Ooh, a meme. What joy. I was tagged by Aishwarya. Here goes ...

I am thinking about ...
... watching a movie tomorrow.

I said ...
... “Series 1 is better than Series 2!” (To a friend, regarding The Young Ones.)

I want to ...
... write more, and better.

I wish ...
... I could do a fake German accent as good as Eddie Izzard’s.

I miss ...
... nothing in particular.

I hear ...
... the sound of the fan, and of water dripping, god knows where.

I wonder ...
... what percentage of people are gay and don’t admit it.

I regret ...
... being 14, 15, 16 and 17. And 18 too, a little.

I am ...
... silly. Extremely.

I dance ...
... only with male friends, for a laugh.

I sing ...
... in the bathroom. And outside it.

I cry ...
... not very often.

I am not always ...
... tactful.

I make with my hands ...
... food, sometimes.

I write ...
... stuff that’s more depressing than it should be.

I confuse ...
... most people I know.

I need ...
... adulation. (Apologies to Aishwarya for stealing this one.)

I should try ...
... doing more stuff in the time I have.

I finish ...
Yes I do. Really. I finished this, didn’t I?

Current music: Brian Eno – Another Green World (It’s very good indeed)
Posted by Aditya Bidikar | 11:36 AM
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This was supposed to be posted on Tuesday, but my net connection was down, incapabilising me till today. But timeliness/punctuality (take your pick) has never exactly been my strong point, so I don’t think it matters.

I went to Mumbai last Saturday, mainly to loosen up a bit. Due to a variety of factors, I had, for the whole of last month, been cooped up at home or cooped up in class, with more-or-less nothing in between.

When I decided to go to Mumbai, I expected there would be rain there. Lots of it. I wanted to write the whole thing up, and I wanted to be extremely pretentious about it. I wanted to be able to say that I had spread my arms and opened my mouth to receive the rain, that I had wandered through the nooks and crannies of this beloved yet despised city, that, treading carefully through the wet streets and damp alleys, my backpack and I had received hidden knowledge about Mumbai, things people living here for years had not managed to realise. Travel-writer-y stuff, generally.

It did not rain. But I’ll try to write it up anyway.

The first thing I did on the trip was to write a poem in the bus, my first in four years, and, following Aishwarya’s sage advice, I won’t reproduce it here (I would’ve burnt it or something, but it’s written on the back of a receipt).

I originally had plans for Saturday, but they got cancelled, so I spent the afternoon wandering. My little black suitcase was not as effective in giving the right impression as a shoulder bag might have been, but I made do. The moment I got off from the bus, I made my way around King Circle, looking for books, and I got quite a few nice ones. I am trying to get away from my regular (popular) reading background, so I concentrated on ‘good’ books. I finally got a copy of The Outsider, and it’s got a lovely cover (R. Duchamp by Jacques Villon). I also got a Nadine Gordimer collection, again with a wonderful cover that looks like a Goya sketch (which it very well might be). I got a few other books that seem interesting, including Margaret Atwood’s Blind Assassin and a book by I. Allan Sealy.

I had lunch at an Irani restaurant, which was dependably good. The best thing about the restaurant was the fact that it served something called an ‘Iranian Wrestler Omelette’, which, unfortunately, sounded too intimidating to actually order.

After a (not entirely but almost) satisfactory shopping experience, I took a train to the place where I was staying. It was afternoon, and there weren’t many people in the compartment. There was a very cute little baby sitting in front of me, bouncing itself on its mother’s lap. It would stop once in a while to cough in that special baby manner, which makes even a cough seem ethereal, and then it would begin to bounce again. After a while it got tired of that, and contented itself to pulling at its mother’s dress and pointing towards everyone in the compartment, in case mum hadn’t noticed them.

About half-way through the journey, a blind beggar stepped onto the train. There are lots of blind beggars on Mumbai trains, and they generally make you want to close your ears till they’ve left – they seem to want to irritate you till you give them something to leave. This one was different. He came from behind me, slowly making his way through the compartment, and I could hear him keeping time on some kind of little drum, and playing cymbals to embellish the music. As he came into view, I saw that he was actually keeping time by hitting his stick on the floor, and the cymbal sounds were coins jangling in his palm, all perfectly done. And what struck me was that he was a singer. He had a very nice voice, and he was singing in tune, and he was following the song, rather than forcing it to do what he wanted. In fact, he felt a lot more like a street singer (meant in the most respectable way possible) than like a beggar. There was silence in the compartment when he started singing, and it lasted till he left. Lots of people, including me, gave him money, and I, for one, felt he had earned it. The incident reminded me strongly of this post (funny how the good stuff stays in your mind – the post is seven months old).

The rest of Saturday was uneventful. I also attended a boring family function, but those always read better when they’re not actually written about (although I should note that there was, for some reason, a disco ball attached to the ceiling of the hall – I pointed it out to many people, most of whom did not share my amusement). I also had a nice family dinner with an unidentifiable number of cousins and an uncle and an aunt. We had lots of different stuff that I observed carefully so I would be able to write it out in my German Restaurant critique essay, which I eventually had to abandon because half of it was basically Indian words.

Sunday was lots of fun. I didn’t actually do anything the whole morning, except laze around and sleep intermittently. I met Aishwarya (who was in from Delhi for a family function) in the afternoon, and we had a very nice chat, and we roamed around looking for books (for her – I’d exhausted my budget on Saturday). I’d write about it, but she’s a goddess on earth, and it would be impertinent for a mere human to even think of writing about an encounter with her. (I hope this is flattering enough. [Insert appropriately charming smiley])

And then I came back to Pune with my mother, who I had thoughtlessly left trapped between layers upon layers of relatives. When I got back home, the first thing I did was sleep. Lots.

My whole trip was conducted under a glaze of sweat, hot, sticky, with an undercurrent of pallidness. But as always happens with Mumbai, after the whole thing is done, that part of the memory sort of recedes, leaving a warm, glowing and non-sticky feeling. And it’s this feeling that, in spite of your better sense, makes you want to blog about it.
Posted by Aditya Bidikar | 1:53 PM
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I saw Terry Gilliam’s Time Bandits a couple of days ago, and, watching it, I realised I had already seen parts of it around 10-11 years ago. The giant with the ship on his head, and the invisible barrier to the Fortress of Darkness (or whatever it’s called) – it all seemed familiar because I’d already seen it, and the images had been distinctive enough to stay in my mind.

The other such experience I had (that I can remember) was fairly different in the details. Again, around 8-9 years ago, I heard half of this song (I don’t remember if I heard it on the radio or on a player) only once, and the refrain stayed in my mind literally for years, exactly as it was, and I would ocassionally play it in my head to see if it reminded me of any artist I knew. Then, around three years ago, as I was reading Bob Dylan reviews to decide if he was my kind of artist, I saw this song called ‘Shelter from the Storm’. And I went, wait a second ... And guess what, it was that exact song, and the refrain (‘Come in, she said, I’ll give you/Shelter from the storm ...’) is as memorable today as it was then.

It is rather wonderful to find such snippets, unconsciously filed away, only to re-emerge when one least expects it. And of course, it is gratifying to realise that, even all those years ago, one had better taste than one gives oneself credit for.

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Speaking of snippets of memory, something else. I have a very bad memory, and so I was trying to rack my brains for my happiest memory yet. To my surprise, I found it.

When I was little, we had these two huge army trunks on our terrace. One of them was filled with crap that should’ve been disposed off years ago (and which was disposed off when we sold the trunks), and the other was half-way filled with utensils, and half-way with my books – everything from old and new comic-books to pulp horror and sci-fi stuff. And every summer, I would remove all the utensils from this trunk, line up (or garishly pile up, depending on the day of the week) all the books at the sides, plunk myself in the middle of the trunk with a bottle of water and some fruit, and read. It was fun.

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It has started raining now, a week or so ago, and after a bout of the dull and depressing kind of rain, which makes one want to stand at windows and sigh deeply, it is turning into the proper rainy season (which is a phrase I like much better than ‘monsoon’).

Whenever there is a thunder crash, I feel an urgent need to giggle, because each time there is one – that loud, deep growl – I expect a particular four-note electric bass riff followed by an Elvis-parody voice saying, ‘Look yonder!!’ (If you don’t know what I’m talking about, forget it.)

I also like those storm clouds gathering on the horizon, because every time I get out of the house they make me feel like an extra in the Lord of the Rings movies.

But I am also a tad miffed at the rainy season, because soon I will have to stop wearing kurtas, because my windcheater doesn’t cover one. But one must not forget that there will be lots of rainy evenings, so lots of opportunities for hot chai and bhaji (which is basically pakora, but not quite).

But all things considered, I can’t wait till it’s winter. I started an essay last winter, but the winter ended quite unexpectedly, and I’d really like to complete that essay.
Posted by Aditya Bidikar | 11:38 AM
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