Thursday, 1 September 2016

The Middle Class Equation; Can You Solve It?

You have ceramic plates but not a dining table. You have the best phone but your balance is always <10. You have a flat on your name but no bed to sleep on. The best shoes, but only a pair. An expensive perfume, but water in the bathroom only twice a day. A gym membership, but not enough food in the house. A first class train pass, but no car. A bike that always runs low on fuel. You can go for movies, but never afford popcorn. Money in the pocket, but the wallet is torn from the edges. There's always 13 bucks on you for one more cigarette, but who the fuck buys a pack? You hang out with big people, but remain to be small. You walk on the road feeling different than everyone, but still look the same.

Are you what the poor want to be or are you what the rich are afraid to be?

Man #1:
He has calloused fingers from working 16 hours a day. He sits in his associates' cars but takes a bus home after they drop him off. He gets home and spends an hour doing household chores before he can sit and have a glass of water. His kids come and tell him their expenditures for college, and even though there isn't more than any two notes in his wallet, he assures them that they'll have what they need in a day. He wishes for 36 hours in the day just so that he can work more, but doesn't really believe in God. He has no fixed hours of work, but the salary is always fixed. His wife demands for something small to pamper herself, but they both end up spending that money on the two children.

Woman #1:
She has two shifts in her day; one for four hours at home, and one for nine hours at work. She sleeps later than everyone else and wakes up before them. Her own dietary preferences were killed ever since the time she first took that pregnancy test. She had only her nonsensical soap operas as any source of entertainment, but gave that up as well because her family called it fruitless and unproductive. She spends most of her time feeling like a single mother with three kids. She gave up her passion because of her children's board exams, but was never able to come back from it. The world calls it self-victimisation, but she just calls it motherhood.

Boy #1:
He sings at a restaurant far away from home on the weekends while his friends go out to some place nice. He indulges in artistry to emote in the nights and bunks college whenever he can to save some bucks. He can't concentrate on small amounts of money because his parents sweat blood to make bigger things happen for him. Amidst all the Uber and autorickshaw chaos, he just takes the bus instead. Buying books is expensive, so he just gets them photocopied. He has a pair of Adidas, but they've been torn and sewn over and again. He comes home and hugs both his parents, just to find out that they had yet another fight.

Girl #1:
She's the youngest in the family. But there are no youngsters in a family like this, she thinks. She draws from her brother's experiences and stays as conserved as possible. She's good at art, so she buys plain clothes and paints on them instead of being reckless with cool clothes. Gave up most of her friends because a ride to Carter Road and back costs a day's worth of money. She cooks for herself to lessen the pressure on mother, but can't replicate the love and affection that mom puts into the meal. She sells her art to help mum and dad with the expenses, but she's worth so much more.

They, as individuals, sound like they're the best and most deserved among us. But when put together, they constitute of any other middle class family in this country. When everyone pulls off sacrifices for each other, no one can explain the cause of unrest and constant disputes between all of them. They all have a bigger goal in mind, but still caught in struggles of everyday life.

Can you tell what goes wrong?

Tuesday, 24 May 2016

Spitting Images

My journey began with a story.

When the train started moving and consequently began racing away from home, I sat still in my seat. There were so many thoughts that kept piling up in my head. But there's an ancient culture that believes in sitting and studying while shaking back and forth so as to make place for new information, just as how you'd do it when you fill a container with sugar or tea powder. And that's what the train did; shook me side to side. And new thoughts kept pouring in.

I was blessed by the Gods to know the people that I do, who I went away with leaving my for-certain-better-half behind. In the midst of extreme experiences for those few days, I kept thinking that escaping the city life would help me with answers. I do not know what I want from life at this point. And in such a time of crisis where the future hangs in the balance, people use pressure points in life as their excuse to escape. And they might even need it sometimes, but most of the times it's a selfish act where you leave your responsibilities behind and come back with a bigger pile of unfinished business and no answers to solve them.

"If you don't see your loved ones in the winds and the waves, the mountains and the caves, then what's the point of you having loved at all?"

Our loved ones are our spine. They strengthen us, keep us up, and our head held high. Not one of them, not some of them, but all of them. Just like the vertebrae in the spine, they help you. Together. And leaving even one of them behind is not an option. That's the mistake I made. I went to find answers to problems I couldn't understand all alone, leaving behind the one who helped me ask the questions in the first place. To her, I went away leaving her behind. But to me, I saw her everywhere. I felt her speak to me in the oceans and in the trees. Winds whirled with her words, and I felt her presence from the clouds. I thought I'd have a part of her with me in the photograph I carried, but she won't fit in something that small. No part of her will. Because she is everywhere. She was and will continue to be all around me no matter where I go, and I will not contain her in a photograph because I can't. In the winds and the waves, in the mountains and the caves, she will thrive. Because otherwise, what's the point of me having loved at all? Instead of humanizing her love, it's finally time for me to let it explode.


Monday, 16 November 2015

Bury Me in Blue and Red

"Greed has poisoned men’s souls, has barricaded the world with hate, has goose-stepped us into misery and bloodshed. We have developed speed, but we have shut ourselves in. Machinery that gives abundance has left us in want. Our knowledge has made us cynical. Our cleverness, hard and unkind. We think too much and feel too little."  
                                                                                                          -Charlie Chaplin, The Great Dictator.

         I saw blood. I saw a lot of it. There were sirens blaring and guns blazing all around me. People cried with their loved ones' in their embrace, but with no sign of life. There were bullet holes in every spirit as it left its body, and I could see dead people's souls as they passed by all around me. The fire in their eyes had died out. I saw an explosion that ripped through the gut of a fanatic who'd tied it around his waist in the name of God or whoever that might be. He was a good kid back in the day, but he was made to hold a gun in his hand way too soon. The explosion tore through and burnt away thousands of memories and experiences lived by people all around the fanatic. And they'd just walked in to get a cup of coffee. I heard screams of mothers as they wrapped themselves around their babies to protect them from bullets that were being fired in the air. I saw authorities with 9mm handguns trying to shoot at monsters with machine guns that tear through metal like it's paper. I saw a demon. Dressed up in all black, he held a gun over my head and dared me to move. I prayed to God and moved. He prayed to God and shot. And I stopped existing. I saw glass shattered, dreams broken, cries of the wounded that rip through the thin air. I saw a new world in front of me. A world I discovered today. I saw Death claim what was rightfully his. I asked him,
"Where do you take them?"
He said, "To a better place".
Confused, I asked, "And what about those who have to go to Hell?
Death was amused. He said, "Son, this is Hell. This has been your Hell all along".
I nodded, pretending to understand. "So then where is the better place?"
"Where God doesn't interfere", he said. And so I went with him.

         I saw the world stand still from that moment on. The streets remained empty, apart from the blood and the bullets that were spread all over the place. The relatives of the victims were now asleep with empty stomachs and tears that had rolled down half of their cheeks and dried up. I saw them each miss a part of their existence; a part that was assassinated by the demons, for the greater good of God. I saw flowers outside embassies, and candles at the feet of national monuments. I saw despair. I saw loss. I saw blood. I saw people pray. I saw people pray. After all of this, I saw them pray. I saw them kiss beads of significance around their hand. I saw them place their lips on a miniature cross. I saw them place their foreheads on cemented sand. I saw them join their palms towards the sky. I saw belief. And I saw no response.

         I saw God abandon us years ago. He abandoned us when Japan got hit by Tsunami. He abandoned us when the Twin Towers were brought down. Abandoned us when Mumbai was held hostage in 2008. When Paris was made to bleed. I saw him abandon us when I saw ten year olds play with AK 47s instead of stuffed toys. I saw him abandon us when the guy held at gunpoint prayed to him for help and had his brains blown out seconds later by a guy who prayed five times a day. God abandoned us a long time ago. Humans weren't his favourite creation. Nor his perfect creation. We were pawns that came into existence with evolution from the sand, and will return soon back into the sand. There is no bigger picture. There is no going anywhere after this life. There is what there seems to be and there is no more. What matters is what you and I decide to do in these few years that we have remaining. Whether we choose violence, lies, betrayal or kindness, truth and compassion. Whether we pray and despise those who don't, or keep religion within the walls of our house and walk out as a good human being.

And whether we love, or we hate.

#JeSuisParis


Thursday, 11 June 2015

Out, But Never Quite Over.

"In order to get things you've never had, you have to do things you've never done".

A wise man once asked me, "What's the first thing you need to climb a mountain?". I was sitting and chilling with a few members of my recently-formed family as we all started to think of the wisest answer that the question could possibly have. Our primitive and immature minds didn't quite spare us and our thought processes wandered off somewhere, leaving a dumbfounded look on our faces. Someone said water. Someone said accessories, like ropes and stuff. One person even mentioned those special terrain boots that you get(That was me, by the way). All kinds of answers were thrown out. Willpower. Determination. Strength. He looked at our faces, and smiled. And he just kept smiling, till we realised that all of our answers were baseless. Not being able to handle the long standing silence, I spurted out, "Just tell us, please!" And so he did. 

A mountain.

That was the answer. As simple as that. And we felt like fools. As simple as that. Perception of life changed that day. We realised that no matter how much pain we endure, no matter how hard we fight the fight, it's futile unless we know what we're fighting for. We all worked hard, and I know that we did because I could see it in all of our eyes. But that day, we knew for sure that we didn't have an aim. Well, everyone had dreams like 'I want a house at the seaside', or 'I want to stop being a common man', or 'I want a peaceful life with no stress'. But I'm talking about a sure shot goal. Something that defines your existence. Something that makes each and every breath of yours count. And so we developed that part for ourselves.

We all live our lives fighting. And I mean everyone. We all have our fight with life. And that's the thing about fighting life. It's never easy. We shed sweat, blood and tears, every second of every day, all for a better tomorrow. We cry, we laugh, we run, we jump and we fall and we get back up, hoping that one day, each step that we take will count for something bigger. We spend each second telling ourselves that there have to be downs for ups to come our way. But who defines how high up that up goes? That's the one thing that we can do. Define it for ourselves. And at the same time, we have to know deep down that if we want to go way up, we'll have to go way down before the up finally arrives. But it will. It always does. All you have to do is strap on a pair of roller skates and start going down the down, as fast as you can.

Luckily for me, I had someone who gave me those roller skates. And he's the best and the wisest man I have ever known.

"When vision is one year, cultivate flowers. When vision is ten years, cultivate trees. When vision is eternity, cultivate people"


Sunday, 1 March 2015

Troublemaker

        My thumb kept flinging the edges of my frontal two teeth as I stayed dissolved in my thoughts for the millionth time. People have this impression of me being overly dramatic because they assume I'm thinking about life and shit when I'm staring into space, when really I'm just thinking about food or something. But anyway, this time, I was actually dissolved in my thoughts. I sat at the window with my surrounding orchestrating the scent of peaches, cherry blossom and jasmines. I felt as if hair; each strand as lustrous as the pearls found in oysters thriving in the deepest depths of the oceans, was washing over my face. I remember staring out the two windows out and into the galaxies filled with celestial bodies, enough for someone to question their own significance. Snapping out of it a few minutes later, I realised that I was just imagining her scent in the room, her presence next to me and staring into her hazel brown eyes. God, they're the most beautiful thing ever.

        I've known her for a year and six months now, and I still remember my world turning upside down the day I first noticed her. I sat on the bench with "Kite Runner" clipped in between my fingers, a goofy look on my face. The book opened to show my favorite bookmark, a quote which said "Not all those who wander are lost". I looked up and away from the book, and that's when I'd first noticed her. She looked nothing like what she did the day before, but in all reality, she looked the same. It was just my mind playing games on me. Or maybe my heart. Who knows. Both are equally fucked up.

        Until this very day, this girl has managed to turn my insides out and give me in my hands everything that I was made of, everything that I've needed to see for a very long time. And although with every passing day she becomes a bigger mystery, she makes me find a part of myself that I thought I'd lost forever. I wish I'll be able to trek over those walls once again, and if that day ever comes, there will be no broken spirit anymore. Just joy. And one day, I hope I'll be able to make her feel whole again. She's easily the owner of many of my most precious moments, and she's a gemstone that won't be found anywhere else. She's the purest form of connection that I've had with anyone, and it didn't matter if losing myself was the price that I had to pay for coming across this menace of a person. She's the one person who will consistently matter the most to me,

forever and always.



Monday, 8 December 2014

Dance


“Dance, when you're broken open. Dance, if you've torn the bandage off. Dance in the middle of the fighting. Dance in your blood. Dance when you're perfectly free.”   - Rumi

              I walked into a studio for the first time ever. Covered with white walls on all fours and ceramic tiles from the floor up till the waistline, the dim orange and white lights made everything look better than it actually was. The people looked better. The smiles did too. The movement. The pain. The sweat. Life in general, looked better. I wasn't used to this comfortable of an atmosphere, I was just a troubled young man. I walked into the studio to release my inhibitions. After weeks and months of being impassive and pretending to be someone I'm not and was never meant to be, I needed a place where I could emote. Be myself. Understand what was inside, and do my own thing. I walked in thinking I could pop, lock, drop, move, groove. But when the beats started hitting my eardrums, I could do none. I looked down and stared with amazement at my two left feet. I heard a God whisper in my ears, "Give it time".

              Two months down the line, I didn't care. I learnt how to let go. I've learnt how to give in now. Every evening, surrounded by a God and demigods, life gets better. I can understand sound and why it exists now, and I can hear the lyrics in instrumentals too. I get the history behind a beat, and I can see what music does to my soul. I came to this place to emote, but little did I know, I can do so much more with myself now. I find my body speaking for itself when the music is played. It senses the pride, the groove, the pain and the feeling of letting go with each beat. I can hear it talking through the movement, showing me things I didn't know existed inside. And I now realise that this is a part of me. A part that tailors me more and more every day, makes me feel a different kind of pain than what I felt months ago; the kind I like. This part of me is glad that I walked inside the studio with two left feet a couple of months ago, the same part that fears a lot less than what it did in the past. This part is what says 'fuck you' to every negative wave that is destined to come my way, the same part that teaches me how to face it, better every day. "Dance from the inside first" is what a God had once told me, and it's what I do. So it doesn't matter if you or me are shackled by others and made to feel insane, because while they struggle to find the music in them,

we'll be dancing it all off together.

Wednesday, 29 October 2014

Pursuit of Happiness

         There was a kid once. Aged five, in the primitive years of his life. He was young, his age shaping him up like a potter shapes up clay; smoothly and swiftly. He ran around in lush green gardens with his mom by his side. Holding his hand she played along with him, rolling in thick green grass and hiding behind well-watered trees while one searched for the other. He wasn't a pricey kid to please. Simple things gave him more joy than he needed. A well-sized balloon would do over a remote control car. Holding his mother's hand would make him happier than holding a chocolate bar in his hand.

         He soon grew up. In his adolescence, his thoughts shaped him up like a sculptor shapes his statues; brutally but emphatically. His interests bent towards having a good time with friends, and spending the remainder of his time in front of the computer. His thoughts tugged at him to do something more productive, but he found his solace amongst what every teenage kid does. And slowly along the years of life and living, he forgot the type of joy that he once used to get from the simple pleasures of life.

         But he grew up further, and with time, his life passed him by. He now was supported with the comfort of an antique rocking chair, sitting under the shade of a creaking ceiling fan. He stared outside the window and into the sun, and realised how the sun seemed the same as it did forty years ago, when he used to play outside in the gardens with his mother. He had a daughter now, aged five, her age shaping her up like a potter shapes up clay; smoothly and swiftly. She gave him a faint call from outside the house, inviting him to play with her. Thinking it would brighten her day, he took along with him a bar of chocolate and offered it to her when he went outside. She refused and took his hand instead, and wore the same smile that he used to when he held his mother's hand, forty years ago.

          We have a habit of relating happiness to worldly things like money or fame, thinking that a mine of gold will give us more happiness than what we feel when we wake up to the company of someone we love. In a world where practicality rules above all, we think that buying a Mercedez might give us more joy than having a peaceful walk on the beach while watching the sun sink in the water. Happiness and the pursuit of it remains different for different people, but the bottom line for it remains the same. Peace of mind. A person can spend a fortune in pursuit of some peace of mind, whereas someone who has the company of loved ones or a friend to count on need not require money for it at all. A smile can work wonders and brighten up someone's moment, or a tight hug can turn someone's day around. Every action that we perform throughout the events of our life revolve around either giving or gaining some happiness. The only question is, at what cost? In the end, we all have to make peace with the angels and demons that live within us. And in the end, we take nothing that we've earned throughout life with us to the grave,

except for our peace of mind.