150/365

As Indians, we see roads wherever we want to see them. Can a construction site have a road? Yes. Is a footpath a road? Yes. Are pedestrians meant to be run over? Of course.

Now I understand that pedestrians can be rather stupid in this country, and attempt to cross at a bend, or cross where a high speeding vehicle is coming in their way (I have been guilty of both, as a child), but I think it’s high time we recognize how pathetic driving standards in this country are.

I take issue with this because this evening I saw a series of bikes crossing over on the footpath I was walking on at speeds in excess of 40 kmph. Which isn’t that much, but is a lot when the bike is heading straight for you.

A large part of this is because of the concept of IST. Indian Stretchable Time.

None of this applies to Indians abroad, or NRI’s. We are the best versions of ourselves in countries apart from our own. It’s what hinders India’s progress the most.

I’ll explain this IST phenomenon now.

We are always late. Though everybody wears a watch in this country, even if it is an imitation Rolex from Chor Bazaar, everybody knows what time it is. But nobody cares. Nobody leaves on time, or makes an attempt to turn up to places on time.

And once they fail to leave a time that comfortably allows for buffers owing to traffic and other such things, all hell breaks loose, because it is imperative that they aren’t crossing over from “fashionably late” to “oh-shit-I-am-now-unemployed late”. Which means they need a solution.

What better solution than creating new roads?

If your destination was success, creating a new pathway would make me label you a genius. But your destination is a place you travel to regularly, and the advancement of technology is such that you can access estimated travel times easily.

So leave for trips early. It’s that simple.

I also take issue with the fact that Indians don’t enjoy driving. A majority of middle/upper-middle class individuals in this country don’t drive their own vehicles, though they own fancy ones. Which creates employment for drivers, but, nobody drives the car they purchased.

Alternatively, they drive their car, and grumble about the traffic daily.

I understand a lot of these problems, including traffic are rectifiable by paving better roads. That isn’t a solution I see being put into effect in the next 5 years.

So try enjoying your driving. Turn on the radio, try carpooling so you have someone to talk to everyday, listen to an audiobook, or a podcast.

Do something.

Don’t waste traffic time.

Alternatively, use public transport. Less pollution.

148/365

I’ve missed the feeling of watching cricket, or television, in general, in the comfort of my home, after playing a game of basketball with my friends. This used to be my usual day after school on most evenings, and it’s nice to be able to continue that – even if it is for the brief stint of one month. I’ve enjoyed it largely because it helps me see how much we’ve grown in the two short years since a lot of us left this community, but how easy it is to reconnect, even though months of silence have passed.

With general Bangalore weather doing general Bangalore things, the electricity supply in our house has fluctuated drastically over the past few days – moving rapidly between BESCOM supply and a Diesel Generator. Which throws me into a bubble of nostalgia, when I used to whine about how my grandparents’ generator system could power the television for 2 hours and no more. Power cuts were disastrous. They ruined my day of sitting in front of the television and accomplishing absolutely nothing. It was horrible.

But it got me to read, in the small outdoor space they had in their earlier residence – amidst the breeze, with an extremely comfortable share, and close proximity to the kitchen, and the smell of tomato rasam. Nothing delighted me more.

I digress.

These days when the power goes, my mind turns to whether our electricity supply will auto-switch, or whether we will have to call maintenance. While simultaneously, I pray that our appliances stay safe, and rush to check that all stabilizers aren’t in need of revival.

That sound is the worst, mind you. After that annoying sound some road bikes make, that stabilizer sound has to rank second. If you haven’t heard it, you must. It’s a sound you need to have registered.

Side note: Maybe that should be my alarm.

It’s then, when I contact maintenance, that I understand a little more of the home I inhabit at present. You learn about how the electricity flow and grid works, what challenges electricians face, and how there are always a host of tasks and complaints they need to attend to.

The kind of due diligence I might do as a lawyer can save a lot of people from spending a lot of unnecessary money. But the kind of due diligence these people do ensures that none of die as a result of electrical shock, or have to live without the comfort of lights and fans.

On the electricity panel, as I watched the electrician dexterously move his hands through the wires, I questioned whether he was merely matching random wires in the hope that it clicked.

I dismissed that thought instantaneously, though my mind contemplated snatching a wire and running away: to see if all those wires genuinely mattered.

Maybe I should have studied engineering to understand how these things work. They’re useful skills to have in life, I think: the ability to build yourself some sturdy furniture from pieces of wood, and the ability to resolve electricity and water supply problems – apart from knowing a little about how technology works.

We need a boot camp for millenials.

Seriously.

Also, sidenote, and conclusion. Growing up is learning that chores are intellectually stimulating and can be fun. And help you live comfortably.

 

 

146/365

I’ve never enjoyed the rain. Being from the Middle East, the rain was not a phenomenon I witnessed on a daily basis, or even on a monthly basis, and in my 10 years there, I remember it raining just once. And hailing once. On both occasions, school ended early, and we shut all our windows, making a lot of noise in class – creating a ruckus for our Class Teacher. It was worth it.

On the contrary, I love water. I’m a camel, and drink a lot of water. Hearing about water scarcity, or water resource problems petrifies me. Chuck alcohol, forget about your caffeinated or aerated beverages. You can survive off water. My mother taught me the value of water somewhere around the 11th Grade, where my friends began to drink Red Bull, but I was deprived to prevent me from becoming the dependent. Water inspires me in other ways as well. There’s the calming effect of staring at your own reflection within a water body – allowing you to introspect about miniscule, trivial details within your life. There’s the hustle and bustle you witness on beaches. So many memories of water, the only substance apart from the internet that my generation will consume and sustain itself on for days.

Coming to India as a child was an exercise in despising the country. The school I studied in didn’t follow the CBSE system, nor had an affiliation to any other Indian Board. Being a British run educational institution, we followed the Western academic calendar, with summer holidays spanning from June to September. Three months of scorching sun, and nine months of taking care of me meant it was usually time for my parents to get their share of “annual leave”, so I departed for India like a diligent child, holiday homework et al.

I arrived here each year in the middle of monsoon. Pathetic weather conditions, no stable Television, Electricity, or Internet connections, mosquitoes everywhere, cockroaches entering my home from random holes, and that nasty smell. I hated it. I cribbed occasionally, I think, but my grandparents entertained the cribbing and supplied me with alternative outlets for my frustration – learning how to dismantle a computer and put it back together, figuring out how to play games on the computer, reading, learning Sudoku, and even stitching myself a bag.

My parents and guardians had reservations with this water thing as well. I was never allowed to get drenched in the rain as a child, instead hearing frequent reminders of my “wheezing”, or catching a flu, and I wasn’t allowed to drink cold water, ever. On weekdays, I was prohibited from swimming, unless it was for coaching purposes, and my parents enforced a strict 1-hour rule in the pool.

To see them get drenched in the rain today was amusing, to say the least.

Since I’ve moved back to India, I’ve embraced everything this place has to offer – including the weather. Being in Bangalore, there isn’t much to complain about, but being a member of the human species, I’m used to complaining. The fluctuating climes offered repeated tests to my immunity levels.

I didn’t get drenched till I moved to Gujarat though. And then too, out of necessity, when the weather turned on me – as I sat in the library till 12, and then headed back to the hostel on a day that had seen soaring temperatures of 45 degrees (Celsius).

It was strange. I felt cold and my clothes stuck tight to my body, but my hair felt fantastic. I lept around in puddles and ruined my sandals, and my pants, but I felt very carefree doing so. Without an umbrella, I felt the water droplets rushing through the spaces between my fingers, and peeling away any residues of dirt I had collected on my hand. It felt like a bath from the Gods, and for a long while, I was lost in my own thoughts – imagining cariacture images of what that would legitimately look like.

This evening we got stuck in the rain. My dad and uncle dealt with it by being themselves: pragmatic and methodical – attempting to find shelter and wait out till the most opportune moment arrived to cross the road and walk on home. My aunt and I were more head-on. She jogged cautiously, and I walked briskly, ensuring we didn’t ruin our respective footwear. I carried my bag on my head to prevent a little bit of the water from reaching my scalp (to no avail). The objective was simple: get home fast, stay as dry as you possibly can.

My dad got his pants wet while crossing the road, and my mother shivered throughout – she couldn’t bear the cold.

It taught me a lot about how moving out of my comfort zone has made me adapt to a host of changes. And think more objectively.

Moving around when you’re feeling cold is also a faster way of warming up your body.

Coming home, we did what I do on this blog. We analyzed. Talking about what would have been better “in hindsight”. I don’t know why we do these things – it seems rather redundant.

But the conversation was delightful. All of us taking turns with the hair dryer, me attempting to style my Bart-Simpson hair, a bit of catching-up on Sports, and general sleepiness.

That’s what I’m grateful for today.

Also, massive props to my grandparents for helping out with a pooja this morning: everyone woke up early to accommodate my internship schedule, and we managed to finish ahead of time – even though I woke up last!

More tales tomorrow.

 

 

145/365

Public transport.

For a kid that travelled on a solo flight from the Middle East to India, using public transport should have been easy. For one, it’s a shorter journey, within the same city – which means it’s far easier to come back home. Second, you know the language to communicate with individuals – whether it was Dubai (where English worked), or Bangalore (Kannada). Finally, public transport used familiar routes – ones that were visible with the naked eye, without the need for any form of onboard camera, or blind faith in the abilities of a pilot. A wrong turn was identifiable.

Yet, the bus scared the pants off of me.

I took a while to warm up to the auto-rickshaw. I’m aware, you don’t consider the auto rickshaw “public transport”. Let’s deal with that first. To me, “public transport” is a mode of transport that (1) I am not in control of, or (2) Me and my immediate family are not the sole users of – that there is a possibility of a user I was unaware of. For all the taunts my mother made when I was a child, I was quite a germophobe, and sitting on the same seat someone else sat on scared me.

Worse, the shape of buses just put me off. Most buses look like monsters. That Cars movie didn’t help things either. Disney made a van a hippie, and I didn’t take kindly to it.

I used the bus once when I was in Bangalore with my grandfather – we had to go from home to the Air India office in order to book my return ticket and fill out some Unaccompanied Minor form. I remember the day pretty vividly – there were no Volvos in service then, so we used the blue BMTC’s, and switched over two buses. My greatest achievement that day? Holding on to my grandfathers hand and managing to stick with him throughout the ride. I saw a couple of people jump off the bus while it was moving, and managing to land on their feet. While my little brain wondered why I was incapable of such daring feats, it was easy to rationalise. I was sure they were stuntmen, blessed with capabilities beyond my wildest dreams.

Relocating to India, I despised the thought of buses. I stayed away from them for 2 years, after which someone proposed a challenge. To travel the bus route alone.

I couldn’t stand losing.

So I went.

Since that day, I’ve developed a romantic relationship with buses.

(That sounds so creepy)

But in general, with all modes of public transport. I find them more enjoyable than travelling alone in an Uber/Ola Cab.

Mostly because my brain paints backstories to every individual on the bus – secretly hoping one of them will be the love of my life, or that one of them is an Indian Batman.

Or maybe I’m an Indian Batman.

Or an Indian Batsman.

But you get my drift.

There’s so much creative potential sitting on the bus. It’s a comic strip waiting to be written.

One day, maybe I’ll pen some sketches. They’ll sell for millions, just you wait.

142/365

University spoils us. It’s a sentiment I didn’t feel until I got home, and back to some form of structured responsibility. At University, you’re independent – and you become resourceful, but facilities enable you to forget about small worries. Water will always be there in the hostels. If not, there’s a mail sent to you about when the water cut is scheduled. And it’s very manageable. The Internet is always high-speed, for research (and football streaming) purposes. The Library’s A/C rarely fails – and everyone complains, but someone else at University fixes it. The room is cleaned by someone. There’s a Washing Machine on campus. Someone to iron your clothes.

The cabs come straight to the Boys Hostel Gate, and there’s a Provisional Store on campus that has everything you need to live comfortably.

You don’t even have to wash any dishes!

What more do you want?

Your electric points don’t work in your room, you can call someone to fix that.

That’s not true at home. I think in that sense, I have a lot, I’ve learned today, in a moment of introspection – where I was horribly pissed at how the power kept fluctuating – to be grateful for. So much.

So, so much.

For everything that makes my life more comfortable, for all the little luxuries my atmosphere provides to make learning more enjoyable. There’s a need to express that sentiment more in today’s world. That’s a goal I’m carrying forward to third-year – just be more grateful for everything I have in University. Thank people more than I do today.

My dad is the handyman/resourceperson at home. While I’ve picked up on a few skills of his, there’s no one who can get work done the way he can. But it’s tough to work under his monitoring – only because he’s very strict with the process and the outcome he expects. I’m the beneficiary of all this. Thanks for restoring the house to a lot of normalcy, Appa.

I also hope to help out more at home now. I think I did a decent amount of chores as a child, but there’s more to do to help restore balance here.

Clean up here and there, perhaps. Let’s see what the summer brings.

But first, I’ll have to get off my insanely comfortable beanbag. Ah, how I’ve missed you.

 

140/365

Today, one of my friends left Bangalore for Bombay, and watching him drive off in the distance in his Etios Uber cab, I felt like an adult who had taken time off for a holiday and had to return to work soon.

It was a pathetic feeling, because my brain did this thing where it sped past the time-space continuum into the future and imagined 3 of us hanging out in our mid-30’s.

My mood brightened instantly at the thought of my upcoming internship, however – because I promptly returned to reality, and the realization that I didn’t have a job to go to (yet!). And that’s great (for now!), because I’m not tied down to doing anything. I’m pretty sure my opinion on this will change in a year or two, or some time in the future, but I’d like this sentence to remain on this blog – solely so I can read back and remember what I thought of things as a 19-year old.

News of an internship is often great. I’m of the opinion that your internships really enable you to see Law come to life – and you learn so much about working with a diverse set of individuals. You develop skills that will last you a lifetime, even your experience ends up being one you wouldn’t recommend to others.

I went to Delhi for the first time during my last break, and being in Delhi taught me a bit more about being independent, getting along with people who have different tastes, and putting up with pressures at the workplace – trying to dissociate these pressures from your outside life. Having a bad day at the office shouldn’t translate to having a bad evening or night at home, and that’s something I appreciated in Delhi.

I’m looking forward to what I’m going to get out of this internship. I’m not entirely certain about the path it will take (for I am not a yogi or a mystic), but I’m sure that I will learn a new branch of Law, and get to meet individuals that I haven’t met before. Which means I’ll get to have new conversations, learn about more life experiences, and generally take-away a bunch of information that I can construct a better opinion on things with.

I’d do anything for those sort of things.

During my first internship in Bangalore, I came home every evening and spent time explaining what I learnt during the day to my grandparents – and they were so fascinated by the stuff I said. Even when my days became monotonous. And that kept me going, because I wondered why I was no longer fascinated by the opportunities I was being presented with, and I had to work hard to get an experience that was story-telling worthy.

Finding things like those – small bits of motivation, really, really helps.

The next month will present a lot of challenges, I’m hoping, and I’m hoping to just grow as an individual (without putting on too much weight).

Bloody calories man, they’re everywhere. Wish I could just burn and destroy them (good wordplay no?)

I return to Whitefield tomorrow – I was in Jayanagar this evening. Which means I must rest for my cross-city trekking adventure. And check that I have my Whitefield visa, and enough money to pay imaginary toll as I cross the city limits to go to Bangalore rural.

Urbanization man,

What a pain.

139/365

This semester I became more introverted as an individual. I reckon life does that to you at some point – an instant, or perhaps a series of events, that leave you wanting and desiring your own space, separate from your social identity. Craving that feeling, I took time out to eat meals alone, read, sleep, find music, write, and generally get back to things I did back in Grade 12 that I missed in my daily schedule in college.

It was good while it lasted. But throughout, I wrote extensively on this blog about how I faced a disconnect from school friends. I further went on to philosophize and unnecessarily theorize my feelings, I feel.

What I honestly discovered over those months, where I attended class, read, and slept (not enough), was the core part of my identity that school forms. And how much I miss it. It’s only when you’re back in your city – with a group of your friends, that you’re able to recollect things that made life fun. Today was that day. At lunch, with school batchmates, and at dinner, with school seniors.

Crushes, random moments of hilarity, the absurdities of faculty, and the fact that you ‘survived’ seeing each other for 8 hours a day, 5 days a week, for years. Remembering those things is nice, once in a while. At the same time observing how you’ve each grown past those years –  what University has taught each person, the different experiences you’ve had. It’s a lovely feeling.

What that also enables, however, is in discovering your own value/belief system. I found myself in a minority quite often at school, and still do, to this day. While trading tales, cracking jokes, and discussing voting patterns (yes, we did), you figure out things you believe in more that others.

Chuck all this serious stuff though. The fun part of this entire thing has been watching Stand-Up Specials on Amazon Prime Video. I’m not being paid for this (though there’s a fair argument to be made that I should be), but they are fantastic.

One, what a brilliant move by Amazon Prime Video. Getting all the stand-up comedians to their network, releasing specials weekly. Quite nice, I must say. Attracts youth. I’m considering buying a subscription past my free trial maybe.

But, two, so much to learn from these stand-up comics’ sense of humour. The way they structure each piece, each joke, and the segue from one joke to another (which Biswa ignores by calling these Jokes without Friends).

You should also watch Journey of A Joke – a series by Abish Mathew.

It’s all so exciting.

I think I’ll try an open mic night.

Take a Frooti up on stage.

And belt out bad puns.

Avoid the tomatoes that will be thrown at me.

And run off stage.

137/365

Another trip to the Barbershop means another opportunity to tell you how much I miss childhood and simpler times where I had good eyesight and merely had to sit atop cushions because my dad took care of ensuring I did not come out looking like an absolute nincompoop. (yes, that’s a thing)

Today I went for a haircut where the barber I had booked wasn’t available. So a new individual had the opportunity to cut my hair. What I was extremely appreciative of was how he engaged in Barbershop Gossip. It was lovely. I grasped community sentiment about crucial issues like potholes and poorly constructed roads. Oh, and changing weather. All this while my auto broke down in the middle of the road because it hit a stone and I walked from sunshine to rain in 5 minutes. Wonderful. Thanks, man.

But I took off my glasses. Explained the haircut I desired. And then prayed for 20 minutes as he used a machine over my head and then cut rapidly. His hands (the only object large enough for me to see without visual aid) moved like an artist. Left, then right. Then a shake of my head. Some powder on my face (blinding!). Then a shake of my head. A patdown of my nose. More cutting. Silence.

“Saar”, he said.

I wore my glasses. In the background, a crowd gathered. Moment of truth.

I looked like a poor man’s Bart Simpson.

This man moved my hair partition 10 centimetres to the right and cut my hair unevenly. I now look like I cut my own hair.

And I can’t hold Scissors properly.

My only consolation is that hair grows back.

I also had my first driving lesson today. It was overwhelming and underwhelming at the same time.

I’ve been waiting to drive since I was 6 or 7, and I’ve loved cars for as long as I can remember. Ever since I started asking seriously (about when I turned 15), my parents told me to wait till my 18th Birthday. Owing to University and Internship scheduling, that got pushed to my 19th Birthday. So, sitting in the driver’s seat of a car – albeit not my own, made me smile. It was fantastic.

I then thought I’d feel like an F1 driver, what with the clutch and all and having to be smooth on the pedals. I wanted to feel wind in my hair and all.

I couldn’t start the car only. Full sad I was.

Till it revved up. Then I felt cool.

I wanted to buy racing boots and then mod that car to put paddle shifts in immediately.

I drove at 20 kmph today. Safety first.

I will learn the art of the gearshift tomorrow it seems. I’m super excited!

What a holiday this is turning out to be.

 

A Brief History of the MP3: CoolToad to LimeWire & Beyond

I did a lot of reading before deciding to write about this. Here’s a link to give you some context, because apparently, the MP3 is dead.

The first thing my mind turned to as I viewed this article under low-light conditions in a very awkward angle (I’ve most definitely hurt my neck), was. Why? And then I shed a few tears. Let me explain.

My first memories of music are my parents singing me to sleep. I don’t know what age I was, but I have vivid audio clips on loop in my brain of lullabies, sung in Kannada, that sent me into a land of sweet dreams and contributed to a happy sleep for baby Tejas. The tune and tone are so clear, with verses in the relative baritone of my father, and the sweet high-pitched voice of my mother. I don’t quite know the words, but I can hum along the very same tune, snug under my blanket on a cold winters day in University, and head off to bed.

A lot of subsequent memories come from failed classes in music. Ones I never saw through to completion beyond a one-month, two-month trial of sorts. The hopping around from class to class – jumping in a different van outside the supermarket in front of our apartment building in the UAE, to my mother taking me to improve my singing (Yes, I did sing before my voice cracked. Unimaginable. I know.) – and forcing me into appreciating the art of Indian Classical music.

I used to sing at New Years’ Parties, and on occasions where my mother coerced me out of my protected shell by flattering me and pressing my fragile ego. And I always sang Hindi songs. Till the 5th Grade. This raised two problems:

  1. I didn’t know a WORD of Hindi, and therefore had zero clue of what I was singing – I could have been serenading women, cursing adults, looking at nature, describing a butterfly – and I would not know what I was singing. No matter how much you translated lyrics. I would not care to remember.
  2. I couldn’t read Hindi.

This is where the parents and my Uncle realised that there was some potential in this budding talent. For one of my birthdays, I was gifted an Aftron CD player – with a “Skip” function. It was all the rage in those days, and for a while, I was the superstar in the apartment block, with my small earphones, and massive blue and silver CD player. The idea was that I’d listen to music I liked repeatedly – enabling me to memorise the tone and the lyrics of the song I was going to sing the next time my mother so commanded. It was convenient, cost-effective, and was going to serve an ulterior purpose of expanding my memory: preparing me for the Indian education system. On numerous levels, little Tejas did not care. He had a new electronic gadget.

So, now what? I needed CDs. And I needed a place to learn lyrics – to avoid faltu pronounciation mistakes. For this, my Uncle taught me to use CoolToad. And HindiLyrix. HindiLyrix was pure genius. It was literally a site for NRI-babies like myself, and displayed the lyrics to popular Hindi songs, in English. It was fabulous. CoolToad, however, was incomparable. It was the start of my relationship with downloading media off the internet. I picked up MP3 versions of every single song I liked and burned it on to MoserBaer CD-ROMs. Each CD was accompanied with it’s own case, a track-listing, and super cool handwriting (purple/black marker) – labelled as Tejas’ CD Mix #X. I was a DJ before it was cool to be a DJ.

I then won a Sony Walkman in a lottery in Bengaluru – my dad bought a suit in Garuda Mall, and I got a Walkman as a result. He looked dapper, and I got more electronics. We were both super impressed and happy. I learned to use my Walkman – a USB device, from my grandfather, who helped me transfer some of my MP3s onto this new thing.

I was a pretty tech-savvy kid, so I had my own USB drive and stuff with back-ups of my songs. When I received my iPod Nano in 2008 – a treasured gift from my best friend – one I still use, the only job I had was to re-organize my music. Then I discovered LimeWire, and then Torrenting. My Laptop hasn’t held less than 10GB of music ever since. And I listen to all of it. In MP3 form.

When I began recording covers of popular songs on my piano, I recorded them all in MP3. I didn’t care that my SoundCloud supported cooler, newer, better-quality formats. I just loved the .mp3 at the end of an audio file, and I was proud to be a creator of those files. Nothing else mattered.

Till YouTube Downloader came along – and revolutionized the Internet, with the ability to download MPEG-H, MPEG-4, .MOV and .AAC, and all these “lossless” files – helping you keep top-notch quality (apparently). My ears scarcely recognized the difference at first. Eventually though, given a good pair of earphones, I was able to tell.

And that’s when I realized that the old era of music – one that had seen me revel in the BlauPunkt audio system within my parents’ Volkswagen Polo – was done with. When the Walkman & the CD-ROM players came along, cassettes became old news, but were things I loved meddling with. I enjoyed fitting my pencil into the gap between two tapes (and have been yelled at for messing a cassette beyond repair once). But that was easy to let go of – it never meant too much to me.

The MP3 has been a friend, a companion in the legally grey areas of the Internet (I’m looking at you, PirateBay), and a source of innumerable memories.

To see these Tech websites and the “founder” label the MP3 as dead hurts.

Because nonsense like Blu-Ray has somehow survived till 2017.

I will defy you, Internet tech lords. I will use my MP3 format audio with pride. And I will blare this MP3 audio on my iPod docked into my old dock with iTrip. I will be cool. Specifically 2005 cool.

Because the 2017 cool is not worth it.

 

135/365

I have previously bemoaned my inability to stay in touch with my close friends from high school. Nonetheless, catching up with them is a highlight of my trips home, when it is made possible by a multitude of circumstances. Nothing provides me as much joy, which increases manifold when it is coupled with a road trip.

So when my friends told me we’d be taking a road trip places, I didn’t hesitate. It was just a matter of convincing the parents. That proved to be easy.

What today’s car journey to Mysuru, from the airport in Bengaluru gave me, was a sense of comfort and understanding I thought I had lost after University began. All my fears of a “disconnect” were assuaged, as my friends tickled me, as we ended up in a pool with a ball, as we played cricket and invented new rules, and then ended up eating unhealthy foods. All I could remember was Grade 12. Which was fun.

I’ve never really understood why I was so attached to these individuals. A little bit of thinking in the wee hours of the morning (while they sleep in front of me), appears to make that clear. There’s a simple answer, and I think this is true of my friends at University as well – it’s just that we see each other every single day for 4/5 years, and that, – shared experiences and memories, sticks, and forms a bond.

I’ve come to understand my writing has become reflective of some whacko Scientific method that is embedded in my head. Reading a few recent posts, all I see is: hypothesis, construction, deconstruction, evidence, steps, observations, conclusions.

So much for trying to veer away from the path of Science by doing Law.

(also, Ajji [both of you], I’m very aware that you’re reading this – mostly because I haven’t revealed my exact location to you over the phone when you attempted hard to get me to give you a location. Hello. I am well.)

 

 

 

134/365

Today’s been an eventful, exhausting day in Pune – my last day here. I have a morning flight to catch, so I’m not quite sure what I’m doing blogging this late at night, but I’ll set those thoughts aside.

T’was the last day of Punjabi wedding festivities, and I’m glad I attended. Continuing on from yesterday’s reflections, today was in the Gurudwara, and I had my Chickappa with me – who’s been to Punjabi weddings before, therefore enabling me to gain more insight and understanding of what was actually going on.

I’ve been religious as far as I can remember. As a child, my mother inculcated strong Hindu values in me – in terms of conduct, festivals, religious observations and superstitions, as I grew up in a Muslim majority country. While values began at home, I was lucky enough to explore religion in several forms and shapes. My best friend is Christian, and I have been to Church on numerous occassions – understanding the basis of his religion and his belief systems. More importantly, as I grew older and my reading expanded, I began picking up books on the evolution of religion, trying to gain a nuanced understanding of the distinction between organized religious groups.

All in all, I’ve reached the conclusion, thus far, that all religions ultimately propagate the same set of core values – in different shapes, and margins of appreciation.

Exploring the Gurudwara today, was therefore a source of joy for me and I cannot wait to read up more about it.

That aside, I got to eat incredible food today, interact with more new faces, and then come home. After which I headed out to meet individuals without whom my Pune trips feel very incomplete.

The day concluded with pizza and Dora the Explorer with my little cousin. Safe to say, I was yelling out “Swiper no swiping”, but stealing pieces of pizza off his plate. He didn’t notice. My cravings were satisfied. His parents were happy he ate his food. Win-win everywhere.

Tomorrow, I fly to Bengaluru for a bit of spontaineity. So, I’d like to thank you, Pune. This trip has been the perfect change of pace post examinations. You’ve shown me a lot of new things, helped me get away from the internet, but still make a new friend (really, it’s true – my social circle is expanding) AND you’ve gotten me to sleep a little more.

What I’m most grateful for, though, Pune, is that you haven’t changed much.

I’ve come back here year after year, but you’ve stayed the same. And that’s a welcome change, where places like Bengaluru have fast lost large chunks of their charm.

Stay this way. Please.

 

133/365

It’s very strange blogging from home when your daily viewership includes two people from your household – they’ve seen your day already. What more can you offer them?

I hate missing days of blogging. But what to do.

Today, I attended a portion of a Punjabi wedding – of someone I am incredibly close to, in a very unique way.

Ever since I have been a child, my trips to Pune have been a source of constant joy and relaxation. If Bangalore was all about meeting relatives and going out in the rain, Pune represented staying at home without internet connection, but a television, my grandparents, and home food. I don’t do too much in the city, and while that is sometimes sad – in terms of how much I like to explore, Pune gives me an opportunity to lie low, to rest myself and refresh.

As a child, I spent the whole day in front of the television, or playing: Chess, Football, Cricket. I learnt how to write Hindi, speak a little bit. I understood a little more about Hinduism, and learnt to recite portions of the Bhagavad Gita – one of my biggest achievements to date.

Pune has been the city of sleep. In a semester where I’ve lacked that, I’ve found myself sleeping during the day, generally lying down, and trying to take time away from work & the Internet. And it’s paid off in great ways.

But what Pune has also been for me, is an opportunity to understand my paternal side a lot better. You see, my dad hails from Pune. Though we’re proper Kannadigas, he spent a large portion of his childhood in his city. By flipping through old photo albums that my grandmother has preserved carefully, listening to old cassettes, interacting with my Chickappa, and speaking to my grandfather, I gain irreplaceable knowledge about my genes and my traits. And that’s very gratifying.

My dad grew up in the NDA, in Khadakwasala, where my grandfather was a Physics lecturer. When he tells me stories about his youth, there is a twinkle in his eyes as he speaks of NDA, it’s small bakery, it’s sense of community, and the general sense of raison d’etre being a part of the place gave you.

It’s also where a strong network was forged, and we have family friends who have passed through three generations of growing up together. I consider two girls as my sisters – spending time with them each summer, and asking questions about life in Pune – how different it was to my life in Dubai, and then to my life in Bengaluru. I have a lot of memories from their house – including the best chole I have eaten till date. A lot of my memories though, are from how we’ve teased each other over the years, and generally how I’ve picked up a lot of what I know about India from them. This despite the fact that there is radio silence (well, almost), when I’m not in Pune.

It’s one of those great things.

Therefore, to see my elder sister getting married was a natural surprise, and a pleasant one. My mother had joked about her wedding a few trips ago, and we had laughed about it, but the day has come. Sooner than I thought it would.

The wedding itself was so nice to see. It’s the first time I’m understanding Punjabi culture. It seems so much more relaxed than the chaos Kannadiga marriages are – though they are equally beautiful traditions. And it also appears to adopt Western practices. Or maybe that’s just this one. With a ring ceremony and everything. Rather romantic, I say.

That, in a country that has some weird form of societal ban on public displays of affection of every kind, is pretty awesome.

I’m looking forward to learning more about it. Mostly because I’m intrigued by culture, but also because it reminds me of the beauty of India and the diversity of living in this nation. You’ll never stop learning – about cities, people, and the stories that arise out of their interrelationship.

One of my favourite poems is “Where I Come From“, by Elizabeth Brewster – and that’s something India teaches me daily. I have chided this country in the past, largely owing to my privileged NRI childhood. But I’m glad I’ve appreciated home a little more. Despite murky waters and challenging times politically, we’ll trudge forward somehow. I have hope.

On that note, I should sleep.