Thursday, September 29, 2011

Living Your Story

Last night i was speaking to my friend about my life in general. In between our conversation, she stops me and tells me, "You look like a cute and excited little owl". Well i guess she made the comment about me being an owl, because i have really big round eyes (and basically weird owl-like hair o_O), and excited because i literally do get while telling my stories (as is evident in me ranting about useless stuff on my blog.) So after listening to my spate or run offs and butt ins and what not, my friend tells me - your story pretty much seems like a very fictional non fiction. I was like stumped - 'fictional non fiction?' Now what the hell could that mean.

It turns out most of our lives is what seems to be like a pre-destined script that goes on with its decisive pauses, dramatic entrances, sad exits, crazy times, unbelievable experiences and unexpected twists and turns. If we look back at our lives, we would be amazed at how it came into being. From the moment you cried as you gasped for your first breath, to the time you gasped for breath when your dad taught you to swim, to shifting from one location to another with the promise of a new start and everything in between and after - its all very fascinating to look at it after all these years. When i look back at my life, i'm glad that i got to see all the stuff i saw, feel all i felt, understand all i understood and then still keep a lookout for more.

One of my friends lamented about life coming back to square one time and again. But i believe that is the magic of life. It gives you chances. It gives you mistakes to learn. It gives you opportunities to utilize, fail and succeed. All that matters is which script you choose on the way. There might be certain detours or roadblocks on the way, but that doesn't mean you should stop halfway through. You battle ahead, and when you look back at all those moments, you will have a ball of time telling stories, like i did today. Who knows, in the future, you might find your friend telling you, "You know what, you look like an excited cute little gerbil". Until you do, keep living, keep your script in action.

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

The Nomad That Is Me - Part 4.5 (The Story Of My Homes)

I really want to put an end to these disastrous sequels, but if Spielberg could come back after 20 years to make a sequel to Indiana Jones, then so can I. (p.s. – The fourth sequel finally made it to the top ten list, albeit with fewer readers that is) And while at it, make something radically different like inserting a .5 between four and five. So here I am to talk of homes, that were home to me more than home itself.

During my second stint at Calicut, i made my first genuine friend, who still remains to me one of my closest buddies - Ajmal (or in short Aju.) Aju’s family considered and still considers me as one of their own. This was proven by the fact, that this year when I called to wish them for Eid, Aju’s mom very nostalgically reminded me that, every Eid I would be the first person to wish Aju at his place. I was touched. So yeah, during the time of my adjustment to the new life of Calicut, my new school mates, my new teacher, my new friends, Aju and his family really made me feel at home. I still remember, before I returned back to Calicut, the last movie I had seen in a theatre was Titanic with my family in Muscat. Its true, I had not seen a movie in the movie theatre after the 1997 blockbuster. And then in 2002, I remember Aju getting all excited calling me over to his place. We were going for a movie with his Dad. He used to be the asst. commissioner of sales tax in Calicut at that time. I still remember sitting in that red Indica, visibly excited to go for my first movie theatre experience in Calicut. The movie – I Spy. Yeah, I know it was a crappy movie to go for. But I still have the movie tickets with me, in one of my personal diaries back home. And I shall keep it.

Aju’s family was pretty much like ours – 3 brothers and his parents. In addition to that, there is his grandmother, who is like the most jovial Grandma i ever know. Once, Aju had invited me and our friends over for dinner, and it was his grandmother who was there on the front to greet us. As soon as we entered the gates, his Grandmom bellowed – “Come in, come in. Your comrades are awaiting you.” We were literally blown away. Here was an old lady speaking us to in English (you should understand that we were in Calicut, and none of our Grandmas knew English.) It turns out; she was once the headmistress of a school. Nowadays with old age, her energy is not what it used to be. But she still recognizes me, although I have to tell her who I am when I come into the house. And then there is Kadistha and her two sons, one of who is deaf and dumb. Very nice people, the whole lot. Miss all of them.
It is also from Aju’s place that I got into watching U.S. TV sitcoms, starting with Friends, Scrubs and more over the years (literally picking up on one show after the other.) I have only one person to thank for introducing me to the joy that is pop culture – Suhail Rehman. Today this very man is marrying a close friend of mine – Mizaj Mammu. But that again is another story, for another blog (and hopefully not a sequel post.) On top of that, Aju and Suhail introduced me to hardcore gaming, allowing me to watch and play (some) of the dozens of games that was popular in the 2000’s. That is how I got hooked onto one of my favourite games – Mafia. And then there were the racing games, which was pretty much the only game I could beat Aju in.
Aju’s home is the place where I would run to everytime I used to get a chance. Lunch, dinner, sleepovers, movies, celebrations – Aju’s home was, is and will always be a part of the homes I can never forget.
After Aju left for Thrissur, I got to visit his place, only when he came down for holidays and vacations. That was when I got close to my own place, I guess. And then came graduation. Along with graduation came friends, new ones, good ones. And one home that stays out during this time, and still does is – Mekha. Mekha is the name of the house I spent most of my graduation days, and is also the name of one of my closest friend, Mukta’s Mom’s name. It is basically where I grew threw my troubled phases. The amount of fights, celebrations, happiness and sadness I went through at Mekha’s is like infinite. I remember the first time I had gone over to Mekha’s. I had taken my then new bike, Passion Plus, and gone to drop off Mukta, since we had gotten out of college late. I met with her Mom, her uncle and his wife. I still remember the drawing room was dimly lit with a light bulb (its changed today, with a CFL bulb doing the job now.) But from that day on, Mekha was as much a home to me as it was to Mukta, her bro Mritul or even her parents. It was also home to my favourite Grandmom - Chandra. Sadly it was also where she breathed her last. Sad, but never forgotten she is the soul of our heart.

I also remember Mekha for the time I had there with Nawab, another of my best friend, from Afghanistan, when we used to get together to study. Mekha aunty (I never called her by that name, even today. Although I do try) used to make us dosas in the morning, and all of us would sit around the kitchen waiting for our turn. Even today, when I go back, that is one thing I don’t miss on my itinerary. Sitting on the doorstep, eating dosa with chutney and sambhar and chit-chat with Mekha aunty – priceless.

There were charts made, movies and TV shows watched, there were fights, there was watching the Oscars, the IPL, football and what not. I was also in awe of the number of plants in the courtyard, that i actually took a few of them and went and planted them at my place. they are growing just fine. So i could say i have a little bit of Mekha in Falaq. Mekha shall forever remain etched in my life as being my home away from home.

Sadly I do not have neither home’s picture. But I believe I do not need one. Its painted in my mind for eternity.

Until next time for the final piece on my nomadic life, ciao.

Sunday, September 25, 2011

A Blogger's Observation

I think sequels don't work. I was trying out the new interface of Blogspot (which is super awesome to say the least), and found the stats page as available on Wordpress. When i checked on which was my most read post i found that my blog post - The Nomad That Is Me - Part 1 (The Story Of My Homes), had the most hits, while the subsequent posts on the same, saw far fewer readers. It was like comparing my posts to the norms of Hollywood - the first is always good, the sequels - eh. What was more disturbing was to find out any similar post, which goes beyond 2 sequels tend to bomb badly (sadly The Nomad That Is Me - Part 4 (The Story Of My Homes) was my worst sequel ever considering it never even made it to the top ten list.) So what have we learned here?

  • Stick to originals.
  • If you plan to do sequels, don't go beyond two.
  • If you think this post will increase hits to my earlier blog posts - tough luck.
  • Don't go pop culturing yourself.

The Cellar

"There's someone out there,"
Says the child
In that dark,
Dirty, cramped place.
All’s over,
And you hear nothing.
For it’s all over.
Down in a cellar,
You remain as dust.
As if to be called,
To be cleaned up again.
I proceed forward,
Up the stairs,
We came down through.
And lifted the weight,
That shut as down.
It turns out,
Everything’s all right.
I cry out,
Even thought the voice,
Isn’t clear,
“Praise be to God,
We are in heaven!”

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Let There Be Light

(A collaboration with my good friend Aishwarya Nair. She interspersed my earlier poem, with a positivism that only she could muster. The words in italics are mine, the other hers.)

The leaves of memory seemed to make
A mournful rustling in the dark...

i wish the sun came out at night
of the darkness that frightens me
would creep away ashamed and silent

The barren branches and the boughs
stark reminders of the wind that blows...
the solitude that once was a blessing
is now a haunting...

i wish everyday was different
my melancholy would end
in the abrupt moment of time

for what solace lies in monotony
the end in sight as definite as it can be...
for once the light breaches the cloud...
and forever shall darkness secede...

i wish everyone was different
all the people i've known until
had just love in their hearts

try as you might..
the shards of time will pierce
the glorious day when disappears
into the sunset mists....

i wish the sea was calm
the troubles it cause,
the miseries and woes end it all

and the ripples fade into naught
the tide sweep away all thought
leave behind a single pearl of love
in abundance it shall be brought.....

Friday, September 2, 2011

The Nomad That Is Me - Part 4 (The Story Of My Homes)

'Al Fajer' in the 90's

After coming back to India in 2001, we stayed over at the ancestral place – Al Fajer (which translates to dawn in Arabic) for almost 2 years, before finding our own place – “Falaq” (which roughly translates to ‘daybreak’ in Arabic.) Life began for me here (or rather I had my ‘break’ right here at this humble abode.)

The green one storey building is the home I always head back to whenever I feel homesick, when I feel like visiting my loved ones, when I feel like getting the warmth of my own bed, the green godrej cupboard and table – it’s a feeling I cannot put into words. Just a few minutes away from where we used to stay earlier, ‘Falaq’ is not the average palatial houses that gulf returnees are expected to build. It’s a modest 4 bedroom home built on just around 4.5 cents of land (that’s close to around just 2000 sq. ft.) It was bought close to late 2002 (yes, we bought a house, instead of building it from scratch.) We had sparingly any furniture, household items, not even a TV. But we at least had a roof over our heads. And we were blessed in that way.
And the transformation was magical. I was in my ninth grade, when we moved into the house. And I had joined MESRRS, Pavangad, my final school in my journey of school life a year back. But it was in ninth grade that I actually hit paydirt. I got to the other side of me – the writing guy. And did I not roll or what? I started getting into competitions – essay writing, versification, extempore, Quran recitation – what not. Moreover, I participated in even Hindi competitions (although most of my current bunch of friends find my Hindi weird and very South-Indian-ish. I tell them, hellew – what do you expect? I am from South India, Kerala to be precise.) So yeah getting back to the prime of my school days, I started making some awesome friends during my time at Falaq. One of the closest has to be Ajmal, who was like an extended family to me. I used to be more at his place than mine. Mainly because he had some awesome games and really cool cousins. I remember the time when he came over to my ancestral place and was stuck there for the night due to thunderstorms. Ajmal and me remain brothers till this day. Then, there is Vaisakh - my partner in crime and vice versa, the vice versa more so. We've had between us more than with any other friend i ever had. From his TVS Victor riding days to the Pulsar 200 days. And then there are countless others, if i were to begin here, it wouldn't end. But if it weren't for all of them, i'd not be the person i am today.

'Falaq' in the 2000's (wish i had a more fuller pic)
I remember the time when it was the tenth boards, and I had all the important charts from biology, physics, chemistry and even maths adorning the two walls of my rooms (the other two had windows on them.) I used to get up every morning, and the images of cytoplasm and mathematical equations got imprinted in my head. That was the reason why I guess, I did good for my tenth boards. I remember Mom insisting on getting a showcase in the hall in front of the dining table, because we always had a showcase when we were in Muscat. And it was built. But there wasn’t much to display. I am proud to say that, today the showcase is filled with trophies, medals and more showpieces than Mom ever imagined. Each of us in our family take pride on each and every piece in that showcase today.
We slowly started improving on the insides of our home, bit by bit, time by time. We got ourselves a TV after my tenth boards. Then we made the staircase railing wooden, we put up nice clay tiles in front of the house, Mom and me planted plants, trees, shrubs, we closed the old well and dug a new one, we built a bookshelf, we put tiles on the roof and we even bought a bigger water tank (which I still do clean when I am there. It is fun, you should try cleaning your tank at times) and I also remember the time when we got down the furniture from Muscat in a huge two piece container that my Dad sent through cargo. I remember, Dad and me going till the Kochi port to get the stuff. It was a pain in the ass to get clearance from authorities, but surprisingly, all matters were cleared by the evening, and we got ourselves a mini lorry and drove all the way up to Calicut from Kochi. We had an amazing time, going through the different districts, with Dad intermittently telling me stories about when he was young and how he actually got to Muscat. It was the second best Father-Son time I’ve ever had with Dad (the best happened very recently.) We reached home by late night, got down all the stuff, and put it in. Subsequently we got two single beds, we got the sofa set and loads more. The home that was, and the home after furnishing was fuller than ever before. It actually felt warmer.
After my plus two, in 2006, I had gone to Dubai for vacations with my Uncles and their families. To tell you the truth, it was the worst vacation of my life. Nothing can be as worse as those two months in Dubai. Maybe because I had to live with people, with whom I never before lived more than a couple of days together before. Or maybe because my Grandmother was getting on my nerves. Whatever it was, it happened, and one can’t do anything about it. There was one good thing to come out of that trip. My Mom’s brothers got me a computer, or basically all the parts of the computer when I left from Dubai. And Falaq was the place I bought it all to. It was very exciting for me, because this was actually my first real modern day computer. The last computer I owned ran only Windows 3.1 and Basic. So this was a big deal for me. And the best thing was, I called upon my chums, Vivek and Vaisakh to get it all together. We actually built the PC from motherboard to the last screw on the CPU. If you think that is easy, just try assembling a PC for yourself. We did a pretty good job at that. That computer survived for more than six years, until it was replaced with a better model just last year. I was a tad disappointed at first, coz it was just an average machine. Nothing powerful or anything. But something is better than nothing, right? So I remained loyal to my PC, and loved it like anything.
The legend
College was a whole new level of experience for me. Although I followed in the footstep of my brother, I believed to set an example of mine. Whether I did or not, I do not mind. But if I am still known as Danish’s brother, that is what matters to me. And till date, they know me as Danish’s brother, although they do know my name as well. If my brother went to college, they would ask him about me. If I went to college, they would ask me about him. That is the bond me and my brother share. There all the time, for one another. Even though I was the hot headed and black sheep of the family, my brother stood by me through thick and thin. I think this home did play a good part in that. College bought along new friends, new memories, fights, laughs, victories, embarrassments, and one of the best loves of my life – the Hero Honda Passion Plus. Alas the beauty stayed with me for just around four years. But in those four years, boy did we have fun – road trips: planned and unplanned, taxi service, late night pick-ups and so many more fun memories. That was the first vehicle of ours that stood on the tiled front porch of our home. You shall forever be missed - KL 11 Y 4658.
My relegated new room at 'Falaq'
In 2009, I moved to Delhi to pursue my Masters. It was difficult saying goodbye to Mom, to Brothers, to Friends, to Passion, to Home. But it was time. I had stayed in the nest for too long. And when I was away, Mom redecorated the room I used for more than half a decade, for my brother and his bride. I was more than happy. I was ecstatic. My stuff was moved into the small room on the side, with the ever expanding library. My bed, the godrej table and the shelf left no room at all to walk around. But I liked it. More so because it was just perfect to leave my room, as I last left it, waiting for me to get back to it. I lived in more houses than one in Delhi (which should most probably be my finale in this series. For now.), but nothing could ever make up for what ‘Falaq’ meant to me. This is the home where my friends came down to. This is the home where Ismail pulled down my pants. This is the home where a reunion meant orange food fight. This is the home where we got holed up in the worst New Year’s Eve ever. This is the home from where i sneaked out umpteen number of times. This is the home where countless parties took place. This is the home where we fell sick. This is the home where we all laughed. This is the home where my brother bought his new wife to. This is the home, that shall remain etched in my mind, as my home of homes.