Rest in Peace, Putty Girl…

The Cat came into our lives in Jan or Feb 2011. I had just moved back and saw this scrawny cat sleeping near the house, and not running away. Some milk bowl filling happened, a few kittens were brought along, a few were delivered under the TV, some neutering done, and the cat hung around for 6 years after that. What was a blink of an eye and a maturing decade for me, was a lifetime for a cat.
Curled up cat
The year dawned with her meowing less, and soon stopping making all sounds. I made fun of her, some sound came, and then even that stopped. She looked weaker, and her movement more trying, that feline grace was no longer there, she scaled 4 ft high walls, but was knocking the milk bowl when trying to gain her stepping, things she never did all these years.

She became more bent, people who visited commented about it. It was harder for me to register the changes. Most likely, I refused to notice the changes. It’s summer, she gets thinner now for the heat. Will be alright once the Monsoons come. Then she started drooling, and not grooming herself, which meant she was now smelling.

A vet visit happened, with a photo taken. I waited inside the one room setup, while a pug was brought in. The elderly vet suggests a chest belt, gives it a few injections, and suggests some diet changes for its weight. How much? Rs. 300.

My turn. I gave him the whole history. Does she drink water? Yes. Then no rabies. Of course not, she’s been vaccinated for that! Plus she’s not afraid of light, craving for it rather.  A couple of meds were given, one an antibiotic. Try feeding her these in milk. What’s wrong with her? Baayalli Happale, mouth ulcers. She can’t swallow because of that. How much do I owe you? He waves me away. It’s nothing.

The cat refused to drink, refused to eat anything. Next morning, she isn’t seen. Once the Sun is out she’s seen lounging by a neighbour’s compound wall. I ask them permission, go in, and pick her up into the common compound wall. She goes to sleep where I can reach her. She’s no longer drooling. Has the drooling stopped or is it dehydration?

Afternoon, I call him. Give me half an hour. I drive down to his clinic. A she-goat outside, with her owner and an auto-driver he’s arranged to bring it. Three injections for her standing by the road. Once in, the farmer gets called. How old is your goat? 40 years sir. Amused vet. How many times has she delivered? Twice sir. He writes down 4 or 2 in a diary. The farmer gets instructions, bring her tomorrow for more injections, give her some bevina soppu (neem) and agase soppu(Flax). She’ll be ok. Don’t go and sell her just because someone offers you a deal. Arthavaaythenayya? OK sir, he leaves.

The other guy waiting before me, gives some sample of his pet for a lab. He gets a long list of meds to give, when to bathe, how much to bath the dog. After 20 mins of lots of meds, and a Rs. 800 bill, he leaves. How heavy is the cat? Must be just over a kg. He fills up three syringes, antibiotics and a couple of general meds. On the way I ask him about the previous guy. German Shepherd. Has skin issues. Skin issues are caused by diet. Which is surprising because this guy is a regional head for Pedigree (food products corp). Most people can’t care for their dogs properly.

We reach home. The cat still sleeping. Be careful, if she wakes up in shock, she might go into delirium and bite. Get a cloth. I find something. Now cover her head and her front body and hold tight. I try holding her, she escapes a bit. Tighter. No loosening. I hold her tight, the cat struggles, then gives up. He checks using his stethoscope. A sanitary wipe comes out, she gets the 3 injections one after the other. I release her. She goes and sleeps a few feet away. He confirms dehydration. She needs to drink water or milk. She’s blind in one eye, he announces, but she’ll be ok. Cats manage.

I drive him to his clinic, my nerves jingling. He gives me an ORS bottle, maybe she’ll drink. Clean her with a wet cloth, and then this antiseptic swipe (which he gives me). How much do I owe you? Rs. 200. I come home, wipe her with a cloth, see if she can drink some milk, she drinks a bit, eats a bit. And goes to sleep near the door. I have lunch, and then can’t find her.

She’s found at a neighbour’s keeping her back towards a wall. Happy to say hi, but not coming anywhere. I give her some food there, she eats and leaves some. Next day I see her in the middle of the road drooling slightly. I carry her in, give her some milk which she drinks, and some cat food which she eats. There’s a faint meow, a sound of relief. She goes to sleep near the door and is missing again in 15 minutes. I find her at the same neighbour’s, but leave her there.

I find her today at the same place, she eats a bit, but the neighbour confirms that she’s meowing a bit. I feel hope, she looks a bit better. No drooling, but no grooming either. I feel a bit hopeful, but I know I no longer will see the cat running up to me, tail up, her meow Dopplering towards me. She’s now an old cat who’ll need to give up her independence and trust humans to look after her, and also forgive the guy who closed her face and got her 3 pricks in the back. The choice will be hers to make, I won’t get a say in this.


I never intended this to be an obituary. But it is now. A while back a neighbour saw a dog dragging what looked like a cat and leaving it in the opposite site. It was Putti. There was no doubt. I called Kashappa, the area gardener, packed her in a garbage bag, and carried her to the BBMP park. We dug a pit for her, and I buried her, taking one last look at her lifeless body in the glow of the phone’s LED flash. I left a part of me there in the park, under 2 feet of red soil. I’ll miss you girl, miss you loads.


This and that

Well, it’s been a while, but I knew this day would come. A day when I’d be staring at an empty post, needing to fill it in, and not having any pictures to describe. Nope, I haven’t gone gallivanting anywhere, so no photos to share. My bike is running good, so no problems there. Touch wood.

If anything, my stomach is throwing a lot of burn. A bad infection does that to you. And medicines to fix that. I guess they are working, as the pain and incidences of it have been reducing with each day. I am staying away from coffee, with just tea and milk.

Not sure where I got the infection from though. Depends entirely on how long a bacterial infection takes to show itself. If it’s a few days then it would be something from Saturday evening. I really doubt Sunday evening, as no one else seems to have been affected. Even Saturday sounds a tad doubtful cos of the same reason. Could it be a water based one? But the symptoms of those are a lot different! Oh well, enough discussing my stomach problems, I’ll plow on with a bit of pain in the stomach.

June has traditionally been the month I fall sick. The onset of the monsoons and the change from summer to a cooler weather does things to me. Or maybe it is plain bad luck. Can’t beat last year though! That has to be the worst, needing a whole week off from work. To save a day’s leave I tried to get myself up to work on the Friday. Couldn’t manage more than a few minutes.

The arrival of the Monsoons also means that I put on hold all travel plans, except for Monsoon specific plans. It doesn’t help to go get drenched anywhere. It’s not a time for safaris, nor a time for beaches. Treks are interesting and I am really keen on trying one out this Monsoon, maybe one at Agumbe with the leeches. Need to see.

I miss the times spent around the Jog belt in 2013 and 2015 though. The 2015 one was depressing, with not a spot of rain, dried up rivers and waterfalls, and people all over complaining about the lack of rains. Last year seemed to be worse, although from what I’ve heard it was better further North of Karnataka. Only the Kaveri onwards things have been really bad. I really want it to rain well this year. With a strong El Niño looming over the latter half of the year things can get really bad next year.

Talking of climate, it is interesting how Trump’s pulling out of the Paris accord has brought climate change into the conversation. And am surprised, in fact, shocked, to notice how many people around me are deniers. These are educated engineers who I work with every day, who’s opinion goes like “Do you expect me to believe that we humans who are such a tiny portion of this large planet can actually influence things on it?”. And “This is natural. Earth goes through such processes.” I tried the usual things. But making people understand and shake up their opinions and facts isn’t really an easy thing. It goes way beyond facts.

And then there was another who agreed with me, but kept insisting that nothing will happen to the planet. This is the usual George Carlin line of “we’re fucked, the planet will still be here.” Of course, who is complaining about the planet as a physical entity in the first place?! But it is good to make sure you set your viewfinder from time to time. He also added his own thing to the list – magnetic poles might change soon, exposing us to cosmic rays.

It is pointless to argue that life is threatened on the planet by our activities – “Life always goes extinct from time to time”. “We, humans, will find some way to exist.” Unless you really care, it is hard to convince a person that species going extinct in the planet because of you is not a good thing. Yes, we might continue to exist, but it’ll be a lot more precarious existence, where we have to deal with a lot more intense climatic events in a cooked up planet. As a species, humans will not likely be wiped out, but the evidence increasingly points towards it. And more importantly, we don’t know what’s in store. We’ve never lived in such a warmed up planet. The duration when we seemed to have multiplied and prospered is a mere 100 years. We reached 1 billion only in 1800 and the next 1 billion in 125 years! The last 5 have been added in 90 years! Remember that until then our growth was kept in balance by a combination of war, disease and other factors. The larger chunk being disease, not war.

As Yuval Noah Harari argues in his book, this period of 100 years(less if we consider the post WWII timeframe) where we seem to have seen a lot of “prosperity” might just be a calm before the storm. It is unprecedented. Of course, you cannot talk to people all this. Belief systems aren’t about facts, as the oatmeal so clearly puts it.

But then, having individuals believe or not believe in something that is going to fuck with most of your species is hardly going to make any difference. The biggest difference has to come top-down. One only hopes it does. Although these days am rooting for climate change to do its thing so that the planet can get this over with. And start afresh.

Until then, would be better for me not to get worked up when I hear so much idiocy. God knows, there is no shortage of it!

Where are the silences?

After weeks of enduring the constant stream of latest B’wood numbers coming from a let-out house a road away, I went up and asked the students living there to pipe down. They were very polite and reduced the volume immediately. They were also well-versed in the art of giving up a few battles for the ultimate war. The volume went right up the next morning. It usually stays up whenever there’s someone at home, so it starts at 8 AM and goes on all the way till 10 PM. Thankfully, during the evenings, the TV volume at home can drown out extraneous noises.

What surprises me is not the noise coming out, but the noise that stays in during all this time.Forget hear each other, how the hell do they even hear themselves think?! I can understand their being young and all, but surely at some point, your brain will scream “FATIGUE!” no? Even I was a teen, a student, and I couldn’t endure so much sound. Of course, living in Srinagar meant that there was always some loudspeaker for some function on, or a front-engine auto running on kerosene would try valiantly to climb up the slope in front of the house, stopping all conversation at home, and spreading the stink of kerosene over a 100ft radius.

But then, students’ music noise is just one of the cacophony of noises filling up the area. We live in a reasonably quiet neighbourhood, mainly because there is a lake behind and roads here lead to houses and not to other areas. There is no pass-through traffic. But even with that, the propensity for noise is just staggering! Anyone who returns home after 11 PM has to cause his share of noise. There are cars with reverse horns, which are banned by the Govt, but no one cares. And then there are just normal front horns, which people nervously press every few seconds, especially two-wheelers. A quiet neighbourhood brings out the need to fill up the quietness with some noise, those trying to sleep be damned.

Come daytime, these noises fade into the background as granite grinding machines fill up the quietness. Sunbirds, tailorbirds and bulbuls fly in, perch on trees and plants, sing for a few minutes, realise the pointlessness of it and fly away. A few brave butterflies flit around, some with wings mutilated by predators or speeding vehicles; their numbers coming down every passing year. Every house needs to have the tree in front of it cut down. I stopped blaming houses though. Whoever planted trees should have put them at the border of sites, not bang in the front of each site. Almost all trees that are in between sites survive. Very few put at the front of sites make it. Gates, parking, cars always take precedence in the anthropocene.

Through all this I try looking for silence. While the last construction was raging on, I grieved over the death of the bulbul chicks by sitting by the lake, listening to Weavers singing. The lake was a respite on bad days. Now the path is overgrown and there is no easy way to walk around. A constable stays put there and has barred the entrance closest to me. He is amicable though and tells me about the kind of people who use public areas that few people go to and for what purpose.

What is left is just cycling. The road is silent, there are few vehicles, some honk, but I tend not to notice, I hear them coming and wave them by, trying to prevent a few honks. But the effort for cycling helps clear out noise. I take Amma walking. She struggles to walk after a few minutes, but we manage. I show her the flitting Mormons and Crimson Roses. Some days at the lake, we see cormorants, egrets and ducks. We still have some commons in the Western part of the city that aren’t polluted as much by noise.

We went to Bhadra a few weeks back. I sat outside listening to the river lapping at the banks, some birds singing, and watching butterflies flit by. Within minutes the sound of people talking came over from neighbouring huts. It wasn’t just in huts, everywhere there was the noise of them talking. Never an immersion into the surroundings. It is almost a fear of silences, the need to fill everything silent with some familiar sound.

During the days of running, those used to be minutes of silence when the lake was still good enough to run around. I never could run with music like many do; after all, it shouldn’t be that difficult to do some activity without having some noise that you control coming into you.

Wonder where we are getting to where we have to go farther and farther to find any sense of silence. At least night times used to guarantee some sense of silence. Now we have to get used to sleeping through sudden horns from vehicles that could not care less. We just might get there, with deep sleep that doesn’t get disturbed by vehicle noises in the middle of the night. But all this noise will exact its consequences, and there are already reports of deafness rising in cities.

There is something assholic about the way people use their cars. Honking in the middle of the night, honking early morning, honking to ask people inside the house to hurry up, honking just for the heck of it! The real tragedy though is that we go to sleep listening to horns, not crickets or cicadas and we wake up very early again to blaring horns and not birdsong.


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.

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”

End of June

June is not expected to be a great month. Unlike popular perception, it isn’t wet and gloomy usually; among wet months, it ranks below May. It’s windy as the Monsoons sweep through. This brings in a lot of dust and garbage from all over. I like the winds, coming as they usually are after a hot summer, and sometimes a rainy and stormy May. I like the weather in general. It is usually sunny with puffy clouds and lots of winds. Later in the day, you get windswept clouds. Early on in the month, it gets cloudy, and rains to show that the Monsoons are here.

This year has been crazy. You wake up to cloudy weather. Some days even drizzly weather. You watch those clouds hanging by all day. And then in the evening, they let go and it’s the usual chaos. You wake up again the next morning, hoping that all those rains would’ve cleaned things up, but no, it’s the same charade all over again. It feels like October. You’d think it’s nice to have these bountiful rains, except that KRS and other important dams have barely registered anything. Pretty much, all these rains fall on concrete and roads, and not adding up to any value. And you have flooded roads and a potential water shortage. Maybe I should put in a rainwater harvesting thing. But the area we have is pretty small, not sure how useful it will be.


The part that gets me is how things are turning out for me this month. All cycling has been advanced to the morning, when am also needed at home. This means waking up crazy early, and pedalling out, hoping to return as early as possible and then deal with things.

By evening, the mood is generally off. Not too many people like a house that is dark at 4 PM. And then it starts drizzling and raining. An entire evening’s worth of cheer is gone. I like rains, mind you, except that I like them when they should be raining. Supposed to be dry and windy, and it’s raining means that when it should be raining heavier, it probably might not.

img_2892Oh well, sometimes I wonder if this is just a phase for me, and the weather is something I am railing against for not helping. A bit of sunny love would be nice though, but what does one do?

June is pretty much over. It’ll be July now. Supposed to be wetter than June, but not as much as August. I only hope for a break, something that I can catch my breath in, before I have to run again, cos God knows when I’ll get to stop again. But I feel hopeful at times when I realise I’ve been through all this with Amma’s health in 2012, then again in 2013, hitting a nadir in 2014 and getting back to some semblance of something in 2015. 2016, I feel hope with, but it might just turn out to be worse than 2014. The signs are all there.

But there isn’t much to do but fight. And fight we will. What else is there to do?


So it isn’t just perception. Bangalore has received more than 170mm of rainfall so far in June, while the average is around 89mm. Source: The Hindu.

Stress and other things

There was a tweet storm by someone on Twitter and it brought together a lot of stuff on stress and how it can get passed on across generations. There was also the matter of how violence is contagious. And about empathy, which also can trigger stress. To put it simply, it’s scary.

The default assumption is that our looks are programmed, and you really can’t do much about it, well most of it at least – your height is programmed, the way your head sits on your shoulders is programmed. Yeah, you can get a nose job or grow some hair even though the natural one deserted you a long time back. There are other things programmed too, like diseases. Heart disease, diabetes, even Cancer, you could be more predisposed to them than others if your genes are predisposed that way. You really can’t do much about them.

Now, what people are saying is that what you think, or how you respond to situations could also be programmed in you. If something stresses you out and you don’t know why, maybe it stressed out your parents, or theirs. Best you can do is add more stressors. If sitting in traffic is stressing you out and making you react in different ways, maybe you’ll pass that on to your children and grandchildren. In some ways maybe that’s good, and we might create a generation of human beings that are stressed out just thinking of traffic and will go out of their way trying not to be in traffic. Wonder if this is Nature’s way of balancing things out.

Maybe I shouldn’t be talking of traffic. Yeah, am getting stressed. Almost every time I get behind the wheel it’s dealing with some asshole or the other. Today it was trying to get into a  few inches of good road left and seeing someone from the wrong side taking that space up. I made a few gestures, and they banged my window screen and it made me feel good. I have never been good at gestures and they don’t really mean much to me. Even in school there’d be kids saying “don’t hit the back of my head”. There was some very insulting meaning to being hit there, and they used to get really angry when that happened. I avoided hitting them on the back of the head, but I never could understand the context or the meaning. When they don’t mean much to you it becomes easier to produce a gesture when you need one, and elicit specific reactions from people. They become like cards you produce, and get reactions from people. This time I made something, and it really pissed that guy off. So my mission was accomplished. But again, also serves as a warning to use it carefully. Try it on someone traveling in the same direction as you, and you have a problem to deal with.

Coming back to the matter of stress being passed on, it only seems logical. How do you pass on the fear of predators to your offspring? A small deer doesn’t go checking out a tiger when it sees one for the first time. It just runs. Stress and panic reactions are inbuilt for anything that they’re not familiar with. Just that we’ve created a system where it triggers at all the wrong points. Wrong might be the wrong word to use. We do need those triggers when someone cuts across your lane so that you slow down. That degree of alertness might be lost. Maybe the trouble is that they get triggered way more often than we’re built to resist. There need to be times when we can relax and do nothing, just be zen. But more and more that time does not materialise. Even during free time, you’re expected to be doing something. If not, there is the fear that you need to be doing something. You spend weeks stressing yourself over exams, worrying what the next day would hold, preparing for it, and then one evening it’s all over. And you spend that evening with your brain still in some kind of stress mode, making you feel guilty about something that you’re putting off.

It’s been a busy few weeks. And I’ve gone without reading much over the past 2 weeks now. There was a book called “The Book of Other People” which was mostly assorted authors writing shorts on some character they created. It was for some charity and most writers happily wrote up pieces. And, it really does feel like they were really freed from worrying about selling those books, cos no one’s going to buy something to read about writers indulging themselves with writing that is obscure and only a few can understand.

Why am I writing about this book? Because, it’s stressing me out. I’ve gone 2 weeks without a book being finished. And although I don’t mind such times, I have a sneaking suspicion that it is because of this book and my brain is resisting picking it up by creating stress reactions. And another part is creating similar reactions asking me to get going on my reading and finish what I started. It’s supposed to be an activity you enjoy, not something that should stress you out! Not like I have an exam to write on all this! So I went to Blossom’s and bought 5 more books, strictly staying away from short story collections. Ok, 4 of them aren’t shorts. But the fifth is a Borges and I’ve been looking for Labyrinths for a while now. So now I have 5 more books sitting and staring at me from the bookshelf.

If at all I pass on my genes (odds, please?) , maybe this is the stress that I’ll pass on. But the deeper fear is that this stressing out might also be inherited. Well, not much you can do then, no? Might as well accept it and be Zen. Ah, the paradox of acceptance!

Or maybe not, as they also say: stress won’t kill you, but stressing about stress might. Go figure!

Life…and all that…

It’s been a tough last few weeks. Most days I feel disoriented, wondering where things are going, searching for a ‘normal’. And I see it floating around, except that it keeps taking new meanings and shapes, changing every few days. Sometimes it feels familiar, a normal from sometime back before it shifted shape into something else. I wonder if am in some cusp of life, a point where things change, from where a new normal will emerge, not something I will look back and recognise, something that I’ll need to get used to, become familiar with and grow into.

Will need to hang in there. And hang in there, I will. Not sure how much of a toll the past few years will take in future. Wonder how much am giving of myself now that I’ll need later. (Wonder if am talking nonsense here and making a mountain out of nothing.)

Oh well, that’s what the defences we build around us are for – to survive the madness when it gets too crazy. Defences that come in different forms – friends, books, music, movies, art, beer, coffee, beaches, mountains, bikes, runs. Choose your poison and get on with it I guess.

Books and choices

After noting the rate at which I was finishing books the past few years, I decided to set myself a challenge on GR. I kept it at a modest 40 for this year. 40 would be easier, and the main idea was not to set a goal that I had to huff and puff to reach in the end – that would mean tilting more towards smaller books to get to the quota. I know, that’s not the actual point of such goal setting, but am kind of wired differently. Targets and schedules are meant to be reached well in advance.

Somewhere around the middle of the year I figured I’d be reaching 44-45 this year, not ending at the whopper 51 as last year. For starters, the cab does not offer the same luxury for reading as BMTC Volvos. I do compensate with Audiobooks, but I manage around 30 pages per day with it. In the equivalent Volvo-time, that would be around 50 pages. And I also end up with a headache at home, so I don’t read much on getting back home either.

Doing 5 audiobooks over 5 months, and the rest of them proper reads, I finished 40 yesterday.(Yay!) Given that there’s only some 40 days left, I think am looking at around 45-46 this year. Which sounds pretty good! Last year at this stage I was at 44, and ended up with 51.

It has been an interesting set of books this year, and I somehow ended up missing out on a lot of old favourites. RKN, McCall-Smith and Pratchett were given a miss. There’s still some time left, and I’ve put them on the unread list (real books sitting on my shelf giving me that look). The McCall-Smith is done, just the RKN and Pratchett to do.

This year there’s been a lot of reading of short stories. Munro, Gordimer, M.T. Vasudevan Nair, KP Tejaswi. They help in a way that you can stretch your reading for a while, doing one story once in a while. But it doesn’t work like that with me. I tried that with Gordimer, stretching the book over 3 months for 31 stories. I finished the last 5 over a few days. The reading was also pretty bursty. Maybe I shouldn’t worry about it, and let things go the way they are meant to be.

Either way, it’s a bit of a relief that the ‘challenge’ is done. I can now go about the business of reading as I want to do it.


Some people get everything wrong. How can I explain? I mean, there are those who can have everything against them – three strikes, twenty strikes, for that matter – and they turn out fine. Make mistakes early on – dirty their pants in grade two, for instance – and then live out their lives in a town like ours where nothing is forgotten (any town, that is, any town is a place like that) and they manage, they prove themselves hearty and jovial, claiming and meaning that they would not for the world want to live in any place but this.

With other people, it’s different. They don’t move away but you wish they had. For their own sake, you could say. Whatever hole they started digging for themselves when they were young – not by any means as obvious as the dirty pants either – they keep right on at it, digging away, even exaggerating if there is a chance that it might not be noticed.

Things have changed, of course.There are counsellors at the ready. Kindness and understanding. Life is harder for some, we’re told. Not their fault, even if the blows are purely imaginary. Felt just as keenly by the recipient, or the non-recipient, as the case may be.

This was Alice Munro in ‘Pride’. And the rest of the story goes on about two people who go about making bad choices all along. Every time you think “okay dude, take this and run, here’s your ‘happily every after’!” they go the other way. Right till the end.

The other day, on Twitter someone was asking: “If you could go back and do your life differently, would you?”

Now would I? Yes, why not? It’s always tempting to go back and wish for different things, or wish to be face to face with the same choices and wish to choose differently. We all have our paths that were not taken. Those greener pastures that were shunned. If not, it’s just that you’re content, not that you think you’ve chosen correctly all your life.

To wish so, is also not a sense of a deeply unhappy life. We all have our ideas of ideal lifes, and there is always the fantasy that if we’d chosen that path at that time, we’d be there.

The thing I fear most is what if given the same choices again, we realise that we’re still making the same choices as before – in fact, forced to make the same choices. What if we realise that nothing was ever in our hands and we were just playing the hand we were dealt, all along? It’s like Groundhog Day, except that he doesn’t get to choose what to do, and is on an endless repeat of the same day everyday, trying to get out, but not able to find the way out as time is on a relentless march each day.

What if you think you’ve fucked up big time, and just can’t stop fucking it up? And given a choice to go back, realise you still can’t help it. Or what if that’s exactly what you want, what makes you happy, to constantly fuck up your life? It’s a bit like Ka, having to constantly chase happiness, and right when it is at hand, to turn away and run in the opposite direction. Just because you think being Happy is wrong and vulgar.

Rising up inside him was that sensation he had always felt as a child and as a young man at moments of extraordinary happiness: the prospect of future misery and hopelessness. In a panic, he tried to bring this happy moment to a close. This, he hoped, would lessen the impact of the unhappiness he knew would follow. The surest way to calm himself, he thought, would be simply to accept the inevitable: that the love he felt for İpek –the source of his anxiety –would be his undoing; that any intimacy he might enjoy with her would undo him, as salt dissolves ice; that he didn’t deserve this happiness but rather the disgrace and denigration that would result. He braced himself.

-Orhan Pamuk, “Snow”

Oh well, I don’t know where I stand. I don’t know where my forks and turns were, and on facing them again if I’d choose a different path. I do believe that your choices weren’t objective “eeny-meeny-moos” and they were a result of what you were at that time, just as those choices define what you are now. Your choices were as much a product of your past, as your future is a product of your choices. Pretty much, you never really had a choice.



It has been four years since I quit Microsoft and left Seattle. Of course, there are 2 more weeks to go to count the start of my homecoming to Bangalore, but for all practical purposes I can say I’ve been living in Bangalore for four years now. When I look back, this is the longest stretch I’ve lived in any one country since my graduation. Of course, one never thinks of such things before graduation, you pretty much go with the flow.

Surprisingly, the previous longest was just over 3 years in Seattle. I never spent that much time in Bangalore after graduation. First I was hustled away to Shenzhen and then after return I spent around 2.5 years, with some time in Beijing thrown in. And then, of course, 1.5 years in Melbourne.

So it was a lot of movement and hustling around till grad school and then periods of stability with the job. Nothing surprising over there. I used to wonder if I’d have that itch after 3 years to want to move. But to be honest, any thoughts of moving get me sweating more than anything. The idea of packing, moving, long flights, setting base, finding an apartment, getting a kitchen going, a routine going, making friends, starting a social life, the whole thing just sounds so exhausting! And scary! I don’t know if I want to go through all that all over again.

I do wonder, as I’ve wondered often in this blog itself, how much longer I’ll be in Bangalore. Frankly, I neither have an answer nor an alternative if I have to think of a place. Maybe Kerala. I don’t know. I don’t want to think about it. I guess thinking and looking for answers would be the first step if the idea is to take a stronger hold. So, suffice to say that the idea isn’t taking stronger hold yet. I like my bike and I like the leisure options around Bangalore. The trips to Kabini and Bandipur are pretty much annual now. There’s the summer with the Fort High School concerts and the 10k. Long weekends off staying at home and just loafing around the city with visits to Blossom’s, Rangashankara and co for plays. The monsoons to look forward to each year and crib about. There is a cadence around the year.

And the thing I like about Bangalore is the demarcated seasons where you can actually feel and see the weather. The red blooms of the Gulmohars in summer, the yellow and purple Tabebuias and Jacarandas marking spring after the bare trees of winter. The Pongaemia tree in front of the house starts losing its leaves in Autumn, going bare in winter, sprouts leaves afresh in spring and blooms with tiny white flowers in Summer which bring forth hordes of bees to feast on them. Cadence and routine. The scary part is that, the time observing these cadences is marked in years and we become increasingly conscious that there are only so much of them. Nothing reminds you of passing time more than the marking of years, be it Birthdays or New Years.

Oh, and in other news, the workplace moves to Mahadevapura. A whole new paradigm of traffic jams and bottlenecks takes over. Surprisingly, this place is closer to my place than the previous one, but has some of the worst traffic if I have to take the shortest path. However, the good news is that the Metro will come into play. The bad news is that I don’t know when. Hopefully by April max, another 3-4 months of struggling before some manna from the big people.

I don’t know if I’ll write a new year post. I might write something during the holidays, but not sure if it will be annual themed. Am not going to do a count of the number of posts, mainly because it isn’t too encouraging. But it’s not worse or better than the previous year though. So let’s just say I have neither beaten any expectations nor disappointed. There is a cadence there also(:D).

But will leave you with this article about leisure, how less we have of it, and how busy people have become. Something to think about for the brand new year.

Leisure time is now the stuff of myth. Some are cursed with too much. Others find it too costly to enjoy. Many spend their spare moments staring at a screen of some kind, even though doing other things (visiting friends, volunteering at a church) tends to make people happier. Not a few presume they will cash in on all their stored leisure time when they finally retire, whenever that may be. In the meantime, being busy has its rewards. Otherwise why would people go to such trouble?

Alas time, ultimately, is a strange and slippery resource, easily traded, visible only when it passes and often most highly valued when it is gone. No one has ever complained of having too much of it. Instead, most people worry over how it flies, and wonder where it goes. Cruelly, it runs away faster as people get older, as each accumulating year grows less significant, proportionally, but also less vivid. Experiences become less novel and more habitual. The years soon bleed together and end up rushing past, with the most vibrant memories tucked somewhere near the beginning. And of course the more one tries to hold on to something, the swifter it seems to go.

Have a great 2015 people! And hope you have lots of leisure to just do absolutely nothing.