Talking to the next leg in the steel backbone of the country. On the phone.
Yes, at 11 pm. Steel backbone. One of the very few things that keep me here is this next leg I am talking to. Since he is more confused than I am, he has become a good friend. Adulation helps too. It is a terribly ‘shoonya’ thing to think that that might be the only thing I live for anymore. Adulation. Yes, there is love, there is satisfaction on a job well done, but ah adulation. Nothing like other people’s opinions to make you feel better about yourself. This cannot be self love, could it be? More like self questioning, right?
I consider Mammaries of the Welfare State by Upamanyu Chatterjee as one of the best books ever written, or could be written about the Indian condition.
I had read English, August far before I could understand it. It had still caused a far amount of unease. Went back to it after I was living through parts of it. It was an entirely different book then.
Upamanyu Chatterjee, I learnt much later, is a real life IAS officer. Though he protesteth much that his writings aren’t autobiographical, we must understand that he has written the character of Agastya.
After I finished Mammaries of the Welfare State, I went back to English, August. I had bought a new copy to gift to Ruch. And I took it, among all places to my Goa vacation.
Goa during the months I was without a job. 4 months. Without a job, that is. 8 days in Goa.
Not during the so called recession. Much before that. A year before that.
I read English, August again on the beaches of Goa. Stoned! Sitting at the delightful little coffee shop in panjim. Lying on a makeshift bed outside makeshift shacks on arambol beach. There was a shack called “End of the world”. Aside from the touristy necessary pictures clicked alongside. A sign that would remind you of the “restaurant at the end of the universe”
But there is nothing that can duplicate the reading of Mammaries of the Welfare State. It so repulses the very being of you, but you are made to go through it because you know it is all the truth around you. I have lived through those realities.
I am not much for writing fiction. Haven’t written much at all. The reality so consumes me that I am never able to think of a plot completely out of nowhere. It always starts from something very real.
But probably the only short story I would be proud to show anywhere was the one I wrote while I was halfway through Mammaries. I was so wrenched with the emotions that I couldn’t help but carry a notebook (the paper kind) and a pen in a sling bag around me all the time I would be moving around on Sundays in Delhi. I remember sitting on the steps of Ansal Plaza (that market ahead of South Ex, in a very well contained boundary). Was so weird that I was sitting in the middle of a shopping plaza consumed by the words on a piece of fucking paper and then looking around to see pretty young things moving around without any part of this India ever touching them in any way.
Except on twitter. Lol! But then those would be the “freaks” for them. LOL! It is funny how so very few women can read English, August and understand the point of it all.
Agastya is utterly engrossed at a time watching lizards mate on the ceiling while being stoned and listening to Rabindra Sangeet. I SO got the guy. Without being stoned. Without having ever head Rabindra Sangeet.
Agastya would get up in the mornings and understanding the utter futility of the day would walk out of his door, lock it, and climb back inside the room in the government guesthouse through the window, and stay inside the darkened room all day, while they came and looked for him outside, and were ringing the bells. How many of you bastards have not thought about that? Come On!
He was also brilliant for replying in random lies whenever anyone asked him an inane question whose answer didn’t concern him. And random lies to everyone. No need to be consistent. Confuse the fuckers. Like the answer to, “Are you married?” he would answer at different times, “No, Yes, My wife died of cancer, My wife ran off with my driver and she’s on a cruise right now over the carribbean, and yet she poked me on facebook yesterday.” You get the drift.
Bugger, my short story should be posted here. This is no puthyfooting after all.
That conversation with the next leg in the steel backbone of the country? Was talking about how my next possible boss is a prime target for bribes.
Raindrops are falling on my head. Inside the ipod. First song I noticed! It’s been on all this while. Hmm! I have been thinking too loud.
Heylo ancient laptop. You would make me get up and plug in the charger, wouldn’t you motherfucker? at 11:34 pm.
I realize just how much I have written over the years on the other blogs, but just in other languages than people would not be interested to read in.
Hey Mambo. Mambo Italiano, Hey Mambo! #CLT
An Oliver Stone Film. “Rejoice O young man in thy youth…” – Ecclesiastes
Going to watch Platoon now. I have a very short attention span now though. I cannot watch a movie on my laptop for longer than 20 mins now. That restless. Sometimes it is the overwhelming of thoughts. Sometimes it is a boredom with the flow. I wasn’t like this before though. Very very restless now.
Johnny Depp in Platoon too. In an Oliver Stone film. The hero though is Charlie Sheen. Hah! Charlie Sheen! He would have been thinking this would be his ‘Apocalypse Now’ to compete with Papa Martin. In my humble opinion, Charlie’s ‘Apocalypse Now’ is M.A.S.H. more than anything else could ever be.
Oliver Stone is Anurag Kashyap’s Pappa in the director’s hierarchy.
“Hell is the impossibility of reason. This feels like hell.”
“I don’t think I can keep this up for one year Grandma. I think I made a mistake coming here.”
“Maybe I finally found it, way down here in the mud. Maybe from down here I start out again, be something I can be proud of without having to fake it, be a fake human being. Maybe I can see something I don’t yet see or learn something that I don’t yet know.”
That first time when he wakes up in the middle of the night with ants crawling in his ears, and finds the soldier on watch fast asleep, and is just rubbing his eyes in the dark, when he notices a shape in the darkness move. Masterful scene. The entire troop asleep.
“You volunteered for this shit man?” “I figured why should just the poor kids go to war and the rich kids get away with it.”
“Sheet. What we’ve got here is a crusader. Sheet. You’ve got to be rich to think like that!”
“Feeling good is good enough.”
“New Year’s day, 1968. Just another day. Lucky to be alive.”
Out here the feelings ain’t very different. 11th December 2009. Don’t consider self very lucky to be alive though. Ingrate.
Everyone smokes. Everyone.
I am done with keeping this heap of bytes on my lap any longer. Out.