Friday, December 31, 2010

2010 in a playlist

Happy New Year! Admittedly the delay was mostly because The Creator kept changing her mind about the songs.

It's that time of the year where people begin to make lists of what they did, didn't, did but can't tell anyone, didn't do and don't want to be nagged about and all that jazz. To sing the dirge of a dying year year is quite a depressing task. But everything is better with some music. So here is my year 2010 in a playlist.

January: Tubthumping- Chumbawumba
...I get knocked down but I get up again! You're never gonna keep me down!...

Full of optimistic bravado we started out the year convinced that we are prepared for pretty much everything that 2010 could throw at us. After all we were now veterans of the higher studies rookeries. We had had our trial runs with scary large scale exams, we had successfully juggled multiple papers and survived well enough albeit with the sacrifice of a great deal of our sanity, we had located and cultivated various food sources where earlier there was nothing but a leaking asbestos lean-to or mating frogs. And, most importantly, we had finally gotten the hang of the darned 'Cafeteria system' (nothing to do with food) which the University employed to confuse and subjugate the unsuspecting student masses. In the final semester of our MA.dness we had decided to sucker-punch the system and utilise our erstwhile hibernating potential to it's admittedly not too impressive limits. Armed with this cynical superiority we marched into the New Year. But the University was prepared for us. It was not just courses, but our very degrees that they dangled above the academic shredder. Dire circumstances pushed students to sacrifice their principles and bite the bull-shit bullet. The University may have cornered our comrades into taking up soul-killing courses for the sake of a credit tally but it could in no way make ensure the respect of these excuses for education or even attendance for that matter. Hahah hahahah!!!

February: Avanavan kurukkunna OST Ramji Rao Speaking
avanavan kurukkunna kurukazhichidukumbam gulumaal...

Stuck in the courses we made the mistake of taking or not taking we were literally wallowing in the ditches that we dug up for ourselves. Plus the rebels who had previously flouted the attendance rules and lounged around the tea-stall were suddenly dragged down to dirty reality when profs threatened eviction. Of course the fact that we had lots of company made things better. And it was not just in the academic front but also other areas where we had to carry out trench warfare. This was especially true in the case of the female section of the population for whom the fast approaching end of the M.A also signaled the commencement of the Marriage Wars. On top of all this there is the mounting pressure of academics and futures. So, basically avanavan kurukkunna kurukazhichidukubam gulumaaal, gulumaaaaaaal (translation: the ones who fall into their own unraveling plots get golmaaled) .

March: Feeling hot hot Hot- Buster Poindexter
...feeling hot hot hot...

The heat is rising- not just because summer had begun but also because of the mounting academic and social demands. Being in your final semester places the trust of a lot of juniors who don't know any better on your ill equipped shoulders. There is a lot advice asked and a lot notes shared and the only way to tackle this intrusion of maturity into your bum existence is to determinedly bum around sipping stomach-lining searing sodas and living it up for as long as you can manage to pull it off without being written off as a waste of space ( the fact that you most definitely are one, being shelved for the time being.) And then of course the courses light a fire under our posteriors making us yell 'hot hot HOT' in less happy tones. The papers are turned out piping hot and we left with paper-burns and hot-foreheads. Besides this we are harried by the various applications and interviews that we are expected to tackle. Suffices to say, we are definitely "feeling HOT HOT HOT"

Comfortably Numb- Pink Floyd
...There is no pain we are receding...

The heat waves of the Academic machine flashed into the mugginess of April driving us further and further into madness. The last semester zipped by in a landslide of papers and applications at a frenetic pace that can only find similarity in psychedelic hallucinogenic experiences (also an explanation why several of our acquaintances were permanently stoned towards the end of the sem) The situation reached such obscene levels of insane that at some point we reached plane of sublime indifference. It was strangely fitting that the final song of our Farewell Party (an event of much fun and frolic- thank you juniors) was Comfortably Numb. Added to the vaguely spaced out nature of these last days was the stoic resignation to the fact of our inevitable parting. Applications to faraway colleges were dispatched, while others finalised their work contracts, still others hunted for apartments here and elsewhere and the air was heavy with the exhalations of so many good byes. A zen-like equanimity descended upon our heated heads and we began living the lines, numbing ourselves. Perhaps this is what they call growing up?

Zephyr Song- Red Hot Chili Peppers
...and in this perfect weather, we'll find a place together...

Human resilience kicks into hyper-drive and we decide that Zen is best as the name of a car. May fills us with a sense of chilled out purpose, more accurately with the optimistic belief that a lack of purpose is a good thing. After all that way all our options remain open and we would maintain an optimum level of flexibility. Remember what John Lennon said- "Life's what happens when you are busy making other plans." Besides, we had sent the applications,we had written most of the tests, and what tests remained we would surely breeze through. We were young, brilliant minds that any institution would be dim, dumb and missing half a brain to reject. We would make it, it's only natural.

What's Up- Four Non-Blondes
...What's going on?!...

Apparently it wasn't so natural. Stepping into June our youthful optimism waned in the face of the daunting task of writing frighteningly broad-based (syllabus-wise) large scale national and/or entrance exams while simultaneously placing our eggs in every basket in sight. The noose around our necks seemed to get tighter and tighter as interview after after interview produce only lukewarm results or none at all. Hope grows fainter and our faith in an inevitable destination grows weaker. We are left feeling betrayed by a world which should by all means help us out and instead treats us with indifference.

July: Perfect Symmetry- Keane
...Who are you? What are you living for?...

Disillusionment lead to desperation. Waiting. The interview. Waiting. Still waiting. Waiting again, only now on a list. Waiting for some one else to take the fall so you can step in. Waiting for something to turn up for some space to be made. Waiting. waiting, waiting at every door. And every door leaves us waiting. Until finally at long long last, you find a place. And then you wonder why exactly you wanted to get there in the first place. What are you doing?

August: Mehendi Laga ke Rakhna OST DDLJ
...lene tujhe o gori, aayenge teri sajna...

All the existential angst is shelved to make way for the the great wedding/ run up to another great wedding. Life is all about living: the whys and wherefores make themselves known only after it's all done. And things like marriage, and avoiding the same remind you of the importance of your life. True, it may be just another speck in a large kaleidoscope of specks but it all the same, it is a speck that adds colour. And so we swish our silks and coordinate our jewelery and have a blast. After all, things always work out. Just keep moving on, dance to the music and stampede the questions into the dirt.

September:Hide and Seek- Imogen Heap
...where are we? What the hell, is going on?...

The return to university grounds is also accompanied by a return to unwanted reality. While the reality aspect was unavoidable, the sense of sinking in a malignant sea of routine while everyone else seems to be drifting at the very least is disquieting and leaves one feeling stranded in a sealed off bubble. Of course you always knew that ultimately you are on your own, but against all good sense you expect constancy in those that pledge it. Of course you knew that it is only foolish to expect in the first place. Sometimes it really hurts to be right. And so for what seems like the longest time you crunch yourself into a tight wad of cold and wait for the thaw to break, all the while reminding yourself that even this will pass.

I'm Yours- Jason Mraz
... Open up your mind and see like me, open up your plans and damn you're free...

And it did pass. The oncoming winter monsoons brought not only rain-clouds but also beloved parted friends. October was the month of plans and visitors. It was also the month of revelations. As the monsoons broke above our heads so did the diffidence between those left behind. And once you find out you are not alone in this madness, suddenly everything becomes sane again. Or rather it remains insane but you don't mind anyway. Friends: they either throw you into the abyss or save you from it.You discover that there were a lot of others who were feeling just as lost and that there are still more who remain true even when others do not: their constancy underscored by the fact that age did not wither nor distance mar the infinite variety of the friendship shared. And most fortifying of all, you realise that all that's stopping you from being happy is yourself and so you go ahead and be as happy as can be.

November: The Call- Regina Spektor
... I'll come back when you call me, no need to say good bye...

November was the month of goodbyes. Some were more permanent than others. It is hard to lose a family member. Worse when he was in the prime of his life. What do you say to the parents who, in the winter of their lives, must lay their child to rest? What comfort can you offer the young mother and son who have been left behind? Loss is a lonely feeling.
But is it truly loss in this case?
After all, all the memories that you carry, all the signs of his life, aren't they proof of his continued existence? In every absence he will be present. The pain remains, but in a strange way doesn't he as well?

December: Time of Our Lives- Greenday's something unpredictable but in the end it's right. I hope you had the time of your life...

As 2010 wrapped it's arthritic joints in the memories of it's youthful jaunts we half-hearetedly embraced our academic life and prepared to write large-scale exams yet again only with less enthusiasm. The infinitely forgettable end of that pointless exercise also signaled the entry of new visitors. As if to make up for a less than dramatic genesis, the final tottering steps of the year featured role-reversals, revelations and retributions that aught to find place on the silver screen. While these surprises were unplanned there were other more organised ones that were pulled off with much elan and resulted in a quiet New Years eve punctuated with much conversation and camaraderie and long long walks down winding memory lanes.

To it's dying breath 2010 remained an exceptionally unpredictable year. At moments appearing slower than a glacier's descent and others faster than Santana's guitar-playing. And having zipped through it's ups and downs we emerge winded and disoriented but hopefully just a little wiser as well.

Happy New Year, readers of The World According to Me. It is as much an honor to write for you as it is honoring that you read what I create. The Creator hopes that the New Year brings with it goodness, wit and wisdom not only in The World According to Me but also in all your lives.

Wednesday, December 01, 2010

The Purs(e)uit of Happyness

The sight of my wallet fills me with envy- why can't my stomach be as flat! An academic existence of the padawan stage is never conducive to financial comfort. More times than most one would find oneself trying to make the twain meet in the monetary sense without having to sell any pertinent (or impertinent) body parts. The stipend which is supposed to do the Vishnu act and incarnate in our times of need usually behaves like Godot and leaves us waiting. Whenever I meet my comrades who have ventured into occupation land and the corporate jungles I am besieged by a sense of doubt. What the hell am I doing here living the life of an academic lounge lizard when I should be out there making money and picking up health destroying habits. After all I have the work-load, the deadlines, the sign-in register. All that is missing the inflow of Gandhis.

But then again the impoverished student life has all its cheapskate perks. Your student nature entitles you to be unashamedly cheap. And the cheapness maketh the experience all the better. Living on the fringes of bankruptcy, thwarting the harsh fates of destitution, we become one with nature and lose our earthly inhibitions. Which is why we can walk away leaving negligible tips, fight with auto-drivers for the last extra rupee. I can even composed a ditty to celebrate our poverty stricken contentment! Or may be not- considering I'm a little short on words and most of my vocabulary needs to be trained into my assignment. But either way, The point is that nobody can pull off pilfering sugar sachets at coffee stations or stealing all the somf at the restaurant or causing a food deficit at a buffet like an impoverished student. And we wear our badge of kanjoosi with pride: we got it free! :D
And so here's my ditty anyway-

The lily needs no gilding
The sunset needs no paint.
All the bills are building
But our hearts will not grow faint.
Our pockets may be empty
But they will not be joyless
As long as there are freebies
We can still survive coinless :D

Terrible I agree, but like I said, we are economising. Until later, Cheers!