Holding on.

Each morning as I walk by the famous firayalal shop a little too early in the morning,
I can see so many newspaper vendors, sitting crosslegged on the road, putting different newspapers into different sections, depending on who prefers to be brainwashed by whom.

I face numerous rickshaw pullers and autodrivers, asking me:
“Madam, kahan jaana hai??”

And on my way back,
I see teastalls opening and the fruitsellers negotiating with the customers.

In the evening, there is a man to be found near our college who keeps a trimmed beard and makes supertasty moong daal pakodas.
Accompanying him is a chubby son of him, not more than ten years old, who would pack them for you and hand it over to you with the green chilli chutney.

Near firayalal if you stand in an ATM queue, then on your right side, you can find another man with a trimmed beard who is always making tea in an aluminium container, which he serves in an aluminum kettle to a large number of people in a row, and with a fluency more electrifying than even the CNN speakers.
Trust me it’s a real treat to watch.
I sometimes stare at the whole magic show of him like a dumbhead, untill the person standing behind me in the line asks me to get inside the ATM.

There are many such stallowners over there, serving chole-bhature, or dosas, or chicken parathas, who are living angels to the ones like us.
If you sit and talk to them for a while, you’ll see how everyone over there claims to have started it first, and how rest others followed his golden footsteps.

Then there is the Maggi uncle,
who owns a regular shop beside our hostel and provides us with all the stuff we need and don’t need.
Each morning when you walk by his shop, you can see him splashing water on the road from his balcony, or simply brooming around.
He is what you call an amiable creature, someone who’ll recognise you even if you come to his shop ten years later with your kids maybe.
I bet he’ll still offer you the newly launched mint tablets to try.
(Not for free though)

And if you are awake at around 2-3 AM, you’ll find a labourer piling up stones and sand on a truck with only a spade.
He does that all alone, almost every night, even in the extremely cold weather.

There are just so many of them.
There are those who alter your jeans for you, fix your shoes for you, and even bring your food for you.
People who are just fine and friendly and aren’t too phony like most of the so-called learned and sophisticated ones.

I sometimes wonder how they must be having dreams like the rest of us.
Dreams of having a secure future for their kids, of having a home to go back to, of being able to make their loved ones happy.
But how much wider than us, is the gulf between them and their dreams?
They in fact are fighting a war that’s not even fair.

I mean,
The artists, the stars, the world leaders, the so-called intellectuals,
They all seem nice to me.
But in an unbalanced and highly unequal world like this, where most people aren’t largely responsible for what and where they are,
There is nothing more soothing and inspirational than to see a man who knows how to hold on to his dignity,
when everything around him is hell bent on snatching it away from him.

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When you are a gareeb foodie.


Starting from the most obvious one,
-You rant the entire city and find the places which serve good food at a low price i.e; in your aukaat.

-You are always the first one to stand up each time you see someone with a packet of chips.

-You make a lot of friends in the hope that they’ll feed you in the canteen.

-You tell people how they’ll burn in hell for not sharing their tiffin with you.

-You advice your rich friend, who has a big house with tiles on its floor, to steal a few of them.

-You share notes for food.

-You wish everyone a happy birthday, even strangers, in the hope of that one slice of cake.

-You buy chicken paratha by contributing with three more people.

-You try giving people a supergareeb bhikhari look in order to convince them that you haven’t been fed since a month.

-You promote religious harmony
in the hope of that delicious homemade mutton biryani.

-You adjust your monthly budget to save up for that canteen sandwich.

-You keep telling people to adopt you.

And most importantly,
-You find a man who knows how to cook.
(That too, better than you.)

You know what it’s about.

So, that was around two years ago. It doesn’t really ache to write about that now, but there is an unusual feeling which I always have about it. The kind of feeling you have about something which was left unsaid. Something, which you would kill to go in the past and say it, if only it was possible.

That entire city reminds me of some unfinished business. Not because of any kind of vengeance, but just out of the genuine need of something to be done about that place.
The city, in all its splendour and beauty, felt immensely sick to me. The seriousness it radiated was speaking of something horrible going on underneath.

But it’s not about the thousands of students who came there as aspiring IITians.
It’s about the teachers who promised to turn them into ones.

I remember the attitude they carried which always made me wonder that how huge a misconception can one have about himself?
How can one not see people dying, right there in front of his eyes?
Some of them did, and preferred to not do anything about it.
But it wasn’t their fault.
Even I wouldn’t help someone like me then.
There is something that this world does to you, which is very, very bad and probably can’t be described in words.

So yes! I remember the pangs. I remember being sarcastically asked if I consider myself the prime minister of India or if I am getting even a bit of what is taught and why I have the adamant attitude which I have.
So yes, they watched me, studied me, saw me, commented upon me as their duty.

And apparently, what they did not see, or chose not to see were the slashes on my wrist and on my self-esteem. What they did not see was me having a panic attack, after which I could not bring myself to read even simple words of English for hours. What they did not see was how I used to faint in my room due to severe headache and how my face used to ache all the time due to sinus.
What they DID SEE was that
I DID NOT STUDY.
It always came down to just that.
But no one dared to look for its reasons.

Because after all, scolding was easy.
Telling me to study was easy.
Letting me know that it was going to be fine and making me believe it, was a tough job.
And I understand that it was not their responsibility to carry it out.
But neither was it their job to worsen it for me and the others like me.
(And I know that there were many.)

They noticed that I was getting close to a boy and confronted me for it. But they did not notice the huge amount of weight that I had lost during those days.
(One teacher did. The one who in fact did not really know me, never taught me anything, and was no well-wisher of me.
But she noticed.)

So yes, it’s about those teachers.
But not about the ones who came, taught and simply minded their own business.
I have nothing against them.
(Although even they understood sometimes.)

I am talking about the ones, who were all the way, always too sure of themselves and of what they were doing.
The ones who were always concerned about the ‘wellbeing’ of students and therefore, never failed to let me know what an embarrassment I was and how exactly I was wasting my parent’s money.

So yes, it’s about them.
The ones who always said it aloud that they care, but never really cared.

A celebration of life.

Having been the person who has always been very cautious, distrustful and protective about everything,
Having been precisely someone who never fails to notice anything about anyone,
I love it when I see myself not doing that sometimes.
I love it when I see myself opening up to people without thinking or even caring about how they are.

So, it happened this morning.
We had our dance practice for the fresher’s party we are planning to give to the juniors.
The weather was pleasant. It was drizzling
and everyone was busy picking up the right moves.
I was there for the script writing thing.
So I only sat and watched.
It went on for a while
and then I realised that
someday, all of this will become a memory.
The dancing together, the fighting over biscuits and candies, making fun of each other, everything…

I just sat there and wondered why was it hurting so much?
Why was it hurting to see it all pass away?
To see another phase of my life passing, right there, in front of my eyes.

Those are the moments when this otherwise cruel world, starts seeming beautiful to me in all its imperfections and mediocrity.
Those are the moments when the pursuit of anything seems useless and life feels just perfect for a few minutes.

But then, such moments don’t last long.
The practice got over. Everyone dispersed and soon the real scheme of things started taking its toll on me. The nerves tightened, the expectations, the fears came back and the beast mode got activated.
But deep inside, I wanted to stay human,
to stay in that ground forever, with people crazily dancing around me with their elated hearts and bouncy hair,
till it got dark, till the moon rose and the world perished in flames..

War: A useless struggle.

War is a state of aggressive conflict between two power centres.
Those two power centres need not necessarily be countries, states or governments, but can be humans too.
That’s the kind of war I am going to talk about.
Wars which aren’t fought in battlefields, but in closed rooms and open corridors.

That’s the thing about every kind of war.
It works on insecurities.
Because once you get comfortable in your skin, you’ll finally start focusing on really important things in life.
Wars put your energy in places aren’t worth putting into and keep you busy in useless preoccupations and pursuits.

George Orwell writes about war in his famous novel 1984:

“One is expected to be competent, industrious, and even intelligent within narrow limits, but it is also necessary that he should be a credulous and ignorant fanatic whose prevailing moods are fear, hatred, adulation, and orgiastic triumph. In other words it is necessary that he should have the mentality appropriate to a state of war. It does not matter whether the war is actually happening, and, since no decisive victory is possible, it does not matter whether the war is going well or badly. All that is needed is that a state of war should exist.”

Isn’t that also true for the wars we fight in our own lives against a group of people or even someone in particular?
Aren’t we then governed with same primary passions like fear, hatred, adulation, and orgiastic triumph?
You get desperate enough to give it back to a few people, And there exactly they got you!!
Because then,
No matter whether you are winning or losing,
There you are… A part of the  game that they have chosen for you to play.
Cheers to the endless circle of stupidity.!

And a lot of time and effort is generally lost before one starts to see the meaninglessness of it.
The day you start realising the loopholes, might be the day you already are into one.

Don’t fall for this trap.
Try to see through the shit of shitty people instead of trying to outsmart them.
Be it an ex of yours or anyone trying to pull you down.
They should not be the reference point from which you calculate your worth.
You need to simply stop caring about them and shift your attention to other things in life.

This deliberate conscious or unconscious state of war that you choose for yourself is going to eat you up.
Save yourself while you still can.
Sit and think about what you truly want from yourself.
And if the answer is victory over someone stupid then I am really sorry for you.
Rise above that.
You are already surrounded by people who haven’t risen above their personal rivalries, ego and narcissism.
You gott’a stop being one of them.

It’s tough to let it all go around and not be affected by it.
But you have to do that for yourself.
Be it standing in the corner, not talking to a few people, not liking a few of them, even offending a few of them, not answering a few questions, not looking good all the time, not trying to win the arguments which aren’t worth indulging into.
Know what kind of space you truly need to give yourself.

You don’t need to be a coward who never indulges in fighting, who never speaks up.
Spit in the face of a few people if you really need to, if the situation inevitably demands it.
But avoid splashing with shit if you really can.
You don’t need to contend in every competition that is held out there in the world.
Save your energy for the right things to invest into.
Every street fight, every ego war isn’t worth winning.
There obviously are better things to do in this world.
Things years from now, you’ll wish you would have done now.
Things which are way less draining and way more rewarding.
Be it reading a good book or improving your writing or conversation skills.

We humans don’t always get to choose our struggles.
So choose wisely when you get a chance.

Fears.


Fears..
They are good
as they keep you on track and push you to take that extra mile.
But they are the same reason
why you go nights without sleeping,
why you choke in that room of yours, why you collapse right down to your knees and want it all to just end.

You try to get better, you take chances, try new adventures, take that jump.
But it never goes away.
And somehow you know that it never will.
Nor will it get any easier even if you get any better.
As you grow older, there is a whole new series of threats lined up for you.

Sometimes you just want to fuck it all and go live somewhere where no one even knows your name.
But then you got pretty well attached to this world, so you can’t leave.
Now that you are drugged by the idea of life, You know it’s all an illusion but
even in an illusion, you don’t want to be the one whom others get a chance to laugh at.
Even if it hardly matters in the very end, but now that you are here, you want it all.

So all your life you stay here and keep
wrestling with your supposed inadequacies.

Being scared all the time isn’t cool.
But if tamed, it keeps you superbusy.
It’s like someone is constantly trying to drown you and you are trying so hard
to just not die.
That’s the moment when you are
splashing in sea of your existence,
hustling with all your might,
restlessly panting for breath,
gasping for some air.
That’s when you start loving life more than usual.
The smallest of things start meaning a lot to you. That one moment of relief, that easing up of the tension for even a few minutes..
That smile, That feeling you get after a completed write-up, it’s that one pant of breath, that one gulp of air which you were dying for.
That’s the reason why you cherish it all so much. Because that’s the moment when you know that you made it to the surface.

And this keeps happening all your life,
The drowning in, The coming out, That one pant of breath.
Every single day.

With each wrong move you go a little deeper,
With each right one, you bounce up.
And if you don’t keep fighting then those waters will drown you forever.

You know that It’s not a mere rat race. It’s a bloody war that never ends.
You can feel the noise, the clamour,
The nails clnging in your skin,
The hands reaching for your throat.
You can see people losing, dying. And you don’t want to be one of them.
And you know that this world wouldn’t hesitate to rip you apart, if only you give it a chance.

Those fears… They aren’t all imaginary.
It’s the intense awareness of reality that’s actually scary.
You know where even the slightest bit of your incompetence can lead you to.
You can see it all happening and you don’t want it to happen.
Because you know that the day it happens,
you’ll be the only one responsible for it.

Cousins..

I precisely have been the kind of person who has never had any friends until recently,
But life has been a far lot bearable with them.

We have thrown chappals at each other,
have played the first Snake Xenzia together in the then newly arrived Nokia1600, have crossed roads holding each other’s fingers, have seen each other passing our boards and getting into college, getting into relationships and even coming out of them.
Be it telling lies, going on a morning walk and coming back at 12 in the noon ,running barefoot on the concrete road, and walking together in the rain when the one who is wearing the thickest jeans has to keep all the cellphones and watches,
It’s been 18 years of growing up together.

No matter if you are slim or fat, passing or failing, Sharif or harami,
In all the phases of your life , they always love you the same.

They hide all your secrets, click good pictures of you, drape you in a saree and make you look like an idiot.

The seniors always maintain their swag,  ask you things like:
“Who dared to be your boyfriend?”
And remind you that
“You are a kid. Stay like one.”
But they would even steal books for you and watch out for you while you are talking to your boyfriend.

While the juniors make you feel old for the first time in life.
You teach them the secrets of a happy life and lead them to their enlightenment.
From changing their diapers to
making their school project,
giving them relationship advices and patting their back when they abuse for the first time,
This is how we all enter the squad.

Neither do our habits match, nor do our choices. But we still hang out together and always end up fighting on which game to play and what to eat with the little amount of money we’ve got.