Just Out of The Coma

*treads lightly*

*trying to find my footing*

*stumbles, gets up*

*starts over again*

Clearly, I’m feeling a little lost. Like I’m trying to relearn something that was familiar but feels so strange now. Which isn’t far from the truth, of course. Anyway, here goes.

Sometime when I was in high school, I read about Alex Garland’s The Coma in a magazine.  And, immediately added it to my mental to-read list. The basic plot goes something like this: it starts with the protagonist being attacked by a group of men, one night, following which he falls into a coma. The rest of the book is just him and his consciousness talking, trying to make sense of reality and dreams. I’m sure the magazine must have put it in a much more interesting way, but, well, you get the idea.

It took almost ten years for me to get hold of that book but I finally read it a few days ago. And absolutely loved it, by the way. But then, I haven’t been able to get it out of my mind. I can’t seem to take up another book because I’m still sort of stuck in The Coma. And I felt compelled to write about it, atleast as a way of closure if nothing else (I love books that do that to me!).

When I started off with the book, I remember wondering why it wasn’t made into a movie, considering it deals with a gripping subject. You know, with all the talk about conscious and subconscious, it could neatly fit into the same category as Stay, for instance. However, as I read on, I realized why it couldn’t (and shouldn’t) be a movie.

From the start till the end, all you know about the character is his name (Carl). You don’t know where he is from, what his profession is, what he looks like or even what the other people in the book look like! Much like in a dream, the places and situations just keep shifting constantly, leaving you feeling disoriented. And intrigued. This vague, hazy plot definitely couldn’t be a movie. And, even if it were made into one, it would make absolutely no sense (I’m still trying to understand the ending, in fact).

And. yet, I loved the book. Why? I really don’t know. The first thing that struck me as interesting was that the pages weren’t numbered. It may not seem like a big deal but then, it takes off the sense of order that page numbers could give (and that works perfectly for the dream-like sequences), adding to the confusion. Maybe I loved it because it’s so unconventional. Or, perhaps, because it makes sense and yet doesn’t. Because there’s no right or wrong by which you can judge what Carl goes through. And, because, in a lot of ways, it made me question my own perceptions of reality, consciousness and life. So much so that, at a certain point, I looked up from the book, glanced around and wondered if the place and situation I was in were real or a dream (not kidding!).

If I had to pick out a favourite part (like I always do at the end of a book-rant), it would be this one, where Carl sums up how we’re all basically consciousnesses in a void:

“..if I were to lose an arm in an accident, I’d still be me. They wouldn’t say, he used to be Carl, then he lost an arm, now he’s John.

And, if, in another accident, I lost the other arm, the same would be true. Likewise with my legs, my sight, my hearing, my speech, my sense of touch. You could keep going, keep stripping me down, until I was only a consciousness, suspended in a void.

But, take away the consciousness, and suddenly I’m gone. Carl is no more. And take away the consciousness but leave the body, leave the full complement of arms and legs, and I’m still gone.”

PS: I found this interestingly similar review online – Consciousness in the void – Business Standard

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5 Things I Love about Bengaluru

Having been in the city for over a year now, I’ve come to understand that the IT industry is not the only thing Bengaluru (still Bangalore for many) is popular for. For those who might not be aware of it, Bengaluru was once known as the Garden City. Probably because it used to be all beautiful, clean and everything else you’d expect a garden to be. Unfortunately, I don’t know much about that phase of the city. The Bengaluru I’ve seen since last year is one that’s infamous for being overcrowded and highly polluted with traffic jams congesting its pothole-ridden roads.

I constantly hear many of my friends complaining about these aspects. Even though I always lend a patient ear to them all, I am quite defensive about Bengaluru. Inspite of the fact that I’m an outsider here, I feel a sense of belonging. I fell in love with it right from the first day! Of course, I do get irritated with the seemingly endless traffic blocks, the teeming buses and the garbage-strewn corners. But at the end of the day, I love the city, just the same.

Just as you would love a best friend with all his/her quirks, I love Bengaluru with all its flaws. I think I’ve grown used to the crowd that I have to wade through in busy market areas…and the hours of travel it takes to go from one place to another, sometimes barely few kilometers apart! I have begun to refer to my PG (Paying Guest accommodation) as ‘home’, which itself reveals how attached I already am!

So, I thought I’d put together a list of five things I love about Bengaluru. I suppose this is one way of celebrating my first year here and showing my love for this awesome city! Well, here goes!

Disclaimer: The opinions below are based on my experience in Bengaluru and not a generalized view. 

1) The crowd – Yes, that’s right. I actually love the crowd here. It’s (mostly) young, multicultural and varied beyond words. You get to meet people from all walks of life, holding different perceptions, pursuing different interests. I’ve often felt this place is very much a melting pot of cultures, ideas and aspirations. While there maybe quite a few who are from Bengaluru or other parts of Karnataka, a major chunk of the crowd would be from other states/countries. Perhaps, this is why the city has a very special vibe. Or, maybe, it’s just me and my fascination with this place!

2) Welcoming newbies – I know this is purely based on my personal experience. I don’t know how it has been for others but I felt very warmly welcomed right from my first day here. The locals are quite accommodating; I never felt alienated. From my one-year-old perspective, I found them friendly and ready to help. Most people are able to communicate in Hindi or basic English, so, it’s not mandatory to know Kannada, the local language.

3)  The restaurants/cafes – I love (read: love love love) the myriad restaurants and cafes that dot the city! From quaint coffee shops to elaborate restaurants, there’s every kind and cuisine to choose from. Being someone who enjoys restaurant-hopping, I take pleasure in the fact that I could stay here for years and still not run out of options!

4) The climate – I know this is a commonly quoted positive aspect about Bengaluru. But then, this list really wouldn’t be complete if I didn’t mention about the pleasant and favourable climate the city enjoys throughout the year. Yes, it can get hot in the summer but not as much as in some of the neighbouring states. Guess what? This summer has been pretty much a mixture of rainy, cool days and bearable, hot days! I don’t always enjoy rain (unless I’m in..uhh..a mood for it). Cloudy, dull days and messy, dirty streets just aren’t my thing. On the contrary, I completely love the rain in Bengaluru. The sky clears up almost instantly after a downpour,  even the cloudy instances are kinda nice. Although the rain can be a nuisance sometimes, I can’t help feeling a sort of liking for it.

5) Kannada – This might sound slightly weird. But I’ve grown to love the language. And, trust me, that’s not usual. I’m actually very eager, not to mention determined, to learn Kannada. I love the way it sounds. I have noticed that the locals have a sense of pride when it comes to their language and customs. But then, it’s a not a pride that imposes itself on or looks down upon others. They love their land, language and traditions but are open enough to let others follow their own. Which is really mature and broad-minded, I feel.

So, that’s just a few things I love about Bengaluru. To be honest, I could really ramble on. But I’m sure I’ve said enough for one super-long post!

If you’re at Bengaluru, do let me know what you think! Or you could just tell me what you love about your current city. 🙂

Vendetta of a different shade

Banter alert! My thoughts are all jumbled up because so much has happened. I think I’m trying to give it some comprehensible order by writing it out here.

I had an amazing experience of what it would be like to do what I love doing. I interned at the tabloid of a newspaper for two weeks, as part of my course. And, I loved it! Their stories weren’t exactly my kind but that didn’t really matter since I was just too glad about the experience. I wrote a few stories and got them printed as well! The joy of seeing my name in the byline for the first time was something so exhilarating; I still can’t stop myself from smiling wide when I think of it.

Things weren’t all hunky-dory, though. There was a lot of shit happening on all possible levels (personal, emotional, blah blah) and I tried my best to hold myself together. While it wasn’t easy or pleasant, I have to admit, I did learn a couple of necessary lessons.

There were so many thoughts and incidents which made me think, “I should blog about this” but once the moment passed, they seemed irrelevant. Or I forgot about them. Which is downright ridiculous and irresponsible, I know. I suppose trying to recollect atleast some of them would be one way to redeem myself.

As of now, one of the most predominant thoughts on my mind would be about the Hindi movie Badlapur. I watched it last night. I can’t decide if I liked it or not. I had read this review on Firstpost right after the release of the movie. I was intrigued enough to decide to watch it. So, I did. As I progressed through the movie, I understood what the writer had meant in the review about many aspects.

Badlapur started off with a tension-filled, fast-paced scene but gradually lost the tempo. While Varun Dhawan has certainly managed to break the mould, he does lack the nuances needed to portray a character of such depth and intensity. But Nawazuddin Siddiqui definitely makes up for it and then some, although his role does seem a tad repetitive, as mentioned in the review. I loved Huma Qureishi as Jhimli, perfectly depicting the subtle shades of the character. I’m no expert to talk about technical brilliancy, so I’ll leave that part to those who know better.

A screenshot of the scene

A screenshot of the scene

One of the most touching scenes, for me, was the one in which Raghu (Varun Dhawan) comes back to an empty house, after the death of his wife and son. The commonplace clutter of a home, framed pictures and photos, leftovers of a dish…all of it seem to accentuate the pain of loss that has just begun to set in.

What struck me as most interesting was the concept of revenge that director Sriram Raghavan has laid out. The protagonist and antagonist don’t engage in climactic stunts or bloody battles. Their encounters are few and far between, and the physically violent ones almost rare. A moviegoer accustomed to stereotypes would associate revenge with something more severe, like I did. It took me a while to realize that this was going to be different. Yes, there are a couple of brutal murders but Raghu’s vengeance is of the silent and brooding kind. Which is, definitely, a refreshing change and my favourite aspect in Badlapur! The climax, apart from being sort of subdued, seems to bring into question the relevance of his need to avenge and what he ultimately gained from it.

There are flaws, of course. But I felt Badlapur stands out from the spate of commercial Bollywood films for its singular depiction of the age-old emotion of revenge.

Transcending Trivialities

I miss holidays!

While back to college has caused a spike in my frustration levels, I must say things haven’t been as hectic as it was during last semester. I suppose the real action is yet to start. I don’t think I’m looking forward to it, though.

Well…there is a thought that has been stuck in my mind for the past few months. I felt it’s time I let it out. And, with yesterday’s Charlie Hebdo terror attack serving as background, I think this would be a good time.

[ Before reading on, please note that I’m talking specifically with reference to the situation in India, as I know it ] 

Once, sometime in November, during class, one of our teachers somehow came upon the topic of Muslims. I don’t remember what exactly we were discussing. Initially, she said she wouldn’t say anything but, when some of the students (my classmates) ventured to comment (negatively), she added to it, expressing her dislike for Muslims. A few of my classmates agreed with her, reacting very vehemently, much to my shock. They almost ganged upon another classmate who questioned their bias. I kept quiet, listening to their argument. From the way they spoke, it seemed like they held Muslims responsible for every shit that happens in the world. I was dumbstruck.

For a bunch of individuals who are going to be media professionals sometime soon, this kind of strong prejudice could be lethal. The most shocking part, for me, was that the teacher supported their thoughts instead of pointing out how wrong it was. It might already be obvious that I have very high regard for teachers. Nevertheless, I don’t believe in giving respect to people who don’t deserve it. This particular lecturer’s comments had an instant effect on me – I began to dislike her from that very second! In another class, she gave some more absurd views about family planning. That was the final nail in the coffin!

But that’s not the topic of this post.

Just a cursory glance through the major events of last few months would show you how Muslims have been collectively victimized for most of them, if not all. Of course, there are terrorist organizations wreaking havoc in ways more than one. And they seem to be blinded by their religious fanaticism. But is that reason enough to hate Muslims as a whole? Because that’s what seems to be happening right now. I’m not justifying the ones who caused death and destruction; don’t go on and call me a traitor. I’m raising the question of why we seem to blame ALL Muslims for whatever is happening. If you were to commit a mistake, would your entire family, including distant relatives and friends, be persecuted for it?

What is the sense in alienating persons of a whole community/religion just because some fanatics acted in the name of that religion? Haven’t other faiths also had such people who killed and ravaged? Did we also treat every individual of those religions with equal hatred? I doubt it.

I don’t support terrorists or their activities. Neither do I support denigrating anyone based on their beliefs. Like a close friend once mentioned, however well-educated a person might be, every bit of sense goes out the window if the topic of religion comes up. For a race which is considered highly intelligent and superior, I find it really contemptible that we fight over religion and borders. Especially considering the fact that both were created by man!

As of now, all I can do is hope that people (my classmates and lecturer included) start thinking and acting more sensibly. Maybe, someday soon, we’ll see a world with men who look beyond details like one’s faith and nationality.

 

Let’s Talk Books

Hasn’t it been quite a while since I last did some book-talk? Considering my love for ranting about books, I reckon it has been far too long. So, here goes. I read two books in the past nearly-two-months. ‘Inferno’ by Dan Brown and ‘The Secret Scripture’ by Sebastian Barry.

For anyone who has read the earlier books by Dan Brown, Inferno won’t be particularly impressive, I believe. The twists and revelations lack impact. By the end, even the basic plot seems a little vague and over-the-top. Also, unlike his other books, I felt this one had some parts which just didn’t make sense to me.  Inspite of the fact that it is an action-packed thriller which takes you through a beautiful city (Florence), always offering new bits of information and keeping you engaged, I have to say that I didn’t feel an affinity towards it. One possible reason might be the repetition in the main elements that define a Dan Brown book – the 24-hour time span, the action, the narrative, the basic thread of the plot, the interweaving of history, art, places and facts and even the outline of the main characters. Some of the situations failed to excite me solely because of their repetitive nature. Inferno is definitely not going to be on my list of favourites.

Coming to ‘The Secret Scripture’ (a critically acclaimed novel by Sebastian Barry) , it’s a book that surprised me. When I started off, I instinctively knew that I’d find it slow, intense and a tad complicated. Not an easy-breezy read, that is. I wasn’t wrong. I found it sort of dull. I kept expecting it to wear off. But, even when I was halfway through it, the dullness persisted. The book failed to draw me into it; I just didn’t feel that urge to go on reading, to know what was going to happen. That’s when the surprising element of the book came into play.

Sometime towards the second-half, the characters started ‘coming to life’, their situations gaining an intensity I hadn’t perceived till then and I could sense myself feeling for the characters. Towards the end, I was very deeply into it. So much that I couldn’t help feeling a bit reeled by the climax, taken aback by the sudden developments. When I began reading The Secret Scripture, I had my doubts about liking it. But, now, I still think about the characters and their lives, long after having finished the book. Do I need to add that I absolutely loved it?

“It is very difficult to be a hero without an audience, although, in a sense, we are each the hero of a peculiar, half-ruined film called our life.” 

[A note, in case you decide to read it: Have the patience and perseverance to go on reading even if you find it slow initially.]

The book I’m currently reading is the latest book by Khaled Hosseini – ‘And the Mountains Echoed’. It’s amazing, so far. It is emotionally intense, bit more than the previous two books. Or maybe it’s just because I’m too deep into it. Anyway, Hosseini has outdone himself, once more! Another thing I loved about it is that there is a change in the narrative, the way the story is told. More about it, once I finish.

What have you been reading? 

 

(A bit of) Straightening Up :)

Apparently, one post was all it took! I already feel like I’m back to blogging.

During my active-blogging-days, I used to go through each day, see everything partly through a blogger’s eyes. I used to always be open to wandering thoughts and ponder over how to write it out. Each passing thought or incident went through a sort of scrutiny, just in case it was something I could blog about. And, I seem to be back to that stage now. I keep thinking of what I could possibly blog about; I write down interesting sentences I build up in my head, jot down random thoughts; I observe people, places and situations much more closely. Do note that this happened just hours after my previous blog post. And, then, it struck me…I feel like I’m back on track. Almost, I suppose.

The past few months were much like a whirlwind of activities. March was my last month at school, as a teacher. And I was completely caught up with everything. Completing portions, spending time with the kids, finishing up the tasks. It was quite hectic but I didn’t really mind. Probably because I knew that I wouldn’t get to experience it again. April was more of a roller-coaster ride. I finally got to Bangalore (a place I’ve had in mind for the past two years!) and before I knew it, everything had fallen into place much more perfectly than I had expected to. I’ve almost settled in with the new atmosphere, place and people. Like any roller-coaster ride, I also had some down-times, instances when I was emotionally low. But then, I know it will pass (even though it seems to be taking its own time in doing so).

The only writing I did in the last few months was in my diary…the normal rant about incidents, emotions, day-to-day events, random thoughts. Even those entries were not regular. Still, I kept at it. For the sake of the joy and solace it gave me every time I wrote something.

A week or so ago, while writing out about the day, I realized that it had been ages since I wrote a poem. There was a time when I used to have books/diaries filled with poems and now, I can’t remember the last time I wrote one! That’s when it struck me that I hadn’t really been writing, in the true sense of the word. Whatever writing I did in the diary barely helped in keeping the spark alive. It felt like I had been trying to keep myself just alive, barely so…and not nurture it back to life completely. Like managing to stay afloat but never taking the effort to reach ashore.

So, now, I need to get out of the rut and..well, write. For real. 🙂 Thoughts and ideas are always welcome. (I could seriously use some help!)

What does writing mean to you? What does it do for you? 🙂 

 

A Not-So-Equal and Opposite Reaction

There’s so much that I want to write about. But, for some reason, I don’t get the words when I try to do it. I get it in my head, at times…while at work, while trying to sleep, at random instances. But rarely when I try to write it out. What disturbs me most about the situation is – it never used to be like this. I could get the words so easily and put my thoughts across in the exact way I wanted.

For a moment, I wondered if I’m losing touch. But no, I think I’ll know it if I lose touch with something so integral to my being. So, I guess it’s probably because whenever I’ve sat down to write, I have been too tired (mentally and physically) to take a substantial effort to write.

It feels so suffocating when you have so much in your mind but cannot bring it out completely. Which is the reason I decided to try writing in the morning, when I’m much more relaxed and alive than during the remaining part of the day.

So, I’m done with the boring job at Dubai. Finally! And now, I’m going to do something that’s been on my wishlist. 🙂

When I came back to RAK, one of the first suggestions I got (in terms of a job opportunity) was to join my school (my alma mater) as a teacher. I was told that I could, probably, teach English or something in one of the lower classes. I was very happy with the idea but kept that as an alternative and continued searching for other opportunities. Which eventually landed me in the boring job.

Since I have had enough of office jobs, I have decided to finally take up the job at school. So, long story short, I’m going to teach! I love teaching. It’s something I’ve always wanted to do although not as a long-term career. Well, I’m excited. Very much. Obviously!

While basking in this excitement, something happened last week. An incident (or rather, a comment) that infuriated me. And, you know, writing is the most effective (and paractical and satisfying) way of taking out anger, for me. Especially when the person on the receiving end is going to be my (recent ex-) boss.

The background situation: I was offered a permanent position at the place where I was working until Thursday. But I turned it down because I wanted to teach.

What happened: It was on Monday. I think. The Boss said, “I had told [the concerned person] that you could work here in the media section but he told me you’re going to teach.”

Me (beaming face): “Yes, sir.”

Boss: “People who don’t want to do anything, teach.”

Me (I don’t know what my expression was, but I think I tried to keep smiling): “Why do you say that, sir?”

Boss: repeats same line. Adds “It’s like that.” (Or something as weird as that)

“Oh, I didn’t want to do anything in life. So, well, I teach. What else would aimless people do?” :-/

And, from that moment, I’ve wanted to tell him a lot of things. When he said it, a lot of emotions crossed my mind – amusement (I wonder why he said that); curiosity (Why would he say something like that?); rage (Why the hell would he say that?); intense hatred (WHAT THE FUCK DID HE JUST SAY?).

I had a lot of respect, admiration and liking for this man. He is intelligent, very much capable, likeable, approachable…all that he should be in order to run a successful company in Dubai. But the comment sort of drained everything I had for him. I’m not judging him, I’m not saying he’s a bad person just because of this statement. He is still a good man. Just that I’ve lost my liking for him, whatever reason he might have to justify what he said. I tried to list out possible reasons, too.

a) He was trying to provoke me, I don’t know what for. Maybe to make me think my decision was stupid.

b) He just likes saying such stuff. You know, kill your happiness.

c) He was trying to discourage me (and ended up enraging me!)

d) That’s what he really thinks

Well, none of the reasons seemed good enough to serve as justification (to me, atleast). So, I have irretrievably lost whatever liking I had for him. And there’s a lot I’d like to tell him (yes, that does mean there’s going to be another post, very very soon).

How was your week? And if you have had similar situations, I’m all ears. Always am. (Even if you just want to go blah blah about something random!) 🙂