Changes

There were days when summer was the best season in the year. It meant vacations, long lazy days of doing nothing. Summer quietness was a special thing… that serene silence in the afternoon, after a heavy lunch and the feeling that your limbs were drugged. Of course, it was meaningless if we were indoors… so those times were spent in someone’s gardens, on someone’s roof or in a shady corner of the playground, making plans for the evening.

I woke up today morning with the realisation that I now loved winters. The warmth of my comforter, the chilly wind mixed with patches of sunlight on the balcony. The air smells different and a heavy lunch is just the icing for the day. The days are surprisingly short… pitch dark by 6 in the evening. I wrap myself up in layers and sit in that little patch of sunlight… does it make it old?

Today my bones feel weary, like they have walked many miles. The weak winter sunlight, the cool breeze and the lingering peace of the afternoon feels refreshingly soothing.

In a couple of months, I will be waiting for the summer heat again… maybe. But in too long to remember, I can feel winter descend on the city… with its sharp breeze, shorter days, darker nights and the overpowering fog covering us all.

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Nostalgia

Nostalgia: yearning for the past.

Or as someone else put it, a “psychiatric disorder.”

That perhaps suits the state of the current generation. Our generation is supposedly given more to nostalgia than any other previous generation, perhaps due to the pace at which things change.

I came across this blog where every post starts off with ‘remember when’. I don’t know how old the author is, but at 25, I have a series of ‘remember whens’ that make me feel incredibly old. Or like I’ve lived a long time.

I lived during the age when there were no computers – and if I ever tell that to any kid today, they would look at me as ancient. There were no cellphones either. I’m not going to get into the debate of if communication was easier or better in those times. I barely even remember those times… except for this one night when I was having a sleepover at my place and one of the girls wanted to call her boyfriend (who being super rich, did have a cellphone). I did have a phone line outside my room, but all the time my friend was whispering sweet nothings into the phone, me and the other girl stood anxiously hoping my mother wouldn’t come out of her room and demand why the hell we had to make a call at 1 in the morning. Cellphones definitely solved that problem.

But there are other things that I do miss… like the orange chocolates we used to get for 5 paise. That is like… a really, really small fraction of a rupee. Or these things we called ‘lollies’ – frozen ice packed into plastic that we sucked on after school. It would cost 50 paise… now, I barely even get to see those coins. And yeah… mango pulp called ‘Naturo’… they don’t even make those things anymore. I do love my Snickers and all those, but I definitely miss those little sweet things.

We discovered a little shop near my office recently who still stocked the orange candy. All my friends at work, regardless of what region we came from, were familiar with it… and after going back thrice to buy more of those, we ended up buying the whole bottle.

Are these longings for a simpler time – like childhood? Or simply easier times… without so much stress?

Life was easier then… I did not have to go to the local mall to do my shopping… the grocery list could be dropped off at that little store (with your brand names) and he’d bring the entire lot to your house – without a delivery charge. You’d have a running account with him for those other one-off purchases, which could be settled at the end of the month.

Coffee was filter coffee at SLV and Coffee Days didn’t exist. CCDs were quite a novelty when they opened – the last few months of my 12th standard. We would chill out there after college, drinking a ‘tropical iceberg’. 10 years later (or more), the menu is still unchanged, the quality has gone down and the prices, up. College kids now prefer sheesha/hookah and ferroro roscher shakes.

Some changes are for the better. Thanks to chain restaurants, more options for home delivery of food. Or the malls… now you can pick up certain items without raising an eyebrow, or having to wear an elaborate disguise to pick it up. But some… make things complicated.

Slam Book

I came across my old ‘slam’ book today. The one that we filled in college…the final year. The ‘slam’ book is the Indian equivalent of the western Year Book. Except, this is not approved by the university and there isn’t a proper format… though we did that as well… an online edition… somewhere.

Except after the ridiculous printed book drama in high school, I decided to just get a plain one and get people to scribble whatever they wanted in it.

I made a book… colourful pages and bound.

I stopped going through the book a few years ago because it made me blue… seriously blue. But today I came across the book while cleaning and… I didn’t read every entry. Some of my favorite ones, I know the content in my heart. But flipping through it, it struck me how much we have all changed.

The people, the handwriting, opinions and even email IDs. Hell, half the people then had yahoo and hotmail. Gmail was still evolving. Now, everyone has gmail. If someone gives you a yahoo ID, you’ve to wonder how serious they are about communicating.

Yet, through it all, our personalities leaked through… the people who used special pens, stuck photos or other little things and decorated the page. The ones who drew cartoons or beautiful designs or were straight forward in saying “well too bad we didn’t really speak to each other much.”

Thanks to the internet, we have gotten to be friends… some of those people. And thanks to the internet, I have lost in touch with some others save the occasional comment on FB or a ping on gtalk.

I wonder if I had asked people also to write where they would see themselves 5 years from then, what would they have written? As I know it, most of us aren’t doing what we thought we want to do. And that is quite a statement considering we were graduating from college. There are photos of us – shockingly thinner people (most of us) with wilder hair. Now, there is a layer of polish for most of us, depending on the day you meet us.

We did have a mini reunion… and then, it didn’t seem like people have changed much. But perhaps I had blinders on that day… because hell yes we have changed! We are sleeker, smarter and warier. And we also realise the value of old friends and for most part, have learnt to let bygones be bygones.

A friend once said that if we managed to survive college, we could survive anything at all… to which another countered that college screwed us up so much that we just don’t have to worry about anything else.

Now, when I stand at crossroads yet again… I consciously have to choose which direction to go in. It makes me feel incredibly old and I’ve lived only for quarter of a century, and only half of that consciously. The choices I have made so far have been mostly instinctual. But instincts get a little dull when you are tired and that is the most dangerous time to make a decision.

Well, tomorrow is a new day and a new week… and hope it’ll be better than what went by.

Song of the day: Photograph – Nickelback 

Reunion

I never have as much fun as when I’m with my camera, a bunch of people willing to be photographed and they are all old buddies.

A mini reunion you could call it, and not an official one or with a purpose. The exclusive intent was to meet each other… and despite all the confusion regarding the venue, it was fun.

It is a little surprising that 5 years have passed since some of us saw each other. 5 long years… so many things we’ve done in that time. Many of them are married… some have kids. Some are single, some are somewhere in between. We didn’t really talk about college, surprisingly. It was all about work, hating work, frustrations of working, stories about weddings attended and missed, drama and other things.

We slowly lost all sense of time and space as we sat there, getting louder by the minute. Somethings never really change… the way we go back to those college style talk, noise and completely unconcerned about our surroundings.

Such a relief after the primness of working! It was a small, diverse group… and we are all doing something interesting. Quite an achievement from this bunch of ‘what the hell are we gonna do’ people! 5 years and going strong!!!

And looking forward to the next time we meet and more stories!

Photo of the day:

The Race

My mind goes back to 2007… July and August were hectic days then too. I had just graduated and there was the graduation ceremony to attend. So had all my friends, so there was the party to plan. It was frantic because it was almost time to go home after being away for more than a year and a half.

It was summer. The days were long and the beach was right there. There were no more assignments and the rush of the university. Only the fun of knowing people were free and partying. And working. Late nights at the restaurant, with tourists filling it every night. Funny people, stupid people, clever people, gorgeous people. Guys you wanted to date and wouldn’t ask you out and the ones that did whom you didn’t want to go out with. Shopping for a “graduation dress” and wondering what else you could do to while away time.

Partying till wee hours in the morning, knowing you could sleep late. I had just met someone and it was fun and exciting and absolutely comfortable. It was perhaps the most idyllic time of my life that I enjoyed.

3 years later, it is a shock how much has changed. I know I have written so often about this but every year, I begin thinking about this stuff. So many people are married and many more are on their way to be married. Actually, forget the marriage race, now it is the ‘having a baby’ craze. Which means I can safely drop out of the whole thing because there is no way I can catch up, if I wanted to.

I guess life can be simple that way.

Recently, a friend was planning a party for her 3-year old kid. It was the first major party… and she was going a little crazy. “What do I do?” she asked me. I was a little confused… it was fairly simple right? Get the cake, give a shout to all the surrounding bacchas… who would already be waiting because they saw you get the cake out of the car, buy those party balloons, some caps, put on the music and you are done.

But apparently, it is a little more complicated than that. Which I realised only when another friend offered to help. This one just had a similar party for her kid so she knew what was involved.

That was when I felt a little out of touch. Yeah, I still don’t see what the fuss is. I mean… fine, even if you have to invite every friend you have… call up the caterers, book a hall and the rest follows. And with thoughts like these I wonder if I will ever be cut out for such a life… I would like to do it. Oh yes! I already have the party plan in mind… but am I cut out for it.

I guess I am the slow bloomer… when my friends are planning birthday parties, i’m thinking of a steady relationship. It follows the natural course… when they were drooling over guys, I was still rolling my eyes at my best friend – who happened to be the object of their affection.

Indian movies perhaps ruined us a little bit… all those stories about how a boy meets a girl on the road/in the bus/across a room/in the classroom/on the cricket field/in a fight… the girl says no, the guy pursues and she eventually gives in and gets married. And then she becomes boring. So people thought life follows the same track. Guys didn’t think twice about approaching a girl they thought was pretty, or sending “frandship requests” to random women. And while I was laughing about these idiots, I realise the girls right next to me are reciprocating.

When did I miss the booklet passed around about how to respond to such guys? Or I got the wrong one.

So some of them dated, some of them broke up… and I was still in the phase of thinking “bbbut… he’s some random guy off the street! (and he aint cute and he stinks)”

So I missed that bus. And because most of the people I knew got onto that, our worlds just split into areas complex than the bermuda triangle.

I guess what I’m really trying to figure out is what race am I running? Am I in a race? Who makes up these things?

The thing I miss most today is my group of homies.

The group of people who’d be there for whatever plans you had in mind, or none at all. The times when we would hang out, playing silly games, sitting under a tree sipping a cup of chai from small plastic cups, when we would drink at small places that you wouldn’t even glance at now.

It is raining in Bangalore today… the kind of day young ones like us should be out there, taking advantage of. The times when even people who hated the rains would come out, hopping over the puddles and easily evading the dripping storefronts.

Life isn’t exactly like a sitcom… there are no friends breezing in and out of the apartment… there are mostly people logging in and out of skype. There are updates on Facebook about where you are and what you are doing and the rest adding their two bits in.

But today, with the rain dripping outside my window, I miss those times of barbeques, of silly card games, of bowling mostly gutter balls when the rest scored a perfect 10, late night icecreams by the beach, attempts at hot home-cooked meals and watching movies while everyone fell asleep.

Did the world really get smaller or we found portals to make it small and then lost the key?

Song of the day: Pink – So What

Inspirations

It was a slow friday and after my quota of news reading for the day, I wanted to read some funny blogs. Except that I seem to be bored of all those my list (which are updated at least – do you notice that the best ones are rarely updated?). So I went back to this one blog I had started reading a long time ago but gave up because what seemed cute and nice turned a little too narcisstic and boring.

But I figured rereading this blog was more interesting than much of the new stuff out there, so I went back to the very first post written and started to read.

I had to compare to my blog and the first few posts there, where it was a little personal (not as much tell-it-all like this one) and it was fluid. It was about today and the emotions and my thoughts without worrying about if that guy who sits in the far-off seat at work is reading my blog. Somehow, though I wanted all these people to read me and stuff (seeing that little stat counter going higher everyday is such a kick!) I didn’t want people who knew me to really be reading this because then I could no longer be personal and open.

Now, every time I do write something really personal I end up deleting it right away or passwording it and only people who ask for it get the password. Or I have to word everything so carefully and not write “straight from the heart” style like I used to.

Anyway, a little incident at work today –

Every time someone leaves, there is one of those “It has been a pleasure working with you” emails sent out. These are sometimes sent to the entire fricking company (almost), so you are sitting there and wondering “who on earth is this guy.”

Except today, there was one such mail that was the most honest I’ve ever seen. Summarizing, it said “well, I didn’t know all of you because I sit in a corner, with a not-so-great view, but I did make some friends and so for what it is worth, it was good and thanks for that.”

There was no keep in touch with email IDs and phone numbers. Short, simple and honest. Of course, some people thought it was weird and rude. Sort of like Miss Congeniality where Sandra Bullock says everything but ‘world peace’. But I liked it so I replied saying “good luck, even if you have no idea who I am.”

That somehow was suited the line of my thoughts… I’ve been thinking about all the lost opportunities for a while. I never was much into joining too many clubs and socializing in college. I never sat and chatted with professors in school because there was always something else to do. I guess it is called networking and I am not too good with that. I never invite people over for a casual drink because I don’t want people I barely know meeting my family. The ones who get to meet the family are special.

But somehow it has been in my mind… the clubs I should’ve joined, the activities I should’ve participated in. The little features of the school, college or whatever I could’ve taken advantage of – I didn’t. All that money I should’ve saved  but didn’t (and actually had fun with it).

I guess those are forever gone and there isn’t much you can do about it. Sometimes I tell myself to be a little more proactive, go approach those people and all of that but I never seem to. Many who know me think I am outgoing and all of that… which perhaps I am – in bursts.

I was chatting with a friend shortly after returning to India and mentioned how it was a little awkward to meet this professor of mine. “I always feel a little shy when I meet him,” I said.

My friend started to laugh “Where did you leave the shyness when you were here? In your cupboard back home!”

That sums it up. Appearances are deceptive I guess. Which is why networking sites are a good way to break ice that exists years after people fell out of touch.

Song of the day: Summer Sunshine – The Corrs