Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Campus Memories....

It's 1 in the morning, and I have bucketloads to do for tomorrow. Sleep is a constant temptation. I stay at the comp, trying hard to concentrate. I start feeling a bit peckish, and a trip to the fridge lands me nothing interesting. I come back to the comp and feel that something is wrong, something is not the way it should be.

Its these moments when I realize how much I miss campus, the freedom, the constant companionship, the food at strange hours, the 'always on' status that campus is in. Sure, I have a great flatmate, but he is human, and admits defeat to me by around 11 pm, just about when I am getting into the flow of things and reclaiming my day. I have no Bhale next door to knock on the door of, with the sure knowledge that he'd be as hungry and enthu as me to go grab a bite. There's no NC, no hot cheese sandwiches and steaming maggi till 1.30. I have to play the music at an ever-decreasing volume lest I piss off the neighbours. Within an hour or so, I will also have to admit defeat. Not because I am tired, but simply because I am in a jet lag of my own, with only the mosquitoes for company. There's no Nammi to bug or to go hang around with in her room, nor the ever-reclining Kaveesh with his hukkah, nor Sam chatting up the girls. No impromptu intellectual or silly conversations on the hostel floor, no hollering for Virapandy to come for a cuppa. No going for an occasional solo walk around the amphi, half enjoying the fantastic atmosphere and half watching out for the crazy dogs that have suddenly made campus their home. No ghostly hauntings of the library till the wee hours, catching up with the weeks' newspapers at 4 in the morning. No half a dozen cups of coffee, no chats with the canteen guy playing the randomest selection of music.

Crap man. Its all over. Bloody hell. The outside world seems so boring, so staid, so.. dead. I love these wee hours, staying up till dawn, but I can't do it anymore. Days count, and matter, and cannot be trifled with. Each day goes into a ledger, to come back to haunt you if you have been lazy. Oh, how I loved those countless, senseless days which seemed to go on and on and on... God's Own Kampus, I miss ye :(

Monday, April 26, 2010

Something amiss, something scary...

There's something very scary about Bangalore which freaks the hell out of me. At first glimpse, it seems like a pretty nice place, full of parks, greenery, a cosmopolitian culture, and a populace which does not look at you like an unfortunate alien when you speak in Hindi. And yet, just when you think you're getting comfortable with this place rather quickly, you sense something amiss.

Maybe I should switch over to saying 'I' rather than 'you', for I guess it is a somewhat peculiar thing which most other people might not feel. Since landing up here, I've ended up going to a couple of malls, more for their extensive grocery stores than anything else. Whenever I go to any of these places, I sense a strange feeling of indifference in everybody around me. COmplete, utter indifference in anything and everything save for themselves, this satiated kind of look and demeanour. It feels like they have reached some place and don't know what quite to do with it, what quite to do with life now. Most of this is my generation, or the one a few years older than me, the ones who've earned inordinate amounts of money through the software boom. I sense a sense of hardening in them, in their glazed faces, their overflowing shopping bags, their branded clothes and accessories. And as I walk through them, I suddenly realize that pretty soon, I would be one of them. It's a scary feeling. I feel a sense of dread and utter panic every time I walk through these malls, and a residual depression after I leave them. There is something in them which affects me deeply, making me feel that we, as a country are going in the wrong direction. We might have more money than ever before, even accounting for inflation and all that jazz, we might have better career oppotunities, but we seem to be more unhappy, more bored and more lost. We have glitz and glamour all around us, but the core seems hollow.

I picked up the week's groceries from one of these places, and reached the fruit and vegetable weighing counter, where all the green stuff had to be weighed and labeled by an attendant before the final billing counter. A young girl in her late 20s was (wo)manning it. Another girl, a well-dressed young thing handed over some apples and waited impatiently, getting worked up as every second passed. The attendant apparently couldn't read very easily, and had trouble going through the list of farm produce. With a hesitant finger pointing at the sheet, she read each item in the list, taking a second or two to move on to the next one. After about half a minute, during which the well-dressed girl was getting more and more worked up, she lost her cool, and yelled at the attendant, saying 'Can't you read? It's this one!!!' The attendant got all flustered and started taking even more time, until she finally reached the particular item, confirmed it a few times with a shaky finger, and gingerly punched at the printing machine.

I handed over the stuff which I wanted to get weighed, and waited patiently for the attendant to label it. The poor girl was on the verge of tears, and probably wanted to just run away. I couldn't help wonder - What is her fault that she couldn't read well? What are we turning into? It might seem like an isolated case of rudeness, but somehow I get a feeling that this is something which is pervading through our society at an alarming rate. I see the same kind of indifference and 'how can you not know/do/think' feeling everywhere.

At times, I just feel running away from it all. But where do I run off to? How do I escape this? This is India, modern India, whether we like it or not. This is what the rest of the urban centers of our nation are going to turn into within a few years. I get this strange, absolutely terrorizing feeling that I am going to be horribly lost amidst all this, with my slightly left-leaning, conservative (about capitalism) views, about wanting equality and equal growth opportunities for everybody and not being too thrilled with 'development' as it is happening now :|

The Fat war begins!

Repeatedly, the fella up there proves to me that many of the things that I take for granted are something that can change very, very quickly if I am not too careful about valuing and taking an effort to keep them. For years, I have taken the lack of fat in my body for granted, arrogantly laughing at anybody who tried to warn me that there would be an inflection point beyond which I would rapidly start resembling a sea lion or a sea cow or whichever one of those creatures that looks like a genetically-modified-sausage-experiment gone wrong.

Well, as things turned out, a combination of laziness, lack of any kind of exercise, a new mess contractor in the last few months at IIMK who was probably in cahoots with exercise equipment manufacturers and the all-india bypass surgeon's association, and an eat-sleep-eat routine whenever I was at home have ensured that a nice layer of healthy-looking fat has amassed all over my otherwise lean frame, resulting in me reaching an all-time record of 59 kgs. Most people, when they weigh an elephantine 55 kg would be rather happy with this, but not me. While this does make me look a bit more human and less like a scarecrow in a particularly drought prone area, it does little good for my running timings, something which has pissed me off to no end. For while I don't mind being told that I look better than I did before, having to huff and puff my way through a mere 3 odd km run is not something that I take kindly to. So, despite what would seem like a nice progression towards an 'ideal' weight of 70 odd kgs, I am going to war. Nay, love handles (however tiny they are) and a 30-inch waste don't go with me ;)

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Dude, where's the ink???

It's a funny and yet sad way how things change so rapidly. I was in a mall in Bangalore the other day, picking up some essentials. I was passing by the stationary section, and a rather large stationary section it was, with its zillions of rolls of coloured paper, filing equipment, and the usual assorted collection of random stuff which somehow makes everybody want to walk through the area even if they are perfectly satisfied stationary-wise in life. I am still quite the old world types in some aspects, and I love my fountain pens, especially a older than a decade and a half Lamy beauty which still writes smoother than any darn piece of writing equipment I have had. I needed some ink, having left my campus ink pot in my room while leaving, not wanting to take a chance of turning everything that I own to a spectacular shade of blue.

And so I ambled along to the sales guy who was manning the place and asked where I could find some ink, wondering whether I should continue with Camel or splurge on Parker or try something more exotic, and whether I should finally succumb to my long-unfulfilled ambition of writing with green ink, when I got a stare and a 'what??' look. Ink, I repeated, for a fountain pen. 'Sorry sir, but we do not stock ink', was his bemused reply. I was a tad confused, for I had just seen a row of shiny, expensive Parker fountain pens. 'The stuff that goes with these, you know,' I tried explaining, knowing that I was growing old and couldn't expect the newer generations to quite follow what I was talking about so easily. 'Yes sir, but nobody buys that, so we don't stock it', he replied with impeccable logic. 'So what do the folks who buy these -pointing to the offending pens in question- do with them?' Anyway, I knew it was a fast-losing battle, and I walked out of the store a dejected man. Really? No fountain pens? Does nobody find the bother of putting that messy stuff into those thingies worth the simple joy of the smoothest way man can write? Bloody hell, the moment I get a little bit of extra dough, I am stocking up on enough ink to last me for the rest of my life. And take my Lamy with me to the grave. Baaaah, to all you ball-pen scribblers!


I've never been a fan of big cities, though from my K experience, I can't seem to survive the small ones too well either. Pune has spoilt me by being neither here nor there. The IT boom did just enough to keep it apace with the rest of the booming urban centers of the country, but not enough to make it the overwhelming mess that larger Indian cities are.

Its been 2 weeks since I've been in Bangalore, and it has, very quickly, started getting to me. I feel somewhat out of sorts here. Thankfully, work and home are a mere kilometer or so apart, so from Monday to Friday, my world starts and stops in a forgotten, obscure little corner of Bangalore called Chalaghatta. Most Bangaloreans seem completely bewildered when I mention it, and the conversation very rapidly shifts to other topics, either due to a determined effort by them not to show what they really feel about the about the fact that I live in a place which they have never heard of, and would be, by consequence, not-so-great, or, more possibly, due to mere lack of interest. Chalaghatta seems to be in a bit of a time warp, a village inside a bustling city. So I have the worst of both worlds, a small village like place with no streetlights nestled in the middle of a city which comes to a standstill twice a day at its traffic signals. The city is a mere 5 minute drive from my house, but I have mustered the courage to do that drive only a couple of times so far.

I don't know how I can and would want to continue with this life, but as of now, I am pretty happy with this arrangement. Having ventured out a few times into the real city, and consequently getting stuck in the dreaded Bangalore traffic, I have no intentions of doing that twice every single working day.