Life is taking a new turn, and this time for a change it is an exciting one. The fact that the co- travelers are an encouragement and inspiration, makes it entirely better. It is not the road less traveled; in fact, it is a road where there is an increasing decline in travelers. The area in itself is undergoing radical changes both in its methodology and technology. A double-edged sword and often in such circumstances it is often the moral fiber of the profession that comes under the scanner. And sometimes it becomes imperative to fall back on an old root. I am entering the field of education.

Just the other day, I was thinking of lines to introducing myself to my future colleagues and I wanted to impress and more over I felt a burden, because I came from ‘Bollywood’ and was hanging from this idiotic feeling of importance which had no grounds. But then I am sure you will all understand me, I just said I am from Bollywood…the land of the Bombay Talkies. Something (sense) prevailed over me and I did not talk about Bollywood…and I would like to leave those woods just there. When you walk through the woods you are scared…and your fears make you construct things (very rarely do they end in the construction of a story)…and when you walk in groups, you are just making noises to scare away the elements you are scared of. Now the problem here is that we are all travelers and for a change that is a problem. We don’t live in the woods, for may be the woods are fictitious…but so is living. There is no communication (connect) between the woods and its travelers for we are just trying to navigate our way through it. Somewhere down the line there are some missing threads, abandoned, cut off, murdered…and the answers perhaps lie there. It will be interesting to go back and unearth some. The question on the table is why does Bollywood have such low moral grounds? Is it connected to the history of film content? Did the stories influence its carries…or rather the shallowness of the stories make its carries disinterested and hence an erosion of values? Does it have a relation with the shift in technology? Did inter personal relationships change in the film industry with the shift in technology? May be technology shift required a human touch.

It is the chip that read situations for you today and every new day you will meet a new ‘chip of the old block’. You start distancing yourself with the technology in hand. But then the new chip is not the villain here; it is the adaptation process of humans while moving from ‘the chip of the old block’ tradition to the ‘chip controlled’ that needs a harder self-interrogation.

So may be Stories need new education or education needs new stories…which ever way one looks at it, I am there where the stories are…so there…

Use Hand Wash

September 29, 2012

There is a weird feeling within…i think if one christens it ‘Change’ it will only be a fair judgment. The other day somebody asked me…you believe in God now…?!!!..i thought you were an atheist…for a second i did not know how to answer…and then i asked myself…was he asking a question or was it a statement…?

i remember telling him…” i do not know what i am…or what i have been”…i don’t mind believing in God…but certainly i do not know what to believe in that…

few days back i told my wife…lets make lot of money….we were watching TV…Kaun banega Crorepati…the statement had nothing to do with the show…i think my wife picked that up pretty soon…she did not hide the surprise in her eyes…she reassuringly told me..” yes we will”..and we went back to watching TV…changed the channel…

yesterday i decided i should take a bath…my wife has been insisting…eventually she managed to force the action with a threat..” if you are not going to have a bath..you cannot carry Ima(our 4 month old daughter)…i was in the bathroom before i knew it…once inside, i started to think…the warm water from the shower suddenly reminded me of purity…again nothing to do with the quality if water that reach our taps…i told myself..” i have to be honest…what do i want to do in life…?”…it was a long bath…when i came out…my wife had a wry smile on her face…she said..”were you masturbating?”…and then it struck me…i could have…how did i forget…

there is a button inside me that suddenly pops itself on…i have not been able to earn enough money to hire scientists to figure how and why it happens…when it pops itself on…i start to lecture…i used to think, the reason was alcohol…but these days i do it without any spirit…during one of these lecture session (often my wife bears the brunt)…i was talking about frugal living…how we should have a check on the money we spent…and how for the past 7 to 8 years we have never been disciplined about it…the next day morning i go out to buy diapers and when i came back i had two large bags and a fat bill in my pocket…and i went and sat in front of my comp and started looking for second hand cars…my wife just came and asked me…”why are we looking at spending all this money now?”…and the button popped up again…”Topic: Dreams and life when one does not dream”

Buying a house in bombay…now that is a dream…it is not my dream…but it is a dream…the general dream.  general dreams are also topics of discussion whenever there is more than two people in a room…somebody says house, someone else will say Buy and then there is a big fat discussion about money…to the extent that it can be more suffocating than a closed room full of smoke…this is a natural occurrence in bombay…like its rain…it is meant to flood…but for some of us like me..its a tsunami…not only do i have i seen the kind of money they are talking about..but also i do not seem to be motivated to see that kind of money…i have started to believe that there is something seriously wrong with me… i mean it has to be a health situation…i ask myself..do i want to make money..i say no…then i question myself..but why…the answer is i do not have a clue…then i am forced to probe…do you think people should make money…and the answer is very clear…yes.. definitely…so you want to make money…and i can feel the silent shake of my head…trying to convince some other part of my body…now there is some other part which does not seem to be excited about the prospect of making lots of money…it is telling my head…but i will spoil myself…i cannot take that chance…see how cigarrettes and alcohol turned out for me…they are still in my head…my eyes start to wander…looking for a sign..i might just jump up and declare…i want to be a millionaire…and trust me i am on the verge of doing it and suddenly i realize i am no longer in the smoke filled room…i am on my toilet seat. i cannot take the jump even if i want to, i mean i can but it will only mean that either i will never want to make money or i may never take a dump…then i console myself…its mumbai…one has to be in the right place at the right time…but then agin…who has the time…

i walk out of the toilet…and my wife shouts from the bedroom…Use the Hand wash…

forget the shit…i use hand wash if i touch my bike…is it a clear case of identity crisis…loosing the grip over what is sacred…my two wheels were worshiped all this while…i mean the bike used to bring clarity…now i question that very clarity…the answer lies not within me..but inside my daughter, Ima…i guess i have no option but to wait till she starts to speak…till then, its hand wash time

 

Solar dreams

November 24, 2011

The mind is numb and you keep looking back at the years gone by. The detail with which it is projected makes you wonder why there seemed like a lack of clarity back in those days. Or is it wisdom that was lacking and not clarity. What is gone by is gone by and there is no merit in butchering it to look for the heart of the matter. And more over one seems to be more anxious about the days to come, rather, back in those days one never thought of days to come, unless of course one was worried about the headache that follows a heavy drinking night. When i say ‘back in those days’ it is not very far back in history, the category applies to even just 15 days back from today too. Then what has changed that one finds running a marathon between a certain past and an uncertain future. The truth of the matter is ‘nothing’. Also at the core of the ‘truth of the matter’ is living a life that i never thought i will be living in my conscious state. Sometimes running fast between past and future makes the present feel like a dream. 15 years back in my diary, today was dated as the day i am stuck somewhere in the highway with a punctured bike tyre and i decide to take a break from the road. If i am to pen a diary today, it will say so, i live close to a highway, i have three bikes that are not punctured and i am waiting for the traffic to calm down before i hit the road. All the words from the dairy page 15 years back are here too, it is just that each one of them find itself in existential angst. Well the angst is relative and comes alive only when i compare it to a page dated 15 years back. With petrol costs higher than most cities in the world, and an ozone layer that is wide open for a disaster an 18 year old today may not pen a life on road for his/her future. But a truly adventurous 18 year old will certainly look at a life on road on solar power…which is close to what i am. Once you dream of a life on the road, no home will make you happy. And my solar dreams are beginning to flower now. The fruits are going to take time…in the mean time the roads are getting hotter and hotter, thanks to the consistent depletion. In a strange sense the destruction gives rise to a lost dream. Some may call this optimism, i am at a loss of words to describe thoughts that rise from a certainty of destruction and desire to see the re birth of a dream long lost. And amidst all these random collection of brain signals there exists lives that being scanned for a heartbeat which becomes the catalyst of hope…a chance to relive my childhood and live the life again…and maybe…maybe, the past flashes in detail because you had a dream as a child which was forgotten and lost. Maybe Child is the father of man. Wait for my diary page 15 years from now…

Lying low

November 24, 2011

Year’s back, after a routine session of punishment from my father courtesy a failed attempt by me to side step him with some delicate lies, i was lying tired and hurt on my bed. His words kept ringing in my head…Never be dishonest…according to him, the fact that i went to play with my friends without completing the assigned task didn’t matter, the fact that i did not come back before cut off time did not matter,…what mattered and why i was lying there with slightly numb and warm cheeks was because i lied. I told him i went for ‘combined study’. The combined study was the in thing…the one and only excuse we had, to do whatever we wanted to do outside studying. I guess the name is derived from the same; one has to combine other things with studies…

He hated lies and punished liars ‘whole heartedly’…this was hard to swallow for me. When you are a child and life is not in your control what else can a child rest his or her shoulder on…? Lies were the single largest support system, maybe after mothers. Every time my father punished me for my lies my mother cried a lot. This was routine…so much so that i felt if i don’t lie i may not even have a relationship with my father. I guess my father felt the same as he never thought twice before punishing. I had become an expert in lies (it is a different matter that my father had become an expert in catching them) and one day i suddenly realised that lies are nothing but stories. All stories are derivations of either a lie or a series of lies. So I started writing…and i did find an occasional fan in my father. But my inspiration was not my fan/s…it was the pleasure of lying that kept me going. The whole world had become one singular molecule, a lie…life i thought is going to get better and simple.

I moved further and farther and ended in a profession that told stories. And then the classic spasm caught up with me, “the grass is always greener on the other side”. I slowly started to have a problem with the fact that stories were lies. As long as they lied there on paper it looks simple and beautiful but the moment it comes out and takes forms the lies seemed bigger. Large money was involved; everything that was associated with them seemed like bigger statues of dishonesty. The transition from a story to a lie to an act of dishonesty was in action though reluctantly. I was on my way to become a filmmaker. But i resisted them; i wanted to tell stories, not lies. I had forgotten that one has to pass through the dark tunnel to see light. Habitually i questioned the very thought, why the tunnel to see light. Why can’t it be utopian and only light? Well i never asked anyone this question for the fear of ridicule. Here in lies the trap…you get stuck in the tunnel and start to lose trust in the light and slowly deny its existence. Some people in this country call this communism. What if a simple bloke just wants to tell some stories, not sell them…its utopian i realise now… If u want a story to see its light, it has to be sold. I don’t know whether this was different in the stone ages and the misery we find ourselves in is a construct of modernism. All i know is if a boy used to write stories because he loved to lie and grows up to become a storyteller who hates lies…it can’t be due to  the depleting ozone layer. It is because he missed some bus/es somewhere…i start again with my father’s words echoing in my just slapped, pinkish and hot ears…”kill someone if you want but do not lie…”…picture abhi baki hein mere dost….

First draft…

August 8, 2011

“Mr. Rastogi…in that case..tell me..how does an induction motor start ?” (may not be the accurate lines)This is my favourite moment from the film 3 idiots… ..Mr.Rastogi’s answer is one of those things that you always wanted to do…always came to our mind, whenever we faced such a situation but never did…i guess because we were not drunk or rather not drunk enough…and by the time we reached college we were too drunk that either we were never in class or was snoring away in the class, dreaming…and your reputation forced teachers to not even bother…When I say drunk, I don’t only mean this literally…drunk is also the passion that was within us…back in school…we were not sure the passion existed…there was no time to think…and by the time we reached college..there was too much of time and hence pampered drunk…well.. situations led  us to different routes…I bunked a lot of classes in college…enough to make sure that if the teacher wanted to ask any questions…he will have to come and find me. There was never any great reason for my teachers to work that hard…One day I had an accidental meeting with my dean in the teacher’s room. I had gone there because I was called in by a ‘new lecturer'(who I didn’t go meet on his earlier request as I thought my friends were pulling a fast one on me) who wanted to see the face he has been marking absent since he had joined…he was a sweet man…happy to see my face and wished me luck and asked me if I intend to visit the class any soon…I smiled and said ‘Sure”…I didn’t want my teachers to think that I nurture bad intentions…rather carried positive outlook. on the way out I bumped into my dean…a very soft-spoken calm man, who taught economics…and maybe hence used words economically…He was genuinely surprised to see me…

“hello”, he said…which i returned promptly…”you have lost weight”…he contd…” how are you?”…

“I am good sir…”

“how is life treating you…I heard that you won some best dancer thing at the ladies club…true?”

I was expecting a lecture on ethics of an earnest student and hence was not sure how to tackle the situation as it felt like he was going to ask me to marry his daughter..I looked at his pale white round face…the glowing eyes…average height…must have a beautiful daughter…could be my age…what if she is that gorgeous one from 2nd year Bcom…I have always secretly admired her but never had the courage to go and talk…what if she must have told her father to speak to me…is the new lecturer her brother…?

“What do you think?” the dean called out to the new faculty…

He shook his head, as if agreeing to something they had discussed earlier…maybe at home last night…” I wish I could see him more often…” and he moved towards the window…

He has light brown eyes…He has light brown eyes!…this has to be her brother…and the eyes…they are all the same…the father’s, brother’ and the sister’s…I had failed to notice this before…the dean always hid his beautiful eyes behind an obnoxious looking glasses…

The dean put his arm on my shoulder…” are you in a hurry?”…i shook my head… i had waited for 3 years to speak to the girl…what is the hurry now…and managed to say all this in one shook of a head.

He smiled…”I have to meet the Principal, elections are round the corner…you guys know how it is…” I shook my head again…this time I was the obedient son in law…who knew exactly what he was saying…” are you standing for elections…this year?”…I shook my head again…I have bigger responsibilities, i told myself…and i thanked all the gods i knew and could recollect for choosing the right words, well almost the right ones when  my brother-in-law asked me about visiting his class…and i promised to put ten bucks in the nearest temple as soon as i walk out of here for making me sound affirmative.

“wait for me here…we will talk peacefully…you want some tea or coffee…?” I was too shocked to react…the dean left the room…

I sat on a plastic chair by the wall…i had never looked at the teacher’s room in detail…it had blue windows…the kind of blue that made the sky look painted…high ceiling…anything other than a whisper echoes…as my nervous cough did…the teacher’s drank water from a khooja (clay pot fitted with a metal tap). we had the big steel one cupboard like water tank with taps that had strong reflexes…the serenity here amazed me…when we drank water we were like fish in shallow water fighting over some thrown biscuits except that we made loud sounds as if we jumping on steel boxes. the cupboards in this room were all antique and wooden..baring one large green steel one…it was right next to the door…somehow the wooden ones were all hidden by the shadows the room created…the smell too was different…in fact there was no smell…making it all the more mysterious…the near silence broken only by the whispers exaggerated the desire to look for a smell…sometimes you feel that the room is filled with the smell of the flowers the Hindi teacher wore on her head…but if you turn to your left…it was the pakodas…found lying cold in an open plastic tiffin box on the journalism teacher’s table…the teacher is missing though…the fans were from the British era…i mean there were no brand names on it…it had long handles or whatever you call it…in order to compensate for the high ceiling…each fan leaf was broad enough to carry a floral artwork which looked like it was carved in ivory or something…something royal but ignored by years of democracy…the room looked potentially historic enough to witness moments that are rare and special…the dean’s cabin was in the corner of the room….it had a glass pane partition…there is a half burnt incense stick stuck in between the metal frame that is holding the glass panes together…there was no smell…but it looked like there is some kind of exotic fragrance lying beneath that is waiting to be lit..set free.

My brother-in-law was leaving the room…he came up to me and said…”See you soon…” and he winked.

As he picked up some notebooks from the green cupboard by the door…he continued..” where do you live?’

“Kaprigudda”, i said…

“oh! flat..? with friends?”…

i nodded…

“classmates…?”…

i nodded again, this time disapprovingly

“Hmm!” he had a wicked smile on his face, nothing harmful…more a friendly wickedness..”inter disciplinary roommates…that should be fun…one often finds your soul mates in other departments…” he winked again…and left the room…i wanted to wink back…i didn’t get a chance or maybe i paused in contemplating mode long enough…i looked up at those royal fans and winked…not once …but repeatedly…i had never winked so many times at a stretch…and winked never at a fan before…but there is always a day for anything new…this was one of those days…this room is something else…it even echoed winks…Suddenly my brother-in-law came back in…he must have seen me sharing my joy with the fans or maybe ‘heard the echoing wink’…

“You ok?”…his smile was pasted on his mouth.

“you want me to put the fan on?”…i gave an embarrassed giggle…”bye” he said and vanished for ever…

i walked up to the door..there was no one…not in the corridor…not the stairs…was it a ghost…or was it me…?

“you are leaving?’ the dean was coming up the stairs as I was looking out into the corridor…

“No, sir…i just wanted to drink some water”

“you will have tea? or coffee maybe…? …I didn’t answer that…I looked around me as if i felt he was asking the question to somebody else…deep down it had a layered meaning…i didn’t consider myself worthy of sitting and having tea/coffee with you sir…were you asking someone else…? that was the layer…

i don’t think he read the layered meanings as he took my silence as a no…and he went in to his cabin…

“Come in…” he had the phone in his hand as he called out for me…”Tea…?”…i shook my head approvingly this time without layering or coding my answer…

You see…Mr. Kamath (Bcom dean) had some complaints against you…I told him i will speak to you and will sort this internally…after all we are like a family here…isn’t it?”

“Yes sir…”…I smiled as i answered him…it was the  smile of the protected one…the smile was like kissing the hand of the Godfather…with reverence and adoration.

” being family we have to sort out some family matters too…” he spoke as he pulled out some files…”this is of no consequence but just wanted to tell you that you are a god damn ghost in this college…” he smiled as if to suggest that he was the impressed Godfather…

I was family and had nothing to hide, i wanted to wink but instead…i smiled back..” Sir, i am all over the college…you are always either in this cabin or in the classroom…the unpredictability makes me the ghost..i guess…”

He was surely impressed with my answer..and he said…” Well my Ghost at least you know where to find me…so why don’t you bring your father this Monday…I am sure the tea will also come by then…”

He still had the Godfather’s smile as he lit the incense stick…

there was no smell…it was all a hoax…

Since when have we as people started to forget what we really wanted to be as kids…or is that a dumb question to ask?My route to creativity started with writing…well one can argue that i didn’t have a camera back then or else it could have started with films. Lets face it…when i was supposed to create a portfolio for a test for admission into a film institute i asked around for a camera and there it was, lying in one of my close friends house…i meet this guy everyday…i mean we met to smoke cigarettes everyday…he nearly killed me when we went out in his uncles car after he claimed to have got driving lessons…he was trying to light a cigarette, and i was the amused and experienced smoker inside that car…and as this was happening the car decided to cross the road until we were woken up from our driving adventure by the sharp sound of a horn, normally heard from buses which often honk before they hit…to our luck the bus honked long enough or may be early enough for my friend to realize that the steering was unmanned and the wannabe Marlboro man swung to action…while all this was happening i was amused the whole time…it only struck me post the bus passing by… that the cigarette could have killed us…anyway…we puffed away…thinking of all this i have come to a conclusion…if the camera was lying there and if i wanted to make films …why didn’t i do one before it came down to a question of getting into an institution …that is so not me….don’t get me wrong, i love films…i love to make films…but is that really what i want to do…all my life…feels a bit like the car that decided to cross the road…i used to love sketching…i stopped doing that ages ago…and when somebody asks me whether i draw…i even say NO…and then i think to myself…who am i? :)…well…actually i didn’t…i didn’t ask who am i….i asked myself..what’s wrong with me…and that’s my point…both these question pretty much mean the same…its just that ” what’s wrong with me” doesn’t sound as philosophical as ” who am i”…and also there is no Jackie Chan film by the name” what’s wrong with me?”…the media presence of the question is low…it is actually non existent…You know what they say about times we live in…Medium is the Message…I loved writing…i loved writing poems…i felt no guilt in writing bad poems…which i feel when i make bad films…because poetry costs nothing…i always equate films with food that i could have bought…sometimes the booze i could have bought…you know how wannabe artists get all romantic about the alcohol…and the drugs…so just in case i didn’t miss my membership into the arty club,i brought in booze into thoughts…drugs i quit long back…a something that i used to carry in my pocket religiously so that the girls in my college were impressed…it had nothing to do with art back then…it was all about getting laid…thinking back, the drugs never helped..on the contrary…while you hallucinated…your friends scored…but the little green powder stayed there till i finished my graduation…i guess, someday i can narrate this part of the story to showcase loyalty…in a museum…that’s right in a museum…an exhibition of characteristics or human values that have become extinct…after all we are all in the car that is crossing the road…some wait to hear a honk (even while knowing that there is a concept of honking)…some don’t hear the honk (live happily ever after…)…some are still lighting the cigarette…

There is no one in the studio and hence my usual chatting is absent…it could be the silence that is pouring out…i am drenched…and the last conversation i had was with my cup of black tea…though refreshing talk, its empty now…i tend to think of writing as therapeutic…but that is no reason why I write…i write because i still haven’t found a person with whom i can have a conversation  like the way i have with the keyboard when i write…i don’t write for a living, not yet… and maybe its for the good as when one writes for a living you will hate that conversation if its not with a keyboard. a very good friend of mine once came for a job interview at a place where i was working..he  was very excited after the meeting with the creative director and then went on to meet the CEO…everything was moving so fast that things were blurry…the excitement was mutual …post  meeting the CEO my friend left the building disappointed …myfriend had refused the job offer…i couldnt speak to him then, but later when i spoke to him i realised that he refused the job because he felt the CEO was very harsh with the keyboard…and hence feared insensitiveness, which in turn could affect work environment…it might seem absurd to many…but that is the life we live these days…some have relationships with inanimate objects…or another way to look at it is, we are not able to gauge sensitivity from human behaviour to each other that we look at how they work with the material world…after all our web pages are filled with words like…SHARE, LIKE, COMMENTS, APPEARANCE, FEEDBACK….i have nothing against web pages…after all they are  extensions of our existence. but are we loosing a link here…(link is another common word)…we are connected to the rest of the world and sometimes it dizzy for me…you are chatting with 4 different people at the same time and there you exist in four different roles/behaviours/characters…its dizzy sometimes…your brains cells process thoughts and ideas and cook up conversationsal tools that sometimes makes you wish if  intel could take over my chats…just my chats… soon the task of connecting will be so intense and pressurising that we will have gadgets that support applications that are chat friendly and we can customise the chatting as per application (or vice versa) or web platform and while all this is happening the person concerned can go take a shit or play with their dogs/children or even write something…conversations can be materialistic not just in content but form too…