Posted by: Mahesh | August 11, 2008

An unfinished story

On this cold January night, 2nd January 2006 to be precise, Piya is standing in the middle of a desolate West London road wearing full red bridal dress and costume.

It is her wedding night. And here she is leaning against her Golf, smoking a long thin cigarette. That traditional Indian wedding dress is heavy but she is still shivering under the dark foggy sky. As she draws deep on her cigarette, she closes her eyes and lets her mind float.

Though Piya has been smoking for the last six years, it was only in London that she started smoking openly. Her parents separated 15 years ago. Her mother stayed in Kolkata and father moved on to London. Her father had been like a ghost in her life appearing suddenly and then disappearing again. When her mother died she came unwillingly to stay with his father in London. She never liked him but the thought of staying in the city of joy all by herself didn’t appeal her and her father somehow persuaded her to come and stay with him. That’s how Piyali Ghosh has been in London for the last three years.

Presently, in the wilderness of night, a phone rings and breaks the eerie, heavy silence. Piya opens her eyes and seems bewildered. Suddenly realising, she reaches for her purse, takes out her mobile phone and looking at the number, answers it reluctantly.

“Piya, where are you?” A male voice is on the other end. It seems she does not want to answer the question. The caller is persistent.

“Piya, are you there? Please answer me. I am worried, Piya! Where are you? ”

“The rendezvous” she murmurs and disconnects.

That was Darren- Derry for Piya. She met Derry two year ago. He helped when she had lost her wallet and could not produce a ticket on the underground train. He admired her taste in books and offered to buy her a coffee.

Piya takes the last puff of the cigarette and throws the stub. She looks around as if she is trying to comprehend how she got here and what is she doing here. Maybe it’s the cold or maybe she is tired of standing for too long, she opens the doors and gets in the car. She picks up the pack of cigarette lying on the dashboard and switches the radio on. A cheesy slow old love song starts floating inside the car. She takes out a cigarette but is in no hurry to light it. She leans back into the seat and closes her eyes. Either she is listening to the song or has gone into deep thought. But then suddenly, she opens her eyes, moves forward and shuts down the radio. There is silence again with faded echo of the song still in the air.

White floating wisps hit the windscreen of the car and turn into transparent droplets. It has begun to snow. Snowflakes hover in the air, glowing under the pale light coming from a distant street lamp. Piya is now looking at the snow or maybe through them at something in far distant. The unlit cigarette is still dangling in her hand.

A black big car appears from the fog and speeds past Piya’s stationary car. The fast moving car has suddenly changed the flow of the air and now the snowflakes are swirling in a quick circular motion. Piya also seems shocked and shaken by this disturbance. It’s like she has suddenly woken up from a deep slumber. And then her phone rings again. She looks at the phone but lets it ring. The music seems a contrast from the song which was playing on the radio. The ringtone seems a fusion piece with prominent flute notes. After a few seconds, the tone dies down leaving the silence breathing again.

Derry showed her London. He took her to museums, park concerts and Broadway musicals. Taught her to row and fish. In the daytime, he was studying political science in LSE and on weekends he taught painting in a art school. His studio apartment was their den. It was perpetually in the state of orderly untidiness. Books scattered all over. Music records and CDs. His studio space in one corner with several finished and unfinished canvases, brushes and colours. It was an eclectic intellectual heaven where Piya could spend hours and hours. Both would spend huge amount of time without speaking any word, happy just to be in that space with each other. Sometimes he would paint her while she read with jazz playing in the background. Sometimes they would lie on the mat smoking cigarettes looking at the ceiling listening to each other’s breathing.

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Posted by: Mahesh | July 29, 2008

The drift

The Doctor made a face as if someone had just died.

He was the youngest out of four different doctors that Aakash had been consulting in the past three months. And despite all his degrees and qualifications, he was still not comfortable while delivering a bad news. He had the same stale news for Aakash but in a tone as if he was talking to a dead man already.

Aakash pulled himself up, clutched the envelope containing pictures of his body in negative and moved towards the door feeling the pitiful eyes of the doctor pinching his back.

It was sunny outside. As sunny as it could be after six hours of incessant rain in the month of September. Aakash was walking with his head down. He barely recognised reflection of his face in the poodle of water on the road. He reluctantly stepped over it and moved on. Another day was over. Aakash had been counting days and then unconsciously deducting them from the number given by the doctors. The result of the equation was always blurred but he knew the numbers were going down. Months turned into weeks.

He thought of his life he had built since the death of his parents. The small business he had started has grown significantly. He thought of Maati, his wife of two years. What would she be doing right now? In their home. She would probably be contemplating to rearrange their living room, again. Or trimming the plants in the garden. Or making elaborate plans about dinner. Oh, he loved Maati. And despite all his efforts, he could not bring himself up to tell her about his condition. She would be devastated. He would be more worried about her than himself.

Every time he sees Maati, his heart aches. He acts and behaves normally. He laughs, goes to movies, helps her chose the dress to put on as they go out for dinner. Sometimes he cooks and sitting at the dining table, she directs her. On Sundays, they go to the park near the lake and lie down under the tree. Maati sings a song and Aakash plays with her hair. But when he closes his eyes, he only sees darkness. When he stops smiling, he wants to cry.

*

He is fed up of the rounds of the doctors. It’s too late anyways. He has to prepare Maati regarding the future. He has to tell her. Today!

He quietly leaves the office, even before lunch. He feels too tired. He takes a few steps down the road and he feels he just ran a marathon. He hands down a cab.

Knocking on the door of his home, he is holding the railing tightly. It has just started raining and he is getting irritated as the bucketing raindrops dampen his resolve to talk to Maati. He is standing on the stairway knocking on the door for 10 minutes now. Suddenly he remembers that he has a spare key. He has never needed it in the last 2 years of his mechanical life. Maati was always there on the door smiling as he got home.

Maybe she had gone to get groceries and stuck in the rain. He unlocks the door and gets in. He puts down his briefcase on the couch and looks around. Nobody! Something makes him go towards the bedroom. And he pushes the door open. Two pairs of startled eyes meet his.

*

He hurries past the last shop on the main road leading to the highway, almost running. He can now see the valley except his vision is blurred. His eyes are burning as if he has not slept in days. His head is spinning. He cannot walk any more. He stops near a big tree on the side of the road and leans against it.

He closes his eyes as he tries to control his breathing and coughs heavily. His hands try to reach the left pocket of his trousers to take out handkerchief. The effort drains out all his remaining energy and he falls down on the slushy ground below awkwardly. Another bout of cough follows which he tries to shut out with both his hands. He half opens his eyes as he feels a warm fluid on his hands. A trickle of fresh blood drops down on the wet muddy ground.

He feels drifting as Maati’s frightened eyes stare at him out of tiny red beads of blood on his hand.

Posted by: Mahesh | July 28, 2008

What am I doing?

I am in a confused state of mind and state of being. Where do I belong? What am I doing? What is the goal? And if there is a goal, what is the next step?

Here I am so far away from the life I had been living. I know I would step into the same life some time soon. But this phase… what am I doing? 

For the time being, there are so many things which I want to do. I want to read as much as I can. Meaningful books.  Real books. Okay occasionally a Lee Child but more ‘Mockingbird’s. Thankfully I can do it and I am doing it. But I still don’t feel satisfied. Reading the way I do seem like a detached exercise. I start reading the book, enjoy it. Stop reading the book. Start again and stop again. I read the story. I get the meaning. I read the words and understand the plot. I appreciate the language, the craft. But the whole exercise seems so mechanical that somehow I do not feel immersed. I do not seem to have forgotten the world while reading. And that’s not reading. I remember the way I used to read earlier. I would chose a book and then get drowned in it. I would forget the world. I still remember how I read Ayn Rand. It was like the book was my world for those days. And now? I feel I am cheating myself. Not reading at all is better than reading like this. Just because everyone else is reading on Tube does not mean I have to do this shit too. So now onwards I would pick 2 books to read at any time. One would be a munch book. Fast, anytime. No emotions attached. Just to spend time in Tube. And second- the meal book. Slow, thorough. Which I would read when everything else is switched off.  Just me and that book. I can do it!

I want to move, explore, discover. And I am not doing it. Somehow the notion of being alone makes me hesitant to go for these weekend hikes and adventure walks. But then I sit down and question myself. Why do you have to be alone? It’s only up to me to reach out. The only thing that stands between me sitting home and me being out there is ME! I just have to overcome myself. Stop being conscious. Flow! What could go wrong? I resolve and when its time to register I somehow find some pathetic excuse. It has to stop. It can’t go on. I know it and still don’t do anything about it.

I love the fact that I have so much music with me. New music. New sound. Discovering artists I never knew existed. Genre I was not into earlier. More Blues. More folk-rock. More Sufi. Its so much fun to sit on the sill looking out as rain falls in the garden… rumbling of clouds merging with jazz music in the background.

Another thing that I have to do is push myself to paint. I have been wanting to paint for so many years. Drawing is not enough. I need to play on canvas. I have to stop being such a stingy when it comes to doing what I can’t stop thinking of doing.  I will either learn that I can paint which would be great. Else I would learn that I can’t paint, but that can be tackled too. I am sure I would not be too bad.

The most important thing to do is find people who are supportive, who know life more than I do.  Who are full of life itself?  I might not fit in and struggle in their company. But I have to take this journey from inside to outside.  Debate, discuss, share, and disagree with everything being said.  Rejecting everything initially, leads to discussions. Discussions are good. Debates are healthy. 

What else would I love to do?  Take loads of pictures.  Make new friends.  Learn cooking.  Blog more often. Write stories.  Learn more CSS.  More Flash.  Make more music on eJay. 

Its time to realise that time is no more. Its dying. Have to make something of it.

Posted by: Mahesh | June 27, 2008

Wanted

Thought I would write a little about the movie. Well, I think ‘Wanted’ is arguably one of the best action movies since Matrix(though I liked Bourne but that was different). Wanted is cool and redefines the genre. And it does start in kind of Matrix way, pulling the boy hero from his mundane life into big league ‘chosen one’ mode and turning him into a man. James McAvoy(British/Scottish(?) with a decent American accent) plays Wesley. Bekmambetov is the director having famous Russian ‘Night Watch’ series to his credit. Angelina Jolie is Fox, played in a cool way. Morgan Freeman is Sloan (I thought the role was similar to the one played in Gone Baby Gone, in spirit at least).

The story is no great shake. And the plot is not too solid. But the movie makes up with some great chase scenes, splendid train wreckage scene, cheeky fun, lots of blood and racy pace throughout. Its the kind of movie people would hate to love or love to hate…

Watch this high octane, over the top adrenalin rush without thinking too much and wait for Wall-E and The Dark Knight.

Posted by: Mahesh | June 25, 2008

Blowin’ in the wind

Had to design a CD cover for assignment and I chose Bob Dylan’s Blood on the Tracks. Though his last album(Modern Times- RSM’s album of the year) released in 2006, it’s shocking and sad that lot of people are not familiar with him. In MHO, the simplicity of his music, honesty and the message in his lyrics is exceptional and different from any other musician… Or maybe I am really old!

And the lyrics…amazing!

How many roads must a man walk down
Before you call him a man?
Yes, ‘n’ how many seas must a white dove sail
Before she sleeps in the sand?
Yes, ‘n’ how many times must the cannon balls fly
Before they’re forever banned?
The answer, my friend, is blowin’ in the wind,
The answer is blowin’ in the wind.

How many times must a man look up
Before he can see the sky?
Yes, ‘n’ how many ears must one man have
Before he can hear people cry?
Yes, ‘n’ how many deaths will it take till he knows
That too many people have died?
The answer, my friend, is blowin’ in the wind,
The answer is blowin’ in the wind.

How many years can a mountain exist
Before it’s washed to the sea?
Yes, ‘n’ how many years can some people exist
Before they’re allowed to be free?
Yes, ‘n’ how many times can a man turn his head,
Pretending he just doesn’t see?
The answer, my friend, is blowin’ in the wind,
The answer is blowin’ in the wind.

Posted by: Mahesh | June 23, 2008

Weekend 22/6

The weekend was not so bad. Weather was OK on Sat and good on Sun.

On Saturday, spent half the day cleaning up, 1/4th in Kingston hospital and rest in gurudwara. Watched “Gone With The Wind” in the night on TCM. Truly epic. Has everything expected from a classic. And brilliant cinematography which I had not expected. Wished I had some popcorn.

Sunday was the ‘wild’ day. I had started the book on Friday but I figured I need to read the book more steadily. I again read some on Saturday but on Sunday, I decided that the book needs to be read in the open. So lounged in a park along with my music. It was quite sunny. Came back in evening, camped in the garden chair… And finished it. its just about 200 pages.

Its a tragic, heart breaking, somewhat disturbing but fascinating true story of an idealist young guy who believed that God is in the woods, true meaning of life is hidden somewhere out in the wild. While as a kid, he learns(from his parents stormy relationship) that money, wealth and comfort don’t get you happiness. After finishing graduation, he embarks on a journey to search for happiness, God, truth and himself. Obsessed with being independent, shunning material comforts and relationships, eventually he does find the truth in the wild Alaska but loses his battle with life.

Jon makes the story unfold gradually, interlacing it with the stories of other like-minded trampers who are obsessed with mountains and nature. Her own climbing experience in Devil’s thumb is specially rich in details and very crafty, being first hand.

There are questions if Chris was a hero or a fool, stupid dreamer choosing to go to the extreme wilderness without basic tools such as compass or a good map. Its clear that he had a lot to live. His willingness to come out of the wild alive is evident in his desperate messages. I don’t think that it just did not occur to him to get better equipment, its that he chose not to because he felt that he could survive without them. Had he not died and hung on to come out alive, he would have continued with his life having found the truth in having relationships and sharing happiness. But his vision for the reality was blurred with almost idiotic idealism. But still, his honesty, innocence, warmth, passion and a unrelenting quest for truth has to be understood and appreciated. He lived the way he wanted to and that’s all it matters.

After the book, I wanted to watch the movie. I had dumped it on my lappy. But I found that while ripping the dvd, the downloaded avi was not in sync with its soundtrack. codec problem. So I had to see the movie in a movie editing software, splitting the soundtrack, fiddling and syncing it with video. It was not the best experience but i had to see the movie in today’s state of mind. Had to see alaska and the journey he took… and the magic bus.

Real cool movie. Its based on the book but its a totally different experience altogether. Liked it a lot except a little over dramatisation of Vince’s character and the raw moose skinning scene but probably they were necessary there. Sean Penn’s screenplay has a lot of flashbacks and flash forward, true to the back and forth style of the book.

And the music. Amazing. Gives you goosebumps.

I need to get another copy of the DVD. Can’t get myself to watch the dump on my hard disk again.

Posted by: Mahesh | June 22, 2008

Post card video

The video I compiled from my random clips…

Way to Covent Garden from Mahesh Kumar on Vimeo.

Posted by: Mahesh | June 19, 2008

Summer Sports

Lot of things happening in sports. Soccer, NBA, Ascot and ofcourse Wimbledon!

I have been following Euro cup off and on. its not big in UK since England is not part of it(sadly and shockingly).

Ballack has been one of my favourite players and I am happy for him to have led Germany by example into Semis. Portugal is a strong team, though I am not a fan of Ronaldo. I think he is arrogant and I have no respect for him. I am sure he will ditch his mentor Ferguson and jump ship for money.

Anyways, the interesting bit is the quarter-final being played between Croatia and Turkey, today. Its specially remarkable for a team like Turkey.

I am not rooting for any particular team. I think the Final will see Italy and Germany playing but ofcourse there is Netherlands and Spain and maybe Turkey or Croatia can spring some surprise.

I caught some NBA action on Dave particularly Celtic beating Lakers in the final. I am not much into Basketball, but it was a good one and the Boston team deserved to win.

Ascot racecourse has also seen a lot of action. I used to walk through the Waterloo station and see various shapes and types of weird and eclectic hats worn by ladies and gentlemen who were on their way to Ascot.

Ascot Racecourse is in the village of Ascot, Berkshire and is famous for its horseracing event. It’s founded and patronised by the British Royal family.

Main event is the Royal Ascot Gold Cup which is currently going on. It’s a five day event. Ofcourse there is lot of betting that goes on and a dress code which is strictly policed. I heard Yeats has won the Gold Cup and made history.

Then ofcourse there is good old Wimbledon coming up. Glad I will be so close to the action. Maybe, just maybe I will watch couple of matches too. Will be fun to watch Federer or Nadel or Novak or Sania Mirza 🙂

Posted by: Mahesh | June 19, 2008

Nike Ads

While doing some research for my assignment, came across couple of Nike ads. It’s part of a campaign for Nike womenwear. These are about 3 years old but still look so fresh! Liked the colored grunge background juxtaposed with B&W images. Found them very interesting and creative, so here they go… Click on ads to read copy.

Posted by: Mahesh | June 18, 2008

Oh God!

…Spirituality is not religion. Religion divides people. Belief in something unites them…

I was watching ‘Flight of phoenix’ and these lines are spoken by Rady, one of the characters in the movie and it set me thinking.

When you think of it, spirituality and relgion are actually different. I see Sprituality as believing in the existance of a power that controls us(and sets us free at the same time) and guides our existence. Religion is the idea of spirituality narrowed down by phyicalities and unnecessary detailings. In my view, Religion is Sprituality in cage. When you let yourself free from religion or start thinking beyond religion, you find spirtuality. Religion is like a window which gives you a limited view of what lies outside. Spirituality is looking beyond that rectangular piece of view.

So am I spritual? Do I believe in God?

Well, I am not knowledgeable enough to talk about spirituality or even think about God. I am no philosopher and have no intentions to even try to become one. In fact I am just one of the layman who can not (under)stand more than a few minutes of pure philosophy. It flies high above my level.

When I was kid and was told about God, like any other young and curious child, I used to have tons of questions- If God created the universe, then who created the God. If someone created God, then why is he not God as he is more powerful than God… If God was not created by anyone, then where did He come from??

It is said that the God has no face, no name, no voice and no physical form. I remember reading about concept of substance. Every substance is defined by its properties. If you remove the properties of a thing, that thing no longer exists. I read about this philosophical ‘thought experiment’- imagine a red ball. You do? Now imagine that red ball without its color being red nor it being round. So its not red and its not a ball. Now what are you imagining? nothing! So if God does not have a physical form, then what is it? Nothing?

Those who believe in God say that God does not need any properties. He does not need a face, a name or a voice. it is said that God is causa sui, a cause of his own existence. Instead of focussing on the physical attributes of the God, one should focus on the idea, concept and the positive energy that can be gained from believing in the idea of God. So God is an idea that can transpire people to turn positive and do good things(atleast theoritically). But then there is also the energy which is bad or negative.

God is also seen sometimes as a source of negative energy. Sufferings. People ask that if God is powerful, then why do cyclones happen? Why do Earthquakes happen? Some people say that there is a constant war between God and Devil or Positive and Negative energy. Sometimes Evil wins and mostly God wins. But if God can’t win all the time, then He is not all that powerful. is he? And then it can cause lot of negative energy. But nobody would call that negative energy as God.. that would be the Devil or Evil. So are God and Satan two alter-egos of just one force??

Imagine, there is a fire in a building and your house does not suffer too much damage, but your neighbour’s house is gutted. You would console him that its not God’s fault but at the same time, you would thank God that your house did not go down. Same place, same time but two forces in action?? Is this where Karmas come into the picture?

I personally believe in a supreme Power, which is nature. Almighty nature! It can create and it can destroy. It can create circumstances where anything can happen. It can change your life or ruin it. It gives so much and it can take so much back.

I can always feel the God around me. When I walk out in the open, I feel connected with that Power. When I see a mountain, I feel I have seen God. When I feel raindrops on my palm, I feel touched by God. When I see a leaf or a flower, I see God smiling. When I see thunderstorm or lightening, I imagine Him in a violent mood. Maybe I am crazy, but i get spiritual when I walk through a narrow lane among mountains and trees. When I breath, I smell God. Then there are also other things. Music. Is it not a part of nature? Sound travelling through air. Good music can really make you spiritual. A classical raga, a ghazal, a haunting floating tune from a distant, a shabad, a piano note, the sound of the laughter of my kids. Oh, thats God!

Lot of people believe in an anonymous supreme power. Lot of people call that power The God. Then lot of people give The God different names. Then lot of people assign different faces to the different names of the God. Then lot of people believe their God has a better face and is better than others. And then lot of people kill those who do not believe in their God. I think it gets complicated when God is assigned names and given faces. So why not believe in the most basic form of God? Why not believe in nature?

Also its more logicial and scientific to believe in nature. Elements can be explained, denoted chemically and biologically proven. H2O is water. there is O2, there is the earth, atmosphere, space. And When all of these combine, life is born. Everything has a life. Life evolves over time. Things die when their life is over.

Ultimately, there is no way to prove that there is a God and also there is no way to prove that there is no God; so believe in what you may. But do believe in something, for Gods sake! 🙂

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