June 30, 2009

Friend of Days Gone By

One of the readers of this blog has written in her own about the mind finally winning over the heart. I wish I could do so too. But I know from experience when someone has to assert this victory, it just means the victory of a skirmish. What it really means is that the Mind has lost the war to heart. When the mind wins, it always does subtly, changing you completely from within, in the process.

Today I wish the mind had won for I have been feeling miserable all through June. And though I seldom speak about these weaknesses of the heart in public, I intend to do so today, simply because this might be the easiest way to find someone I lost a long time back.

It was the late eighties. And I was young. I graduated from my old school and family sent me to a new school. I was told, I would now be in Class One. I was about to become a Big boy. The school building was impressive and extremely awe inspiring. The boys looked smart and they were talking to each other in English. I was astounded. I did not speak in English. My parents did not. My sister did, but she did it only when with her friends. Why would anyone want to speak in English?

It was during those days of confusion that I had found two of my closest friends. These were friends who would remember Madhurjya and not let him vanish within Banjo when Banjo would be born. When I came back from college, they would be there, we would be meeting up. Things were definitely not the same as the last day in school, but then we knew we were growing up. One of them is still with me, bearing my phone calls at odd hours and at odd places, like when he is about to give his head under the mercy of a hair stylist in Amsterdam or that’s what he claims.

Anyway, this post is about the other. He was one of the most innocent people I have come across and apart from the man from Pondicherry, I don’t think many come close. He was loyal beyond measure. In fact, all three of us were, to each other. When I had faced my first group opposition, he was there supporting me without caring if he would be castigated from the community. And there is nothing more terrifying that being castigated by your own peers while you are in school.

Something happened between the years I spent in Pilani. He changed houses but for some reasons he did not pass on his new numbers to either of us. The two of us kept looking for him, wanting him to come back. We were the triumvirs since we had read Julius Caesar. But the fellowship was broken.

June always meant his birthday. And for the last few years June means absolutely nothing. While I smile with my new friends, in my heart I know I yearn for one of my oldest friends.

The mind is more pragmatic, wanting me to let go. It also warns me that it will never be the same. But I know I have re started relationships so many times in my life, it will not be a problem. My loyalty to the brotherhood wants one last chance.

A few days back I walked into the Church of Don Bosco at Matunga. And there she stood, Mother Mary in all her resplendent glory carrying the Baby Jesus. And I knew I had hope, still. Don Bosco is where we had started.

Somewhere in this world, is the friend of my childhood. May the winds bring you peace and glory wherever you are!

June 22, 2009

The Wait

She was waiting for him. He was to come home soon. Well, he could never have a home, that’s what he had said to her once. But at least, he was coming back to her after almost a year. She waited.

Everyone around her laughed. They said that he was a truant. He could never be trusted. She could see their faces. She knew they were jealous. When he came, everyone rejoiced. He touched many on his way and yet she knew it was to her heart that he would always return.

The clouds often brought his news. He was well, they said. Patience, they reminded her. He was known to desert his many lovers, often without a second thought. He wouldn’t do that to me, she thought. Sitting in front of her mirror, she looked at the lines on her face. They were slowly beginning to mark her age on her face. Doesn’t matter, she thought. He will wipe them away with his tender touch. She shivered at the very thought of it. His touch, his fingers trailing their wanton path, his eyes, black as a smouldering coal, devouring her beauty and their union culminating in the eternal and ethereal climax – birth of a new life.

She waited; her dusty attire, washed as best as she could, adorned her body. Her crown of dry leaves rubbed against her dry hair. The wait grew longer.

Suddenly one day, a messenger came riding on the westerly wind. He is coming, my lady. He is coming. Look at the horizon, the messenger said. And like all messengers, he hurried away, perhaps to give the news of his arrival to his other lovers. She looked at the horizon. Nothing there. She looked at the sea. Deathly silence over the vast waters told her nothing.

A few days later, another messenger came. She thought she was hallucinating. He had never been this late. She couldn’t get up from her bed. She lay there waiting.

Then one evening, suddenly the winds changed. The sea grew restless and the birds began to hurry back to their homes. She lay on her bed, eyes shut tight. She did not want to be disappointed again. The door opened. She could sense him. His smell was unique. It carried tales of countries with it, countries he had either given his blessings to or ravaged in his raging madness. She could feel his breath, warm, moist and full of promises. She was ready to surrender herself completely to him. She could feel his hesitation. Or was it deliberate? His lips brushed against hers, or maybe she just imagined it. But then like his many promises, his presence grew weaker, till suddenly there was deathly silence.

She lay waiting, waiting for him to come again, like the raving lunatic and fill her up with the ultimate gift, the gift of life.

Till then, she had no choice but to wait, parched for his touch.

June 16, 2009

The Chronicler

Sometimes your past hunts you down and stares at you. A few days back, it was exactly that and so much more. I have always felt a kind of bohemianism in me, never wanting to be tied down and even if I was neck deep in the day to day drudgery, I would like to believe that I was as free as the eagle, high up on the sky. Nothing could tie me down. Ever. Along all these years, if there has been one thing that had completely dominated my existence for more than a year, it was a college magazine and since then I have considered it my nemesis.

I have this habit of researching into the past. I guess I would have made a good historian or an archaeologist, maybe not as handsome as Nicholas Cage, but then a good one. Anyway, when I took over the magazine, I researched on it. I went back as far in time as I could, which unfortunately could only be till 1991. So, from 1991 to 2003 I knew everything that happened with the magazine. I found out how the magazine changed, evolved and retraced its step again and again. As I graduated out of BITS, I knew my romance with the magazine would come to an end. And then, finally the boy I had seen step into my room as I was preparing to graduate sent me the magazine he edited and then I knew that I had to finally move on. Like most of us, I grew older. Things changed. Times changed. And the magazine changed. Again.

The old order demanded that the Editor is never associated with any future magazines. It was one of those old, romanticized ideas which of course were trashed without mercy later, perhaps rightly so. I walked out of the magazine but I couldn’t let go so easily and thus I became The Chronicler and carried within me, umpteen stories, of dreams, heartbreaks, friendship, jealousy and sleepless nights, safe and secure so that till I die at least someone knows the stories.

I think I am lucky to be able to let go of power and position completely anytime in life. (OK, I am no great soul. It's just that I have hated interfering when my juniors have taken over. So it is not like I am some reincarnation of Buddha. Like most Indians, I have imagined myself to have power rather than have it I guess :) ) I have seen people cling on to their past associations and past glories, never realizing that it was time to move on. Yet, these might not be the ones most passionate about the task at hand.

For two years, life went on as usual till one day I stared back at myself, years into the future. In front of me was the Editor of the same magazine 8 years down the line, holding out for me a magazine 7 years past my days.

Have you ever smelled a new book? I find the smell intoxicating. I lost myself that night in its pages. I may have grown older but some things remain constant. Authors of articles in college magazines still write in English that is found only in dictionaries. The proverbial twist in the tale can always be anticipated. Writers faced with lack of new themes re interpret classics and epics. And like always it speaks about the mood of the students.

And I knew, I was The Chronicler, even if for one last year.

This is something I wrote in early 2003 as the opening page of the first ever (and the last till date) E-edition of our magazine. The first line will be enough proof to show you what I meant by English found only in dictionaries.

There are times in every student's life when he feels the urge to express himself, realizes the need to make his voice felt above the babble of trite existence. For BITSians, respite comes in the form of CACTUS FLOWER, the annual magazine that is truly of the students, by the students and for the students. Perhaps it is one of those very few college magazines in the world that has its Editorial Board comprised solely of students drawn from all the years. They owe allegiance to none, for a CF team member has to maintain the highest levels of impartiality and independence. Exactly when and how it came into existence is now lost in the memories of the past but over the years it has become an institution in itself, surpassed in grandeur and importance only perhaps by the Clock Tower.

June 08, 2009

Unaided Recall

So the other day I was savouring the excellently made Palak Dosa and talking about my cycling escapades to P. P is a good listener. She can hear on and on without grumbling and answering my incessant ramblings with only her sunglasses going up and down her nose. She might have caught a few rounds of napping too. After all as I spoke, I also ate, unlike her who is on a perpetual diet.

So I was telling her of my new theory on relationships. I know I started with cycles, which then turned into Karmic cycles and finally love triangles and then to relationships. I mean the path s from cycles to relationships are not that important. If they were there would have been posts about them.

As I was saying, if you simplify everything in this world to an exercise of segmenting, targeting and positioning (yes yes its classic Kotler) you’ll see that relationships can only survive if both the parties have a strong unaided recall in each other’s minds. We associate various things to people. For example, my lunch break memories from school are of A while the travel back home is definitely of S. Both were my closest of friends. Yet, they had a special place in some aspect.

You must have felt similarly some point of time in your life. For example, an evening at the India Gate can never be complete without someone while at the Gateway you will not really miss the same person.

So, for any relationship to survive, you have to have strong unaided recall in the mind of the other person. This will ensure that most of the things that they find important in lives have a memory associated with the other person.

Often stories are told about relationships that get nurtured without any sense of physical proximity. It can be a chance meeting over the world wide web, it can be a cross connection over the phone. It can remain the same if both parties agree, for it offers each of them a form of escape as you can paint a picture of who you are not, or who you would perhaps want to become.

However, if you want to develop it into something more than just virtual, you definitely need to meet the person and there is the issue. Expectations have got built up over time and you have painted a certain picture. Given the nature of human mind to exaggerate, you often end up painting a picture that is different from reality. So when you finally meet, you’ll never be able to make moments that ensure an immensely high percentage of Unaided Recall.

(Marketing enthusiasts please note that I am not talking of Top of Mind Awareness or TOMA, which in relationships happen only at the very outset or at maturity.)

The other day one of my favourite couples invited a few of us. They had been coupling for some time till their families also decided to entangle and get them married off. So like nice married couples, they keep inviting people to their home and make pani puris for people to gobble up. Now these are rituals. These are examples of how as they grow older they’ll not only increase their share of unaided recall but also their TOMA. I really am happy for them. On the other hand I know of couples who not only carry immense love and need for each other, but also enormous bitterness. I am not sure how they would end up.

At this point of time, P woke up from her slumber and said two extremely important things. First she said, “Can we please ask for the cheque?” and secondly she said, “Banjo! Thank God you are spending your life in office!!!” and shook her head exactly 5 and a half times and I am sure with a sigh.

June 05, 2009

What is Your Level of Banjoness?

First of all the disclaimer : I had nothing to do with this. Ro, a very dear colleague, in a moment of her immense creative outburst came up with this quiz on a Friday Afternoon. Since I have been silent in the month of June (so far) maybe here's something to test your banjo-ness by.

Of Course, this does not have the official endorsement :) but this is a trademark quiz by Ro :)

1. When poked and prodded on the tummy, you explain your cute bellyciousness with a
a. " I'm part-camel- part- human - that's last week's lunch."
b. "I stuff my shirt with cotton to give the impression of prosperousness."
c. "Jealous of this, huh baby?"
d. "Get lost, twit. I'm just well-nourished ! "
2. Your office timings are
a. 7 to 9
b. 11 to 4
c. 9 to 5
d. What? office has timings? And I always thought it was cool getting my pillow and blanket with me!
3. Your cuteness-factor comes from
a. the way you belch after a scrumptious meal
b. the way you sing 'Ekla Cholo Re" in a little schoolboy voice
c. the way you roll your 'R's."