Kaveri and the years of drought

Another year, another bandh. It feels like 1991 all over again. Those empty roads, those days of being at home on weekdays, having to converse with parents in Kannada outside home. But yes, 1991 was definitely worse. There was news of people moving back to TN weeks before the final order. There was a build up. When the final verdict came and cities erupted, there was a sense of inevitability to it. Then there were shoot-at-sight orders and cops milling in front of the house in Chamarajpet. We camped on the terrace, more curious than worried – at 11 you had a strong sense of “it happens only to others”. A policeman in helmet saw us and motioned us to get inside. I remember being scared. It was “shoot-at-sight” and he had seen us! A few days later curfew was removed and things limped back to normal, like they do always. Until 1992’s Babri riots.

25 years on, there are buses and cars being set on fire. Hotels being raided based on “tip-offs” about Tamilians camped inside. Hapless souls stuck in the wrong places at the wrong time. I saw a two-wheeler being chased by a police van turning right near our house’s corner. I also saw 2 lorries, their main windscreens damaged being escorted by youngsters on bikes to a corner where a road ends. I thought they were going to set them on fire. They were only saving them and keeping them out of harm’s way. Continue reading “Kaveri and the years of drought”

Day ride: Nuggehalli. Once more.

I realised all of a sudden that it’s been a long time since my last ride. Considering that we are into the last quarter of 2016 I hadn’t done even a single one in 2016! The last one was late December 2015, and to Nuggehalli. This time I decided to do the same route again. I like the temple with its carvings and the road is just awesome to ride on. There will be a time to explore other regions, but a comeback ride after 8 months is probably not the time for that.

The plan was to do it last week, but the weather looked dodgy with a good chance of rain. Just as it was clearing, a bandh happened and I wasn’t sure I’d be able to find stuff to eat. I postponed it to the day after Ganesha. Except that this became a Mandya Bandh, and considering that I was planning to pass through large parts of the district, if not the city itself, I decided to play it safe and shifted it to the next day, September 7th. The weather promised a partially cloudy day with no chance of rain. Just the thing to expect on a September day. It was expected to be cool, though not as cold as winter. In short, perfect conditions for riding.

I set off at 7:45 AM. Fuel was done along the way, and so was air for the tyres. The weather was absolutely splendid. Clear blue skies with puffy clouds left over from the Monsoons, mild temperature, not biting cold, the kind of weather expected and the kind that makes you love riding.

On the way...clear blue skies

Continue reading “Day ride: Nuggehalli. Once more.”

But…was it a PARTY?

A few months back, a cousin doing her Masters in the US was visiting and the rest of the local cousins decided to do meet up for a beer or two. I got back home, a tad tipsy, and was asked where I had been. Since it was a “family” event, I said the cousins met up.

“Was it a party?” asked my Dad.
“I don’t know. We met up.” I said truthfully.
“But was it a party?” he asked again.
“What’s a party?” I asked. It did not go anywhere from there due to lack of a clear definition.

A Party. A party. A party. Repeat a word too many times and it loses all meaning and becomes a meaningless sum of its constituent syllables. All my life the word’s been like that.

It evokes memories of people standing around talking, usually with one hand in a pocket and the other holding a drink. As the oatmeal would say, it’d be about one guy talking about how he did not get conned by some rip-off. “And then he said…. and I said… and then he said… I said… Hahaha”. More than anything, it conveniently solves the problem of what to do with one’s hands when talking.

The ones I have been to have generally been birthday parties. The adults’ ones were of people I did not know and, now realise, people I would definitely not have managed to get to know, even with time, or with all the alcohol that flowed. Yes, there were a few as a student when I sat around with people I knew. And those with the cricket team. It wasn’t as terrifying, but there are other terrors am talking about.

For the kids’ it was the neighbours’ ones attended as a late teen. To make it easy, my parents would pack off a steel plate lying unopened from some other gift. The kid would make a show of opening all gifts right there and go “Thoo! Thatte!”, disappointed about not getting any cool toys. I remembered not to put any names on the package from then on.

“Where do you party?” one extremely annoying colleague asked me standing in the cubicle aisle a long time back. All eyes turned towards me, and I figured I had to come up with a cool answer and save my name. The topic on discussion had been some bugs he had filed and I don’t know why a question of parties and their becoming verbs came up, but there was a way of asking that question that made me feel obligated, and pressurised.

I looked all around, to confirm that all eyes were boring on me, waved a finger around my head and said “All over” and not knowing if that was the right answer to the question, given that I had no idea what the question was, I beat a retreat the way one does without moving from where one was. It seemed to have satisfied him, having gotten the exact lame answer he was looking for. All of a sudden, another colleague got interested and they started talking about “X place throws some awesome parties, which are so difficult to get into”. There were enough phrases being used repeatedly for me to recognise that this was a ritual which required these phrases to be repeated – also known as clichés – to make sure you’re part of this clique.

Around this time TOI had launched the Bangalore Times and its 3rd page was all about people standing around and their names. I had no clue who they were and why I should know about them. But I religiously went over their names and the usual cliché verbs that went with them. “X and Y partying hard” one said, “A and B chilling by the pool” said another, with no sign of any pool around. “Who are all these people?” asked my dad one day. “How am I supposed to know!”.

Then there was the movie called “Page 3” which did a clichéd take on different kinds of personalities. It took me a few years to make a logical leap between that movie and the number of the page where BT put all these photos. By that time I had given up going through all these pages, and restricted myself to Page 2’s comic strips. How you are in your 30s and later is always decided by how you are in your 20s, just that you don’t know that and go around trying to be everyone else.

I still could not figure out a whole lot. Of course, these things made a lot of news. Like when the HC or the Govt passed an order that there would be no dancing in parties or some such. And then you got this idea that people would be dancing around in these places like in the movies. And wanted to stay as far away as possible. There was enough hue and cry, and more clichés were added to the mix and soon the order was reversed that it was allowed but only till some PM or small AM and some semblance of sanity restored.

I still read “X was partying hard” and an image of X with a party hat, eyes closed, going “yay!” silently, and one hand raised and waving comes to mind. It fits into the latest “DID YOU HAVE FUN?! BUT DID YOU HAVE FUN?!” trend of putting a lot of pressure on most pastimes.

Advantage of being in your 30s is that you know where you stand on most things, and what things will interest you or not. Yes, there will be occasional attempts to “get out of the comfort zone” and all that, but most importantly you know that it’s not a crime to not be interested in certain things, or be a certain way. Most likely the question of what is a Party and what people do there, and if I’ll fit in, is not likely to get resolved, ever. And I guess am more than happy to keep it that way. Little mercies.

Cars and bikes…

I have been driving in Bangalore for the past 5 years now. When I moved back from the US I took a 6 month break from all driving, to rinse out any nice ways of driving, took off on two-wheelers all that while and then bought a used car to drive. The plan was to use it for 5 years and then look for a new car.

5 years have come, and I don’t intend to sell my car. The usage is so minimal that I don’t really need to change it. There is a temptation to go for an electric one, but again it’s costlier than a petrol car given the cost of battery and my usage. The more you use it the better it works out. In the current market, a petrol car works best if you don’t drive to work everyday.

But my plan is to hopefully sell my car and not own a car after that. Every time I drive, I come back home nerves frayed, after enduring what can only be called traumatic experiences. People constantly cutting in, slow moving vehicles suddenly speeding up without indication just because you might be thinking that since they’re slow you might take a right some 60ft in front of them. How can anyone allow that!

Two-wheelers doing blind turns, or blind lane switches, or just plain scared in some cases and taking over a whole 10 ft side of the road by plonking themselves in the middle and not responding to anything.

And then the signals. Each one at least 2-3 minutes and not guaranteeing a move ahead on green even if you’re 2 rows behind the front. Possible that one car couldn’t get started, usually private and you have to wait it out. And after all this, you fervently hope you don’t have to deal with a traffic jam.

I have tried everything – being stoic, being Zen, playing music and closing windows and trying not to care. Except that the experience of constantly jerking slow for near misses does get to your nerves. It’s like having your reflexes on every moment for an hour or two. We are just not designed for this kind of stress. The only thing that works is to give enough time to get to your destination, but it is mostly the constant reflexive nature of driving that gets to you.

The sad part is it feels so much better to be on the Bullet. I don’t cut people off like other idiots, follow lane discipline, and try to ride the way I want others to when am driving. And it is so much more stress free. Am not sure if it is just the bike experience or the thump of the Bull that helps here, but it is overall a much better experience than driving. Of course, the kind of experiences you usually hate are life threatening when on the bike. A goods vehicle that decides it has had enough waiting and suddenly hurries across the road, or BMTC buses deciding to jump signals, those are always there. Defensive riding helps, and if you’re the one at front your side of the road, you can expect to be cut off by crossing vehicles. The main reflex intensive nature of driving is not there. On the highways though, you have to deal with farmers on Hero Splendours spitting around them, or bikes with rowdies throwing out cigarette butts (not even stubbed), but on bigger highways safe distances can be kept. A lot of temper management is called for here.

I really wish one day I can sell my car off and just manage with the bike. When it rains there are always taxis or autos. Probably manageable. I don’t know. Worth trying some time, but given my usage am already doing it more often!

Can’t say where we are headed this way, every time things get worse we get used to it and move on to the next level of worse. Seems to be our fate.

Oh well, a pointless post, I know. But hey, didn’t want my blog to open with the last one for too long.🙂

 

Whither life, whither happiness?

I left my previous post hanging, to put some more working of some thoughts from the previous few months, in fact, the previous few years. Well, time has been hard, has not been ideal. If you had made plans, this wouldn’t be what you bargained for. In cricketing terms, you were looking at a 500+ score, but suddenly realised that you were 200/5. That kind. What is one supposed to do?

During some really bad moments, I looked forward, I looked really forward, and then I looked around and it made it all the more worse. Sometimes I felt I wouldn’t be making it that far ahead, that there would be no escape from current predicaments and bad days, that these bad days would eventually consume me. I worried for my future. In fact I obsessed, yearned, longed and pleaded for my future. But the present was unmoving, I still had to deal with it. Some nights I had panic attacks. Few moments when the heart beat faster, when there was a lot of sweat. Am not new to it, and am sure quite a lot of you have experienced it at times. Then there were moments of resentfulness, when I looked at others, and thought look how they dealt with it. Why not us?!

Continue reading “Whither life, whither happiness?”

The 14 year reflection post

August 5th 2002. The date we started earning money. We, as in, I and 7 others who joined you-know-which Chinese company. Fresh out of college, all deferential, and trying hard to be enthusiastic. There are some who are enthusiastic, and then there are those that just aren’t. Almost to the count, not a single one of us could summon up any reasonable ounce of enthusiasm. Am not talking about the basic stuff needed to get work done, we had enough of that, and some more. Am referring to that enthusiasm that makes people bubble and jump even when they are, on closer notice standing absolutely still. Almost all of us were mostly of even temperament with a fair degree of cynicism which we tried to hide, but realised soon enough that it’s par for the course.

Well, 14 years since I passed out of college. If I were Rama, I’d be returning home after defeating Ravana, memories of those days when I was booted out fading in the distance. Of course, given the nature of the adventures in the forests, am sure it would take some effort summoning up those days of adolescent joie de vivre.

Continue reading “The 14 year reflection post”

Climate schlimate

Am I a global-warming denier? For sure am not. I do believe and know for sure that the shit is real, and we are doomed. I did think that I might be insulated from those changes. Neither because of privilege or nor because I live in a country not likely to be affected(I don’t). But I expected the changes to kick in only towards the latter half of the century, and I should have comfortably kicked the bucket well before that. Turns out I am wrong. I am seeing, reading about, and feeling the changes in some cases already. And the full brunt might have to be borne as I age. How that will affect my savings/investments after I retire will need to seen. It doesn’t seem to be good news.

Now, are you a denier? I can safely say that if you have been following this blog and are reading about this, and haven’t gotten into a fight with me, you most likely are not. Almost all the people I interact with aren’t, mostly because I stay away from a certain kind of people. But this isn’t a poll to find out who is, or isn’t, a denier. Am going to assume you are not.

It isn’t easy being a denier if you keep even a semi-open mind. I remember when Modi first became PM and there was an interaction with students. “What do you think of global warming?”, someone asked. “Climate change? Is this terminology correct? The reality is this that in our family, some people are old … They say this time the weather is colder. And, people’s ability to bear cold becomes less,” he said. But then his manifesto already included tackling climate change. His steps and talk after this have all been about a non-denier. Not that that means actions have been in the proper direction. But am not going to talk politics here.

Continue reading “Climate schlimate”

Abachurina Post Office and Tabarana Kathe

At the very beginning, in a 3 page preface, KP Poornachandra Tejaswi starts with a methodical takedown of the Navya school of literature. Among the reasons, the main ones are that it has become stale, dominated by academicians and professors with no scope for others to enter, and that it has failed to address the life of the common man living in villages. With that, he starts off marking a separate territory that he calls ‘protest literature’ along the lines of Ram Manohar Lohia.

The ones I’ve read by him tend to be light, even while addressing critical environmental issues. I expected satire, dark humour. There is very little of that.

img_2899

Abachurina Post Office, the first story, starts off about Bobanna who’s a ‘temporary’ post master for a temporary post office. He doesn’t maintain much discretion with the mail, conducting open sit-togethers to write and read letters for the illiterate. Other posts are put in a kind of bulletin board where anyone can take a look and pass on the message to the intended. Things turn bad when he sneaks off a post card with a nude picture meant for his boss and he just can’t resist doing the wrong thing, read perverted thing, whenever the opportunity presents itself. Things turn really bad when a letter to someone about his daughter makes it to the ‘bulletin board’ and becomes the talk of the town. There’s so much to see here – Bobanna’s desperation, his mother-in-law’s control, the gradual breakdown of his family. This is almost RKN territory, but a lot darker, about how these innocent small town/village guys aren’t that innocent after all. Continue reading “Abachurina Post Office and Tabarana Kathe”

A conveyor belt of books

I signed up, yet again, for the Goodreads Reading Challenge. The goal is to get to 40 books this year. The goal is set by you, so you can set 100 if you want. 40 is a good number that I set because I know I can get past it. And I’ll also be able to do some decent reading. A 500 pager that takes 3 weeks won’t daunt me as much as if I had set the goal to, say, 60.

As we enter the second half of the year, I noticed that I had gotten to 21, in a canter. I took more than 3 weeks reading ‘The Cunning Man’, working my way back to time reading a book after bouts of illness all across the house. But I buttressed that with smaller books like a short story collection by Kalki and finishing off the last few pages of A.K. Ramanujan’s “Folktalkes from India”. The number is the goal.

I sit down and try to remember what all I read, and it isn’t easy. Books seem to come one after the other, making their marks while being read, but getting finished, and then you move on to the next one. It feels like a conveyor belt. But that is one risk that you do run when you read quite a bit, no? Some will stick longer, some not so much even if you really enjoyed reading them.

Continue reading “A conveyor belt of books”