Backdrop: The protagonist is a transplant from Pakistan to the US - where he goes to Princeton University and then joins a prestigious consulting firm. He is suddenly elevated to the upper echelon of Manhattan's society, given his background and the firm he works for. In the backdrop of post 9/11 invasions of Afghanistan and Iraq, he suddenly finds himself alienated, foreign and angry. Angry about how he perceives that he threw his lot with the "wrong" people etc. He questions himself,his fundamental existence and his intent which ultimately culminates to his leaving his job and returning to Pakistan.
He is writing this on being picked up at the airport by his brother - after returning from New York
The quote: "My brother had come to collect me from the airport; he embraced me with sufficient force to cause my rib cage to flex. As he drove, he ruffled my hair with his hand. I felt suddenly very young - or perhaps, I felt my age. an almost childlike twenty-two, rather than that permanent middle-age that attaches itself to the man who lives alone and supports himself by wearing a suit in a city not of his birth. It had been some time since I had been touched so easily, so familiarly and I smiled. "How are things", I asked him"
I have not been traveling for a while now. It leaves me strangely bereft - almost pining for the chaos of the airports, the hustle of 4 am Monday morning alarms, the utterly exhaust of checking into a hotel on Monday evenings and the joy of Westin's Heavenly Bed:).
I packed my Tumi for the first time a few days ago in 2 weeks to get to the office. The sense of comfort and familiarity of putting my laptop in, the familiar ritual of winding the power cord, the hurried dressing up was so comforting. It was like coming back to life, to paraphrase Roger Waters.
Here's some habits I have managed to inculcate, for the good or bad
a) That first smoke of the day with the morning cup of coffee
b) Logging on to timesofindia.com as the first action on the browser (fully cognizant of the suspect nature of the newspaper)
c) Brushing my shoes on the back of my trousers to "polish" them before heading out to work
d) Sitting in the old LPY and slapping the dashboard to make the odometer show:)
e) Smelling a new book for that "new book smell" everytime. Everytime.
f) Checking the phone every 10 minutes for emails/calls/whatever
g) Playing with my right eyebrow when thinking
h) Every now and then, hit my right bum to see if the wallet is still there
i) Lately, playing with the wedding ring. And feeling sort of blessed.
j) Cursing and generally being irritable every 2 hours or so
k) Thinking absolutely inconsequential and random things (e.g. Does a rabbit stink if you were to smell it?)
l) Checking out engadget.com; bgr.com; fiercewireless.com; nytimes.com all through the day
Just keeping a list of all my habits. Something tells me that some are drastically going to change in the coming months. All for the better:)
Very occasionally, I tend to go back to this blog and read some of the drivel I wrote at different points in my life. As is wont, I rarely like what I wrote from a qualitative writing perspective. Sometimes, I am amazed at how candid I was, how impetuously put down raw thoughts on paper - or in this case, the blog.
So it got me thinking - what makes a good writer - from a literary perspective. I have been thinking about this for a while - ever since reading a wonderful, thoughtful, deep novel that my old friend wrote and got published in India.
The interplay of thoughts and emotions - and how it connects with a tight, readable story line is not an easy skill to learn. It goes beyond mastering the technicalities of the language one writes in. Everyone has a unique way of expression and it certainly can be varied. Think Ohran Pamuk (Kar - The Snow - is a factual, yet deeply evocative narrative around the conflict between Western ideas vs. traditional Islamist in Turkey); vs. R.K Narayan's Malgudi Days (almost satirical comedic writing while still exploring existing social mores of an almost Wodehouse like idyllic India).
Its hard work.
Which is precisely why (being a sloth in general), as I read through this blog, at some point I realized its importance. Writing style I know nothing of. Reading through the posts, some were pretty bad. Some were (atleast in my own mind, acceptable). But a lot were visceral. And then it struck me - I couldn't remain encumbered with the aspirations of writing like Amitava Ghosh or even my friend. I had to be free to write, unselfconsciously as I do. If for nothing else, just to have the occasion to going back and reading about my life as snapshots in time.
writing is so weird. One day, you cant get a word out. The next, you cant get out enough. They say, War and Peace was written in a week. Intuitively, I can't believe even Tolstoy could have cranked out so much.
The kind where you can hear a cricket. Or your heating system come on. Its the kind where you can hear yourself breathe.
Or, more dramatically, I could hear myself when Aurobindo went away. I could hear his voice in the silence of the night. Of him screaming at the top of his voice for me to come down so we could go cycling. Young boys, racing. Before traffic choked it all.
The silence always gets me. And the noises it makes.
Of waking up in the middle of the night those days. And wondering where i was. Or would be. Or waking up in a perfectly silent hotel room with the heavenly bed and the heavenly shower. Not knowing in the first one minute where I was.
Its good to be back here. Just so I can rant. To break the silence.
The waves wash it out eventually. But you still walk on the beach. And watch the footprints you leave behind at every step. The sand tickles the toes. You consciously dip your feet in the water to wash out the sand wedged. But you dont want your footprints washed away forever. If possible, never. With the same waves.
A friend said that this means that you picked up from where you left off.....
To better times. To happier days. To fuller stomachs. But most importantly, to peace, love, contentness.And to the years of seeing my little S growing up into a confident, educated, well-read, ivy league educated confident, independent young woman. With self respect. And yet, with tenderness.
To my two little ones - AG and SB. And thank god for this.
In the spirit of all the change that has been happening over the last 6 months; and in anticipation of all the changes that I entirely foresee coming over the next 6, here's a makeover to one of my oldest companions - this blog.
And in the spirit of the life changes, its simpler, fresher, and I think, brighter and more cheerful.
Food is a strange thing. You don't really think about it till you really need it. Well actually, I take it back. That's pretty much the norm for most things.
As you can imagine, right now, food is what I seem to need. As has happened a countless times before, I also feel the need to generally sloth on the couch and type on my laptop. Driving to a restaurant is a chore. Microwaving is easier. Maybe that's what I shall do.
Only if the mind didn't dwell to butter chicken and butter naan.
Its ultimately always The Delhi Walla that brings me back from a writer's stupor.
For the longest time, I have been suffering from this massive lack of any worthwhile ideas to opine about. Maybe it was the changed happy personal circumstance or maybe, it was the need to change the blog along with it. However, any transformation takes time - and without my pet topics to write about (even though, strangely, I am as alone at 28C as I have always been), things are different. Its not a house anymore. Its a home. And while I am alone, I am not lonely.
Anyways, casually reading through the blog mentioned at the beginning, reminded me of why I started this forum all those years ago. The "Why" changed as the years went by - but the core reason sort of stayed the same.
So as things changed yet again, it took me longer than I anticipated to align the new realities with the old foundations. And finally, while reading that blog, I think I have it.
Would be too arduous to explain (and not even sure that I can), let it suffice by saying that I guess I am back!
An acrostic poem that a very famous author wrote for Gordon Giles, his literary agent; this was an eulogy at his funeral. Had to post. Guess the author?
Gone though you have, I heard your voice today.
I tried to make out what the words might mean,
Like something seen half-clearly on a screen:
Each savoured reference, each laughing bark,
Sage comment, bad pun, indiscreet remark.
Gone since you have, grief too in time will go,
Or share space with old joy; it must be so.
Rest then in peace, but spare us some elation.
Death cannot put down every conversation.
Over and out, as you once used to say?
Not on your life. You're on this line to stay
Maybe looking around at the house, finally with a woman's touch. And caring. Maybe the peace within. Maybe even the stocked fridge. Maybe the BMW 5 outside. Maybe the soft music, the need to not be anywhere else. Maybe it's just lack of drama. Or how Archie laughs. Or shanaya becomes a bandar when I ask her to. Maybe it's just to hear daddy.