becomes a victim trying to make a victim out of someone else (sparrow). After I saved my throat out of such chases, I used to turn pensive and meditative. Those moods however were always over-ruled by hunger calls and Whiskers, the love of my life. He lived two blocks away and used to come over every now and then to take me out. We sang duets that were the reason for a lot of empty bottles and water sprays being directed towards us.

I lived an immensely proud life. I refused to acknowledge the importance of my owner in my life. I groomed myself under the firm belief that my owner should thank the Almighty for giving him a cat like me. Sometimes my owner tried to amuse me by giving me a ball to play with or making me chase a fake mouse. I thought it rather juvenile of him and almost always ignored him completely. But now and then he brought a rather plain looking girl over and tried to show me off. At that time however I used to play with all the toys he wanted me to out of genuine pity for him. Unfortunately, due to the extent of his dullness even my occasional surrender of self-respect did not get him a long-term girlfriend.

I never got myself into street-fights. For I believed that no one was good enough to fight with me. I never spent time waiting earnestly for my owner to come back like the neighbor’s dog nor did I ever wag my tail and lick my owner’s feet. I thought it was violation of cat ethics to do dogly things to make myself liked. I never cared if anyone liked me. But I knew very well that I was immensely popular in the neighborhood. If anyone tried to make me get up from the couch I used to snarl and scratch. I was responsible for a couple of bleeding cheeks and a scratched nose that made about a dozen people laugh for a week.

I was seven years old when one day I was run over by a mail truck and was reduced to a two dimensional carpet on the street where I lived. It was a heart-wrenching end especially for someone who literally cat-walked through the neighborhood. For the epitome of feline beauty with the most irresistible blue-green eyes going flat in two minutes was a sheer disgrace. If I had known my end, I would have poisoned myself with a Mortein-infected rat. They mourned my death. Whiskers refused to have his mid-day garbage can feasts for three weeks after I died. After which he fell in love with a mediocre looking Siamese who had really ugly eyes. I thought I’d go to heaven for living such a regal life, but God sent me back as ME because he thought I had a lot of credit Karma.
He said I had yet to know things like hard work, insults, sorrows, benevolence, weight loss, workouts, math, heartbreaks, diets, having haughty cats as pets, alcohol, Tom and Jerry cartoons, engineering examinations, Viral fevers, humility, patience, money, perfumes, mass transfer, column chromatography, cooking a meal for people, baking cakes, washing clothes, punctuality, monthly income, air travel, driving cars in crowded roads, liking dogs, getting up at 5 AM, consistent panic attacks, migraines and robberies.

That is why I am here. And I have known almost all of the above.
I hope He turns me back to a cat in my next lifetime. : D

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

A trans-continental Love Story


One of my best friends recently fell in Love with a bloke. Earlier I used to think “falling” in love was like falling on a well-made feather bed after a tired day at work or falling in a tub full of warm water with rose petals and scented candles to go with. Or like falling suddenly into an unattended manhole (which is pretty likely in India) just to realize that you are not in the municipal waste- water but in an entirely new world full of fluffy clouds, fairies and cupids.

But she fell in love in the cyberspace with a guy who was half a day behind her in life!!
It’s so easy these days. Earlier if you had to get yourself a respectable match in India, your parents started out when you were 18 (yeah and if you had any manufacturing defects it started much before that). There was a time in our (glorious) history where parents were so insecure about getting their girls married that they booked them husbands when they were still in diapers.

Now things have changed. A bit too much I must confess but changed for the better. Now look at my friend, she was swimming in the cyber sea of millions of interesting and boring profiles when the God of the Internet (yes, we have to have a different one now as the God of communication is unable to handle the Internet) in collaboration with Venus made her bump into the Love of her Life. And what a match it was!!

She fell in love with her physician’s son. For years she used to go and see her physician for throbbing headaches. Headaches that left her sleepless and distressed. Some called it migraines some said she was just too dainty to take the pressure of a hard life!!
Her physician lived at a meager five miles away from her house. She was an able doctor who was one of the most sought after eligible mother in laws in town.
And all these years when my friend used to go see her with those rancid headaches, little did she know that this girl who was just a name in her appointments book is going to be the reason for her son’s heartache and euphoria!!

The Son comes into the picture now. He was the typical guy. The kinds that measure the quality of life they lead by the number of push- ups they do every morning. The one that is blissfully unaware of the “other kind”. The kind that wears lipstick and high heels..the kind that enters in a room with a whiff of fragrance… the kind that can cry at every occasion starting from an Onion’s funeral to being caught by a traffic policeman.
He was happy the way he was assuming (like guys always do) that life is just as happy as he feels right now. He did not sit at his desk, with his face cupped in his palms and with stars in his eyes wondering about the woman that might gently cruise into his life and change it forever. Not that he didn’t want to, but like all guys are he was a little short in the creativity department.

He was in the US and she was in India. So when they started e dating it was really hard to keep up. I used get euphoric phone calls at night with my friend doing a hundred words per minute explaining what he said to her over email and like all loyal girls do, I used to try and interpret it for her in “our” language. “Our language” is the collection of evidently useless conclusions girls reach about every silly thing their potential soul mate says to them. Useless because later we realize that guys say everything as a reflex action. Communication never comes from the twisted curves of their brain. They almost never mean what we want them to and what we conveniently conclude.

So I used to go off to sleep after giving her the day’s interpretations.
The next day first thing in the morning while I still used to be in the “eye-rubbing-grumpy-phase” my phone would ring with the latest update. This time she would be forlorn, melancholy and insecure about the future. She would curse all the 33 billion Indian Gods and lament in a particularly high-pitched lonely voice about how her life is like this soap opera tragedy. I used to give her some practical tips and ask her to get going, which she did most of the times, but then sometimes she used to show up at my place like she had not slept a single wink in 23 years.

Since her prince charming was about 10 hours behind us, they had this 24-hour love story going on, while ordinary people like me; who switch off their phones at 10 because they have to sleep were left far behind in this trans-continental exchange of emotions! I felt really hopeless some times. This love story brought to my notice that we waste an awful amount of time sleeping everyday while “others” march ahead on all the fronts of life. I actually started working late after I realized this.

He finally confessed, and they decided to meet when he comes to India. So now they are constantly in touch using all the available satellites. Which made me realize that in older days Moon was the only important satellite in Love. The Romeos and Juliets just used the Moon to get smitten and stare at it like idiots. Now, we use so many of them! If some good-for-nothing poet in the olden times would have come up with the sci-fi idea of artificial satellites being used to send love-messages across the globe; he would indeed have been the Galileo in his time. Love messages were meant to be sent through ridiculously white doves while satellite was only a luminescent and essentially useless mass in the sky that was supposed to create tides in the ocean and ripples of Hormone-induced feelings in the hearts of ardent lovers.
But Moon has inspired us nonetheless and now we have moony couples falling in love across the Pacifics and the Atlantics.

I am sure it will work out great for them. And I thank them both for giving me food-for-my-blog! :)