The journey in life takes you through so many places, situations and experiences you never thought was possible. Following your heart is simple, but the equations that rule your upbringing does complicate matters a lot. Ever since this blog has begun I have had a post in december, dedicated to the year gone by and the one ahead. In many ways this year was a failure on several fronts, i saw my courage melt, i gave up on the Indian Dream a second time in life, if being a man means standing up on your feet, working for a living, having goals in life and all that crap, i find myself today a drifter, so far away and lost to all the people trying to drill sense into me.
Jan - Hmmm...enjoyed the delhi winter, studied all night through streaming cups of hot tea, made with milkpowder, played cricket at dawn on the terrace for an hour with the sun looming on the horizon and a fog hesitant to depart, and then went to bed, only to wake up in the afternoon for classes stretching all the way to night. I remember Rang De Basanti released around that time, and i went thrice to watch it in the first week itself...what a rage and wonderful change that movie was for us youngsters. Another funny thing then was my fascination with orange juice and how i believed drinking lots of it would kill my suspicious intuition of an impending fever...and it happened, though when i least expected it to.
Feb - Feb was the month i screwed up the upsc. Got too close to my roomies, indulged a little too much in fun, movies and non-curricular reading and studies suffered, though i missed not a single class. The night-outs continued but the sting was blunted. The backlog that crept up therein was the Waterloo. But there were good things too...on every sunday i would wake up very early if i slept, walk, take the cylce-rickshwaw, auto anything that came my way and go to the malayalam church some kilometres away. That was the only time i saw delhi mornings out on the road...the temples opening up, its bells ringing, the dairies parcelling out the milk supplies for the day. Like the cows still in slumber, only a handful of the million vehicles that would later buzz like a bee in the huge city were out...it was as peaceful as it could get. That was the last I've been to church, never felt like it after that, even the dozen weddings i attended later on i stood outside waiting for the reception to begin, later i stayed a few hundred metres from the church above, and could only smile at the contradiction i was. Maybe all the socialist, rationalist thinking and readings which the upsc examination demands got onto me at some level. Or maybe its just a matter of time.
Mar - i moved out of my heavenly quarter realizing any time longer spent with these boys was harming all the sacrifices made till then. It had been a good time really...we discussed Tagore, Neruda, reservations, communism, the past, the present, future...a lot. For a long time I had known only friends who could talk movies, drinks and fun. The new place was a room on top of a Sardarji's business establishment. A centimeter thick curtain of dust invited me every day to sweep, the taps wouldnt work, and there was never water in a huge barrel kept for our needs. The romanticism with Delhi was over. Well...it wasnt all that bad, a beautiful girl working in a callcenter was the tenant next door, but then thats a story for another day. And well if this blog is alive today it has to do with this first piece i wrote with pen and paper at 4 in the morning...the first of an irregular series of posts i wrote, riding on sheer inspiration which crept in out of nowhere. It was my longest break from blogging, and i hadnt written a single post in 6 months that satisfied me, when this happened.
Apr - One of my classmates, a girl with one of the best south-indian faces i saw and kept admiring despite knowing she was married, committed suicide. We never knew what happened. That night quite depressed and taking a walk, right in front of our eyes the next suicide attempt happened...another upsc aspirant who had not cleared the interview round and exhausted his chances. The Delhi summer had begun and I was just happy to go home. You know there are times you think you have setup everything so well, for that last lap, that things totally off your control happens. Pops landed up in hospital with pneumonia, and with mom away i had to take charge, the viral epidemic began in trivandrum, laid me low and i never quite recovered till the exam got over.
May - It was a valiant but foolhardy attempt. Noone must have cracked the upsc prelims in 6 months but I think I got real close. For me the end of that road had begun and that hated feeling of running-out-of-time-and-steam hit home. Delhi was beckoning again but this time I had a totally different plan in mind. There was a part of me I had yet to explore...a traveller to lands till then unknown to me. Nothing could stop me, i took up quarters in a forgettable part of Delhi, a place i couldnt stay for more than a week without wanting to escape, the only relief was a friend as neighbour, who was a philosopher-orpoet-ordrifter-orgenius which of these, i dont know yet...sometimes alone, sometimes with him in a park that at night was a haven for long conversations, interspersed with equally long moments of tranquility, discussions on life, psychology, literature, the people around us, it was a new experience for me. Thinking of that park, I am reminded of this great poem by Derozio - A Walk by Moonlight, as i write this.
Jun - The wanderer in me had set out...there were classes seven days a week, but despite that on weekends i ventured out, the sights and sounds of Delhi, the hill station of Nainital, it was an exhilerating feeling. It was my vengeance on modernity that demanded i study, work, earn big money all year long, then start a family, then buy a house, then have kids, and all those "set" ideals...i was in some ways now like the characters in books and movies who travelled to exotic lands. I knew it wouldnt last...my money was running out. It would have to be back to the staid old life i abhorred...but i would come back and keep doing this for the rest of my days. There was another new beginning and in no way insignificant, after 12 years i wrote for the first time in malayalam, a translation of an english interview by uncle had done for his novel. It came as a big surprise initially that i could do it, then a feeling of loss, then a feeling of uyrgency, that i had ignored my mother tongue for so long, and i wrote on...my first piece of fiction that i rode out to completion was born, and it was a short story in malayalam...a language i though i was never comfortable in. Today i have brought along a huge collection of malayalam literature to the New World hoping it improves my vocabulary and feel for the language. We will see.
Jul - July continued in the same vein as June. The upsc study continued to fade away, the travelling increased, the classes on the weekdays too became a casualty, this month was to UP and Haryana, if the heat wasnt enough humidity had set in too worsened by the blackouts. We were all getting sick, the tiffin from the kerala hotel which was a relief earlier had begun to loose its glory, the difficult re-entry back into modern society had begun to depress me more than the surroundings, the delhi phase of my Swades journey was all but over. The schooling in life doesnt leave you with any degrees but lots of bittersweet memories.
Aug - Haridwar, Rishikesh, Yamunotri, Mussorie, Dehradun, Agra all seen and relished, still so much of the North and the East and the West and the South to set eyes on...India is a country like none other, even for its citizens the sheer diversity of its culture must be a wonder, i have traveled vastly in america and a little of europe but nothing excites me like India...in those places you get to see all uniformity...all cities look the same, the natural beauty is great but not wild, the people are nice but predictable, Oh...the sights, smells, sounds and touch of India...isn't it all one heterogeneous, mostly discordant,yet congruous mosaic that goes from one day to next knowing not if its a flood, an earthquake, a bomb, a riot or a celebration thats going to rock their life.
Sep - The city of your birth and most of life and hopefully the rest of it, yet a city that holds little promise for your future, its a sad testament about trivandrum i have heard so often...not just from me, but so many others who left it to mould their future, not knowing the way back home is harder than imagined, almost impossible. The one month at home was fun, laidback and memorable. Yet, today i regret i never made a serious effort to find if tvm had some job that i would love to do. I fell into the same anxious cliches of ordinary men running out of money and who had sniffed big cash earlier, going back again out there for another kill.
Oct - A forgettable month. Did nothing other than wavering, pondering over what next to do. Yeah wrote that kite story for a change. And of course a fun trip to chicago for a reunion with schoolmates happened. After a year of hanging around many idealistic young men of a different temperament the career-minded, joke-cracking bunch that these guys were, was a big difference...i wondered how easily i fell back in this circle too.
Nov - Back in action. Back into the "real" world. Goodbye to programming, taking training in data-warehousing, hopefully a less stressful, undemanding job, 2 chapters of a novel which may remain unfinished, a thanksgiving trip on an RV to Arizona and Utah with my still other circle of good friends, married ones...who tempt me to join their jolly band. I can see how happy and contented their life is...but i know failure stalks me down that aisle they walked.
Dec - Out in a job market conked out cold by the holiday season, a new, strange resume with 6 years experience, jobs in unknown places, a new skill-set yet untested, and a whole pack of lies scribbled on it, thanks to desi consultants in whose hands i have once again pledged my career for a 4-month contract despite old mishaps from which i dont seem to learn. The year promises to end on a cracking note though with Viswan, my college mate and closest friend coming from NY, Kicha, my schoolmate and chum in Delhi arriving from Berkeley, and Rajay and Rege, juniors from college all descending on LA for the XMas break...should be back to the kind of mallu parties and drinking i thought was over for good. Well that was the year 2006...sorry for this long diatribe, and if you got this far my heart-felt commiserations. I did mean that!
Res - Oh! Dont worry...this is not a new month in the calendar, how fun/irksome can writing year-end reports be without a glimpse of forecasts for the next year. Well...made humble beginnings in fiction-writing this year...hoping to carry that forward next year with better sense of purpose, A new career seems to be opening now...need to keep my focus on this for the next few years, and if no creativity exercising career options arise in life this might be my ticket to an MBA or doing a business. How much more boring can a resolution get, yeah you bet...india beckons in may for the stated reason of writing the next upsc exam which for now looks a mere formality, though i know what will end up happening is this lonely lost wanderer getting to exercise his goddamn propensity to travel...to his heart's content.