Sunday, November 30, 2008

Antaragni

I know this is about a month too late. But I just had to write this, and better late than never. This year's Antaragni was just plain awesome. And I mean it was awesome for me. I don't know about anybody else.

I was very excited from the start as I had a very good friend coming over for four days. I knew it was gonna be great fun. And on top of that, I had 36 hours of live music on my hands - courtesy Synchronicity.

Synchro started in the evening with 5 bands performing in the first round. It was great fun, having so many good bands to perform right on front of you. I've been a rock lover for a few years now. But the summer of 2008 will always be my 'Summer of Love', the time I will always look back at and remember as the time when rock music really became a part of my life.

So Synchronicity was going to be the highlight of Antaragni for me. We just had the time of our lives, headbanging to the music, watching the bands' antics, and enjoying every moment of it.

After the first evening, it just kept getting better. My friend from arrived from Delhi late at night. It was 4 in the morning. I was one of the very few people still awake in my hostel, when he and a couple of his friends joined me. We had a chat for a couple of hours. It was beautiful. Pure beautiful.

When I first came to IIT Kanpur, the thing I missed the most was not my parents, my home, or my school. It was my old friends and my city that I yearned for the most in those painful first few weeks here. That night in my room, at 4 o'clock in the morning was the first time IIT Kanpur truly became my home. It was the presence of 3 Delhiites, who talked like me, joked like me, laughed like me, had the same issues with life, and had the same dreams, on the landscape of IITK which transformed it. When they left to sleep, and I was alone again, I noticed that I looked at the place in a different light now. The fact that a couple of hours' worth conversation could have such an impact was remarkable, if not astonishing.

I spent a lot of time with them during the next couple of days. We talked like we were old friends. I guess only people who come from the same place can do this. They liked IITK and this made me even happier as I now I have a piece of my heart bonded to this place. I have come to love it just like my old home.

The guys from Delhi left a day before the end of Antaragni. On the last day, I took part in a very exciting quiz, and soon after it was time for the grand finale - Glyder (an Irish rock band) opened by the winners of Synchronicity. I loved all the bands that performed, in particular 'Rosemary'.

Antaragni ended with some seniors ragging us (imagine that; I am a second-year now). It was pure fun. We were a bunch of ten guys being ragged by ten seniors. They made us do all kinds of weird things, which ranged from proposing to the girls sitting around to asking muscular guys for a puff of their cigarettes.

All in all, I will remember it as one of the best four days of my lifetime. During my first few days here, a senior told me that the four Antaragnis are the best 16 days of an IIT Kanpur student's life. I never believed it. Then, Antaragni '08 happened.

Hoping to better it next year.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Talking Post-Sem Blues

The end-sems ended today. I feel like I've lost something big. I haven't felt lower than this in a lifetime. Somebody please say something to brighten me up.

Watched Khuda Kay Liye. Awesome movie.

Monday, November 24, 2008

Blowin' In The Wind

I've been wanting to do this for some while. Start a music blog. No, I'm not giving online guitar lessons. I'm still taking them.

It's going to be about the music I listen to. No, the music I live on.

www.simplytuneful.wordpress.com

This is gonna be exciting.

Monday, October 20, 2008

I Can't Stand Sudoku

I can't believe how Sudoku has become one of the best-loved pastimes today, but it has. This game of numbers has nothing to do with mathematics, and it's so boring, I can't stand it for even 5 minutes, let alone solve several puzzles for days on end, like most Sudoku freaks do. To start with, it was just a craze with a few people in Japan, apparently. Then it spread around the world, and numerous newspaper started printing daily puzzles.

My problem with Sudoku is that it doesn't take any imagination. You have mastered the puzzle as soon as you have worked out its two or three mundane basic principles. After that, it's just mindless and boring repetition.

Around a century ago, people went crazy about another newspaper puzzle - cryptic crosswords, often called the king of all word games. It spread around Britain very quickly but for some reason couldn't quite do the trick in America. It's sad that this very enjoyable pastime is losing the war to Sudoku, of all the mindless creations of man.

Saturday, September 13, 2008

Hate and Love

A few hours ago, several bomb blasts rocked the city of Delhi. It was a well planned attack on crowded public places right in the heart of the city. Eighteen innocent people were killed, and about 90 were injured. It follows serial blasts earlier in the year in other cities like Jaipur, Bengaluru, Hyderabad and Ahmedabad.

I confess that the blasts in Delhi hurt more than the blasts in other place. One of the blasts happened in a park in Connaught Place. It's one of the biggest hangouts for people looking for a place to relax. I myself have spent time there with friends more than once. The fact that today it became a witness to violent death is sickening. Practically any friend or relation of mine could have been there. This realization just shook me up a little.

The Students' Islamic Movement of India has claimed responsibility for the blasts. It's an extremist Islamic outfit that has also claimed to have been behind the other bombings this year. It was founded by a person who is now a professor of journalism and public relations at Western Illinois University. Maybe they want something from our government, or maybe they just enjoy killing people.

I don't know how anybody can ever hate someone enough to kill them. I believe that you have to bad yourself to do somebody bad. Every person who sets fire on another person has a fiercer and hotter flame of hate inside his own self. Killing somebody can never make you feel free. People kill for a greater end. But that end becomes lost by the time you go near it. Killing just makes you less human and more ghostly.

On the other hand, the smallest act of compassion that you do for someone fills you with a divine light. It just makes you feel more human.

A person who wants can never be satiated. A person who gives has his reward in a smile of gratitude.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

You don't want to die

Why is that? You shriek when you think you saw a ghost. You plead with a robber when he sticks a gun to your face. You just don't want to let go of your life. Why?

I'm not talking about suicide here. I am not asking why you want to live. I am asking why you don't want to die.

Sunday, August 24, 2008

Utopia, anyone?

What would it be like if everything is perfect? You have no problems. You are always the highest scorer in your maths quizzes, always win in CS, always have everybody trying to be your friend, always having whatever you want.

Yeah, that does sound boring. Utopia is boring. Too much sweet makes it taste bitter. I love my world.

Thursday, July 10, 2008

Red

This was written on a whim.

Suresh banged on the door. It was barely bearable now. He would never again do this to himself. He banged again. The door almost shook off its hinges. "Are you fuckin' hearing me? Just open the damned door".

Junaid opened the door slowly. He was wearing some sort of a night-gown which probably belonged to his wife. But Suresh didn't notice it.

"I need a shot. Now!"

“What?”

“A shot. A fuckin’ needle.”

"What? At this hour, man, fuck. You can't have it."

"Can't have it? Damn you. I'll snatch your balls out before I go in and take what I want..."

"I don't have any left. Your bad day, man."

"Stop fuckin' around with me. Just get out of my way." Suresh started towards the inner room. Junaid tried to stop him, but got hit on the face. A square fist to the jaw. He fell. Pain.

Stepping over Junaid, he ran to the room. It was full of yellow light. He spotted the stool in the corner. The shot was ready. He picked up the syringe. Oh God, thank God. The fucker was lying to him. You can't have it, the fuck.

He already felt better as he saw the red in the syringe. As he pushed it down, he looked around. The fucker hid the spoon and the candle and the weed before he opened the door. But couldn't hide the needle. The fucker. He smiled to himself. Wow.

Junaid, frantic, stepped into the room to find him lying on the floor, thick red blood trickling out of the nose, face shining with a smile.

Monday, June 16, 2008

A Divine Experience

I recently visited the temple city of Dwarka in Gujarat. It was part of a 7 day trip with my family through most of Gujarat. I've never been a believer in God, have never really prayed in my life, and look upon places of worship as examples of architectural styles from the past. So, as I was entering the main temple, I wasn't too excited about seeing what was inside.

We had to stand in line along with 100 or so devotees and wait for the darshan. It was plain irritating for me to wait for some stupid ritual which meant nothing to me to happen. I told my father as much, but he insisted I stay put and wait. Meanwhile, all the other people were getting more excited by the second. As I moved toward the front of the line, I was starting to feel the passion and eagerness around me. The excitement had reached a peak when the priests opened the gates that had concealed the stone idol from view. Just as this happened, I heard loud and dramatic drum music. I looked all around me. People were jumping and falling over each other to get a view of their God. For me, the God didn't matter. I was engrossed in the reverberating sound of the drums being played somewhere.

For a moment there, I felt the power that God held. I felt that the belief in God and the will to pray to him held a large part of the hearts of the devotees. I myself was not a believer, but I suddenly felt the people's belief in the Almighty without understanding it. It was magical. It was a divine experience.

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Like A Rolling Stone

I came home from college for the summer two weeks ago. Now when I look back at these two weeks, I feel that I did or accomplished nothing. I just woke up everyday at 11 or 12, sat down with a novel to read or listened to some music all day. It couldn't have been a worse waste of time, at least in the minds of some of the fiercest maggus of IITK. But you know listening to music isn't that vain an activity as it sounds. Music is the greatest gift that man ever gave to himself. I simply love listening to music. How can anyone possibly do without music? I cannot imagine how the world would be without music. Barely a place worth living in, I suppose. The more music you listen to, the more it grows on you. Until you just can't let go.

By the way, what is music? How is it different from sound? That is a question that you perhaps can't ever answer. You can only fool yourself with some lines of definition that some musician said. But in my opinion, you can't put into words what music is. You can only describe music through music. It is just one of those things that you have to feel when you are alone, like love. Sometimes I can't help feeling that music is similar to love. They are just different in one respect. Love is felt by two hearts at once, while music by one. But they both free your soul. Have you ever experienced something like this: you are listening to one of your favourite songs and you meet a person you dislike. In that moment, isn't it tough to hate him? Have you ever felt the way music touches you in such parts of your heart that few things can reach?

I keep pondering over these thoughts as I sail through the vast oceans of music and melody. It's nice to have a break from the hectic life in my college, and just sit down everyday, and relax. Somehow, separation from a place makes you realize new bonds in your heart to that place. It's like realizing your love for someone only when you are away from them. It's amazing how the mind makes the memory of grass greener, the memory of rain more ecstatic, the memory of sunshine more dazzling, or the memory of a friend warmer. It's beautiful to see that we look at things resting in our memory differently from things in front of us. Our memory accentuates and distorts our remembrance of events and people, especially when we recall things from a relatively distant past. Something similar is happening to me these days. The last semester at IITK seems more rosy and bright now that I'm through with it. It's like I can't believe I had so much of fun in those four months.

Another thing I find weird is that I feel more liberated now than I ever have. That's because I was on quite the opposite end of the rope not more than half a year ago. I guess it is only after I have completed a year at college that I have completely come to terms with this kind of an existence. I've come to terms with what to expect from my life now. When I went to IITK the first time about a year ago, it was completely different. I was too absorbed in an existence where my parents were always there for me. The first three months in college were my toughest in a life of 18 years. But now, I think I'm comfortable with living without my parents, although it's nice to have them around once in a while. I've made some new friends. Some really good friends. Right now I feel like a complete unknown. A person thrown into the vast ocean of life, destined to fight his battles himself. But I guess I am up for the battles. Not in an in-your-face kind of way, but in a I-don't-mind-a-fight-or-two kind of way. And if Bob Dylan had asked me, "How does it feel to be a complete unknown, like a rolling stone?", I would have said, "It feels good".

Sunday, May 11, 2008

The Final Kill

This is my first attempt at writing a short story. Please tell me how it is by leaving comments.
- - - - -
I walked up to her. She was sitting on the edge of the sofa, sobbing and wiping tears off her face. She looked up as I approached her, and suddenly more tears welled up in her big, black eyes. I sat down beside her, and put my arm around her, trying to comfort her. I knew what it meant to lose a brother. I had lost one, in the war. He had been my hero. He had always been brave and idealistic. When he enlisted for the war, I remember I made up my mind to be a soldier myself one day. But his death in the war changed all that. I still became a soldier, but I didn't fight for my country. I fought other wars. Wars for a man who was my messiah, my God.

Now, as I sat there with her as a silent spectator to her grieving, my thoughts drifted to the events of the previous day.

As soon as I came close enough to Naresh, I kicked him in the abdomen, took out my gun and fired three shots into his chest. I looked on for a few seconds as he writhed on the floor. I bent down over him, and held his hands, and told him that I had to do this. There was that look in his eyes, a mixture of disbelief, sadness and indignation. I think he died within a minute. The more I thought about it, the more I felt that it had all been the boy's fault himself. He had been foolish enough to threaten us to inform the police of our doings. The boss was very angry, and told me that I had to be the one to finish him off. I was chosen because I personally knew the boy, and he trusted me. That was the bad part. The broken trust turned the crime into a sin – the sin of betrayal. That was the kind of soldier I had become, killing weak people who trusted me for powerful people who trusted me. It sickened me. It was like a snake rising up inside me, repeatedly stabbing me with its venomous fangs, slowly turning me into a walking zombie.

And yet, I lived on. It was my love for her which kept me alive. If I didn’t have her, I would be eaten up by all the guilt and hatred boiling up inside me. I had been contemplating suicide when I met her. It was as God had sent an angel from heaven to comfort my pained soul. I stroked her hair with my hand. I knew it would take time for the grief to leave her alone, like it had with me. The pangs of pain almost came back to me even now – the pain of loosing a loved one. It was strange that I could still feel for her when I’d myself just killed an innocent man who had been a brother, a son, a friend to someone. It was one of the ironies of a hit-man’s life. You can’t kill innocent people without switching your emotions off. It is as if you take a drug to numb your heart so that it doesn’t feel a thing. But still you have friends and family who you feel for, and care for. The two-faced life disgusted me sometimes.

Suddenly, she looked into my eyes and said, ‘Why do innocent people die for no reason? What did my brother do to deserve this?’

I could do nothing but give her a helpless look. I’d never met his brother, but she had told me things about her. He had been a very good artist, a painter. He had made a very good painting of his sister which she had given to me. It still hung in my bedroom. I had a sudden urge to know more about him, to know what he was like.

‘Do you have a picture of his?’ I asked her.

She looked up at me, and gave me a strange look which I couldn’t understand. Then she opened up a drawer, fished inside, and handed me a framed photograph. I took it into my hands, and looked at the face of the young man. They say that when you are in a state of great emotion, time slows down. As I looked into that face, a thousand thoughts ran through my mind. It was as if God had conspired against me. I knew that fate had finally caught up with me, taking away my final reason of existence. The years of running away from it all had brought me to this moment, where it had finally become clear how it was supposed to have ended. All these and thousand more thoughts ran through my mind as I looked into the face of Naresh, the deceased.

Thursday, January 24, 2008

Not A Gentleman's World

When I woke up today, it was all foggy at IIT Kanpur. It was definitely the coldest morning this winter. That should have told me something about the day's happenings. I reached the lecture hall in time for the first lecture of the day - ME100, introduction to mechanical engineering - a course which I particularly enjoy.

The 62 year-old professor who taught the course was a balding, tiny man, with a smile on his face and a twinkle in his eye. He somehow always made me feel as if I was watching Discovery Channel. Today, he was in his usual spirits.

About half-way into the class, he cast a suspicious eye on the attendance sheet. He scratched his beard a little, and then asked one of the front-benchers to count his present fellow-men for him. It turned out that four signatures on the attendance sheet did not have their owners in the class, as in, they were fake and had been put in for the four people by their friends. The prof asked the culprits to come forward gracefully. He assured us that this wasn't an unpardonable crime but remaining mum after being called forward was a sin. He continued beseeching the wrong-doers to step forward, proceeding to call us all a bunch of "cheats", "frauds" and "thieves". He also said that there was no use teaching engineering to a batch of dishonest people. He told us that he had been teaching at this institute for 37 years and was yet to end a class before time. We were in danger of earning that distinction if the culprits didn't come out. Further, he wasn't going to take this course in the future. Finally, only when he had to resort to calling out our names did some boys raise their hands and confess. The prof made a face, told us we were not gentlemen, and left. By now, his anger had turned to deep disappointment and disgust.

Sitting there, I realized that he was a man from another world. His world was the one where honesty was part of education. Today, it isn't. The humanity and honesty are lost in the maze of money and fame. All we (specifically, engineering students) are running the cliched rat race. Whenever I look around, I see people not doing what they particularly enjoy, but that which will eventually be more profitable. And in the process of doing, they have lost the concern to do it the gentleman's way. I can't say it's a sin because I am living my life exactly the same way.

This feature is so fundamental to our society today that people like my prof out here shout on deaf ears. All he was talking about was truthfulness to yourself, a conscience that stirs, a heart that weeps, and a brain that feels. Unfortunately, it's not that kind of world anymore.