winters come and go.. a feeling resonates (forever?)

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A year ago, I started writing this post with the words: “It is now the second consecutive New Jersey winter that I will be enduring. The 4th overall.”

A year later, the thought hits home stronger than ever, except that it is now the 3rd consecutive winter to endure out of a total of 5 so far in the US. 7 winters that I have been away from Bombay. During which I have gone through 8 different “homes” distributed over 5 different towns (2 different continents). Today I can say I look forward to going back to hearth and home (and a Mrs due to whom it seems worthwhile) at the end of the day. And yet, a thought lingers at the back of the mind..

One would think that you get used to some feelings. Every time I have gone to Bombay and then have to finally leave.. it sucks. What I feel now is tangential. A feeling where one is stuck and you know you are not leaving. You make a home. You feel happy. You somehow get past the fact that this is not “back home”, at long last. After 6 winters of feeling the lack of “that home”, the stage is reached that you have a viable alternative.

And yet, you want it to be even better. You want all of this, back there. You wonder how much better or how much worse it will be. You hear horror stories of Bombay today, of how it is not the place you think it to be. Why its such a bad idea to even consider settling in India. How its a rose-tinted lens that you are remembering it by, and that getting out of that country is probably the best thing to do. Never go back.  If only I had a cent for every time I have heard the thought “Bombay/India is best experienced as a visitor today”, I could probably afford to go back to India.

Something I read on Ebert’s blog probably says it well enough:

I identify with the meaning given to “nostalgia” by Tarkovsky, which in one Russian sense means a longing for one’s home so sweet and sharp one might almost leave home in order to feel it.

If anything, the recent return travel of parental figures may have slightly exaggerated what I feel. It seems memories of being in Bombay are filled with lots of people and lots of talking and lots of noise. Even sitting alone in the afternoon flipping through a book (or even channels on the TV) while the house naps.. the sounds of an outside world, a bustling city going about a daily routine permeated to where I sat 4 floors up. Horns, yells, drills, motors. And made everything seem so much more alive. Here? The winter brings with it a deathly silence from the outside at any time of day, a quiet that creeps into the house.. trying steadfastly to kill what efforts we make to combat it. Somehow hustle-and-bustle seem alien to this world, almost as though everything should happen soundlessly. Take for instance, the fact that neighbors’ dogs you meet in the corridor of your building seldom bark. At most a muted nip, destroyed in the throat before it is heard. Bombay? Dogs must fight to have themselves heard, even late at night.

I try not to think too much about what is to come in my life. Yes, it scares me… but that is not what really stops me. It is a worry that such plans and schemes will make me into the kind of person I don’t want to be — the person who does not want to return because it doesn’t fit into his current plan (as the Joker says, “Schemers.. schemers trying to control their little worlds.“). Which eventually becomes he cannot return, because he is too out of touch with a reality that now feels.. unreal (for lack of a better word).

It feels as though I need to focus on only today for now. Try and hold onto thoughts and feelings that make me still want to go back home. And make sure that I do.

tashi: the amazing, awesome (invisible) dog

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As I spent most of last week getting Windows 7 to work properly on my computer (which will be in a next post – it takes a while for me to get such things together) – I completely missed the chance to post about walking my dog in Brooklyn. Oh, my dog? Tashi. Was invisible. Was awesome. Was amazing. Like everyone else’s.

So, there I was doing cool cancer research in my lab when IE mailed me about a possible stunt on Sunday Sept 27th 2009. And I, like the good little jobless-but-willing-to-travel-randomly person that I am, promptly responded. And rounded up the only available suspect that I know – TH. Whose recent start in comic-dom is well worth checking out, BTW.

Having traveled a good 90-odd minutes to reach Bergen Street from NJ, we and a crap-load of people assembled in what appeared to be an abandoned warehouse. When Charlie Todd told us about what was going to be done that afternoon, it turned out that we were indeed meeting in an abandoned warehouse. Which had once upon a time manufactured Invisible Dogs (TH is waiting for his “dog” to finish “business” alongside). Turns out IE had 2000-odd invisible dogs, and they hoped that there were 2000-odd of us around too. The prank, as Todd put it, “pretty much wrote itself”.

We picked up our leashes and headed outside to give our “dogs” a nice stroll around Brooklyn. TH and I headed up and out of the street to ensure that we spread out and gave enough people in Brooklyn a reason to stare. Initially, barely anyone seemed to notice. Once we hit the main road though, cars were constantly stopping near us to find out just what the hell we were doing. No-one seemed to buy that “it was just a nice day, and we decided to take our dog for a walk” 🙂 Continue reading

life continues to move along its winding trail

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A break’s a break, no matter how I put it. I last blogged nearly a week or more ago, and here I am now trying to come up with good excuses to myself as to why I haven’t posted. I’m going to skip past it and focus on topic 2: “Life Continues to Move Along its Winding Trail”.

Actual physical moving/relocation has happened again, making this the 6th time in 3 years. Yes, I know. Insanity. However, I now feel like even though I have a mountain-load of crap, it compacts itself pretty well to be transported. I’ve also come one step closer to a dream of a recliner, in that I actually own one now. Yes, in all its lever-pressing leg-resting glory. It’s not the La-Z-Boy E-cliner 3000, the chair that Sit Magazine calls ‘Chair of the Year’. Not yet, anyway.

A recent incident is still demonstrating after-effects. In short, I’m without vehicular transportation. The why, how and wherefore are slightly irrelevant, so I don’t want to talk about it right now still. This lack of transportation is hitting home in interesting ways…

I currently feel as though I’ve been transported back in time to 2005, when my only mode of transport was walking. Back then I had recently acquired my iRiver H140, and it was the be-all and end-all of my existence. Now I realize that it still is, in many ways. I hook up the player, the remote, the headphones… and I walk down the road jigging every now and then to a song I know well. A lot of the songs are from back then too, so it sort of adds to the illusion. The streets have changed, the city I’m walking in is different and a lot of things have changed for me too… but somehow a little bit of the world as I knew it from 2005 appears to have transplanted itself into my life today.

My life is not instantaneous any more. I have to actually plan events a few hours in advance at least to manage to get to places. Again, reminiscent of the UK, where nothing could be done without taking into account transport time. It’s cool and sad at the same time; I don’t quite know which one to focus on.

Obviously, there are feelings of loss as well. However, I haven’t written about any of my cars, and I don’t know if I ever can. A car is one of those possessions that should not have the kind of good bye that I have given, and somehow I feel as though writing my in memoriam post is too final. They are all actually lost to me in real life, I know… maybe I will find it in me to post about them someday.

A trip to upstate New York happened this weekend – specifically to Saranac Lake where Reshma & Vin live. In short: Awefomeness. Yes, the missus is responsible for such explorations, once again proving her awesomeness. Reshma and Vin were awesome too, cooking up a storm of pancakes and uthappas as well as taking us to one place after another, each more beautiful than the previous one. We managed to see quite a bit in the time we were there: Lakes Saranac, Flower, Placid, Raquette, Tupper; Mounts Whiteface, Baker; and a whole lotta places in between.

adirondacks

The Adirondacks have to be one of the most beautiful places I have been to in recent times. Given the number of lakes and mountains around, I felt transported back to the Scottish Highland road trips that I have made – the colors, the pristine beauty, the wildness – all untouched by man, other than to put a road within. Miles of road with no seeming end, next to no cars, and expanses of green and blue flashing by. I can only imagine the fall colors that would explode in this area, and am really sorry that I won’t be there to see it this time round. Even now, I sit in my train wrenching myself from attempting to capture the beauty flashing past my train window. The twilight of a deep orange sunset remains, the sky and water reflecting it perfectly. Trees stand dark against the banks, occasional boats and canoes flash by as they float in rippled waters. Clouds line the sky, highlighted by the orange and providing a perfect gray to contrast it. Small islands exist in this river, and some of them can be seen to house some kind of dwellings, all of which look idyllic. I can only envy these houses, it is a peace and quiet well worth living in. A far cry from the places I have lived in my life.

Interestingly, villages and hamlets exist here where there is NO cell-phone network coverage. Yes in this 1st world country, such regions do exist. What is interesting is that there IS Wi-Fi coverage in such places. Need I say more? There was also the baby bear that got scared away as it tried to cross the road while we zoomed by. Poor thing indeed. But it lent credence to stories of bears wandering into your backyard and eating any form of food that’s available. And of course, the baby squirrel that pecked away at the nut in its paws until it realized that the 4 of us were generally behaving like boorish paparazzi, and then darted away into the underbrush.

I’ve now realized that there are a bunch of other posts I need to get writing, having procrastinated them for over a month. So off I go then.

just the other day

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1993. i ran ahead, the glories of the day past aglow in my mind. one space mountain ride under my belt, at only age 10, was enough. i was tall enough. too bad for warsha. this was disneyworld, there were plenty of rides for her. that horse-ride for one. she was ecstatic. then mickey and minnie. and a glimpse of goofy. life could not be better.

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2008. i ambled forward, having skipped through most of the tarzan treehouse. somehow, underneath all the revived childhood, there was a slight lack of excitement i wanted to overcome. the indy ride had been fun, so had that “jungle cruise”. ‘pirates was probably going to be next, hopefully not too badly distorted by the movie. appa and amma were waiting patiently in the shade. i whipped out the map. where was ‘pirates’ again?

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the line was going to take some time. this was a mountain ride of some kind. looked interesting enough. warsha would probably be allowed on it. that was good. the time left when we entered was 40 minutes or somethhing. 10 were over. this should be fun. people were moving, appa pulled me forward. i wondered what we were going to do next.

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the pirates ride was not as bad as i thought it was going to be. i went over the rest of what we had. probably get tickets for that mountain ride. probably have lunch soon. got to find fries for mom. should make sure that we get out of this area in the next 40 minutes or so. and at some point ensure i go there.

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that ride was pretty neat. where would we go next. my eyes bulged at the sight. there was an island here. with a steamboat. the sign loomed above. ‘mom !’ impatience mounts. ‘moooooooooommm ! look, look, tom sawyer island ! in disneyworld !’

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the lack of a lesson learnt

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2 planes. 2 skyscrapers. collapse. ruin. destruction.

the true horror of the incident was indelibly re-etched. i’ve seen how the plane was hijacked all due to the carelessness of america. they were lax, and they paid. but the price paid, was far beyond any cost. the sheer terror of 2 planes destroying an american icon, the panic, the fear, the chaos, the destruction – these are things that were horrifying. at the same time, the number of conspiracy theories that have made the rounds have diluted that memory.

watching the crash again, watching the terror that it inspired, watching the bravery of people just wanting toe help inspite of their world literally falling to pieces around them.. such is something that reminds you there is more to everything than just what we tend to focus on. and the fact that those 2 men survived that day is testament to why terror can never truly have any real result.

sadly, america didn’t learn. repaying terror with terror has only led to a near second vietnam.

After watching ‘World Trade Center.’

its raining, its pouring

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overcast skies, clouds flit, a dampness tinges the air. i awoke in the morning to a dreary day. rain falling between heavy and a drizzle. it seemed fairly typical of new jersey. sunny in the morning, snow in the afternoon. warmth yesterday, heavy rain today.

incidental to all this, i reflected about how i’d commented that rain in the US was irritating. wet enough to dampen you, but not heavy enough to warrant a raincoat. i took off to my uncles’, the rain wasn’t so bad.

however, 7 hours later, when i left.. it had built itself up into a fury. quite the torrential rainstorm. i hit route 1, and it decided to peak for the day. or so i thought. ramming down on the windshield, visibility was at low enough that the car ahead was visible with a squint. and then, traffic.

so very much like back home. the rain pouring down, the traffic, horns, the snail pace of the snaking line.. and eventually you realise that you’re not going to move anytime today. an exit was nearby, and was taken,. a phone call later, i was winding my way back towards an alternate route. the spate increased. windshield wipers now on the highest setting, and yet, it never seemed as though the rain was out of your face.
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city lights

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walking through the streets of new york, there is a certain thrill associated with coming out of madison square to be confronted with the heart of one of the biggest cities of the world. the first step onto times square has brought a certain smile, a certain sense of awe to me every time i have made it. you can feel the success of the city in the way it has grown: planned, laid out, professional.

compare this directly to bombay; because for the true bombayite, everything is compared to bombay. even bombay itself. the sense of craziness, the sense of being a gigantic city remains… but the lack of planning, haphazard growth that is hallmark of the evolution of bombay is very very evident. bombay has a distinctly different aura to it, the survival factor is very evident in the way the people in it live, in the way the city continues to grow despite all odds – whether it be bomb blasts or floods. new york is almost disdainful of survival, it seems to know it is meant to be the grand kingpin of cities.

london lives in a little cocoon of superiority; trying to hold on to past grandeur, assuming that it is still the centre of the earth. the sense of development is there, but there is a feeling that the city is a little past its prime. it tries to marry the old and the new, which is not always possible…

looking at them, they are, literally, the past, the present, and the future city kingpins of the world. so very similar. and so very different.

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