Monday, March 6, 2017

EXISTENTIAL ANGST

Bustling with energy in a small corner of mindfulness
holding on to the sliver of truth, seething with rage
staring into nothingness with sheer disinterest towards anything
with the mind trapped in the confines of a cage

Thoughts of a world that could be reality
of sweet goodbyes, happy endings and endless care
deep forgotten longings have resurfaced again
seems like a distant feeling from the past, far too familiar

Stuck in a disarray of my own principles and morals
a deep concoction of my own perils served on an emphatic platter
any movement - forward or backwards is lined with dire consequences
I stand here on the edge of conscience unwilling to plunge

When the friendly is misconstrued, when the convivial is misjudged
when the trusted is mistrusted, when the benign is mistaken
the tall shards of glass come tumbling down on the bedrock of reality
when your fundamental idea of integrity is bruised and shaken

The mind still yearns for moments that will never exist
Unwittingly searching for answers to deep questions where they do not lie
Unable to do either, the mind unwillingly submits to the dark unknown
Plagued by mild anti-social escapist tendencies that stupefy

Wonder if it could all have been unthinkably remarkable,
had things gone right in an ideal world, free from any distortions
but is this life just a figment of my creative imagination?
what if we are all just tiny pods glorifying the liabilities of our mere existence?


. . . Peace!

Sunday, October 18, 2015

THE BAG THAT OUT-TRAVELS ME

Date: August 20th 2014. Place: Hyderabad.

A bag came into my life. It was a green colour Quechua Forclaz 60 litre bag. The bag was pretty and I was immediately hooked. The bag belonged to Majid Siddique who worked with me at Deloitte then. I borrowed it from him for a trek to the Jhindagada peak, the highest peak of Andhra Pradesh. He also gave me trekking shoes that I would rather not talk about. I was astounded at how much the bag could fit. I was so excited that I put everything in it that I could carry. The result was that on my very first 3-day trek, I carried a load of 12kgs on my back. The problem, however, was that I weighed almost the same as the bag (See photo below for reference). Carrying the bag was an honour that came at a big cost. I was depleted by the time I returned from the trek. Truly Madly Deeply spent. 


Skinny Paradise

(Left) In front of the Peak - (Right) On the peak(Literally on cloud Nine. I counted)

But as they say, the first time is always special (Trek or otherwise). I returned the bag back to to Majid. Less did I know that the bag would come back to me. Over the course of the next few months, the bag was carried for a few treks. The bag had already been on about 3-4 treks before I took it on my first. Majid offered to sell his bag and he made me an offer I couldn’t refuse. I accepted the offer and the bag was mine.

The first place I took the bag to was Hampi. While my other fellow travelers carried hefty suitcases, I literally lived out of a bag. All my stuff came out and went into the same bag. Result: I took at least half the time that anyone else would take to pack their stuff. Stuff it, zip it, forget it. The bag made me feel like Superman. The T-Shirt in the picture below is a mere coincidence.

Clarke Kaul

Meanwhile, Naveen, who also accompanied me on the Hampi trip, needed a bag to go to Leh, Ladakh and he borrowed the Green Quechua awesomeness. Cognizant of the remarkable advantages of the bag, he was keen on saving some energy while packing in the oxygen depleted atmosphere of Ladakh. I graciously offered it thinking that that even though I couldn’t go to Ladakh then, at least my bag would. Naveen could literally live out of the bag as well. The bag had now seen heights of 16000 feet and above. The bag was initiated to the Himalayas.

Come May and I went on my first Himalayan trek to Roopkund. The bag faced a heavy challenge. I had to pack upwards of 15 kgs into the bag. If my bag were Sita, this would be its Agni Pareeksha. I stuffed things everywhere possible. I also discovered that the bag had 2 additional pockets by the sides. Desperation is the mother of life-saving discoveries. This was a tough trek demanding an uphill climb of around 30-40 kms. I travelled with truckloads on my back but the bag was utterly faithful. Not once did it fail me. I walked in winds, in rain, in the chill of the night but the bag was sturdy and intact. I came back with fond memories and the bag was a witness to it all.



(Trying to be Alexander Supertramp

The bag isn’t visible. I’m just flaunting here. It’s a good picture en route Roopkund

In the coming months, the bag was taken by Naveen to Coorg, and by Suboth to Hampi(Again!! The bag has some connection with that place. I’m planning a solo trip to Hampi soon. That’d be a third for the bag)

A very interesting thing happened when Vivek Gupta borrowed this bag for his
Mullyangiri trek. On the 2nd day of the trek, news arrived that Vivek (our Roopkund trek organizer) and Sashi were lost in the jungles of Chikmanglur(Read here) . At first, I was worried about Vivek but after 5 minutes, I was worried about the bag. This was shallow on my part. I was told that Vivek and Sashi set out to search for the trail after leaving the bags behind with the other members of the team. I was not sure how to react to the news as I was still sad that Vivek was lost. I was worried that I would not be able to ever look at the bag if there was a tragedy on the trip. Luckily, both Vivek and Sashi made it out of the forest with a few scratches and leech bites, long after everyone had written their chances of survival off. The bag now had the tag of a survivor's bag.

In the month of August, I took a trip to Pondicherry and the bag followed. The bag was getting some serious miles under its belt(s) (like literally).

Now, there is this thing about me - If you know me, you’d know my love for mountains. Himachal Pradesh is one place I have been wanting to visit for quiet some time. As destiny would have it, my bag beat me to a trip to Himachal as well. Praneeth Nadella recently took the bag to Himachal Pradesh on the trek to Triund and Indrahar pass, a trek I’ve been planning since December 2014. I had a deal with Praneeth - I wanted a picture of the bag on the summit.

A moment of sombre reflection for the bag, thinking of all the days gone by

 Praneeth not only sent me pictures of the bag, he also took a picture of the bag with Shoib Akhtar (Yes, the fast bowler from Pakistan). My bag not only beats me in travels but it also meets celebrities along the way.

Praneeth made the shoulder hoops count

The bag is pretty special to me. It has become a part of my identity and the life of my travels. I hope to take it to Himachal, Ladakh - Stok Kangri and East India in the near future. If not Everest, this bag will at least go to the Everest Base Camp during its lifetime. For as long as it lasts, it shall be my travel companion and will always be my Trekking bag that out-travelled me, in style!

Come to think of it, I should have a name for the bag now. #Now_thinking


Peace. . . 

Saturday, July 18, 2015

PEACE IN THOSE MOUNTAINS

Dedicated to our guide Pushkar Singh who led us through the Roopkund expedition. He recently passed away trying to save a trekker who slipped on the trail. The news saddened us immensely and reminded us of our own trek. Pushkar hand-held us through tough stretches after we slipped on the trail ourselves. May your soul rest in Peace in those beautiful mountains, brother.

Edit(on 20th September): After a phone call recently, we got to know that Pushkar is alive. This was great news for us. The Roopkund memory shall still remain a sweet one. :)





In the midst of those cold windy paths,
Lies a valley surrounded by those beautiful clouds
The clouds sweep around the valley pouring down rain,
When they do move away, they bring in the bright sunlight




The paths I walk are long and arduous,
They ought to be for they lead to harsh terrains,
Beyond these terrains lie the lands of extreme beauty,
The view shall more than make up for the hardship, I hope





I take one step and then the other, careful not to tread too quick
With careful precision, I ensure I stay within the boundaries
A slip may prove perilous here,
For it may take me tumbling down into the valley down below



The valley below looks as breathtaking as they come,
Lined with ferns, flowers and splendid trees
While a descend into its arm might not seem that awful
The elevation of our mortal selves so far high turns that into a grim fancy.





Slow progress is much appreciated on these turfs,
Hurry may get you nowhere in the territory of mountains,
For the purpose of it all is lost upon you,
If you neglect the sheer brilliance of the view and walk indifferent.








When I finally reach the valley, it is as if we were meant to meet,
The radiance of this place has caught me spellbound,
The mountains surrounding it seem like a protective fortress,
It is a moment that is now etched in the confines of my mind




The breeze flows by with the fragrance of the earth surrounding me,
It’s time to leave but do I hear a serene song in my ears?
I shout through the valleys to the mountains promising to be back someday,
To experience once more the overwhelming peace in those mountains.




Peace!

Thursday, April 9, 2015

OH BARBER, MY BARBER

To give you a background on the whole issue, the barber shop I frequented for hair-cuts no longer exists. The building it was in, was broken down for road extension. The government has triumphed. The shop is no more. What has remained, however, is a hollow structure that shall be brought down very soon. The horror/hilarity of all the hair-cuts gone wrong and my love for Dead Poets society has resulted in this poem. Here goes:





You stood there majestic on the bottle-necked road,
In the stark cold, in the dry heat, even in the torrential rains did you open
Gentlemen, some bearded while some with long hair frequented you,
Coming out child-like was treasured by one and all.

You stood there with open arms, wide doors and sharp scissors,
Welcoming anyone who'd come to look more civilized,
You made us wait with the odd newspaper,
The pictures of beautiful women on Page 3 more than made up for the delay.

We waited for you to wield your artwork on us,
Ever so patient in making us look outrageous at times,
Your profound art made me look like a lunatic sometimes,
But I took it as a growing phase in our chop-full relationship.

They tore down your building, it broke my heart,
The barber shop I frequented has been reduced to rubble,
Where would I pay just 70 bucks and get a hair-cut?
I'm not sure what feels more morose, my hair or my wallet?

There are too many unanswered questions in my mind,
The summer heat is making my head spin,
My hair are facing an existential crisis of their own,
My wallet is threatening to lock itself down.

You may be "hairstylist" or "hairdresser" for others,
They give you fancy names while they can,
But you'll always be that barber from Jabbar building,
My hair shall forever be indebted to you for the mess ups.

Hope to see you in some other building on another street,
Praying that building is not brought down ever, by government, earthquake, flood, or tsunami
Hope you treasure all the hair you chopped off my head,
The bits that were chopped off and locked in your symbolic vaults.


Farewell, barber shop! See you in Shyamlal building (I heard they are opening up 1-2 kms from my home. Now I will walk and get a hair-cut. Health included :D)

Peace!

Tuesday, December 23, 2014

THE JOKER


The stage is set and the lights are on,
Curious faces wait in anticipation
A dusty jacket waits on the empty chair of the dressing room,
In the air is a feeling of celebration

The crowd looks on to the stage, waiting
The stage is adorned in pretty lights,
The majestic carpet hugs the floor closely
It all makes for a glorious sight

He sits there lost in his own deep thoughts
a stellar performance is to be delivered
Visualizing the evening ahead in his mind
while the quandary within him quivers

He’s just had another fight with his child,
His partner has long left him in the past
His thoughts wander between now and 10 years ago,
He wonders if happiness ever does last

The time is right, the call is made and he sets off,
Everyone’s been waiting for him all night,
He’s quite the star as he enters with the widest of smiles
And the crowd cheers and thunders in delight

He starts off slow and builds up the tempo as he goes
People guffaw with plain joy on their faces
Everyone is equal here, no one is superior
Everyone has momentarily forgotten their races

He shows his prowess by adding humour to the trivialities of life
Spontaneous wit and observation are his best weapons
the conflict of thoughts in his head, meanwhile, is a constant struggle
but the crowd, abstracted and unmindful of any such occurrences, laughs on

He delivers his final act and wishes the crowd well on their way
The crowd stands up to give him a bidding farewell,
He smiles in return, it is a smile of satisfaction
The world sees what it wishes to see in you, he thinks

Let the demeanor not take away the truth,
He smiles wide but that’s only to hide the pain,
It may be sunny for the whole world,
But in his deep dark world, it rains.

His tragedy is the source of all his humour,
A joker he is, he has to perform,
To the world it does not matter what he goes through
The lights shine bright, the stage is set and the show must go on.


Peace. . .

Thursday, October 30, 2014

UTOPIAN IN THOUGHT

I sometimes marvel at the state of this world we live in
How despite all that could happen, things move on
How we, as people, evolve as we progress
How some are lured by extremities while some remain modest in approach.

Some walk the path of godliness and live in their world of make believe 
While some walk a path so downtrodden, they would make a devil smirk in delight
Some walk the path in the center swaying this way or that
A dichotomy of uncertainties dwells deep within them,

What made them walk these paths, I wondered,
Power, money, freedom and on went the prompt replies
Was it a moral thing to be consumed by these yearning?
Did ends necessarily justify the means?

Why we as a people had moved away from ideas of rationalism?
Why had crude materialism taken over our very being?
Each one seemed to move through this clutter without an indwelling sense of curiosity
Conformity would eventually be the price we pay for humanity

Was it possible to unlearn these years we had learnt wearing masks?
An art so mastered that turning back seemed like giving up on living itself
Was it somehow possible to give up this bloodlust for vices and progress forward?
Was there a future out there that would not encompass strife?

If only this world moved away from petty politics over trivialities,
Feuds over material possessions, lust for power and position
What if it rather moved towards the novel idea of free thinking,
The practice of self-development, the idea of peace, the religion of humanity

If only this world spoke the language of love
Unbounded by chains that hold us so far from each other
The good that we do may come back to us one day
And restore the balance that we so dearly need.

The mere habit of learning something new from each other every day wouldn't hurt,
Nor would the simple act of doing a good deed
How that place, in thought, is so simple to see
What a remarkably better place this world could be!

Thursday, October 23, 2014

It's A Happy Diwali

After the extended period of hibernation through most of this year, my blog is finally active again and what better occasion to start again than Diwali? The day started late as I needed to catch up on some sleep I had lost, thanks to some office work and midnight football games. I checked my phone and found numerous whatsapp greetings, photos and videos. Whatsapp greetings have become the social equivalent of customary phone calls one used to make back in the days, I thought. The ratio of calls to messages for me paled in comparison to that of my mother. Rapid digitization of our new generation while theirs caught up slowly.



The tasks at home had been cut-out by mom. "Clean this", "move that", "prepare this" and on went her frequent orders. The house had been cleaned and decorated. Lights adorned the door. Food items were being prepared. Sadhyev was prepared, a sweetend puri that Kashmiris prepare on Diwali day and distribute it as Prasad to near and dears, thereafter. Gulab jamuns were prepared as well. It was a delectable sweet I just could not resist. I could fight for these little spheres of relish. The Gulab Jamuns had been placed in the kitchen, not to be eaten till the evening pooja was complete. Self-restraint was taught at home, I thought.

As the sun set, the puja muhrat was eagerly awaited. The TV channels had their own muhrat timings, so did pundits that threw up on my Google search(Google, what would I do without you?). We smartly chose a window that fell in most of the muhrat timings, eager to please the gods on this important day. The wait for puja reminded me of the days when I used to eagerly wait for puja to end so that I could go out and burst crackers. Not that the puja stopped me in any way but for causing a halt in my plans to nuke the neighbour's house, unintentionally of course. I missed the feeling that we, as children have towards such festivals. More than anything, it was the delight with which I approached the week of the festival that I missed most. Maybe, I had grown out of that phase or maybe I loved my sinuses too much to subject them to the delightful smoke.

I went out for a bit to buy a few crackers just to appease my sister who wouldn't have it any other way, only to find out that I would have to pay a decent amount to buy a few crackers, an amount that would have fetched me a bag full of crackers in parallel universe. I got back, parked the car and was walking back home when I saw a kid beaming while his father burst crackers near him. This was me, I thought, while I was a little kid. My father used to burst crackers and I used to squeal with joy at a safe distance. Oh, the joy it gave me to witness the lights in the sky. I felt an extended sense of self in that little boy and smiled. My Diwali was already turning out to be a sweet one. Oh, and the gulab jamuns awaited as well.

Wish you all a very happy and prosperous Diwali. Happiness in heart! :)

Peace!

Friday, December 6, 2013

ODE TO THE RASH DRIVER


Why, oh why, my fellow being, thou drive like that?
Swiveling, speeding and circling like a child-like cat,
Bustling with traffic are these unsteady city roads,
Yet you drive so lovely, I’d doff my hat.

You choose your directions like you’re here to impress,
If you ever cut us off, thank lord, we’re blessed,
The indicators are for mere earthlings like us,
You don’t need them, do you? Such is the finesse

You serve this world with your majestic horn,
The sleeping are awakened and the dead reborn,
The lights have just turned green, my love,
And you wield symphonies behind me, art thou that forlorn?

Do you see a bold white dashed-line?
Does that look like a beautiful design?
You seem to have an eye for detail, oh, the Vinci, you
Why otherwise, like us, in one lane, would you be confined?

Were you laughing somewhere when the traffic rules were made?
Driving like you were in a car parade?
Pulling off stunts we dare not imagine,
You, for one, are a legend of the finest grade.

Driving, for you, might all just be a silly game,
And driving rash might be your claim to fame,
You may think you’re the king of the road, you fool,
But do know this, sarcasm is my middle name!

Peace. . .