December 29, 2009

And Then She Left...

One more bright sunny morning, one more airport, one old city, one city that I have loved even before I had ever set foot on it, one city that grows on me every time I visit but somehow today there’s this vast emptiness within with a strange sense of peace and happiness. She left us behind about 4 hours back to start a new life and as I watched her go I realized how important and integral a part Red was to our lives.

There was no way on Earth I would have missed Red’s marriage. But this marriage was even more important to me as this was a test of my Friendship has no gender theory. And what ever happened over the last 48 hours made me realize the need to modify my theory.

I have been to many a friend’s wedding. The flight tickets to all these weddings alone would have been able to pay for my long awaited final switch to a DSLR. And whether it was A getting married, or V tying the knot, it didn’t matter much. After all, Bros would remain Bros; a little domesticated perhaps post marriage but not changed extensively. Women also did not change much; expect perhaps coming to meet me in a Saree when they intend to introduce their husbands to samples like me. After all, Watsa did tell me nothing much really changes. And I believe Watsa.

Red was however the first Lady Bro to get married. Or at least the one, where I was mature enough to understand what was happening. All through her life she has been this sweetheart loved by everyone who had the opportunity to meet her, even if it was for 90 seconds. Every morning as Gtalk signs in; she is the first one to wish a Good morning. During every bad day at office I am sure Red might call out of the blue and things will be better again. Red has this amazing capacity to cheer anyone up.

Few months back Red called to tell me about this guy in the US. She said she kinda liked him and I was ecstatic. Red was about to start a new journey. When I realized that she was beginning to really like our gentleman, I fervently began to wish that this should work out, for Red’s sake.

And then it was decided. On Boxing Day, 2009, she would finally cross over. Rain, Hail, Fire came pouring through the heavens but I knew I would be there. Perhaps the rationale behind Telengana was rational but a bandh would not stop me from being there when Red took her first step towards her new life.

I saw her for the first time as she was putting on Mehendi for the Sangeet. And from nowhere it hit me. Red was going off to the US. She would no longer remain the Red we all knew. And it was just not Red. Within the next couple of years, everyone would move on. Our lives were changing and that too very fast. For one of those few moments in my life that I am not proud of, I became selfish. I wished things remained the same. Red remains Red, I had just come to say hi and take a non existent break from work and soon I will be back to my desk with nothing changed. I can handle every change in my project networks, I can handle changes in product formulations, communication themes, everything but perhaps not this.

Red was blushing. She looked the perfect Indian Bride – beautiful, resplendent, shy and so alien. It has been over eight years and still she looked a different person. Someone I vaguely remembered from times of old. But Red looked happy. She was literally glowing. And that again changed everything. I began to see the pattern. Friendship is gender neutral but their evolution is not. The evolution of friendship post marriage between the 2 genders requires a lot more effort. I can’t perhaps right now sneak up to Red from behind, give her a slap on the back and shout, “Machhaaaa What’s up?” (Perhaps I should not do that to A as well!!! His wife is a dear but perhaps does not like a Sunny Deol type 12 kilo ka haath hitting her hubby. Should definitely ask her next time)

Swets and Set waited with me. We watched her leave. We, who perhaps were closest to her over all these last few years, will now need to rebuild our relationship. Maybe nothing will change. Maybe because Red is so awesome, she will never let us believe that she’s ever gone. But as of today, one of my best friends starts her journey towards a great life ahead.

Thus ended my post on the flight. But I decided to wait. And it did me good. Russian Princess gave me the slogan, “telecom internet zindabad” while ‘sunfriend’ checked out if I was coming for her marriage. That seems impossible as of today but I think I will be surviving missing the marriage as thankfully she’ll be in India.

Anyway as I logged in today, her gtalk showed offline. And it was ok.

December 19, 2009

Yada Yada Hi Dharmasya…

The scriptures promise the return of Vishnu the Preserver every time ‘Dharma’ is under attack. We Hindus believe that he has promised to us that he will return to save us as ‘Avatar’ – and that is exactly what James Cameron’s latest movie does for us. The eerie resemblance with the scriptures is not just in the name. The Na’vi are blue in colour, the colour of the 2 most revered Avatars of Vishnu. His ascent from the skies on the ‘greatest of all flying creatures’ was reminiscent of Vishnu ascending on Garuda to lead the Devas against the Asuras.

In the days when protestors are filling up the streets of Copenhagen, when world leaders are on their way to failing us and leading us to our doom, we are still searching for the last hope. And if the only thing you take away from the movie is that we individually can be the last hope for mankind then the movie has succeeded for today even though terrorism runs amuck, the most important ‘Dharma’ is still our first allegiance to the “Earth Mother”.

There has been a recent soul searching amongst Movie Makers. We have travelled from Independence Day to District 9 and now to Avatar. The story line is simple. It’s 2154. Earth is depleted of her resources and humankind has found “unobtainium” in the distant Pandora. But the Pandorans do not need anything from us, they are happy in their life, in touch with their nature and Mother Goddess.

The scientists have been able to develop Avatars – Navi bodies which can be controlled through human life, letting a crippled Jack walk, run and feel free. He is sent as an infiltrator amongst the Na’vis but then he realizes the difference between right and wrong. All through the movie I was reminded of the Spanish invasion and the subsequent plundering of the Aztec and the Inca Empires. History however never repeats itself in the movies. Jack Sulley became one with his Avatar and led the resistance and finally the invaders were pushed back to Earth.

The magnificence of the movie is not just about creating distinct new worlds. (I have dabbled in Klingon, Vulcan and even Elven. If I were the innocent, wondering kid I was once, I would have loved to learn Na’vi too) Many have done it before, but seldom have someone done it so well for one single movie and with so much care.

Do watch it in 3-D if possible. Even otherwise it’s worth it. But do not expect a breathtaking fight sequence from the first scene. Understand the subtle nuances of the movie in the first half, understand the life of the Na’vi and maybe, just maybe, you can be the ‘Avatar’ Earth is waiting for.

Lord, God, Master

Few days back as I was staring into my laptop screen desperately praying that the presentation there would suddenly have a life of its own and become of a quality that would change the face of Middle Earth forever, (just like the Duracell bunny removed all difference it had with the Playboy bunny) a mail popped up on my screen saying, “O you evil souls and sellers of soaps and soups and detergents and toothpastes, rejoice, for now you shall be taken to Goa.”

I guess no one read the mail beyond that to understand what would happen in Goa. It was just exciting to be out of your cubicle. We did a lot of things in Goa. For example, we stayed in a freaking expensive hotel whose rooms had open air showers (You have to see it to believe it. In case you can’t, imagine taking bath under a waterfall standing on pebbles) without any doors separating the room with the bath room. Anyway, before you get unreasonably excited about the possibilities that are showcased in Priyadarshan movies, let me tell you that we found the easy way out. All of us became bathroom singers to let everyone know that there was someone under the shower.

This is the other Goa. The Goa of the rich and famous. Here hotels have their private beaches, places where you can play football while the waves wash your feet – something I have always wanted to do. And though I shall always root for Germany in the World Cups, I realized why the Bengali within my heart would always dance the Samba.

It was a regular team bonding trips of corporate India. But one night something happened. The private beach of the hotel had rows of the wooden couches where in movies women and men with great bodies lie but in reality you see layers of parched adipose tissues, unless of course you are unbelievably lucky.

Anyway, it was two in the night and I was lying there alone. It was high tide. The waves came very close and almost threatened to touch the grounds near me. It was not the gentle sea of the day. Rather it was the animal let out of its chain out to devour anything that stands in the way. Looking at the waves I felt powerful beyond all measure. There was not a single soul in sight and I began to feel like God. I felt I was the One who created everything, the beginning till the end. The Alpha and the Omega.

The waves kept on coming closer. I waited to see whether they finally would bend before their master. Suddenly, all fell still. A last roar of wave came along and washed the entire shore. Beside me I found an Oyster, still breathing. Perhaps it was my best chance in life to find a pearl, perhaps it was not. But to pry open one living organism to look at what precious stone it held seemed ungodly. I was after all the Lord, God, Master. I took the oyster, walked towards the sea and safely put it back. The gift of life was greater than the Mother of All Pearls, if any such thing existed.

And suddenly at that point of time I felt scared. It’s dangerously alone to be the Creator; it’s an unbelievable responsibility which no Human can ever undertake. God is lonely and that loneliness is unimaginable. I took a last look back at the sea.

To choose whether to be a God or a mortal is often easy. I walked back towards the shore, towards mortality, towards humanity.

December 15, 2009

Growing Up Professionally

Last few months have been excruciatingly painful on the professional front. The work has piled up, there seems to be no end in sight to the task at hand, things are always in a flux and suddenly between office and bed, friends have taken a back seat. Sometimes they understand, sometimes they don’t but these months are having an impact on my life than few others have had.

This has been a time when I have realized the need for maturing as a professional, taking the tough calls, being accountable, taking decisions in a snap and being answerable for them. It’s not that this gives me some kind of an adrenalin rush. It’s just that I feel responsible towards what I think is the right thing to do.

Suddenly last week the recurring theme amongst many people have been, “when’s the last time you did something for the first time?” And I think I am lucky in that aspect. Everyday over the last month I have done something new, something different, something I have not done before. The back aches at times but the mind gets exhilarated.

The other day I was at a professional photographer’s studio. I looked with awe at the meticulous work that goes into his work, the level of detailing that needs to be done for each shot and I should admit that I felt a tiny pang of jealousy at him being so much better than I ever will be.

But my mind raced back to BITS and the first days of joining Dopy, the Department of Photography. My intense love of photography had made me take a decision which had baffled most at that point of time. And that day as I discussed the technicalities of the shot I realized why no one ever understands why certain events occur in our lives and how each of them lead us to our destiny.

December 13, 2009

The Vampire Love Story II

So I watched the second installment of the Twilight Saga. The vampires did not disappoint me at all. And to top that off, there were werewolves. And that’s fascinating. So here is how the story goes.

Bella cuts her finger at a family gathering. Seeing the blood, her in laws want to eat her up. So controlling their urge, they leave the city. Now like most women she has a best friend who’s a guy. Given the fact that her blood sucking lover boy is out of sight, she goes and meets her best friend. But you know what, they can be just friends. And of course, he can do a complete makeover of her bike for free. Thrice the poor guy tries to kiss her and thrice she plays the friend card. No wonder he turns into a werewolf.

And as we all know, werewolves and vampires do not get along well together. So imagine Bella, who Victoria the babe vampire wants to kill, is being protected by her vampire in-laws and her werewolf best friend. Way to go girl. You’ll go places.

I actually have decided I do not want to read the series. The movies are just too much fun to watch.

I also cleared some backlog and watched London Dreams. London Dreams suffered from having a completely forgettable music score. When you make a movie about music, you should definitely have great music. Salman and Ajay both acted well. Ajay was the typical caught between crossroads guy who always wanted to be “Mai ka Lal Jaikishan” from his childhood. And such a “Mai ka lal” he was that he actually was able to survive in London without a penny as a child. Mind blowing. I also watched De Dana Dan. I remembered laughing a few times here and there. But that’s just about all I can remember.

December 03, 2009

A Year Younger

I seem to be writing quite a few Birthday Posts. It’s as if I am supposed to write them. Like an obligation. Oh my God! It’s birthday time. So it’s post time. But what the heck. My birthday is just over. It’s late in the night and it’s a good time to write. Now, interestingly, as you add years, what you add to your life also changes. You add inches to your waist, bad cholesterol to your diet, worries to your head and at times even ketchup to your shirt. And you lose some things, friends mostly, money too. But then money is a random variable. You win some you lose some.

To be honest, I would not have written this down. The original plan was to mail a few friends the frustration that usually comes when your body and mind wants to be 14 while the world thinks you are almost double that. On the eve of the Birthday, the mood was dark. I seldom have them. Typically, I stop at being melancholy. But that evening it was dark.

I did not know what to do for my birthday. Work had piled up and the pile did not look or smell nice. Imagine a cockroach infested clothes bag filled with smelly socks. It was worse than that. And it irritates me to my wits end when all people can come and ask is, “Arre you have no plans for your birthday?” Why on Earth should I make plans? It’s just like any other day. Yes, I was born today. But so what? It has not changed the world. It has not made this a better place to live in. It has not even affected anyone’s life. So what exactly should I be celebrating? The fact that I am adding up the years and all I can think of is, “Ahhh! So when should I make the next PPT?” Don’t get me wrong, I like my job but as I said I don’t know why on earth was I born at all?

These are existential questions and we all go through it. However, it just was adding up that night. A cold, running nose, work, stress, it was a mess. And I was sure that it was going to be the worse birthday ever. I went out late from office. Went for a long walk to clear things up in the head. And then something happened at around 10:30

My roommates were back and with a huge cake. Well, I love them and I think it was awesomely sweet of them. But the person who came with them surprised me all the more. She did not need to be there. After I had so rudely snubbed her in the evening when she told me that I should be having a life and get out of the office. Well, to be fair to me, I was sarcastic and not rude. Whatever. The important thing was that I had friends that late into the night.

And things started looking up. Calls came. Messages came in. Boss took us out for lunch at the Taj. I got an awesome DVD set of Shakespeare in Movies from him. It was a touching gesture. And that’s exactly the point when the gloom lifted and I started counting the blessings instead of cribbing about what I did not have. My team remembered. The chef at office made some really nice ragda patties. And I still have unread wishes on facebook. Clearly orkut is no longer the favourite choice.

Everyone has in their lives certain events that never happen and yet we wait for it. I am a part of the set called everyone. But the best part of the birthday was that this was the first time when the thoughts of them did not even flutter through the mind.

This birthday I guess I finally was free. Because when you are staring at the pits, all you can do is look up.

December 01, 2009

How Not to Marry into Vampire Families and Other Stories

Yes, I finally saw Twilight. Girl meets boy. Boy is vampire. Other vampire wants to eat girl. Something happens. Bad Vampire dies. Movie ends. But the movie is cute enough. More importantly, the movie told us what risk people who are about to get married might go through. The women at least are safer. The men have a real problem. Let’s say you are a boy. The girl’s father meets you.

Father: Beta, hum na vampirewa hain!

Beta: Ha ha

Father: Nahin beta sach hain. Har week meri beti aapki khoon choosegi. Sunday raat ko.

Beta: Ha ha. Shopping toh sari ladies karte hain. Aapki beti bhi karegi.

Father: Nahin beta, hum blood bank ka blood nahin peete hain.

Beta: Bachao!!!!

Now let’s say, you are a girl. And You are meeting the boy’s mother.

Mother: Beti, hum na vampirewa hain!

Beti: Saare sasural wale hote hain.

Mother: Nahin beti. Hum asli ke vampire hain

Beti: Aapka beta meri khoon choosna chahta hain?

Mother: Haan beti. Har Sunday raat ko.

Beti: Ruko. Police ko bulati hoon. Khoon bhi dowry hain.

Mother: Bachao.

Then I watched Paranormal Activity. Supposedly the greatest horror story ever. And even I did not get psyched. I am psyched at everything. Even spoofs of Horror movies. So I tried all tricks. I even made scary noises myself but to no avail. So I watched Rounders. It was a great movie for those who love Poker. And finally after all these years I saw Pan’s Labyrinth and am ready to put it into the same league as Bridges to Teribethia. It was beautiful. The way reality and fantasy were linked was interlinked, I was left wondering.

Watching movies make you feel nice if you have a fever through the weekend.