Crammed In

Can we all agree on a couple of things now? We make impulsive decisions. I don’t want to get into the emotional technicalities of those decisions because there is a maturity gap until I start talking about them. Let me confine the day to impulsive purchases. I for one, acquired a new toy drone and a coffee maker.

My justification on the coffee maker being that I will make up for the price in 15 cups of coffee compared to what I might pay for buying coffee outside. That was a big fat lie and now I must sit at home and feel it judge me for the ungodly amounts of coffee that it makes for me. The drone was a truly mad impulse. I saw it. I wanted to have it. I paid for it. Now I fly it around the house and behave like a 10-year-old. Bliss.

Ideas are formed on paper could well be the underlying theme of this piece. The madness has come a full cycle and I’ve begun to put ideas into a small notebook again. Something about being old school will always have its charm. Now, I can’t put into complete words all the ideas that I have on it. So, we’ll toss em up and see what sticks.

We grow old. It’s nature and all that jazz. Growing up, on the other hand, is not mandatory. It is not on the instruction manuals. Refer to the part where I purchased a toy drone as a grown ass man. This brings us to the culture of birthdays. I have three people who had birthdays falling within the space of a week. All of them know each other. Everybody planned a birthday for the other person. I was like Joey from Friends in this scene (those of you who have watched Friends, explain to the ones that haven’t). Now, the idea of surprises is not new. I remember when a bunch of people forgot my birthday and had to not-so-subtly sneak out to buy the cake. So, when we’re all adults, we know that something is coming on a birthday; everybody knows it. Does the birthday person, a) give it no thought and act nonchalant about it and pass it off as no big deal or b) at least pretend to be excited about the fact that people are taking the effort to throw something (even though it might be just cake) together for the birthday?

If you chose a, let the records reflect that I’m judging you.

Be a kid about it. Have the cake. Smear it on someone’s face and go to sleep. Case closed.

There is something as a casual left hander. Wherein the dominant arm is the left but certain activities such as writing, and eating have been beaten into being done by the right hand.

God will poke your eyes is the crudest translation that I can muster; the original coming from generations of believing that right is right, and left is less than desired.

I’ve spent a great many hours in this regard, wondering what was wrong with me. I’ve stood at the kitchen struggling with a pair of scissors trying to cut through a plastic bag of god-knows-what only to have my mom waltz through, pick up the scissors and slice through the sheet as easily as shaking dry leaves out of a tree.

This was, until I stepped into a class which mentioned that there are left-handed scissors. There is this difficult-to-put-into-words feeling that stems from the back of the head giving a rush of relief when blame is finally shifted towards the system or a non-individual entity. I felt that along with the vindication that it was the scissors that were wrong.

Nevertheless, I have not yet made a move to buy left-handed scissors for the fear of discovering that I am, indeed a shitty cutter.

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What’s In a Name?

There is a saying in my mother tongue Tamizh that I am going to try and roughly translate.

Live in a way that people remember your name.

This got me thinking. How does someone want to be remembered? Prodding a little bit brings out a bunch of realizations. Like, remembering a name is not necessarily a good thing.

Which leads to the conclusion that there are certainly some places where I don’t want my name to be.

This is out of personal experience by the way. At the end of a semester of non-subject classes and a thoroughly eyeballed engineering project, I had skipped enough hours to stay within the required attendance percentage until we heard that Yanni was coming to town (not the town we were in; that would have been a travesty).

Here is what we did (my best friend and me), we booked tickets (huge sum at the time), skipped town and went to the concert. I still carry the ticket stub around in my wallet because it was the experience of a lifetime. But here’s the catch. The concert was on the last day of class.

I sheepishly walked back to the department building once the semester exams started. On a tangent, there are very few things that are more satisfying that watching a bunch of people run around to their exams when you know that life is sorted out for the near future.

You should by this time have figured out where this is going. On the announcement board under the list of attendance defaulters,

Arvind Sriram P – 1 day.

Certainly did not want my name on there. That came with a valuable life lesson. Always plan with an allowance for error because last minute changes are difficult to foresee. Alas, that was the final semester of college; now I go to school at a place without and attendance requirement that caused my poor mother’s heart to stop a little bit.

About the good places to see a name, I’m not going to talk about because there are plenty of real life examples.

We have a predisposition to only see the good in us and in those around us. Because of this, all the good places where we see our names, we always remember. There is pride in that. Employee of the year. Best outgoing student. Excellence in social service. These are clearly not from personal experience.

As much as we keep seeing good, sometime later, an inner cynic comes along and starts throwing out these questions.

What if they have ulterior motives?

What if they’re not entirely what they seem?

Innocence is lost on the day that this inner cynic is embraced.

This is not an isolated occurrence. It kinda happens to everybody at some point. This again has no relevance to the title but is not worth a preachy post of its own. Beyond that point though, the world around you changes; it’s how they say that it’s all the same, but it somehow looks different. Something to ponder over? Yes. Something to linger on? No, because at one point it becomes muscle memory.

It appears we have reached a stage where the writing has now become regular. It will ultimately spiral back to a period of hibernation and with winter already at my doorstep, it is a matter of when at this point. Nevertheless, we will strive on with false hopes and fake promises to keep writing.

I do not have a funny way to end this post, so imagine something for yourself and laugh a little as you read this line and get on with whatever it is that you should be doing.

Adult 101

If you have been following my blog for the last three months (please tell me, I’d like to know you), there has been a trend of pseudo philosophical discussion and preaching that has transpired. Narcissism, self-depreciating humor, inappropriate comments and the like have been discussed. You get the gist.

These are not the effects of significant life events that have occurred during said time. Either that, or I’m in denial and this is my coping mechanism.

The question that we’re visiting today is a rather simple to ask.

How to Adult? Or, its sister version. When does adulthood begin?

Personal opinion being that adulthood is when I not only realized how the world works but also how other people made it work for themselves. It is not an instant epiphany in that I can sit below a banyan tree and go ting ‘So this is adulthood’. The first of many parts is realizing that it does not work that way.

On the vein of cause and effect it would do some good to also talk about event and significance. It’s like realizing an argument winning point three days later.

I’m gonna talk about a specific childhood event. The first time my dad drove me around in a car, we were sat at a signal intersection at the front of the line. The engine was off; school educated me on the red-stop, yellow-wait, green-go logic behind traffic signals and that was what I was waiting for. Indian signals have the notorious habit of skipping the yellow part. So, to 13-year-old, wide eyed me, it was suspenseful anticipation while waiting for a signal to turn green. Imagine my surprise when my dad turned the ignition and started inching forward and the car started wading into traffic despite the signal being red; I looked at him and said, “Why are you going when the light is red?”, he just winked at me and said, “I know when they will turn green” and don’t you know it, it was green in the next 5 seconds. I was blown away.

Three years ago, at an intersection of my own, it hit me that the signals have a logical pattern to them and thus my first foray into adulthood was that there is a method to everything.

Another one was a recent incident when I was asked a question.

“How are you always so well put together?”

“Fake it till I make it, I guess” I said.

Saying the answer out loud helped me figure out that sometimes it’s best to toss methods to the wind and eyeball it (term borrowed from my roommate because it is the best way of expressing it).

That led me to develop my working theory. There are a couple of things that can be known with certainty; they have a method to them and it takes some time to establish those methods. The other one being that adulting is mostly eyeballing through life while realizing that other people are doing the same thing. No one has all the answers. There is trial and error involved in knowing what to eyeball and what not to eyeball but everyone keeps revising that list. I know I do and you know that you do too.

I’m too proud to ask for comments but I would really like to know what you think about this.

An Idea. A Habit. An Addiction.

Addiction(n) – compulsive need for and use of a habit-forming substance.

This is the definition of the word addiction that I pulled off the internet; secondarily because I don’t have a physical copy of a dictionary lying around and primarily because it’s better to search for a definition which will sort of anchor whatever it is that I set out to say.

I’m going to take artistic liberty and expand on the idea of an addiction and sort of move beyond the substance part of it. From experience, an addiction can be from a habit-forming anything. A person, an activity, an idea and of course a substance because substances are the easiest to relate to. The other end of the spectrum though is the addiction to a person; it is difficult to relate to and it does not make sense to people who have not experienced it. Those who have experienced it though, never get beyond the stage of denial if we’re following the traditional methods.

That’s enough about people because I’m not going to talk about it. Different can of worms for a different day.

No, this post is more narcissistically inclined.

A relatively old Tamizh movie gave me an idea of what bravery is,

“Bravery is acting like you have no fear”

On that vein, level-headed people are those who have their addictions in check. They seem well put together and hide their vices from the world outside. They practice them in a controlled environment.

I had once such thing going on with me previously. Every once in a while, I gave in to the temptation and markedly suffered for it until my eyes burnt up. Then insomnia happened, and I had to regulate my lifestyle. Between that and a night-shift job, there was barely time to exercise it and the frequency reduced to once in two weeks.

I moved to a different country and lifestyle changes followed suit. I like to throw that word around but all it means is that I started eating right and sleeping when the sun was down. Now, exhibit A made an entry and suddenly, the addiction was within grasp again. An addiction, in my primitive understanding of it, is like having a cheat-day all the time. There is suddenly no responsibility and only gratification of the deed done.

I tested the waters once to see what it was like. It was good. It was like the good old times. Slowly, I began to justify to myself that it was okay; it was a good thing that this happened and that I was being efficient with the addiction.

Hopefully, I’ve held your interest for whatever amount of time that you’ve been reading this. Here goes nothing; staying up into the night it something that I cannot get enough of; with a coffee maker and a gorgeous library as enablers, I’ve fallen back to the habit of going to sleep past 2 A.M. I’m convincing myself that this is natural way of things and that I’m more efficient like this; but this also makes me write weird posts in ungodly hours of the day/night (not sure what to call it), so there’s that.

Broadly though, I think I can take this idea of the addiction and apply it on a broader level to a lot of things. So, here’s to time wasted on analyzing absolutely trivial matters.

Also, my dish-wash soap smells like Rasna. It’s kind of weird to have a smell remind me of a time when we ran around like tumbleweeds and terrorized an entire neighborhood .

Thou art a wonderful mistress.

To you my dear,

Thank you for being around when I am alone.

You can blame us for coming to you as a last resort; but imagine how big of a heart you should have to accept and embrace even those of us who do that.

I’m going to be honest. I’m a little envious of the people who get to be with you always. They might do it under the influence of something, there is something that drives them or they do not have anything other than you; they are the lucky ones.

I know I can call upon you no matter what state I am in and you will be there for me. It’s difficult to put into words what you make us do. You are in a way all art that has come out of me.

But try to change it as it may, you will always be a mistress; a wonderful one at that no doubt.

We fear you. We have been thought to fear you and make sure that you do not take up all our time and that’s why those who get to be with you always, those who make you their way of life are the lucky ones. We have been told that courting you for extended periods will make us lose ourselves, make us lose focus on what needs to be done.

Then the desperation creeps in when we hit rock bottom. If life is going to knock the wind out of us, we’d rather be with you when we go down. This is why substance abusers are always of interest; their relationship with you is much more colorful that what my primitive mind can perceive.

This sounds bleak and sad but the best times with you are the happiest time and those we tend to forget; we remember you because you get us through the bad times.

And to you, this unfinished letter……

P.S : People reading this should know your name already.

Maturity in Crackers

Striving to stay away from the norm has transcended from something of awe, something inherent to the geniuses and crazies alike to a form of hipster culture and finally into the hands of everyone. I’m not condemning all of them, no; I’m only condemning those who do it to be seen as doing something away from the norm ie everyone else and thereby breaking the culture.

I now realize that I am not making sense. Let’s keep this simple, in the last couple of years, localized to Chennai, how many people on your timeline have suddenly become fitness freaks and cyclists overnight; if you’re one of them, you might be on a list now. This trend picked up and took a lot of people with it. It is amazing fitness wise but a lot of people took it up because the masses took it up. I mean I know a guy who ran marathons seven years ago and nobody even knew about it. If you know these people, you know what I’m talking about. If you’re one of these people, don’t get offended.

That was a bit preachy.

The point being, sometimes, the norm is okay; the norm is good and there is a reason why it’s been the norm.

This post does not have a philosophical angle. I thought about it when walking back home in single degree temperature and it really has everything to do with crackers.

I asked myself a question and answered it through all the phases that I’ve been through.

What does Deepavali mean to me?

Be me up and until I was 13. It was the festival of lights and I always looked forward to the new clothes and the crackers. The one day of the year where I did not complain to waking up early and taking a bath. There was the sweets and the movies and it was pretty much a day of fun. This is what I want to remember this festival as unless other experiences get in the way.

Be me in my teen years. The rebel phase. That time when I wanted to get black clothes for the festival just to piss my mother off. Incidentally, I ended up with a wardrobe full of black in my early adult life and my mom gave up on it completely. Anyway, during the rebel phase, crackers were suddenly not cool. It was something that the kids wanted. It suddenly got boring and everything I wanted to do was opposite of what my parents wanted me to do. You’re lying to yourself if you haven’t been through this phase (wink!) but the most important thing is to look back and laugh at this stuff.

Be me as bachelor away from home working away in a graveyard shift where the festival holiday is a luxury (for unrelated reasons). Suddenly, I’m a kid again and I can’t wait to get home, dust my hands of in inflammable powder and wake up for the crackers and the mid-day movies and eating until my neck and saying, “It’s okay. It’s a festival. The calories don’t count”. I had no use for money back when I was a kid and everyone was giving it to me on functions; one cycle of a rental agreement, a petrol guzzing motorbike and a year of eating in hotels later, I was wiser to it now. Only thing that’s changed now is that my eyes kinda light up when I see the money; but it about more than just the money too.

So, normal is okay. Have a safe Deepavali y’all.

Marupadiyum (Again)

I’m quickly running out of reasons to explain why I haven’t done certain life related things and it’s kinda starting to be a drawn out and, at this point, an unnecessary excuse. I’m taking about the ‘I did not have time’ thing.

Let’s just own up to the fact that I’m a shitty person. Imagine sarcastic and self-depreciating humor emojis after this sentence.

For the uninitiated who do not follow my life (basically an inverse set of the handful of people that actually do), I have moved to a different country for education purposes. With change comes culture shock and my first one was when somebody that I had met exactly once before walked up to me and said, “Let’s go get dinner sometime” and this was on my mind, “Either they’re way too friendly or I’m way too charming”. Neither as I figured out later that people do this as a greeting almost every time. Next time I want to say yes to dinner, make plans and watch them slowly lose it.

That doesn’t take away from the fact that I’ve stayed away from writing. It’s still bad. But I’m making headway on reading promises. Ironically, I read Farenhier 451 on a Kindle (ask me why).

On the topic of education, my biggest fear was stepping into the lecture hall and it turning out to be one of those droned out meetings in a professional setting where a lot is said but nothing is done. (The best meetings of my life have always been precise and to the point and I’ve seen only two people who are capable of that.) But this was different, unlike undergrad where I went to college and basically got through without failing, this might actually make a mark. There’s a very good chance that I might come back and eat my words but hey, as they say, break a leg (that’s the one right?).

I cook and clean and the poster from a friend’s room in undergrad comes to mind, “Your mother does not work here”.

That’s about it for this one as I keep pretending that my thoughts are that of a scattered genius who needs a spark to get it together while in reality, I’d jump to reddit and YouTube at the click of a button rather than do something creative.

Until next time.

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.