Sunday, 23 August 2009

The King Of Chocolates

Dad had just returned from Jubail that month, after having given life in that behemoth prison, fondly called Saudi Arabia, a shot. For Aashrai and me, who were still young and carefree back then, it was dad coming home! We couldn't see the long term effects or the great work paradigm shift; we were perhaps too young to realize the consequences of this decisive step in our lives. On one hand, it was decided that day that the remaining of my schooling would be done in Adyar, in Chennai, in Madduland... On the other hand, dad coming home meant lots and lots of goodies! I remember that that was when I got my Sony Playstation II - which, most inexplicably, is still in perfect working condition, stashed away somewhere safely below my Tele and DVD player in the TV cabinet. The most unforgettable aspect of dad's homecoming, however, were the chocolates... Ferrero Rochers and Toblerones in tonnes, Snickers, Bountys and Mars in scores, Hersheys in its various forms and a gazillion more- in a rainbow of chocolate hues soon littered our shelves. They would serve well to satiate our sweet tooth during the next few months.

Amidst this great pile of swell chocolates, there was The One. It is most strange that I must forget the brand of this chocolat de la chocolats (maybe bro remembers; I must ask him) but we both knew that it was The One. The one chocolate to rule them all. The master Yoda of the Jedi order, the Bruce Wayne of the Batman series, the Tolkien of 20th century writers. So, bro and I forged a gentleboys' pact that we would both share the dark chocolate delight in equal proportions and, as average human psychology would dictate, we decided to the best for the last.

Days passed and then weeks. Weeks cohered to form months, and every day we had a chocolate bellyful, always staring longingly at the shahanshah, albeit never yeilding to the dark temptation. Soon, we were almost out of all other chocolates and our stomachs sensed the coming of the legend, and made way. D-Day came with astonishing rapidity and the first rays of the sun woke up bro, and he in turn, very faithfully, woke me up... And then we ran. We ran to the kitchen cupboard and opened it greedily thrusting our arms into the open shelf, groping and yanking at whatever was in our path. Unfortunately, we could find nothing but dried fruits, nuts and worthless Good-Day packets! Where had the awesome one gone??

After a few anxious and fretful moments of franctic search, we gave up. The good part is neither of us suspected the other of having taken it - the pact had been sealed. So going up to mom and granny, we enquired as to the whereabouts of the quintessential gift from the land of the arabs. Mom was quiet, but then granny coughed up the tale. The previous day, the tiny tot of a kid which lived next door had come over and had sat itself on the sofa. Apparently, it acted famished and had asked grandma for some food... Soon, it asked for chocolates. Morbid as this tale sounds, it did happen. Grandma searched and found only one chocolate remaining. Unwittingly, granny handed it over to the twit which subsequently scampered off to prey on its next innocuous target.

We have all heard of cliched quotes like 'Opportunities knock only once'. But never once did I give such sayings a second thought. Until that fateful day. Procrastination is sin, deferral - a blunder. Planning is but a futile exercise. The punishment for all these - the glowing hope vanishes, leaving you empty and desolate while you wonder, in retrospect, why you pondered so much when it ought to have been a spot-decision - spontaneous. Then again, on retrospect, everything seems so simple and all your mistakes seem glaring. But was it so obvious in the first place? Why didn't we eat that chocolate the day we saw it? Why did we believe that by postponement, we could make the event even more special? Why?

The answer, now, seems so simple; and yet so elegantly, it flatters to decieve time and again! Why we postponed making a meal of that chocolate is the same reason you defer making a phonecall to someone important. It is the same nagging feeling which frightens you everytime something important is going to happen. The longer you postpone eating that chocolate or making that phonecall, the longer it continues to remain a dream... and not something you goofed up badly. You long to make that moment special and perfect, when nothing can go wrong. You wait for that moment when everything is as perfect as they will ever be. Most regrettably, such a moment will never come, as 'perfection' as a concept is flawed. That perfect moment doesn't exist, and things will never get brighter than now. Shilly-shally does nothing good. It only means giving up before you even started. A walkover. A paradise is lost, never to be regained.

The most upsetting part is that time, being the healer he is, lets you forget these wounds and lessons and forgive your past actions. Soon you accept these losses as a part of life and fall back on the 'It was never meant to be' quip. However foolish it may sound, this is how the human psyche works. That day, that kid next door was trying to teach me a lesson. But have I learnt it?

Monday, 10 August 2009

It All Began Here...

Another week has passed, although with a better conclusion this time - as the recruitments, being as interesting as they always are, didn't fail to satisfy. Half a score girls walk through the same tunnel we traversed two summers ago. The repeated sensations of dejavu were only justified then, even though it was my first time as an interviewer inside KB. Having missed out on the major chunk of the recruitment procedure last time around, I can unequivocally state that this is the first time I formally sat at the other end of a Watch Out interview.

7th August 2009: What one looks for in an interview cannot clearly be put into words. An abstract quantity albeit intangible, can be felt, though not explained. That being stated, its funny then to see a pattern in the way people retort. You place the same question to a number of persons separated spatially or by time, you will inevitably elicit the same responses! One such question turned the hour glass back two complete circles to my very own final interview in the RJB TV room.

Mid August 2007: I entered the room amidst a grim atmosphere, trying hard not to flash all thirty-two. I didn't want to portray myself as a very serious person also. All the same, I can openly admit today that calling the ambience a little unnerving would be a gross understatement. Some fifteen pairs of eyes stared at me intently as I composed myself. I identified but a few then, mainly from the intro-talk, among the many people I would come to know in the years to come. I remember vividly Lefty with a diary in hand (I'm pretty sure) and Khandu, who sported the kind of a look I would have called 'dashing' back then. Banga looked as innocent as he would ever. SriPri, Middah, Sarthak, GoGo, Bonda, Young-Sahith - everyone was there.

I believe it was Khandu who remarked about the disapparition of my spectacles. The questions which followed where not exactly what I'd have called banal; nevertheless I would be lying if I said that they were unexpected altogether! But then came a final question, after which I was asked to leave the room... It was a question which took me back three years, to the days when the mind cared not about anything significant and a time when thoughts meandered so randomly.

Sometime in 2004-05: Standard 9: The day was bright; the guys in their usual boisterous mood and the girls huddled away in their private discussions filled with frequent giggles. The spatial confines of a room which restricted their activities would never be able to incarcerate the human mind. As things stood, on many desks were already carved ambigrams of our names - such was the creativity and joblessness of those days of yore.

It was a free period, and afraid of letting any time go waste devoid of creativity, our minds drifted onto poesy. That was the day, in that very classroom, a friend - my namesake and I sat down to pen a poem; definitely not my first and perhaps not my best, but one which would inspire me to write more. Many more.

The brightness dissolved into the shadows... and there I was, again in KB, asking the same question I had been asked in in 2007. The answer - one which ought to have been my first blog post. One which I had started typing out way back in December 2007, only to give up time and again in favour of a more pressing topic. However, this interview interrogative, one of the less expected ones, finally brings forth the long overdue and heretofore unrecognized. "What is the most creative thing you have penned?"

At that time only one rhyme brimmed my head.

He will come to every being,
Yet he instils fear
With eyes glazed, unseeing;
An expression calm and clear.

He will come when the time is right
Like the grey clouds bringing rain;
Like the darkness swallowing light
The essence of being, he will drain.

When he’s here, we’ll know for sure
By his chilly, rattling breath;
He is Fear, yet so pure
He is here, here is Death…

The interview was then declared complete.

Friday, 7 August 2009

But It Rained

The chapo was over. Suppressing a mighty burp at its very nascence, after having devoured two Paneer-Pyaaz Paranthas, a Pav-Bhaaji, one and two-seventh portions of fried-Maggi and an aloo poha (the last of which, I detected was spoilt after having shovelled in a few spoonfuls), I struggled to rise from my seat which I am quite sure would have buckled under my weight had I eaten another morsel. The human brain recommends that you eat until you are full and then exist in equilibrium with atmospheric pressure - but this process is apparently deleted from the register when some one else is paying for your meals! Nevertheless, with great effort, not only did I manage to stand up, I negotiated a few steps towards the Ganga Canteen exit. To Cautley and beyond... Or so I had so naively thought.

The Met Department predicted, in today's newspaper, (which, thankfully, I have been allowed to read again by the newspaperwala) that the SE-monsoon trough has moved further up north. As an average human being, evincing as much faith in Met as I would express in the IITR Admin, I only thought it convention that a long dry spell should follow. And there. Met tricks you again! This one time they get it right and the everlasting dilemma of 'Can we always consider Met wrong?' continues...

It was 1 a.m. With my tangible presence getting soaked in moon-sized droplets and my mind still pondering about how I must run the Ganga-Cautley gauntlet, my temporal lobe picked up a nutter's quip, "How about football?" Bizarre sounding at first, it gained universal acceptance soon and then against my better sense of judgement, I jumped on the bandwagon too! And into some puddles, in jeans, slippers and all. What followed was an 'awesome' session of dragging the ball through pools, slush tackling (which apparently has it advantages) and observation of wet-ball aerodynamics. An irate Resident Warden and a feckless watchman looked on in awe. And veneration.

The game ended at one all (possibly), with no one keen about keeping scores, when most people had each completed the mandatory ten somersaults in the muck. Chemical's obsession with photo-shoots followed (which might even be uploaded by now) when the cloud-cover relented. I began my arduous, risky trip back home dodging tadpoles here and searching for bricks there. I also realized the importance of being on the look-out for live wires during rainy days such as these. My clothes are ruined, but it was fun all the same. It would have been just another day with a chapo and some footy. But it rained.

P.S. Frogs are cuter and nicer creatures than one imagines them to be. They actually oblige by leaping out of your way before every one of your steps.