The Pasta Diaries

I have now accepted the fact that I have consistency issues when it comes to my writing. Needing to go back to my last post to figure out how long I’ve not been writing is a matter of personal shame. But, we’ve, em, evolved beyond shame is something that I’d like to say to make myself look less like a sloth.

With the narcissism out of the way, the actual writing begins.

Bless Italians for giving us automobiles, Rome and Pirlo. Food is right up there with the other three and what started as a curious obsession for me has now taken the shape of a healthy(debatable) habit. Pasta! Thank the Italians for Pasta.

It should have been a decade ago; the time stamp is a little muddy because at the time, I did not realize that I would end up here; ah, only if we could know what the future held. It was around the time when I was trying to be the cool teenager; you know, the time when damn near everyone thinks that they’re this special snowflake that insists on walking away from the crowd and shit like that. Cringeworthy as it was, it builds for some hilariously embarrassing retrospection.

I remember sitting at this restaurant with family and as the waiter took our orders, I looked up to my dad and said, “Appa, Pasta” or something close to that; again, the details are muddy. He gave me a look that was split between ‘what has gotten into him today’ and the casual anger that runs in the blood of the males in my family. He followed that with, “Do you know what it is?” And in my infinite all-knowing wisdom, replied “Of course” in a haughty tone, as if somebody would not know what pasta was (Nope, had no clue).

“You have to eat it all, we will not finish your leftovers” My mom told me.

Needless to say, I left more than half the greenish white semi-gooey stuff on the plate and I guess it’s stuck with me since then to reserve a soft corner for pasta.

Fast forward to the present day and consumer grade hotel made pasta is out of my price range for a twice a week arrangement. What would the next logical step be then? Look out for the value for money deals right? There comes a time when it’s easier to pick the comfort of home than the convenience of having to go out and eat food. Delivery is a whole other deal though and in this case, not a lot of really good pasta places around me.

I resorted to cooking or trying to cook, depending on how you look at it.

My mom has two amazing virtues; she’s really patient and she’s a great cook. Guess which one got passed on to me?

The first time I tried cooking pasta without prior experience on the basics of cooking, like boiling the vegetables, adding salt to the mix, it was a catastrophe. I’d say that you have to actively try to make something come out that bad. The second was a successful attempt at making something that resembled pasta but I prided myself on a good job done with minimal ingredients and non-existent equipment. The remaining pack of pasta sits in my fridge while I try to decide between improving my cooking and lowering my standards. Somehow I feel that the two go hand-in-hand.

Attention!

We’re talking right. Does not matter if you were talking to him or all of you were talking about something else; chuck that out of your head right now because we are talking. Actually, I’m talking to you and you are listening.

Welcome to the next part. What are we talking about? Well, me obviously. Hello, did you not read the first part? I’m talking to you and I would never do that on my own until I wanted to talk about myself. While we’re on the topic, I’ll make sure that I’ll never let you forget who the life of the party/ crux of the conversation is. Does it matter to me what we talk about? I’m not going to be blatant about it but every time you try going off topic, I’m going to nudge you back to what we’re supposed to be talking about.

Well, talking about me is a little broad, I mean, I could go on and on about a lot of things but we need to be specific. This lets me butt in to what I want to say whilst saying something useless but also making it seem like I dropped into the topic rather that the other way around.

So, lets say for example, you have a bike and you like riding it? Taking it on long trips, exploring the new and the old with it. Well, that can’t sit with me around because I have a better bike. You wash it once a week? I do it once in three days. But, I’m not a one upper. I have to be at least two three times up on multiple fronts.

But then, I don’t really like explaining myself. It’s more, talk as I go, specifically, talk about me as I go.

If you’ve been civil about this until this point, that is when I take advantage of you being a nice person at the very least. Oh, look, your girlfriend got you a nice gift? Mine made me a personalised poster and gave it to me over a candlelight dinner at a rooftop restaurant at the first anniversary of our first date which was at the expensive restro bar where we got absolutely smashed and had to call a taxi to take us back home. Do you see how I changed the topic while still maintaining to talk about me?

We are one of a kind. We exist everywhere but nobody speaks out against us because we skirt on the borders of civil niceties. You feel I’m annoying but you won’t say anything because you’re too nice and at some level you’re not bothered. But, we won’t go away. We’re always around. We like the attention and we live through it.

So, tell me now, what’s my name?

A Year In The Making

The title gives it away.

I’ve been meaning to write this for around a year now.

But then there’s the social stigma and the risk of sounding like just another over-the-top jerk that has bought into a trend that has picked up in this decade (Yes. I am referring to 2011. We are not kids anymore and it is not the 90s).

This, I want to be structured as a lens at middle class life in India, rather than a trumpet for material progression.

Here goes nothing.

Growing up in a self-declared middle class household, there is always room and importance for memories over material.

If I were to recollect the times that I was given things, I would put them below the list of times we did things with our parents and came out happier on the other end. Materials have a honeymoon charm to them. Some certainly hold value more than others but that again is because of the people that we associate it with.

There was a hotwheels car that I rained hell upon my dad to get but that’s tucked away at my godawful shelf back home. I don’t give it two seconds when I am back there. It fades away. Sunday mornings, after the weekly vegetable purchase, I would sneak away with him to a hotel for a secret breakfast (not so secret as I later found out); that is something that will stay for as long as I think about it. Good memories.

But then, there are larger material possessions; some which are within reach and some which are not. Mark of a good parenthood would be making us understand what makes sense to have and what is just an impulse or that which comes out of peer pressure. I haven’t poured my money out on a PlayStation because of this.

So, in September of 2014, when I walked up to my parents and said,

“I want to buy myself a bike (read motorcycle)”

They were ready to put the money down for the initial payment and everything; but there is something about growing up middle class that makes you want to be financially and fiercely independent (I’m sure I picked that up from the two of them).

I went out and brought a Royal Enfield (This might have already been mentioned previously). This is one of the material possessions that has memories and experiences attached to it and I will cherish it because it was an independent decision, it came out my work and it is the first thing that I have significantly owned.

A year ago, this would have been a trumped up post about how the bike changed my life but this post changed somewhere along the way to say something that made more sense.

Thanks for reading through. Any criticism given would be taken and paid forward.

Adios.

The Ghost of the Last Dosa

From my understanding of pop culture, cinema and television, death row inmates are asked what they would like for their last meal.

“Blueberry pancakes”, is my favourite answer from a TV show and they aired another trailer for it this week. Fair warning, that the quote was from memory so, please don’t take up swords against me if I got it wrong.

Working away from your hometown and going back for a weekend brings a mildly similar scenario to mind, one that is starkly pleasant compared to death row.

“What would you like for lunch?”, my mom asks me over the phone a couple of days before I’m due to arrive. The answers will always be the same and I don’t frown and she doesn’t fuss because it’s what I really like to eat. My dad voices over from the background saying, “Why do you keep making the same things every time he comes?”.

That, is the deal with lunch. Breakfast and dinner are a more routine affair.

Dosa. Now, this is where it’s at, and this is where the title will begin to make sense.

There are six meals over the course of two days for my weekend and four of those, invariably end up being dosa. Not out of habit, not because anybody is lazy and definitely not because that is the only food available. It’s because, I absolutely adore it.

There have been times when we’ve cleaned up a weeks worth of batter in 3 days. Good times.

The train that takes me back leaves in on Monday morning (hail the graveyard shift that I don’t have to show up on Monday morning to work) and the bonus meal, the last meal for the weekend is also dosa.

Morning arrived and I sat at the table; dad opens up the hotbox and there are four golden and wonderful dosas waiting for me; munching my way through the delicacy with care and craftsmanship, I look up at the clock and realise that it’s getting late. The last dosa stays in the box and I dart out, get in the car and onward to the train station.

As I sit back in the platform, waiting for the train to arrive, the announcement booms across the speakers, “Train number <I think this one is mine> is delayed by fifteen minutes”

Disappointment grabs my face as the ghost of the last dosa gives an all knowing smile at me.

Now, don’t even get me started on molagapodi.

Fuck Farewells

No, I’m not going to apologise for the profanity. Seriously, fuck farewells. Also, the title is not clickbait. If that was misleading, I’m really sorry. We’re looking to vent, get this wrapped up and move on. There’s no cryptic first passage and random references. This is plain, simple and from the heart.

Farewells are when a bunch of people get together and say goodbyes, felicitate people amongst themselves and then some. This is usually in an educational institution and my case takes it specifically to colleges.

On the day, it does not make a lot of sense initially. We’re all hugging each other; we don’t exchange emails anymore because that is so 2005. It’s presumed to be some sort of a happy occasion because at the back of our minds is a very simple thought, “I don’t have to go to classes anymore”; this is not necessarily verbatim. Everybody has their own version. I, to be specific, was ecstatic that there would be no register signing anymore (that turned out to be a bummer).

Seeing through the lens is a gift that only the guy holding the camera gets. At any event, you look through waiting for the perfect shot and end up seeing moments that are uniquely yours; it would take a world of words to explain that to another person because you are caught up in the moment.

The one guy who wants a picture with everybody else; the one who wants to recreate famous farewell poses from pop culture and the others who generally goof around.

It was during all the mayhem of the photoshoot that I realised something. In someways, this was the end; the end to a life of limited responsibility and to a bunch of people that you have been stuck with for around four years. Saying that they are the formative years of adulthood is an understatement. There are friends, crushes, enemies, people you hate and people who hate you; but all is forgiven and for the few hours that transpire, all is well.

And then the realisation hits. I take a look back and know for sure that, most of these people, this is the last time that I will ever see them in person or have a conversation with them. Facebook and all other social media serves for me to stay updated on what’s going on with them but, the bottom line is, I’m not seeing a lot of these people ever again.

Ever. Again. Let the words sink in and then the title will begin to make sense.

Thank you for sitting through this! You’re a darling!

Entropy

Screen Shot 2016-02-08 at 01.52.52Entropy This is not a science article; entropy, is taken up, in it’s bare form, ‘the tendency of the universe to go into a state of absolute chaos/disorder’.

The, things that happen to you and me, they’re going towards a state of chaos. It seems like things will work themselves out in the end but we’re an image of the world around us; and boy we know what’s happening with the world around us.

It would then be grossly unfair to not let entropy have an impact on us.

The child does not know this. He wants to be like this. 8th Grade thermodynamics is hopeless in explaining the philosophical significance of entropy.

I’m an adult and I still have trouble in coming to grips with it.

The thought process is in simple terms; if things stay as they are, they will remain like that forever. We’re fooled into that false sense of security.

The adolescent or teen tries to grasp all this and knows that there’s a bigger game afoot.

That’s why he/she stays restless; trying to forever to challenge the status quo; trying to stir the pot and in doing so, manages to stir the chaos out of control.

He/she knows; but not enough.

What do we do then? Live in chaos? Well, most certainly not is what we come up with at first.

But let’s delve into this; into things around us. They’re not perfect but they work.

That’s when we become adults; we realize that there is a method to this madness. We keep stirring the pot just enough that it all makes sense.

But certainly, we can’t keep doing this forever can we? The constant stirring takes a toll and once in a while we slip a catalyst into the mix that furthers the chaos and the process is mostly unintentional.

A wrong decision there, a misplaced word here and boom, things tumble out of control before we can gather the ladle to sort the order.

This sounds like a rant to me on second reading but that’s okay. We’re moving towards disorder and it would be a crime to not recognise it.

For ’tis the fool who settles down with the crowd and believes that everything is meant to be when everybody else fights their fight to prove a point.

And out of the way in the words of George Carlin,

Inside every cynical person, there is a disappointed idealist.

Looking back.

At first, you see a scratch on the surface; not completely negligible, but you sweep it away still, calling it a ‘one-off’ or an anomaly.

Then comes the crack; it’s defined but it was not there before. You had not noticed. It’s prominent. The sheet looks worn. A small doubt runs through the back of your mind. The image is still perfect.

The crack progresses; in many places at once and you are pleasantly surprised; this has not happened before, or has it? You don’t know. You’re a little confused with the whole change of scenery.

The visible cracks start forming patterns that you had not imagined; that train of thought had never entered your mind because it was always perfect. Not anymore.

You’re slowly coming to grips with what is happening simultaneously processing and denying the reality in front of you.

That sheet of ice is flawed, cracked but only now and then you look back and you realize something.

The ice has always been like this, today, you can see things as they are.

 

And then you go Mad

Don’t mind me, I’m writing this on my short sweet way to sleep deprivation; insomnia, I think, is the correct term.

I’ve done this previously; writing something, early in the morning, just as I’m about to sleep. It helps because my thoughts and intentions are focussed about what needs to be written.

This one is also different from the train journey where I fought to stay awake from my regular schedule because I did not want to wake up 170 Kilometres away at a different town.

No, today, as I am typing this, I lay wide awake, staring at my ceiling, wondering why we did not have a regulator in place for the fan because the settings are between Mordor and North of the Wall.

We’re dealing with somebody staying awake against his will; but it’s not voluntary; quite the opposite. Tossing and turning in the bed for the last 3 hours with nowhere to escape to, it has spurred new content to my faithful blog.

It’s not a serious case of sleep deprivation with adverse symptoms setting upon as the day progresses; no, it’s a simple problem with a not so simple solution. We needs to rest.

Momentarily we’re gonna stop referring to ourselves in the third person and go look for ways to sleep and if that does not pan out, I’m gonna start researching about insomnia.

There is high chance that I might not remember this when I wake up; so, let me know if you want a follow up to this in the comments, I guess.

To the dreamlands and beyond.

Shutter

It was dark; as it always is, when these kinds of things happen. Kathir, our manager, was not in his best mood; his ex-wife had called him an hour earlier. We knew better than to prod into that story.

“I’m taking off early”, he said and was out the door before we could even react.

The last batch of coffee for the day had gone stale. Something about the gloomy weather we assumed.

It was also raining. Meghna giggled at me from across the counter. I happened to be the sore face that had to tell them that we were out of coffee.

“The weather I suppose” he said, and walked away. The rare good willed customer. He stepped into the rain and disappeared in the blink of an eye.

“How long till the rain stops?” she asked me.

“How does it matter? You get picked up in a car” I was the one who had to drive a bike, drenched to my bone.

“Lose the attitude. You’re not helping anybody” she said, with the classic cold shoulder. Doesn’t matter, she’s of no consequence to me.

It was not just the weather that was gloomy. There was something about the inner workings of this place. I was better off not knowing and am going to act the part even after I finish narrating this. It’s out there and I don’t want one part of it.

Ranjith, the owner, the liberal thinker, the modern art lover, brushed it off as rival rumours.

“It’s always the people that make or take the gloom” he said, and he brought in Meghna and she was a bundle of light in this place; she had an air to her that did not seem to affect her; bright as day she roamed, being the best of everybody.

It’s the plight of the bachelor to be the caretaker after dark; unsaid rule around this place. Meghna left, just after sundown. I was closing shop; on the outside, we were known for being open until midnight. Naturally, closing, is a pain.

A lingering glance around the expanse of the floor confirmed that the floor was indeed empty and being the lock obsessor that I am, pulled the shutters down, tugged at the locks twice for good measure before turning around.

My partner, PD, did not stay to close today; he was picking somebody up; he left as soon as the lights were turned off. I soaked my way to the parking lot after the shutters were down. Five seconds later, I realized that my keys were inside.

Normally, I wouldn’t mind opening to get back but the rain made it so much more difficult.

The locks were off and I froze as I lifted the shutters.

There was a girl, a smaller, younger version of Meghna, sitting in there, sipping a cup of coffee. She looked a little pale and the coffee did her no good. There was a cold tingling up my spine as she shot a glance at me and at that moment, I realized that I was lingering on far too much and I did not get paid enough for this paranormal shit.

Took to my heels and ran away without a destination in mind. I finally sat down by the beach and looked around; the rain was driving everybody indoors.

There was a jingle to the left and I saw my keys, on the sand, next to me.

There was a familiar tingle as I heard the words,

“The coffee has gone stale hasn’t it?”

P.S : This is based on a true story.

Happy Friday the 13th y’all.

Not To Be

That is the answer.

Cinema. Films. Movies. And everything else that they’re called in languages the world over. This is a little about cinema, real life and gaming. From the roots of loneliness stem the thoughts that might keep you occupied for the next minute or five.

Applauds all over when cinema is able to reflect real life in a perfect way; but why would cinema serve that purpose? If I wanted real life, I’d look around and not go to the theatre.

Then again, I don’t want one man flying around and beating up baddies; that is taking the idea to a pulp and killing it, one frame at a time.

Yes, the perfect movie is difficult; one that can please all audiences and still be relevant to the person who walks home.

Source for the words steam out of a lonely Sunday evening. The power cut on a gloomy day forced me outside to take a whiff of the city after sun down.

My royal steed and me took to the roads and if you’ve watched enough movies, you will get a third person view of what it looked like. Carefully avoiding the mud puddles, weaving through traffic and between the government buses who claim all roads in the vicinity for themselves. The angry 30-something with his wife who is late for the movie and is fuming because his car is stuck in traffic and the damp sunday air, for a moment, it did feel like the movies.

Real life lacks background music.

The sunday breeze across the beach road, the smug feeling of irritating that one driver who’s been honking like a madman when I am clearly out of road to drive into and the cop, who stands there, looking at me, without the helmet, in a busy road, on a sunday; but he does not stop me, he’s not bothered to take the effort. Well, he’s got a whole month to meet his targets so that’s the last of his worries.

I got lost on the train of thought about games, so, excuse me.

The question, I guess, is, loneliness. To be or not to be and I’m sure somebody has already said this before, but let me go,

“A man trapped with his own thoughts and memories is never lonely.”

Meh.