I Bob Bob isn’t just my name. Sometimes, it feels like Bob is my life, you know what I mean? It’s just so…Bob. Nothing changes in my life – just the same shit, every day, day after day, and then another day. And it isn’t for lack of trying, mind you. I do whatever I […]
It’s great how there is a plethora of books, authors, and quotes that you can read, which are, literally speaking, saying different things, but also fit together somewhere in the deeper recesses of your mind to give you an absolutely absurd understanding of the world which makes much more perfect sense than any world view that a comprehensive middle class education seems to be able to build.
But basically, life is suffering. And it’s pretty goddamn excellent. You just need to relish it. Chained, locked, imprisoned as you are and bleak as the possibilities may be, you remain the only one in that situation who is in any position to try to help yourself. Because you are always and forever alone in your mind. There is no absolute truth that you can rely on and take comfort in permanently. At best, there are stepping stones which provide temporary resting spots until you are forced to uproot yourself once more and move on. Progress, maybe. But I would avoid the term for the various connotations it tends to bring with itself in common parlance.
I will concede that suffering might be a strong word for what I tried to describe. Or maybe I won’t. In any case, it can be described as a struggle — a continuous battle, right through this experience of consciousness that comes without any set of safety tips or instructions — to find some kind of logic, some kind of overarching rule, some kind of truth where you can say, “Yes, I think I understand that this is what I am, this is how I understand myself as a thinking entity, this is what it means to be thinking, and now I can satisfactorily decide what is right and what is wrong.”
The simple problem is that you never know. You never know what… to do. You don’t know that you did right (but you think you did — that’s fair, you made the judgment with everything that was at your disposal at the time), you don’t know what you’re supposed to be doing now, you don’t even know how to properly think about what you’re doing right now, and you still need to figure out how best to fit the future into your scheme of thinking. Is the future something not to be worried about, which configures itself towards perfection by virtue of present right action? Or is it rather something that needs to be planned and executed according to that plan? If it’s going to be planned, how will it account for changes in thinking and subsequent disagreement with the principles based on which I configure my future with my present actions (the assumption being that present actions have at the very least a consequential if not completely determinative role to play in the creation of your future)?
And this is what life is all about. The meaning of life is about the search for the meaning of life. Fucking scam. Could have predicted it right at the start.
So there’s this shot in Kadhal Desam (1996). A movie sold as a solid college feel film, with friendship, love triangles, rivalry et al. It’s set in the Madras arts college scene, with Loyola as one of them. I don’t remember the name of the other. (Looked it up — Pachaiyappa’s College)
Having set the story in Madras however, the makers proceeded to include at a certain point this wonderful shot of MG Road, Bangalore. And while I understand constrains of shooting costs and schedules, they could surely have picked a less iconic part of Bangalore to shoot in, if they wanted to pass it off? It’s a bit stupid. Like they don’t expect the any of the audience to have spent enough time in Bangalore to recognize the city’s most commercially iconic street. It’s poor attention to detail, even for 1996.
Not sure why I felt the need to point this out. But it serves as post fodder, and I’m happy.
On a separate tangent, the bushes you can observe on the right behind the bus stop lined an old promenade which was an excellent place to take a morning walk in the misty peacefulness of 7am. Or 6:30, if you’re good enough. It used to have square tiles, reddish-brown, more of the former than the latter, with the pattern of each tile consisting of significantly smaller squares, like about fifteen of them to each tile. It was uneven at some parts, and the dirt underneath surreptitiously managed to shine through every now and then. A T-intersection interrupts the promenade at one point. And the inner side of the undergrowth had a bunch of rose bushes in some parts. At the time when I did visit the place, it used to be my wont to pick the stems of these roses free of the thorns. The process of demilitarization of these rose bushes used to give me some kind of inexplicable satisfaction.
The promenade has since been renovated and now has an upper floor as well, amongst various other additions, like a kids play area, artsy installations of different materials, a couple of eateries, and a Metro museum (umm..). It also has a nice view of the street on the upper landing. I don’t think it has rose bushes though. Certainly not where they used to be, anyway. That part would presumably consist of concrete, considering the level of restructuring that the promenade underwent. And it most definitely no longer has any of those reddish tiles. I admit to missing the tiles.
It was common knowledge how much people loved that place as well. Bangalore times once ran an article for April fools’ day that the sidewalk had been demolished for widening the road, complete with photoshopped image. Mother was unequivocally disappointed. I didn’t care too much though. Was probably more focused on the comics and TV.
I realize this could comfortably fit into that usual narrative of “oh my god everything’s changing all these new people are ruining everything and things were so good the way they used to be blah blah blah”, but, you know, fuck that. Things are always changing anyway, and there’s an entire bunch of things we don’t give a shit about today and take for granted which we’ll appreciate when they’re gone or when we know we’re going to lose them. I’ve already given enough of a shit about this by writing a ridiculous blog post about it. I’m not sure how much more sympathy shitty uneven tiles deserve. But I have to admit, they were some good tiles, some great mornings, and some really nice walks.
been a while since i wrote on here. however life is shit once again and i want a place to vent. i considered using the word ‘need’ there but i’m not sure about whether i do need it. i’m also not sure about the contours of the word ‘need’. has there been an authoritative Supreme Court judgment on it? if so, maybe i can look that up. and then i can decide whether i want or need this blog post and the venting associated therewith.
in other matters of immediate political relevance, the above propositions have been debated at length amongst myself and my associates who decided to give a shit for a while. the counter argument is that elements in my life add up to make it substantially more enjoyable and privileged, by objective standards (socially sponsored standards is what I mean — because really, what is objective beyond what’s tangible, and what can can you feel that’s tangible that isn’t affecting you directly? a shit argument but bear with me) and to that extent i lose out on the right (moral) to moan and bitch about the same. my unarticulated response consists of that fable-ish concept of the rich man who isn’t able to enjoy any of his riches because he’s become so attached to his belongings and wealth that that he’s forgotten how to be in the moment and enjoy what he has. it’s not an argument i’m able to find my self sustaining by word of mouth to someone else because A, it’s a little bit goddamn vague, and B, I’m a materialistic and selfish person who is and should be satisfied by the material comforts that socio-economic prosperity beings with it.
that being said, my response would definitely have some kind of entrenchment in the realm of philosophy, spirituality and the mind-body balance and blah de blah de blah. no serious doubts about that. maybe i need to become more ruthless in the quality of tv shows that I watch. would be no bad thing I reckon. except that there would obviously be less TV to watch. which on second thought, is also no bad thing.
You enter law school. You don’t know how you did it, but do it you did. Your NLUD entrance score doesn’t match up with your CLAT score and you wonder how you got in in the first place. Combined with your Class 12 marks, your evaluation of yourself as a student raises more questions than it tried to initially answer. You reason with it the way you always do and try to accommodate this along with the million other pieces of information you’ve gathered over the years about how the world is claimed to work. Or avoid work.
You make your way in and your mind is still on the past, still self-obsessed, still a precocious little foetus waiting to ripped out from the seething guts of a putrid self-satisfaction that only a socially approved success can bring. It lasts, for a little while. The descent is slow, but sure. The first five months – what are they exactly? They’re like the first few minutes at a party you’re convinced into attending where you only expect a few familiar faces, and instead you find the inevitable surprise of the lack of a single soul you’d be at ease with. At the end of them is a disappointment that you still haven’t realized, from something or another. Disappointment from grades. Disappointment from friends. Disappointment from relationships. Disappointment from family. From health. You take your pick. It’ll be there. But remember, it’s your friend. This is just the kick up the arsehole that you needed to point out to you that all is not as well as can be. For, being the lollipop-sucking unprioritized toddler that you are, you’ve had your head stuck up in a cloud’s proverbial all along, hardly mustering up the goddamn modesty to take in something significant around you and actually engage or get involved with it.
What next. By now you’re well and truly embedded inside the ecosystem. This swamp is your home now. You’re a part of it. And some slimy disgusting part of it, can lay an equally authoritative claim on you, no doubt. And being the greasy amphibian that you now are, there aren’t many other places you’re going to go when you’re thirsty. So when you feel that thirst, when you need that slake, it’s just the same old pond scum that you’re going to rinse, gargle, and regurgitate, like so many of the pond before you. And it tastes just fine. Because everyone else is drinking it, aren’t they? Are they complaining about it? Do you see them contorting their faces in utter disgust at how much it reminds you of human shit? So what possible problem could you have? What is wrong with your taste-buds that they feels the need for such protest? You teach them a lesson by gulping down some more. Soon enough, like all exponents of vocal disobedience, they learn. They learn, and they cooperate. You begin to exploit the variations in the pond scum that you find in different areas of the glorified cesspool. You train yourself to become a connoisseur in the varied vintages of the pond, thus picking up a valuable tool to raise your standing in the Order of the Pond-infesting amphibians. You learn which types you can digest, and which one you can’t, which types you’re likely to find more friends tasting, and which ones you need a weekend recovery-period from. Once you’ve sorted these out, you’re much better equipped to deal with the machinations that you’re paying to collude with.
And that just gives you the tools to do the things you choose to. That was your education. You haven’t been tasked with any actual decisions up until this point. Till now you’ve just been learning. Now you gotta make some decisions, and you’re on your own. The tools help fuckall. Because they don’t help you take decisions, they just help you execute them. They don’t tell you which choice is better than which, which one has better odds of good results, which one is going to be crowded out by a majority of everyone else, or which ones you’d suck or be good at. But heck, what do you care?! You’re fucking omnipotent, remember?! Surely, if you’ve made it this far, it’s only because of your ability, those hitherto awesome skills that would even make Stevie Wonder cover his eyes. Hell, your ideas should probably be used in the World Bank or something! What could you possibly get wrong here?
I’ll give you some credit. It doesn’t turn out as bad as I make it out to be. But you know as well as I do that it is in fact pretty fucking pathetic. I hope that makes you feel better. You haul another bag of loot to your private piss-pot of winnings and await the next big porno that’s offered to you to be a part of.
I’d be doing it for the wrong reason. I’d be opening the spice cupboard while I knew that it wasn’t spices that I was looking for. Well, maybe not knew, but had a mediocre gut feeling about it. So, you know, why open the spice cupboard?
But I was hungry. I was looking. I wanted food. The spice cupboard looked exactly like the kind of place where people always told me you’d find food. So I gravitate towards it. Strongly. I’m not saying that I actually move. But I gravitate towards it. I can feel that pull. But I resist. I question it. Without stopping. I get answers, I get cross questions, I get exasperated outbursts, but never alter my simple strategy: reply, question, probe, take apart, put back together, re-examine, contextualize, de-contextualize, and just keep on pushing. I really never tire. I mean, I do, at times. But I never really think about deciding to give up. I get distracted, sure, that’s in the nature of the damn thing (or just in mine?), I get tired, but my resolve nevertheless doesn’t change in any significant manner or magnitude for the entire episode.
Which is why I manage to stay away from the spice cupboard. Because it isn’t really food, is it? It’s basically a bunch of condiments, when it comes down to it. You don’t eat spices. You flavor, or garnish (do you? I don’t know), with spices. You don’t eat them.
So why would I look in the spice cupboard? Why should I? I don’t want spices, I want food. Glorious, wondrous, food. I want the innocuous yet beard-tangling juice you’d get from a seemingly dry piece of meat. I want to feel the contrast between the husky outer layers and the smooth filling of a sandwich. Heck, I’d even settle for that incredibly frustrating sticky sensation you get on the roof of your mouth after you’ve eaten a sapota ‘of a certain age’. And I’d take them all together as well. Or just one. But something. Most definitely something. I was hungry, as I mentioned, and distractingly so.
Which brings us back to where we were. Staring at the spice cupboard. Contemplating. Wrestling. Should I? Shouldn’t I? What have I got to lose? What if a genie appears in the spice cupboard and grants me all the food that I could ever want?
Ah yes, the lure. It is luring, for sure, a more devoted servant to her purpose you would never find, that damn lure.
I’ll make a full disclosure at this point and reveal to you that I passionately hate the lure. The zeal with which I loathe this being gives my love for food a good run for its money. I suppose this is because the circumstances connecting both these emotions are so closely connected. Wherever food has been known, or thought, or rumoured (as it mostly is) to lie, I have always, I repeat, always, found her to be present, never far off.
And it’s her whom I constantly argue. I wish I could say that I duck, dodge, and avoid her arguments while returning in kind. I’d like to say that I know all or most of her tricks and deal with them in a demonstrably competent manner. I don’t. They come at me, and being the bull in the china shop that I am, without a hint of grace of strategy, I catch them with my bare hands (and at times face), and grapple with them. It’s messy and it’s complicated and it’s difficult. But it really is the only way to carry out my inquiry that I know how to execute. At this point I’d like to say that that’s because I’m honest by nature. But I know that I have suspicions about my seemingly equally natural stupidity as well. So with a considerable amount of effort and lot more mental agonizing, I stave her off the scene each time. Until the next time. When I do it again. Sometimes I lose, and sometimes I win, but I always know that I can expect her to be at that next location, always sharp and waiting. I’m forced to ask myself at times whether it’s her that I’m after or the food.
So she was here as well, sharp and ready. And I, as ever, was hungry. And for all the times that I repeatedly face her, I’m still pathetic at taking her on. A simple maneuver that had stumped her a million times before was all I needed, but it just never comes to mind, and the fight is dragged on to several times this possible length because of it. My reactions in each battle are so vastly different, there is simply no formula to my fighting. Sometimes I doubt myself here as well — am I simply that incompetent that I must make such an episode of each fight, or do I actually enjoy them in some secret corner of my mind? Irrespective, I never stop fighting.
It’s a cupboard isn’t it? A cupboard in the kitchen. Kitchens deal in food. This is a cupboard in the kitchen. You put two and two together, and you have a definite imperative to open it. Look inside it. Because that’s what the imperative is. You’re hungry, you look in the kitchen cupboards, no questions asked. Because mistakes always happen. Someone or the other is bound to put the wrong jar in the wrong cupboard, and that chance is all I really need. It’s what I live on when the other cupboards have failed me. This sliver of hope is enough to make me take up an entire goddamn fight against the lure just to check that one cupboard. Such is life.
Hi. How the roses speak verses to poets is none of my concern, for mine eyes are mine own and my words are yours to dwell upon. Repeat after me, that makes no sense.
Centrifugal force. Centripetal force. Your face will be torn apart by the two. Maybe that might help. Maybe it’ll let you see more with your eyes. When you see more, you can know more. If you know more, you can generally take better decisions (or so they say) and therefore live better. India needs an alternative cartoon network. I don’t mean an alternative Cartoon Network. I mean a bunch of alternative cartoons. Which can be watched by adults as well as children. And I’m going to give it to them.
I read Stoner recently. It’s an american novel. Authored by a guy named John William. The protagonist happens to be named William Stoner. Here are the opening couple of paragraphs of the book: (Do you know why the following isn’t copyright infringement? It’s because the amount of text that I’m taking out from the original work is a minute porportion of the total work. It’s also because in no way will I hamper sales of the book through this quote, because the actual work has so much to offer that no one who wants a glimpse fo the book is going to come here for such a purpose. It’s also because my use of the paragraphs is such that my work goes beyond the contents of the actual extract itself and in fact attempts a (shoddy) critique of the extract, and therefore does not make use of it directly. There is another parameter to decide whether the extract I’ve provided here is a legitimate instance of doing so, but I won;t go into it here because it can’t be applied to fictitious works that effectively and is therefore an inapplicable defence, and also becuase the preceding three defences would more than sway any kind of bench of judges in my favour)
William Stoner entered the University of Missouri as a freshman in the year 1910, at the age of nineteen. Eight years later, during the height of World War I, he received his Doctor of Philosophy degree and accepted an instructorship at the same University, where he taught until his death in 1956. He did not rise above the rank of assistant professor, and few students remembered him with any sharpness after they had taken his courses. When he died his colleagues made a memorial contribution of a medieval manuscript to the University library. This manuscript may still be found in the Rare Books Collection, bearing the inscription: “Presented to the Library of the University of Missouri, in memory of William Stoner, Department of English. By his colleagues.” An occasional student who comes upon the name may wonder idly who William Stoner was, but he seldom pursues his curiosity beyond a casual question. Stoner’s colleagues, who held him in no particular esteem when he was alive, speak of him rarely now; to the older ones, his name is a reminder of the end that awaits them all, and to the younger ones it is merely a sound which evokes no sense of the past and no identity with which they can associate themselves or their careers.
The way I ended up reading this book was a bit unusual for me insofar as i didn’t read it on the advice of people whom I know. I happened to come across two articles online, one on the nytimes and the other on the newyorker i think, that were about this book and how it was an underrated and forgotten classic. An underrated and forgotten american classic though, I find it apt to specify, seeing as the selective amnesia regarding the content and worth of works of literature operates at different paces whilst regarding literature from different countries, a phenomenon whose existence while debatable is one I buy into to a fair extent. The way I decided to read it in turn slightly changed the way I felt while starting. Usually, and especially with fiction, I just dive into the damn thing and stay down there for as long as it can manage to hold me. With this book however, and perhaps this is simply more the case with, er, classics, I stopped at various point in the prose and kind of weighed my response and current reaction to the sequence I was reading at the time. One such point where I stopped to register some kind of reaction, and the first of them in the case of this book, was at the end of the aforementioned quote. I got the feeling after reading it, that it was going to be a book I really, really enjoyed. Kind of like one of those lazy afternoons when you lie on the shady yet warm part of the garden and watch the insect go about their industry. And for some reason, this feeling kind of reminds of the word honeysuckle, if that helps.
A while after completing (!) the book I surmised that the prediction had held true; I had in fact enjoyed the book a fair bit, savoured it if you will, really getting the ruchi of it. Kind of like an extremely refreshing nap that leaves you ready to do whatever it is you want to do at the time. That lull in mental activity after reading a book is quite enjoyable in terms of the calmness that it brings. Something i noticed in retrospect about the book was that the amount, or indeed the level, of insight available from the point of view of the character in whose narration the book is set, seems to be closely linked to how far he is in his academic journey of self discovery. The days spent working as a fieldhand, while certainly described in detail, do not carry nearly as much insight about Stoner himself or his surroundings, as do those spent at a desk in the city.
There’s been a few thing happening. I think I’ve mentioned before how I love some things about adulthood. The rules of accepted etiquette make it extremely simple to interact with people and be social, compared to the maelstrom of adolescence where everything is unclear and some people are adults and some are not and you’re not sure about exactly what you’re supposed to do in a given situation in terms of how to respond and what level of initiative might be required.
I’ve got this smell in my nose. An awfully strong smell that makes periodical appearances whenever a blockade of a nostril occurs. And so it is in this case. Reminds me of the times spent playing GTA Advance, during which time I suffered from a similarly malfunctioning olfactory system as well.
EZEKIEL M-F-R! DO YOU KNOW IT!
One of the more horrible parts of adulthood is the set of requirements for enjoyment and celebration. Pretension seems to be one of the main ingredients, which is wholly annoying. Is it the pretension that requires alcohol, or does one breed the other? Not something to figure out today.
I will never like Delhi more than Bangalore. But i will concede that the former has got one thing over the latter. Bangalore is a hell of a lot more pretentious, make no mistake. Only in Bangalore will you find a guy bothered by a beggar building up the intention and putting in extra effort to scream “Fuck off” at him. Or indeed have a group of four people stop dead in their tracks when splashed on by a car on a moving puddle to shout — and compete with each other in increasingly hysterical tones — about how each of their pants was spoiled worse than the others’. Atleast in Delhi the reaction in that scenario is one I’d more heartily relate to: no doubt it’d be a terrific scream of “SAALE BHENCHODH” and perhaps other colourful additions in a similar vein.
The culture permeates to the cafes as well. Now look, I’m a fan of good design. It’s great when things look good, and when a place has a vibe or a theme completely pulled off. What borders on absolutely ridiculous however, is when these guys willingly choose to compromise on comfort or practicality in the pursuit of… good design? It can’t really qualify as ‘good design’ when the purpose of the object being designed is no longer served, can it? Form and function are supposed to go hand in hand. Which is why you don’t try to make a chair out of uneven and irregularly arranged strips of stone (Ants cafe), and also why you don’t replace a washroom mirror with smaller ones a face’s size each and place them in weird spots so that a guy can’t see his face in it when he’s standing in front of the wash basin (Church Street Social). Props to both places for other elements though – the paper cups were an interesting touch, as were the actual ants on the table (?) as was the menu box made of wooden rulers. Alas, the music played at grungy establishments like the latter will not suit my taste for this lifetime, I fear.
Hey. So this is me running down the road with my tongue on fire. Why is my tongue on fire? That’s a relevant question. It came about when I was flushing out m neighbour’s lawns