Sunday, September 07, 2008

A Few of my Favorite Things

Five near-perfect months after the big move have reaffirmed my conviction that moving back to Bombay has been one of the best personal decisions I have taken (quite a lucky break for one who is known to take some of the worst decisions in his personal life). Life has developed its own sweet pace- undulating from hectic at work to laid back at play. I haven’t really had any strong feelings good or bad to voice in quite a while; ergo the long hiatus in my blogging. But I figured I kind of love voicing my thoughts and so I have decided that I shall go against the written word of a friend and blog even though I have nothing in particular to say.

So I think I will begin the first of many soon to come chilled out posts on.. yep yep you guessed it smartass, the topic in bold above! No no, I am not putting myself up for adoption by the Von Trapp family or writing a sequel to that 'Sound of Music' movie that gave me quite a headache as a kid (I was brought up to appreciate 'The Godfather' capice!!). These ARE a few of my favorite things.

Bagel Shop: This quiet little unassuming place off Carter road. Take a right from the police station if you are coming from Carters or a left if you are exiting that charming Shirley Rajan road and Voila!!!! You are there (pun intended). It’s a place where time literally slows down to a nice languid pace, your breathing gets more relaxed and even your orders take ages to arrive. Large comfy cushioned chairs, lovely music (at most times), almost invisible waiters and people who are pretty much always smiling. I have spent hours there reading, talking to the other readers as they take a break from their books for some conversation over coffee (Note to cynical optimist friend: There IS black coffee left in this world, only the bloody Yanks took over it and decided to call it Americano, how creative!!!!). I even like playing chess there at times even though I get my ASS whooped. People saunter in lazily on a Sunday, some friends some strangers just adding to the collection of books, magazines and weird conversations (more on that later). If it is a Sunday morning (read 1:30 pm) you will usually find me there, book in hand killing my hangover with a coffee and a peanut butter bagel.

Sunday Night DVD Club: Although I openly disagree with a number of decisions made there (for starters, Why Becoming Jane!!!! And no double thumbs up for Eurotrip!! Hello it’s a cult classic) I think there is potential in this motley bunch of people (an author, a technical consultant, a movie person, a freelance journo and a lazyass) Last night we watched Hoax, a supercool true story that was as much about a man with a hyperactive imagination as about an billionaire OCD patient who was only heard for one scene over the speaker phone. Terrific movie! Go watch it if you are wondering which DVD to pick up for an evening at home. But I say this with all honesty and love as I plot and scheme to form ‘The Authentic DVD Club, Bandra’ that hanging out with a bunch of friends, watching good cinema is one of the best ways to spend a lazy holiday.

The 60’s (More Specifically Lou Reed, Neil Young, Credence and The Who): It’s quite interesting how a man’s taste in music progresses chronologically backwards as he moves forward in time. Even though I hate admitting it my initiation to music was ‘Take that’ and ‘East 17’ (in any case I never listened to them Backstreet Boys so all you boy lovers eat dirtttt). I did my whole Maiden, Metallica, Pantera shyt then moved to Floyd and now I am stuck in the 60s. I think this is the perfect amalgamation of some minimalistic yet beautiful music (no heavy duty riff raff noise to clutter your mind), amazing vocals of men who sing like men and not in girly falsettos and some really good sense of humor. Cases in point:

‘Candy came from out on the island
In the backroom she was everybodys darling
But she never lost her head
Even when she was given head
She says, hey babe, take a walk on the wild side
Said, hey babe, take a walk on the wild side
And the coloured girls go.. Doo doo do..
- Wild Side, Lou Reed

'Ah we're drinking and we're dancing
and the band is really happening
and the Johnny Walker wisdom running high
And my very sweet companion
she's the Angel of Compassion
she's rubbing half the world against her thigh'
(Comment: I went out with one such angel of compassion once!!!!!!!!)
- Closing Time, Leonard Cohen

Music and books- they populate most of my days, but I have rambled on too long and I have too much to say about too many books so I shall leave it for another time. For now, wheres my BLOODY coffee!!

Thursday, July 03, 2008

Wake Up
I have been having these wierd mixed feeling lately. I seem to wake up in the mornings confused without realizing what the hell I am confused about. It has been bothering me a bit in an enjoyable sort of way since I really haven’t had thoughts that bothered me for quite a while now. But finally, finally realization hit me like a slap in the face at Zenzi (yes yes I have grown to quite like the place contrary to what previous posts might suggest, not that I really had a choice considering everyone wants to meet up at Zenzi). It wasn’t really a tight slap, more like a gentle chiding by a higher force looking out for me perhaps (where the hell were you for the past two years biatcchhh of a guardian angel, getting stoned? huh huh!!!).

So what did I realize I hear you ask? (in case anyone ever reads) I have realized that (drum rolls.. ta daa!!) I have turned into a total loser. I mean, what the f%^&in hell man!!!! I always had a dream in life. Always. I have to confess that even in my stoner hippie days when everyone else was drawling about some newfound epiphany I used to close my eyes and picture myself putting on a dapper pinstripe suit and doing all the things that people in dapper pinstripe suits do. Or I used to dream about being some kind of a creative guy wandering around the world selling off my work in an exhibition in Vienna one day and hiking through the drug mafia infested Andes another. Two totally contrasting dreams but tangible nevertheless. And what the hell did I turn into? A drifter. Ever since I had the distinct feeling of sharp pain like someone electrocuted my balls and then punched me in the solar plexus in January 2007 I totally lost it. I sleepwalked through the bloody most important part of my two years of MBA, never paying any bloody attention to the most important parts of the recruitment process while everyone else around me kept busting their hump off. I didn’t even do any of the supercool crazy things that I thought I would pursue instead of a regular career. Instead I let myself be led by external forces like some fucking dry leaf being bullied around by an autumn wind.

And a year and half later I wake up from this reverie holding a drink in my hand, making fun conversations with some really nice new friends. It pissed me off. I might say I am pissed off at lady luck for handing me the short fucking end of the stick again or at people around me who did not care enough to beat some sense into my head with a bloody two by two. But really, I am pissed off at myself. How and when the fuck did I turn into a goddamn vegetable man! I mean I read some of the posts that I wrote on my blog and they made me gag. They had that putrid air of the rotting vegetable that was me. I feel old, set back by some really really vital years of my life, somewhere at the bottom of the heap and it is all MY FAULT (ok discount the hyperbele please, as always I was a little dramatic there)

Honestly, I don’t know what I am going to do about this once this anger subsides. I want to pick up the pieces and get my fucking act together. I want to reclaim my dreams, my ambitions. I want to be the man that I always wanted to be. But this feeling of lethargy lingers in my cells, an atrophy set in for a long time. I want to fight it though. I want to say “I am sorry” over and over again. But unlike other days, today I want to apologize to myself. Hopefully there will be a comeback, a Shameek V2.0 (man that was a little geeky wasn’t it !!). I hope I have learnt from my mistakes and they have made me a better, stronger man. But, then again, who knows? I might wake up tomorrow as that dumbfuck radiation soaked cabbage that I was all this while. I hope to God that I don’t.

Friday, June 13, 2008

Borrowed Wisdom
Normally I am not given to posting other people’s work on my blog (aside from a little Knopfler). But someone at work sent me this and absolutely insisted that I put it up on my desktop and read it everyday. I wonder why? Maybe I should make it a point to flash my signature grin more at work! Its a short verse that has spoken more than the most verbose prose!
When I have looked life in the eye,
And grown calm and very coldly wise,
When I have realised that compromises wait
Behind each hardly opened gate
Then life would have given me the truth
And taken in exchange my youth
-Sarah Teasdale

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Beer and Loafing in Bombay

Life has gotten relatively better in the past month or so. Work alternates between “Holy Shit!!!! I don’t know jack about this” and “Piece of bloody Five Spice Mudcake!”. Speaking of cakes the phrase that totally takes it is at the workplace is ‘Delegate’. And after a hard day’s work (for those who do!) I get into the first public vehicle I find and say “Pali Naka”. This place is such a great stress buster that just uttering these two words brings back the taste of Old Monk and coke. Or as Prem (for the traditional minded- benevolent ann data, for the modern- bartender) delicately puts it ‘Just Coke’. Pali Naka, the ubiquitious, unassuming, untarnished (OK Shameek enough of the alliteration!) street that houses the only two watering holes in Bombay that feel like home.
Unfortunately the Shack (Hawaiian stupid!!) passed away sometime this year. Dont know whether it was the loss of the deejay or the Air India airhostesses that precipitated this most unfortunate demise but the carcass is a most painful sight. Gone are the funky coconut grove stamps or the good ol Macs who could find place to jive when there was barely enough to plant both your feet. Instead it is full of PYTs (Argggghhh I HATE PYTs) and wierd men who think wild hip movement to Fifty Cents makes them the next Tupac (Yawwww Bro Anyone??). And then theres that .. that..abomination called Zenzi, but we shall leave Zenzi for a later date.
Fortunately though Pali’s flag flies high thanks to Mr Totlani (God bless his soul and more importantly his ‘Totlani Investments’). A place where waiters know your name, where you can tell the next song that will play just by the day of the week. It has small, its full of tyres, cramped on weekends and just like home its doors NEVER shut for you (except for post 1:30 and dry days) Its TOTOS! Totos also has this wierd quality of inspiring people to say the darndest things. Here are a few samples:
1. Prem: Sir, you will be looking good today
Sir (I have noo idea who): (Looking at the watch) At what time?

2. Alcoholic 1: (After he has pointed out 5th cheezy Bryan Adams song for the night) You know, the scary part isn’t that Totos is playing so much Adams but that I seem to recognize all the songs
Alcoholic 2 (Again noo idea who): No, the REAL scary part is I seem to know the words!

3. Dumbfuck Stranger 1: Hey you reading a book at a bar.
Angry Wierd Loner(Lets leave his name out): Excuse me!! (Frowns)
DS 2: Looks like you came straight from work. What do you do?
AWL: I work in the Strategy team at___ P
DS1: So what do you do in Marketing?
AWL: Its Strategy (Spells it out slow while saying Dumbfuck!!! In his head)
DS1: Aahhh so you are in Finance! Must be an MBA no! I did my MBA from IIPM
AWL: Aaaaaaaaahhhh (In his head finally puts 2 and 2 together)

4. Feminist Girl1: Argghhhh this place is a sausage fest. It is only full of Mac men drinking beer. And I am so hungry
Feminist Girl2: So what do we get?
Smartass Loner (for the last time I really don’t know who!): Here have these really nice juicy ‘Goa Sausages’

5. This one takes the cake
Drunk Girl 1: (Hugging drunk girl two!) I am sooo glad my friend is getting married
Drunk Girl 2: (Looking sheepishly at the men she has been hitting on and then at her fiancé) You don’t need to say it all the time. Its not like we are getting married tomorrow.

Aaahhhh Totos! Bandra! Good times. God!!! It feels great to be back in Bombay. I daresay things will look decidedly better as soon as I can figure out the one among the holy trinity of roti, kapda and makaan that I presently lack.

P.S: Just thought I’d drop in a huuuuge thank you note for the ‘Candies’ people for opening up a new one next to Teachers Academy. The upstairs is lovely, green, peaceful, perfect for reading a book. And apparently if you are 17 year old horney teens its the perfect place to make out. Just don’t mind the wierd old man reading his book.

Wednesday, February 06, 2008

I close my eyes
I see the skies azure
Bright green abounds
And I open my eyes

I can’t breathe
The walls close in on me
The slit to let light in
Reinforces the dark
I breathe

I start to sing
Guitar strumming in my hand
Cigarette dangling by my lips
Eyes shut, heart open
I start to scream

My scream
A gasp for clear air
A desperate cry for help
A soundwave to ricochete
A prayer for a dream

I dream
Of soaring through skies
Cut off, left off to free-fall
To try, to learn to fly
Or crash and burn
But I live

I live

Saturday, February 02, 2008

Sunday Morning

As I laze around in a strange albeit cheerfully colored room in a day that began on a perfect note in the engaging company of Murakami’s Kafka Tamura I begin to feel highly contemplative. Gentle melancholic strums of Mike McCready guitar blend seamlessly with Vedder’s words making me realise once again why I believe Yellow Ledbetter is a song I will always cherish. The Velvet Underground wait, not so patiently in anticipation to put their version of this “Sunday Morning” in verse. It’s a good day to look back and laugh at some of the stupid things, some of the happiest moments not so long ago, old friends, old hangouts, old books and old loves.

I started writing this post with the aim of wanting to take a deep dive into one of those questions that always haunt a man willing to think about it “ Who am I?” but now the depth of this question seems laughably trivial. I have gently excavated my past in an attempt to understand this question and now standing at the depths of my memories I look up. I find unrelated, possibly insouciant musings on the surface but for some reason I want to climb back up. And since I am incredibly limber in my thoughts I am back up in a heartbeat.

One of the things that strike my mind first, possibly because Gabriel Oboe’s kind, loving tune of Nella Fantasia gently nudges my memories is a movie that touched me. Not the conventional emotional tear jerker but my eyes still feel a little moist as I write about it. A movie about people kind enough to find it in their hearts to embrace the very man who sold them to a lifetime of slavery. A man so drunk in his power that he refuses to see the pain of people who are instruments in his power game. A man who consigns himself to a penitence so hard that it melts the hearts of the priests who fight him, a man whose joy at finding forgiveness melts your heart. And yes, the man whose compassion is only matched by his resolve to never give up on people who are doomed to obliteration. I don’t know why I love “The Mission” so much but somewhere deep down I believe it kindles a hope in me.

Maybe someday the people that I wronged will know that I was so wrapped up in me and my fear of loss that I did not see what I did to them when they only gave me the truest love and affection. Maybe someday I will truly lose my apathy for the people I blame for having turned me into the man I was and realise that no matter how warped their lives were they loved me and took care of me the best way they could. Maybe someday I will present my true, slightly bedraggled, mildly scarred face to people I meet rather than being just an exciting collection of cool events and places in my life. Maybe I will figure out why the dark scares me. Maybe I will truly live to the words of Cohen's "Anthem". Maybe I will find myself within myself for good and not wait to see fleeting glimpses of Shameek in other people, their written words, their sung verses and their created art. Maybe someday I will find My Home. I don’t know how to classify what I feel today. A little nostalgic, a little melancholy, a little happy, a little closer to being an “Emperor of Solitude” yet a little lonely, mildly hopeful. Maybe someday I will figure out a word for what I feel now. Maybe ….

Sunday, September 23, 2007

Which way does God lean?

I have had this small thought bubbling in my head for a while, it probably entered my head a year and a half from now as I was strolling through bandstand. Offlate it has been trying to push its way out, through my upper middle class, sometimes greed driven mindset. I could discern its voice as I watched the first few scenes of ‘Cider House Rules’ where Michael Cain so succinctly puts it “Orphan babies learn not to cry; they realize its of no use". It got louder as I was going back home in a cab listening to this rather mediocre Hindi song from the 90s. It had a decent guitar solo from a guy no one will hear about. He played really well given the almost un-creative limitations set by the music director and I couldn’t help but think, “If only he were born in the Summer of Love in America!” And this thought almost ripped my mind apart as I was reading ‘ A thousand splendid sons’ (By the way I SWEAR I will NEVER read Hosseini again- Great great author but I cannot take the pain in his books, its too damn real) It got so loud that I had to keep the book aside and start furiously hitting the keys on my laptop.

So the crux of the thought is this, Why are people made unequal? Why does one kid drive by in his car on his way to college staring out of his tinted windows at the world outside, A world that holds his dreams of excellence, a dream to be someone big, in his jock language “Be a superstud once in his life before he calls it a day” while on the other side of the window there are dirty street kids deftly balancing their tyres with sticks picked off the road thinking about how much money they will have to collect today to fuel their fathers drunken frenzies. Why are some women educated, well employed, empowered enough to feel nothing about bitching to their boyfriends about their ex’s who couldn’t give them a good orgasm while for some women sex is nothing but an act of enduring pain and submitting to a man’s borderline violent desires. Why do we have couples who forgive, learn, grow and stick together and couples that never learn, never forgive and fall apart? Why is someone pretty and someone else ugly, why is one man taller than the other? Why is someone given the brains to pick up stuff in an hour while someone with much more sincerity takes days grappling with the same?

I know I have written a lot about inequality and how it is good for the country, the civilization. I know I have made it clear that I am a card carrying capitalist who believes that some men have the right to be better off than others, but today I think I realize why communism and all other forms of leveling the playing field for everyone were doomed from the outset. The one who started it all, God is a capitalist, and not just economically. I am not so sure I like it very much.