The deer at Hauz Khas Village

                                              Illustration courtesy: Shivali Chandra

It was a lonely Saturday evening for Rathin, despite the loud music blaring, and people talking loudly in the background. Rathin was done with the world at large.

With the single-minded intention of drowning his sorrows in more than a couple of drinks, he had checked in at the Lord of the Drinks Meadow at Delhi’s Hauz Khas Village. After hopelessly bar hopping that evening, which left him emotionally drained, the Meadow seemed like a relatively quiet place to sit and ruminate. More than just that, it seemed like an acceptable option compared to returning to his lonely abode fully sober.

“The Village is becoming unbearable. All the places are too loud, too crowded, and too…young,” he thought to himself. Rathin hated the last adjective. He hated admitting that at 27, he was inching towards the much-dreaded 30s. But only a year ago, Rathin was part of the crowd he today summarily dismisses as “young”.

He loved the loud music, the vibes, and the general feeling of having arrived in life that the Village offered him the first time. But everything that is once hipster, must become mainstream, someone wise told Rathin the first time he set foot in Delhi. He couldn’t remember who.

The Meadow is inside the famous Deer Park at the Village, and by some stroke of luck in that otherwise doomed evening, there was a cool breeze blowing. Rathin settled for a secluded spot with a view of the park. A mesh wire fencing separated the park from the watering hole. Beyond the mesh were tall trees of all varieties. The moon played hide and seek with the clouds and the leaves that danced in the breeze.

Rathin called for a pitcher of Long Island Iced Tea, the tropical variety, and took two deep breaths. Sanity came at a price in this city. It had been a long day, walking around Lodi Gardens, in search of some solace and inspiration. A struggling writer in the big city, Rathin’s pen had run dry. He couldn’t create magic with his words anymore.

A one-book old writer, he hated admitting that he was terribly scared of becoming a one-book wonder.

He knew how important it was for him to make his second book a stellar success. Money was running out, and folks back home were getting impatient. The manuscript of his second book was rejected by three of the biggest publishers in the city. They said it lacked depth. Truly, Rathin was out of depth. His folks were peeved with his creative pursuits, and would not have any more of it. They wanted him to fit in, and be a part of the race Rathin so loathed.

The Meadow was filled with the rich and fancy of Delhi who had come in their fascinating chariots. “I am so terribly underdressed, God!” he muttered under his breath.

Indeed, in his jeans, polo t-shirt, and dusty sneakers, Rathin was spectacularly out of place. The fancy lights and water fountains held the promise of a different world he desperately wanted to be a part of. He dragged his feet deeper under his knees, hoping that no one would notice them in the darkness.

A server presently brought him his favourite concoction of Vodka, Rum, Tequila, Triple Sec and Orange. He thanked the person and asked for a lighter. He drew two deeps drags of smoke, before scratching his unshaven chin and taking a small sip.

“Aah! This is heavenly,” he thought to himself. Rathin loved Delhi. The city gave him new aspirations every day, of a better life, unimaginable back home. There was a reason Rathin persisted against all odds and wanted to stay on in the city. He drew more passionate sips as he recounted his struggles.

His struggles, he believed, were temporary. Light would shine on him sooner or later. Life would come full circle. There were no chinks in Rathin’s conviction. But at times, fear and criticism cut him deep, leaving him with inner wounds to heal. Coming to terms to his inner hurt had taken Rathin a while. All he wanted was intimate understanding from loved ones. But it was hard to come by.

Rathin was not a struggler by any means. Of this he was certain. He had a regular job and no airs of being a writer. He had deep respect for his job, for it brought him the means of sustenance. But he knew he deserved more. He knew he deserved to be part of a better world. Accidents of birth could not prevent him forever from acquiring his real place. His thoughts raced, as alcohol coloured his imagination. He poured out more of that magical concoction, as his body and mind finally relaxed without any inhibition.

And then he saw it. A deer stood on the other side of the mesh fencing, looking right at him. Where did it come from?

Rathin had no idea. Perhaps it was the lights, and the music, that made the deer curious. Rathin moved closer to the fence, just to make sure it was not his imagination playing games. It was indeed a deer, and it was unafraid of anything. Rathin took out his camera and tried to get a good shot. But somehow, the camera would keep focussing on the fence, missing the deer every time.

He moved even closer to the fence, the deer observing his actions very suspiciously. Rathin meant no harm, but the deer was a mute, dumb animal, with the easy choice of running away. But strangely, it seemed to enjoy the attention. It even walked two steps towards the fence.

Rathin moved even closer in drunk ecstasy at finding a companion this lonely evening. The deer reciprocated. He placed his hand at the fencing, and the deer attempted at some physical contact by placing its wet nose at the exact same spot.

“Who are you?”, Rathin thought he blurted out, amazed at his own ludicrousness.

After a minute of complete silence, accompanied by muted beats of uptempo club music, it seemed to Rathin that deer spoke to him.

“I am the only deer in this park that will dare to do this. I am an outcast. My tribe disowned me because of my curiosity. They warned me not to get too close to the humans, but I can’t resist. Every time I hear the music, the human voices, I am drawn closer,” the deer said.

“Shouldn’t you be with your own kind at this hour of the night?”, Rathin shot back.

“I should be, but they do not approve of me.”

“So, you live all alone in this sprawling park? Doesn’t it get lonely at times?” Rathin was growing curious.

“It does, but it is a part of living life on my own terms. My tribe is predictable and boring. They do not like to explore. I couldn’t take for it long. So I left them, and decided to make it on my own,” the deer replied.

Rathin was taken aback. A talking deer in the Village well past midnight on a Saturday? That has never happened before!

“I am an outcast too. My tribe doesn’t like me much either,” he quipped back, hoping the deer would continue the conversation.

“Well, if that is the way it is, then that is the way it is, my friend!”, the deer had a prompt reply ready.

“Nice to meet you! I have to go to look for some water now,” continued the deer, as it placed its nose against the fence, as if in some form of inter-species greeting. Rathin placed his head against the fence, his forehead feeling wet suddenly, due to contact with the deer’s nose.

In one moment of shared solidarity, he felt like he had found a kindred soul, in the unlikeliest of places. The deer hopped away into the dark of the night.

Rathin cleared the bill, feeling empowered by his alcohol-fuelled conversation with a deer. Was it for real? He did not know. And he could not care less. Or spoil his own new-found vigour.

The struggling writer had found a new muse. The deer at Hauz Khas Village.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Moving too fast

The cost of moving too fast is that one misses the sights. One misses real conversations, one misses the moments that make life worth living. One misses people in their lives. No side is to blame. No one foresees things coming to such a pass. When Time takes over, one has little options but to just synchronise oneself with the pace with which Time wishes to go. It works well, so well, often like clockwork.

Routines, meetings, deadlines, deliveries, end of the day parties, end of the weekend parties, end of the month parties, beginning of the month parties, hung-over Sunday mornings that often begin at 11 am — oh, the sheer pace of it! Before long, the Sunday is gone and so is the scope for some quiet reflection, some stock taking. It does not matter, the brain reasons. It’s all fine till I am moving, it says in its defence! Keep calm and carry on! To where? To what end? No answers there, Sir!

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Keep calm, they say. And do what with that forced calm? Pretend that everything is okay? No answers here, either! Tough questions have a way of answering them. If it is too tough to answer, chances are there is no answer to it, it seems. And, there goes the feeble attempt at introspection down the big drain. You need no answer, workman! Just align yourself to the clock and keep moving. Keep moving and nobody gets hurt.

People we have left behind have an uncanny way of never leaving our sides, either in their presence or in their absence The only roots of our newly found existence, they are the ones who keep reminding us that there’s a home to return to, where sanity comes easy, where love is showered upon profusely. Such people speak, we listen. Distances fade out the impact of their words, but we listen, straining our ears to hold on to the last vibration of sound coming from their end. Their voices are the last hopes in our newly built lives which play out in rented homes, in cities that often remain strangers, in offices that refuse to become home.

listenWe listen. And, we weep, for sometimes the voices sound unfamiliar. Probably, because of the distortion caused by the vast distance in between. We listen. And, we smile, for sometimes the voices sound so familiar. Probably, because nothing has ever really changed. We listen. And, we live. Listening starts to assume greater importance than speaking. We listen intently for we cannot see each other any more. Blame it on the distance. We hang on to every word being spoken, for every word has meanings deeper than our shallow new lives.

We send love through cute heart smileys over platforms that they say the government is spying upon. We care a damn! We exchange pictures. We talk on the phone. We sometimes sing over it. We narrate our lives over phones. And, in doing all that, home seems not too far away. Really.

Five learnings from three years of blogging

November 26, 2014 marked three years of my venturing into the world of blogging. Looking back and reflecting on the last three years, I can say without the least bit of exaggeration that blogging has changed my life. I owe the version 2.0 of my life to blogging.Power of Words

Today, I want to take a moment to list out the five most important learnings from three years of blogging.

 1. The world always has enough room to accommodate one more blogger.

When I started out, I was unsure if my blog would be read by anyone. I didn’t know if people would like me, my voice, my writing. Three years from there, take it from me: The world always has enough room to accommodate one more blogger. In fact, the world has enough room for one more *anything*. Don’t look at the high-brow crowd. They intimidate you. They confuse you. They put fears in your mind.

Look at you own inner self and ask it “What story do I have to tell the world today?”. If you answer that question everyday or every now and then, then that is good enough. Take it one blog-post at a time.

2. Your story is important enough for the world to know.

People often tend to shy away from sharing personal stories on their blogs. Most do for reasons of privacy. But some simply refuse to believe that their story would interest the world. Trust me, your story is unique and it *deserves* to be told to the world.

Believe in your story’s power, believe that your experiences would be interesting enough for readers across the world to read and like. This single belief would take away a lot of your inhibitions. You will start to believe more in yourself.

3. It takes one person to make a difference, and you can be the one!

While you are blogging and enjoying it, don’t hesitate to start a campaign or a movement of sorts, if you feel the need to. Some experiences are so moving, that just writing about it is not enough. One needs to do more. And, one can!

4.  Page-views are not everything

Page-views excite the blogger. They are proof that his work is being read by people across the world. But, they are not everything. Don’t judge your work or potential by page-views.

5. It is okay to desert your blog once in a while

Yes, you love your blog! You love it to bits. You probably post everyday. However, if there comes a time when real life takes over and you have to let go you of the blog for a while, don’t feel too bad about it. It won’t be long before you will be back if you really love writing. Priorities change in life, and there’s no reason to feel bad about it. Its all fine till you always manage to find a reason to return to your blog.

Please share your five learnings from blogging!

The show must go on

The master lingers on forever. His discipline, his quotes, his sense of integrity manifest in his pupil. The pupil, for his part, is distraught at the loss of his master. He craves for the guidance, for the stern handling, for the “system” that the master had so painstakingly built. But, things are too open-ended now. He is on his own.

He wanders, looking for new inspiration. But, it is indeed difficult, for these are still early days. The learning curve is steep. And there is no reassuring voice urging him to reach for quality. Then, there is the lure of the low-hung fruit, which he must avoid.

The master has left, but he has set the tone for his pupil. He has set the bar very high, and the pupil must strive to reach the mark. The learning must not stop. The master is the inspiration–the pupil must keep this in mind. 

The show must go on.

2013 in review — Better late than never

Okay! I know WordPress was late in doing my annual report, but its not my fault! So, here’s my report of 2013!!

The WordPress.com stats helper monkeys prepared a 2013 annual report for this blog.

Here’s an excerpt:

The concert hall at the Sydney Opera House holds 2,700 people. This blog was viewed about 14,000 times in 2013. If it were a concert at Sydney Opera House, it would take about 5 sold-out performances for that many people to see it.

Click here to see the complete report.

Leaving home…

I am finally going to leave home at the crack of dawn tomorrow. Agreed – it comes a few years late compared to my friends who did their first degree from other cities. Nevertheless, the day has come. I am stoked. It is a promotion and an enhanced job role that is taking me to a different city.

I am excited to tackle all the challenges that come my way. Honestly, I can’t wait.

leaving-home

I can’t wait to see the house that I shall turn into a home.

But, then again, I am sad, for I am leaving family and love behind. That is a void that no big city or professional success can fill. The people I love the most are not going to be with me. That is a big blow to me.

No matter how much of an “adventurous-and-ready-to-check-out-new-places” guy I seem to be, I am also someone who wilts like a rose in the evening when there’s no one to go back home to, when there’s no one to  watch silly sentimental Bollywood movies with, when there’s no  whose hands I could hold while walking.

What is home without loved ones?

Damn! Why can’t some decisions be easy, like for instance, to be happy or to feel sad?

PS: Happy new year friends!

Image courtesy: www.mendosa.com

It’s raining tonight. . .

It’s raining tonight. Cold December rain.

It isn’t raining cats and dogs, though. Just the low humming rain that keeps falling incessantly.

It has rained after quite some time today. There is this smell emanating from the soil — that characteristic smell that accompanies monsoons.

It should be winter now in Guwahati, technically. But the weather’s changed. Global warming, I presume. It is not as cold as it used to be in Decembers when I was growing up.

Yet this rain, the smells and the sounds, the light blanket, and this dark night bring back memories of familiar winter nights spent many years ago at my grandfather’s place.

It is a small town called Coochbehar – a town that has always fascinated me. My best moments while growing up were spent there.

I remember how cold it used to be back then. How I would lie under the blanket and listen to the rain in the dark of the night. How the familiar smell would entice. How the night watchman would come right up to the house and frighten me with his blood curdling whistle. How I would hear his footsteps as he walked away from the house. How the cold winter wind would creep in through crevices of the wooden house.

Those were the best winters. Now the winter fog is no longer there. Things have changed.

Both of my maternal grandparents were alive back. I don’t feel any great sense of loss for them, to be honest. But a loss has been often experienced.

A loss of environment, warmth. Certain people have a certain aura and make sure that the places they inhabit emanate the same. The place has never been the same after they left for their abode up above.

Now as I lay in bed and type on my phone, I hear the low hum of the fridge, the wall clock ticking away. Mechanical sounds. There’s no warmth. No emotion. No sense of adventure. No cold wind creeping in. It’s a concrete house.

There’s no watchman here.

Why do familiar smells and sounds bring nostalgia? Why does it feel that things were always better in the past, when they actually weren’t? What is this mystery?

The story so far

There was a time I fought with the world. I fought everyday but I could not win.

I complained. I hated all.

The world seemed like an unequal place. I revolted against authority, and followed my heart. Half-hearted efforts yielded little. With my feet in two different boats, the journey was destined to be rocky.

Was I a rebel though? I think I was. A rebel without a cause, then? No! My cause was to prove to them that there existed a different kind of life. I needed to show them there was a life that was much, much better than just safely following the herd. I spoke to them. They were unconvinced. They said I spoke too much and delivered too little. They said I was a loser.

Then, one day, everything changed! I was destined to prove them wrong. I chose a life — no, a life was thrust upon me by my circumstances. Circumstances which at first had seemed hostile to me. I complained. I fought with an imaginary God. I cried.

I asked, “Why me, of all the people in the world?”

My imaginary God smiled and whispered, “Because you are special!”

Days changed into weeks, weeks into months. The curse turned to a boon. And I realised – I was happy. For the first friggin’ time in many many years, I was happy! By jove, that was the only thing that mattered. That happiness and that satisfaction was the only thing in the entire world that mattered to me.

Today, months later, I feel like I have created my own little island of “all that is right” in the vast ocean of “all that is not”.

island
In this island of mine, there is no hatred, no grief, no sadness, no regrets. There’s only happiness and good old fashioned hard work. Like a karma yogi, I work. And the consequent satisfaction is the biggest reward.
The mockers and haters are very far from my island. I don’t need them anymore.

In this island, I am happy. That is the only thing that matters. This is my story so far.

Thank you for reading!

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Thank you for reading! A performer is nothing without an audience. A writer is nothing without a reader.

I had started writing under different circumstances altogether, hoping to just pursue it as a hobby, as some kind of a respite from the moronic  life of a Math Honors student.

But, circumstances have changed in the course of the last two years. For the better, too! Life has been kind, for not everyone gets a second shot at re-starting life, wiping out all previous mistakes and regrets. Not everyone has a job where one’s natural talents are put to use.

I am happy today, after a long time. The written word means a lot to me. This blog means a LOT to me._DSC0054


(I have been super busy for the last month, which explains the irregularity in posting. Also, not having an internet connection at the apartment where I am holed up for this month truly sucks! But, I will back be home pretty soon. Hope to start writing regularly again. Before I sign off, once again, thanks for the reading)