24 June, 2013

Weekend in Mumbai

I wanted to post this almost 3 weeks ago, but a birthday came in between. So, I had to give all the momentary self-realization nonsense priority. I was in Mumbai the first weekend of June to attend a good friend’s wedding. Sigh! Another one goes down. Anyway, it was good fun staying at his place and being with his cousins who threw a really fun bachelor party (naughty cake, alcohol and other good stuff). The great hangover aside (and the best wedding lunch ever) the trip offered a lot of moments of wisdom.

For example, irrespective of the problem you are facing, marriage is the answer in almost all Indian cultures. Your hair is turning grey…. Get married. Your hairline is receding….get married. You work too late…. Get married. You eat out too often….get married. You don’t save up enough money…get married. You wake up late…. Get married. You go to movies by yourself…get married. You listen to rock music…. Get married. You’re overweight… get married. Why? Seriously….Why? How is marriage a solution to all these problems? Is taking on a life partner some sort of panacea to all worldly problem? I always thought death was the ultimate release from all worldly problems. Oh, wait. Is marriage the equivalent of death? ( I know some folks are not going to like that analogy).

According to my limited understanding of these matters, the truth is that marriage for the sake of it is just a diversion. It removes your focus from the problems, or replaces them with new problems or offers you an analgesic to bear those problems. (I think I’m just rubbing the married folks off in a wrong way. They’ll come back to me writing about how awesome marriage is and that I’m narrow minded and selfish and that it’s so great having someone to wake up with every morning, someone to fight for, someone to share your dreams with and work towards….and other stuff. You guys will have to excuse me, but I don’t understand all that right now. Maybe when I get married I’ll begin to accept these half-truths)

Moving on before I make matters worse, second pearl of wisdom is that ‘Bangaloreans really need to get out of the city more often’. We were at the bachelor party. It was 9 PM and only a handful of people had walked in. I was getting rather worried because it was getting late. I went and confessed to my friend that it’s sad people can’t stick to time. I was reminded that I was no longer in Bangalore where the city closes by 11:00 PM. I've gotten so used to winding down by 10:30PM and heading home by 11:15PM, my body is not sure what to do when you’re high on booze and din-chak Bollywood remix beats are going on. It’s almost like an internal clock says,” Okay, that’s enough for you. Shut down please”. The same thing happened in New York(le drifter attacks). I was happily watching TV and checking email in my hotel room at 10:45 PM when I realized I’m in “the city that never sleeps”. I immediately got up, changed into non-PJs and walked around NYC. (Sigh, nostalgia is coming full full sudden sudden).

The last pearl of wisdom is that ,’ I will get yelled at by a local in every new city I go to’. I got yelled at by a street performer in NYC because I did not know that I had to pay him a dollar to take his picture. In Mumbai, I got off the local train at around 11:30. I walked out of the station and saw an auto slowing down. I got in and the auto was just starting when an old man jumped out of nowhere and started yelling at me in Marathi. I really wasn't sure what I had done to tick him off. He then yelled at the auto driver who just said ‘theek hain’ and pushed off. I later on figured that apparently there was a queue somewhere to catch a rickshaw and I unknowingly ignored the same. So did the auto driver. Mumbai folks take great umbrage to such behavior. My friend told me I was lucky that the public did not decide to beat me up. (Beating up – a favourite pastime of the middle class frustrated Indian)

Anyway, it was a super fun trip to Mumbai. I’d like to go there often, but there’s no way I see myself living in that city. A day job is strenuous in Bangalore itself, a city like Mumbai would probably kill me by the end of the first year.  Now, New York is a different story altogether. (Dear boss, hint hint wink wink… I’m sure I won’t be as incompetent as I am now once on foreign shores…preferably NYC)

11 June, 2013

29 and still confused

This post was initially meant to be about my trip to Mumbai, but then my birthday happened before I could complete my soulful ‘dhobi ghat-esque’ piece about Mumbai. So, here I go with the compulsory birthday blog… the usual, self-realization and all that.

 The 29th year of my existence on the face of the earth went by rather quickly. And all I seem to be is more confused than what I was a year ago. You would imagine that changing my day job to a company that is driven by values and powered by intellect would help settle matters on that front, but I’m not so sure any more. Okay, it did come with a nice trip to New York (which I had to mention) but it came with so much more baggage in my non-work life than I realized. It came with rather heavy burdens like ‘expectation’ from this rather clueless creature called ‘society’.

It’s been a year of a lot of thinking, questioning, reprioritizing and acceptance on a lot of fronts. Questioning why I do what I do for a day job? Is this what I want to do forever? Should I continue bothering to learn the guitar and try to be in some band? Should I give up these so-called childish notions of becoming a rock music journalist? Do I actually enjoy rock music or is it a substitute for the evident purposelessness of my existence?  Am I willing to work for half my current pay for something I enjoy more? Am I willing to work for 5 times my current pay for something I am really unhappy with? Will I ever get to work in a job outside of the IT sector? Am I competent enough to work there? Why am I still single at 29 and will I still be single at 30? (That last point can take copious amounts of liquor and end up right back where the conversation started)

And somewhere through all this I realize that there is a silver lining to all this doubt and all these questions I have. The line is probably that I’ve not completely accepted a certain fate written by the expectations of other people. While I’ve chosen the most trampled upon path when it comes to the day job, I’m still coming to terms that I am a lot more than my day job. And who I am at work, is not a reflection of who I am in the real world. And my shortcomings at my day job are not indicative of the shortcomings of who I am. When it comes to this attempt at being a musician, I figure that overnight success takes 8-10 years and that I surely am not doing enough to give the enthusiasm due justice. And there will be people who will not understand why I do the things I do. It’s not their fault. I don’t understand the things they do either.

And no matter how trivial my pursuits may be, and how silly these so called ethics I live by are, they are mine and I alone will deal with their outcomes. That being said, it’s good to be confused. It makes you hunt for ways to clean up your act and set things right. And kudos to those who’ve figured out what they want to do (or accept they want to do) and are doing it already. I’m just going to take some more time to find my way.

On a less philosophical note, birthday number 29 was probably the most fun birthday I’ve had since my 8th birthday. I normally don’t enjoy my birthday because I always feel unaccomplished and don’t see the point in making a big fuss about an event that I really had nothing to do with. And with improved mortality rates, living another year is not that big a deal. But this time, I felt a little differently. So the birthday celebrations started much earlier.

It started on Friday with a somewhat messed up gig at an apartment party where my set list (and voice went haywire) leaving me wanting to play for a more appreciative (and less drunk) audience. But it was a gig none-the-less. Also, the liquor and chicken post party was an added bonus. Saturday was spent going for a movie with friends and dinner later on. I spent Sunday morning at the newly opened ‘Entertainment Store’ in town where friends and I spent hours drooling over all the merchandize. Much restrained spending (something I’m getting used to this year) had me buying 3 gifts for myself – a ‘Nevermind’ CD, a ‘Somewhere back in time’ CD and a Yoda shot glass. (I do believe collecting shot glasses and beer glasses might be a new thing for me). This was followed by an excellent lunch at the ‘world famous in bangalore’ Empire hotel.

The evening was spent at the old hallowed ground of Purple Haze. I really miss the old drinking gang who are all over the world now. But a few drinks down, all feelings of loneliness and being abandoned went away. That being said, Purple Haze no longer is the same old sanctuary it used to be. It’s been infested with creatures that seem to respond to the rather poorly manufactured tunes of Linkin Park and the new Green Day, but could not be more moved by the soulful guitar of Clapton, the thrash of Megadeth and the old Metallica or even the classic tunes of Iron Maiden. And don’t get me wrong for being a grouch who is living in the ‘when MTV used to play music’ era. There are much better sounding bands than Linkin Park today. Ever heard of Foo Fighters? They actually play rock music.

The actual birthday was fun. I started the day by watching ‘Now you see me’ at the movies. I then met up with friends who were kind enough to take half a day off from their work to help celebrate. We went to a super lunch at the Pizzeria Romano and were sufficiently high to sit through ‘Yeh Jawaani hain deewani’, the second movie for the day. This was followed by a lovely buffet dinner with cousins and family. The best part was that my cousin-sister from Delhi made this awesome cake for me and brought it all the way from Delhi with her.

Now, to the birthday presents. I normally don’t enjoy getting presents, predominantly because I never enjoy my birthday. But this time, I got some really cool stuff. I got my first guitar pedal – a Boss DS2 pedal which was partially paid for by my folks. I also got the CDs and the shot glass (which I gifted myself). I also had this brand new t-shirt from the Hard Rock Café in New York which I bought specifically for the birthday. But the best gift I gave myself was the fact that I was able to fit (fairly comfortably) into a brand new Manchester United Jersey gifted to me two years ago which never fit then. So clearly, somewhere the weight loss is working. And that felt cooler than anything else this birthday. All of this was on a Monday, and I had taken the day off from work. Sweet no???

So overall, a fun birthday weekend and a fairly confusing year gone by. I don’t expect the confusion to get any better this year. I’m sure that I’m going to be fairly torn between the somewhat-safe high paying job and the yearning for doing something more meaningful yet extremely low paying. I’m sure the parental unit will not be very accommodating of that idea because they would be looking to burden me with the responsibilities of marriage, which I am not ready for right now. Here’s hoping that I can clear up my music scene and get some sort of an act together. At least, starting from scratch when it comes to bands has become an all too familiar feeling, so I have a vague notion of what works and what does not. I hope that the music blog I started can get some more recognition. Among all of this, there is a clear need for me to ignore unnecessary distractions from life and spend way more time on some of the more meaningless pursuits I have mentioned above.