The Ringside View

My attempts at writing have always been stacked up in old diaries and scraps of yellowing paper.Time,neglect and phylum insecta however, always ensured that the gibberish i scrawled, never would see the prying gaze of an alien eye.Years later, i still scribble once in a while - this time in word documents stored in some obscure folder somewhere in the innards of my C drive.I am unearthing some of them and opening them up for the interested.To get what i call - The Ringside view.

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Location: Bangalore, Karnataka, India

Sunday, September 17, 2006

These are a few of my favourite things?

I was filling in the questionnaire. It asked for ’10 things that you like doing the most (in order of preference)’. Phew!!!. Impossible. Let alone listing them in order of preference I don’t think I’ll even find 10 things that I like doing so much that they should be put down on paper. I tried though and I’ll try again (with more thought, minor refinements and a pinch of lunacy).

At one, is ‘philosophizing on long train journeys’ (I promised you the lunacy bit, didn’t I). ‘Philosophizing’ probably is an exaggerated description, but travel does induce thought. Wonder if it’s the fleeting imagery or the sense of movement (a sense of not belonging to any place in general; a sense of wafting over land and sea with the eye feeding the mind with truckloads of imagery to process, comprehend and make sense out of). That skewed interpretation not withstanding I’d still go ahead with ‘philosophizing on long train journeys’ in my top 10.

At two, is ‘Tucked up in bed, reading a Kundera or Seth, while rain drops hit your window pane’. It’s a pretty simple recipe for a great day. A Czech genius, an Indian poet and a few cumulo-nimbus clouds. There is a certain magic in reading stories set in grim Prague or cloudy London with looming clouds and slanting rainfall outside your bedroom window.

At an unearthly five ‘o’ clock every morning, I pull myself out of bed, denying myself those extra winks of sleep which is nothing short of paradise lost. Lucky are those souls who oblivious to the rising sun confine themselves to the warmth of their furry blankets. The others like me want to lose calories. The treadmill at the gym does not show the ‘calories lost’ count though. Neither does it show the time I have been running on it. I close my eyes to make little of the effort. And invariably, I always get visions of running through a tree lined boulevard. (wonder what Freud would have made of it). But despite the chilly December mornings and the sleep denied at three is – ‘Working out on the treadmill to attain fitness nirvana’.

This one puzzles me. Why is it that you always prefer tea from small shacks and stalls set in frugal settings but coffee only from swanky cafes - on the rocks and otherwise? It is a dichotomy I’ve never really understood. Sipping tea in small tapering glasses from propped up shacks and thermos flasks, with a sugared ‘biskoot’ to dip is quite an unparalleled bliss. Cigarette smoke, whirring fans and waiters who blurt out your bill, no pleasantries expended marks a smack on your face honesty that is blatantly refreshing. But when it comes to coffee it’s different. Air conditioned, wi-fi enabled glass walled bistros serving coffee with chocolate sauce, whipped cream and what have you. The setting irrespective, catching up with friends at meager tea stalls and swanky coffee bars sure do make my list at four.

‘Watch out for Mukund’, quipped an acquaintance of my friend. ‘Broke a few hands last season’, he continued as though realizing that I was beginning to feel weak in the knees. We were playing Josephs and I knew that the odds were not even. Bracing up against a fast, furious state under-19 bowler did not sound like a good Sunday afternoon past time. I padded up like a Roman soldier off for battle and walked up to the middle. There he was – my nemesis. Tall and lanky, exchanging pleasantries with the umpire. I mumbled a silent prayer and tried not to listen to the taunts of the slip cordon. Ball one - the cherry hurls past me like a bullet making me feel nude; unprotected; stupid. Ball two – raps into my pad like a cannon ball. I was convinced – I am nude; unprotected; stupid. Ball three – timber. One of the stumps goes cart wheeling into oblivion. I walked back not having felt the ball with the bat even once. Funny, I recounted this, but when the ball hits wood and in the middle, it feels good. So much so, that I’ll put it down on this list as well.

I stood there on the thirteenth floor balcony of a restaurant serving a sumptuous breakfast buffet. It’s Sunday morning and I stand god-like with a city awakening from its deep slumber beneath me, as I spread peach and apricot jam on my toasted bread. I wonder if it’s because it’s Sunday or the fact that we are obscenely early, the restaurant is largely empty. The only others to have got the better of their deep rooted somnia were two British women - soaking in the sun and news reports of England’s cricketing heroics in the third Ashes test at Edgbaston. A glass of fresh fruit juice with Portuguese croquettes and cheese omelets for starters; divine. It felt good having the Brit women around and they probably felt the same having us Indians around. A sense of global camaraderie in me devouring egg and bacon and muffins while they immersed succulent idlies and golden brown vadas in sambar and coconut chutney. So that’s that – breakfast buffets on a sunny Sunday morning. Idyllic, lazy, gastronomic and definitely on my list of ten enjoyable things to do.

My channel surfing invariably ends at number 18. Travel & Living. In fact if god were to appear before me – Biff!!! and ask – “Son, what is that one thing that you covet; one man whose job you so badly desire”, I’d say – Ian Wright or Jeremy Clarkson or Anthony Bourdain or Megan McCormack or….any of those modern day incarnations of Epicurus who eat, drink, travel and make merry for a living. “Give it to me, O God. Those backpacks, those plane tickets, those trekking shoes and cocky scripts, those unlimited travels into unseen lands magical and beckoning. Give me, O wise one, the undying spirit of the relentless traveler who travel for travel’s sake leaving behind footprints for others to chart. Ok, Almighty, give them my desk job in return; coffee vending machine, personal computers, grumpy bosses and ergonomic reclining chairs included”. Fair deal, I should say, but no one’s replying.

Bob volunteered to give us two continuous hours on a Saturday evening instead of the usual one hour-two days a week schedule. We were kicked. The guitar seemed a fairly simple six stringed instrument and we envisioned learning the nuances to cutting our first album to take roughly six months at the maximum. At 500 rupees a month, we had this irrepressible notion that Bob’s tutoring was over priced but when a few subtle changes from G major to D seven and back to C major, yielded our first song we soon forgot the finances. The joy though was short lived. I felt my fingers lacked the dexterity in sliding over from G major to C major. Producing musical strains of any quality all of a sudden seemed Herculean. To add to my woes, Samantha and Elizabeth (two smart girls who also came to Bob’s) played every chord and sang every song (from Dizzy Gillespie to Cher) making sure they made me feel like one of those autistic kids who landed in the wrong school. Weeks later, I found defeatism even in the lyrics of the song. (Lord, oh one; Lord, oh two; Lord oh three; Lord oh four; Lord I am five hundred miles away from home (and my first song I would instantly think)). That was a long time back though. I no longer go to Bob’s and ideas of the band have evaporated into thin air. But now there is a sense of joy in sliding my fingers from G major to C major, sans the fear of getting the chords wrong. The calluses on my ring finger suggest I am learning and probably…….. I am not that far away from home now.

I see words stringing together to form sentences, and sentences metamorphosising into paragraphs. The paragraphs would fill reams of paper and a hard bound collection of all the words that I have written would be sold in glass walled book houses for money. People would read for joy, for pleasure, when they are bored and when they are not; they would appreciate, criticize and live my words in their living rooms. I like a Greek god, will create and then kill characters at will, eating and drinking out of silver ware and golden goblets from the royalty that I am paid. When I walk on the streets, men would whisper into one another’s ears – “Here comes the creator of tales, the painter of dreams, the foreteller of your life and mine”. Okay. Too much. Fantasizing apart, writing, getting a work published and being hailed an author does figure in my wish list of ten things to do before I bid adieu.

Now am I not glad I mentioned the lunacy bit right up front. This write up has ended up like one of those kites gone astray. Meant to go one way and then eventually heading elsewhere surrendering to its own whims and fancies. I twiddle through the pages and take count. It’s nine. I try thinking and then decide against it. Let’s leave one for posterity; for future thought and reasoning; for all things incomplete are abstract. Intriguing. Exciting.


Blogger Blahberrer said...

Fricken awesome....the I have read for a while....

October 27, 2006 4:23 AM  
Blogger Blahberrer said...

missed the best part above

October 27, 2006 4:23 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Nice read. Has a sense of dejavu :)


May 28, 2008 2:27 AM  

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