Monday, November 26, 2007

Drowning ... THIS is what it feels like

This is the most honest account I've ever written. I am not ashamed of it. I am not proud of it. It just is. Honest. (for pictures click here)

Your mind is blank. Your senses, numb. Your heart , steady. You'd just witnessed what you remember as your raft tilted sideways on to its right side, and flip over in the middle of a 3.8 grade rapid. It looked as if everything was in control.

There is silence. 5 seconds pass by.

Before anything else, fear strikes you. The fear that something's just gone terribly wrong. That that looked like it was under control, suddenly feels horribly wrong. You know it, but you can't exactly point a finger at it. Your mind is racing because of this intuition , but not in the correct direction. The realization of that fear alerts your other senses to break away from the numbness.

The first thing that hits you is the cold. Absolute, piercing cold. You are in river Ganga.

But that feeling is just fleeting because your senses and horror is multiplied by what you see. Everything is a greenish-bluish-grey. You don't see much around you. Just that colour with light which seems to be flowing and floating.

You realize you are under water.

Panic attacks.

You open your mouth to scream, but cold water flows in, choking you.

Panic multiplies.

2 seconds have passed by.

You struggle. Wave and beat your hands and your legs in all directions. Nothing happens. You are suspended in water, the only thing you can touch is water which seems to pass from under your hands as you touch it.

You shake your head frantically. Look in all directions. All you see is the ominous colour.

In panic, you try to breathe again through your nose only to be reaffirmed with the water breaking and entering your lungs.You can feel the cold water in your lungs. You can feel it filling you up.

You close your eyes. Maybe it's just a nightmare. This can't be happening to me. I don't know how to swim. I can't be here. This can't be happening to me. You try to wish it away.

10 seconds pass by.

Your lungs start aching. It feels like your chest is going to burst because the air in it wants to come out so bad. But you don't want to let it go. That's the only air you have left.


You open your eyes again. You are looking up now. You see something, can't exactly make out what it is. Then you see some light on its edge. You touch it. Rather it touches you. You realize it’s the raft and you are trapped under it.

Your mind is racing. Why is this happening to me you think. How did I get myself in this position. Why did I sign my own death warrant while signing on that liability waiver form.

You think about your parents. Your parents.
You see their faces. They're smiling. You remember they'd never approved of this in the first place. You remember how much they love you. You see their faces again. They're sad. They're crying.

You realize, not think, not figure, not understand, not calculate. You realize ... that you are going to die.

You calm down a little bit. Maybe it's giving up to the realization. Maybe it's the body tiring with lack of air. Maybe it's the cold water numbing you. Your heart and actions seem to be calming a bit. But your mind is still racing. You feel sad for the loss of your parents.

You try to breathe again. Only to be rudely reminded with more water flowing in. This time you know you took the little more than you could take.

another 10 seconds pass by. Feels like a decade ambled by.

The water in your stomach rushes out. You puke in the water. You taste the puke as it comes out. You feel it mix with the water around you. You feel disgusted, but only for a millisecond. You close your eyes and shake your head to shake off the puke around you.

Then it strikes you, the rope running all around the raft. It's like a breath of air. They said you should hold on to the rope. They said no one really dies in rafting. They never discussed much about what you should do when you are trapped under the raft. They never talked about choking in your own puke.

You start feeling the raft. You match the contours you feel and can see with the mental diagram of the raft. The blank spaces. The curves. The edge. The rope.

And maybe as the last attempt of a dying man, you grab the rope and pull yourself from under the raft.

10 seconds pass. No air in your lungs.

While you drag yourself up, you realize there'll be air waiting outside. Waiting to welcome you. Sudden euphoria strikes.

You see light. All that light. Normal daylight. You almost reach above. But.

But there's no air. What you were told later was that we'd just entered the third rapid (in a series of three - Three Blind Mice as the rapid's called).

Then suddenly there's air. But only for a brief second. Just as you'd opened your mouth to satiate yourself with air, more water had come down. You got a little bit of air, but not enough. More water in your lungs.

What the fuck you think, why isn't there any air. There's supposed to be air up here. There's supposed to be !

Now it's more violent than when you were under the raft. Being in the third rapid, the overturned raft is bouncing around like a pin ball. 7-8 feet of waves in the rapid are coming crashing down upon you. Trying to pull you away from the raft.

You grasp whiffs of air in the middle of all the water, but never enough. It's always more water than air in every gasp.

You get frustrated. Angry. Where's the bloody air. Why's there so much water around me.
You get scared. The struggle now, in addition to breathing, is to hold on the raft as the turbulent water wants to take you in another direction from the lighter, floating raft.

You notice the guy sitting on your right on the raft. He's hanging by your side. He doesn't know how to swim. You had bloodshot eyes he tells you later on. You looked like you'd seen a ghost he tells you. You say you had. Not a ghost, but death itself. But at that moment, he looks as scared as you did.

The only thing you can see is the raft in front of your face. And water everywhere. Above you. Below you. Around you. In your eyes. In your mouth. In your nose. It's salty.

You realize, again not think, realize, that maybe this was just false hope. A decoy. You're still going to die. It's been a while since you breathed. Your smoked out lungs are anywayz over with even the reserve. You need a whole tank of air. All you get is more water than air. It's not helping.

You've done everything. There's nothing possibly you can do more. Why the fuck is there still so much water. When is it going to end ? Will it ever end ?

That's when you feel truly helpless. More than you did the minute before. You've done everything in your power.

You close your eyes. You think of your parents. They're in front of you. Expressionless. You tell them you love them. They love you too, you idiot. They're happy. You tell them you're sorry. They become sad. You can't see them sad.

You clench your eyelids further. And you pray. You pray to God.
You used to say that you didn't believe in him. You're a man of science. A man of your own destiny. You'd never believe in God. You'd said. Now you pray. You close your eyes. Hold on to the rope as tightly as possible. And Pray. You accept your mistake of having had no belief. For having said those blasphemous things. You say you're sorry. You promise to have faith from now. You beg for God to save you just this once. You'll never get into trouble again, but just this one time you ask him to cover your ass. You pray to God for your parents to not experience the pain of your death. You pray. You feel weak. Things seem a little slow.

And soon the water subsides. There's no more water crashing down upon you. You're out of the rapid. You can finally keep your head out of water.

Air. At last.

The first thing you do is you thank god. You thank your parents.

You feel happy. You smile. You have that glazed smile. The kind when you'd have in heavy turbulence if you were secretly enjoying it while everyone around you let out worried whimpers.

You know you'd almost died. You know it was one and a half foot in the grave before you came out. You realize that was just an awesome experience. It was crazy. But awesome. Liberating. You might just wanna do it again.

Finally the guide comes and drags you up and takes you ashore.

You finish the rest of the course paddling fiercely and screaming at the river. Liberated. Thrilled. Thankful.

Friday, June 22, 2007

Highway Star

Nobody's gonna take my car, I'm gonna race it to the ground
Nobody's gonna beat my car, It's gonna break the speed of sound
Ooooh it's a killing machine, It's got everything
Like a driving power big fat tires everything

Deep Purple sang this song thinking they were so special ... they were so wrong !

You come down to any Indian road, and you don't just see one lunatic who thinks he's a highway star, you see a the whole freakin galaxy !!!

Seriously, it's a known fact that Indians have absolutely no traffic sense. Unfortunately I think that's just a mild way of putting it and more so, dismissing it lightly.

But putting the more obvious suicidal and murderous tendencies of the drivers aside ... I have come across a more peculiar observation. It's like this - I'm going down in my car in this narrow lane probably meant for bicycles, and there's a car coming from the opposite side as well. Now I know I can bank my car next to the paan-waala allowing just-enough room for the other guy to pass through just barely. But I can see even the other guy has a place close to him just like that. Now, for more birth-related reasons (namely : I'm Indian), I don't bank next to the paan waala and think, due to some psychopathic reasons, that the other guy would stop. But ofcourse, due to the same birth-related reasons, he doesn't stop as well. So now we end up stuck headlight-to-headlight in ... a glaring competition !!!

Oh yes, that's what I am talking about - The Glare. Almost anybody who's been on Indian roads on any mode knows exactly what I'm talking about. It's the deadening-frozen glare that u get from the person sitting behind the wheel telling you that you're an idiot and you don't have any road-manners and probably were abducted as a kid and also should be whisked away now. It's the glare which says "What the hell are u doing man !". It kinda reminds me of the way the profs in MDI used to look at me after I'd just woken up from my mid-lecture nap.

But this one's especially amazing. That's because I know that the person giving me the glare is probably as inept at understanding traffic rules and is a mass murderer of traffic sense and rules himself. But still ... there's the glare !

I've gotten ga-zillion glares from uncles, drivers, shorties, one-foot-in-the-grave old women and even a 13 year old ! Well I had to peep down onto the driver's seat to get the last glare.

Earlier I used to glare back. You know the drill, be a man on the road, don't let your guard down and all that crap. But now I just smile. It's loads of fun, you should try it. Next time you get a glare from the man with the bushy mustache because u turned a little too fast into him, give him a nice big smile. Even show your teeth if you have to. That just turns that glare into a gaze - confounded, extremely.

Nobody's gonna take my car...
I'm a highway star, I'm a highway star.

Monday, May 14, 2007

Cursed to be Born

It was one of those days when you are just chillin ...leading ur mundane life the 'coolest' way you think .. and then something just happens and brings the world in your face ... smashing the comfortable cocoon that you build around yourself.

I was just meeting up with Indranil and TAG at PVR saket ... sipping onto some iced eskimo outside Cafe Coffee Day and having a couple of doobers. We were discussing people, old times and the usual stuff.

Four little boys came running towards us. 2 of them looked around 6-8 years old while the other 2 looked around 13-14 ... harmless. They all wore the ragged, torn, dirty clothes that the slum children wear. They were all dark skinned .. probably from the dirt that sticks on them and the sun they have to face due to the lack of a roof on their heads for much of their days. The two younger ones were visibly running away from the elder ones.

One of the bigger ones punched a younger one in the back and he sort of stumbled towards where we were sitting. The other younger one followed suite. The young ones grabbed the legs of mine and TAG's chair and started complaining generally to everybody that the elder ones were beating them up. The elders tried to drag the kids away from us but they held on to our chairs tightly.

Till that point we were pretending not to notice the ruckus. We were pretending to have one of those 'coffee shop' discussions (u know the kinds ... 'so how's he/she' .. 'that one was a bitch' ... 'that movie was awesome' ... highly shallow in comparison but necessary and entertaining). But the scene unfolding next to us was getting a little too loud and a bit violent to be ignored and to be allowed to be in the background. The little ones were, every once in a while, looking at everyone sitting there and tellin us that they were getting beaten up with the hope that someone would come and help them.

At that point, since this was happening right next to our table ... and chairs !! .. we decided to tell 'all of them' to buzz of and not bother us. I looked at one of the elders and told him to beat it and stop bugging them and us. He just looked at me .. with no fear in his eyes .. or rather a slight arrogance, said that the little kids were not coming with them.

We thought that this would subside and the went back to our 'conversations'. At that time one of the elder kids took out a match, lit it and pressed the lit stick on one of the little kids' bare legs. Hearing the cry of pain I snapped back at the elder kid to stop this immediately and buzz off. He again looked at me with those eyes and told me that the little kids owed 'em money and they were not returning it. We again got back to our 'conversation'.

Then I heard the thing that gave me goosebumps. The elder kid came close to the kid who was holding on to the leg of my chair, and said to him politely that if they came now then 'he' would just take the money or else later on 'he' would take the money and cut off one of their hands or legs. At that moment the scene next to me no longer remained the background radio static and my ears were riveted towards them.

The elder kid repeated that threat again.

He tried to pull 'em again but to no avail. That's when I told ID that these kids were probably a part of those begging rackets and it was so unfortunate for the young kids. At which he reminded me that it was equally unfortunate for the elder ones as well as they had probably lived through similar ordeals. Then we discussed our 'helplessness' in this regard.

We tried telling the elder kids again to take a walk while they kept hovering around and coming in once in a while.

Finally, after a while, the elder kid managed to pull one of the kids free from his grip on the chair and dragged his some 2-3 feet before picking him, ruffing him up and then dragging him towards the back. The elder kid then came to the little one sitting next to my chair and told him politely that they'd already taken his brother and that if he didn't follow suite then they would cut off his brothers arms and later his as well.

The other little kid wiped his tears, stood up .. and walked with him.

We were silent for a while. I suppose the same things went on in our heads ... sadness, disghust, anger, helplessness, frustration at the helplessness ...

All my way back I kept picturing those little kids howling while they got their hands or fingers or something chopped off ... and then back on the road again the next day showing their disability and begging. Out of which they'd have to pay the leaders who run this racket.

I hate this feeling .. this feeling of helplessness. It is so obvious that a war or a movement (or whatever you wanna call it) has to be raged against these gangs at a social, legal and even a physical level to stop this menace.
I hate lamenting about these things to other people ... acknowledging that these things happen and it's such a shame and we're so helpless .. I hate it. I think it's quite looser-ly.

It's like the way I feel about Bombay or Delhi or our country and it's people as a whole. We like to call ourselves resilient. We take pride in the fact that we have our families blown away by terrorists one day and then we still manage to go to work the next day like it was nothing more than a cockroach dying in our bathrooms. Well that's just stupid .. there's nothing to be proud in that !!! The same millions of people travel by the same trains that were bombed the last day simply because they have no other option !!! Most of those people simply cannot afford to not go to work the next day and they just don't have any other mode of transportation but those stupid trains ! It is not resilience or bravery or an ability to pick ourselves up after we fall and other fabled things like that ... It is just helplessness, cowardice, indifference and a hope that it won't happen to us ... it's just disguised that way in which the media also plays a major part. It's a sad state of affairs.

Now ofcourse I am not saying that those people should mourn the next day or not go to work or pick up arms against the perpetrators ... I am just saying that let's not be hypocritical about it ... and let's maybe .. slowly if it may .. do something about it !

The same goes for things like the begging racket that I came to see a side of today.

If all that we .. the 'educated' people can do about it is discuss it intellectually and criticize it .. then I guess a lot of those 21 odd years of our lives just went down the drain .. and then got their limbs chopped off.

I feel like such a loser.

Oh yeah ! and by the way .. the amount that the little kids owed the elder ones was 50 Rupees. I don't even get a fucking Iced Eskimo in that much !

Sunday, May 13, 2007

The Man on the Moon

Many a times, I have looked up in the night sky, looked at the moon and wondered ... What if there was a man sitting up there who had nothing else to do but to look down on earth and look at everybody. At the outset it may seem that I am talking about this 'god' person. But I am not. Reason : Going by the whole concept of the omnipresent , all -knowing god, he would already know what we would be doing and would do eventually and therefore he would not need to look at us !

Anyhow, back to the man on the moon. So this person has nothing else but to look at us (Don't ask me why). With the shit loads of people breeding and crawling on this planet, he would probably not have time or the attention span to look at everyone. I mean we all go through the same miserable routine of growing up, puberty, first kiss, first job, first heartbreak, first marriage (increasingly nowadays :D), shitty relative, rebellious kids, estrangement, death, etc. So all this being so mundane and common wouldn't really interest him. Even the special ones ... Charles Mansion, Nithari, Steve Jobs, etc. have become plenty over the thousands of years of human evolution, development and eventual self-destruction. So what I am trying to get at, is who exactly would he be watching ???

If you insist, I am talking about that thing which everybody wants (well ... mostly), to be remembered, to be noticed. But I'm not talking about the fame and legends that are made due to impressive acts of bravery, crime or foolishness, etc. What I am saying is, if we are alone in this universe (what freaks !!!), then all these things would really become ... well pointless. Thousands of years from now when this rock becomes lifeless thanx to our leisure's (optimistic estimate), when that man would sit next to his fireplace with a drink in his hand and gaze at the planet ... who would he remember ? The guy who made the ipod (nothing against apple here ... just an example) ? Or the nuts who flew an airplane into buildings mistaking them to be doors of nirvana ? Or the skinny guy wearing a dhoti and holding a stick who lead a country called India to freedom. ? Or was it the man who wrote a book that lead a whole race of followers to a nonsensical isolation from the rest of the world and at war with them ? Or was it that one who walked on water and got nailed to a cross by the same people who he thought he loved so much ?

Or was it the anonymous couple who loved each other to the limits ? Or was it the anonymous man who lived his life the best way he thought he could ?

I guess the man on the moon is really me when I'm taking my last breaths ... or maybe when I'm dead and my conscience is floating about aimlessly in limbo. What would i think about myself ? Would I have been able to see myself from the moon amongst everybody else ?

The answer to this I do not know.

Falling in love is hard on the Knuckles !

Yes I am committed again ! And again .. this time it seems for good !

I met her through a friend of mine .. Animesh. He had been dating her for a while but now he didn't have enough time for her. Since I am not doing much till I join work, we thought it would be a good idea if I took her for a while ... till I start working.

It was pretty much love at first sight ! I had heard about her here and there but till now I hadn't had enough time and money to afford her ! But this time I got her cheap.

She's a bit old and outdated .. but then she's got loads of experience .. Lots of variety !

She is amazing ! The second day I went shopping and bought new stuff for her ... various different things I could put in her (damn ! very corny ! and a bit disghusting as well :D).

And for the last 4-5 weeks since I've had her ... I've done nothing else but play with her ! (This has potential of being very corny ! :D). I start at 9 in the morning ... and am spending time with her continuously till 5 PM ! And then we resume our activities in the night as well ! And not for a single moment do we get bored !

Although falling in love with her has been a bit hard on my knuckles .. and my fingers ... especially my thumbs .. as they tend to get a bit tired after a day of fondling and hand holding ... but still .. noone's minding !

She's the best .. I think every man should have her ... atleast for some time ! :D

Now i really didn't want to address it as feminine .. but then I didn't wanna sound gay as well ! :D

She's my PS 2 :D

Sunday, April 15, 2007

The Big Fat Indian Wedding

Celebrity weddings have always made big news. I have never understood people's obsession with the setups, the invitees, the dresses, the rings, which champagne was used, how many coloured flowers were there, what size were the biceps of the bodyguards and how many jobless mindless reporters were present to make it look like a fish market.

I mean face it people, you all may dream about it, but exactly 0.0000000034% of you will actually get to be a part of these weddings ... in any role whatsoever. And that's if you count the reporters as well. The rest of you will have those typical weddings where you try to be different by choosing that unique brownish red coloured cards and the taj mahal styling tents (WoW!). Yet exactly 67.8% of the people i know are just so stuck up on that Abhishek Bachchan - Aishwarya Rai wedding like it was theirs !!! Even my dad, who hardly watches anything substantial on television, was glued to the screen when the low down on the marriage was coming.

I can somewhat understand people's obsession with this couple ... after all u have a woman who probably appears in the wet dreams of most of the male population of this sex starved country and then this dude who's the son of the greatest actor who ever lived on the Indian silver screen (that's all the credit that i'm willing to give him so far... and oh well he acts O.K. so far). But what I just can't understand, is a half an hour special on the marriage ... on prime time television on the top Hindi news .. and yeah I'd like to repeat here ... NEWS channel !!!

The special covered the following events in very shallow detail :
- The groom's dad went to some famous temple to ask god for blessings for the new couple ... and he gave a wedding card .. yes I'd like to bold it again ... wedding card ... to God.
Makes you really wonder ... is god stupid ? I mean if he is the God then he must know that the wedding's going on and wouldn't really be needed to be invited for the wedding ! Quite clearly it's a very juvenile stunt for the cameras .. but hey ! who said common sense was in surplus nowadays !
- Who all the family is inviting and who all are the unluckiest people on the planet to have not been invited for the wedding. I mean Jeeez ! Was the girl who had cancer and then got raped at a hospital in Mumbai really so unimportant and real that they had to put this shit in the slot instead of her ? And It's obvious that the crippling electricity shortages, the farmers' suicides and the whole north east and eastern part of the country which is on the verge of a civil war is really not that consequential as compared to the fact that Shahrukh Khan is probably (mind it .. it's not confirmed .. it's just speculation) not invited for the wedding.
- Some 500 cops will be stationed around the venue.
Now that just infuriates me. I just think ... if these 500 cops could be actually patrolling a city ... and if they would actually be doing their job instead of siphoning money some way or the other to feed their already gargantuan bellies, then the crime in the city would be so much lesser. But then .. I'm just dreaming.

The worst part of the whole ordeal was the fact that this shit was coming on prime time national news. Damn ! I hope they kill some politician soon to get this crap off the air !

What's even worse .. i mean what takes the cake .. is that most people in the country of 1.2 billion people ... have nothing better to think about / talk about / watch / etc.

Fascinating !

I'm off to watch some movie now.

Saturday, April 14, 2007

Drive me Crazy

With the latest traffic laws coming into enforcement one really has to wonder what the next set are going to be like. Already talking on the handsfree and smoking while driving are prohibited. This really makes me question how capable or incapable do the law makers actually consider the drivers to be !

I mean the logic behind the handsfree is that there is too much distraction because of it. So let's see ... hmm... i wanna call Santa Claus ... so I'll pick up my phone ... look up on the road .. quickly unlock it and bring up the names starting with 'S' (since most people can do these things without actually looking at the phone) ... look down and confirm if it's on 'S' .. then get back to looking on the road ... then scroll down on the phone and in my memory ... then glimpse down on the phone to confirm if I'm pointing at the right number, then click 'dial' while looking up and then talk away and make my wishes and tell him what a nice boy i've been and that i've been keeping the toilet seat up ... all while having my eyes on the road !!!
All in all ... that musta taken me about 2-3 seconds max of focussing on the phone and not on the road and the traffic. But then ofcourse, one could give a very valid argument that the 2-3 seconds distraction could actually mean the difference between life and death. But then there are so many other things that can cause distractions for that crucial time !!! --- For starters, passengers should be banned from indulging in any kind of conversations with the driver .. even if it includes giving directions as such acoustic vibrations and distortions could mess with the driver's head and cause a pile up as long as the wall of china. Babies should be a strict no no as the driver may be forced to tend to the baby or the child while in the middle of the mission critical process called driving. Besides the cute toddlers may actually tempt the driver to look at them and smile thus causing a catastrophe. Basically, passengers of any kind should just be banned as anything they do (for example talk on the phone to a third person or sing) may cause a disturbance and thus a distraction for the driver.
Next, advertisements in the form of big boards, etc. should be banned as the pictures and the messages actually tempt the driver to look away from the road and focus on them thus again causing the 2-3 seconds fatal distraction.
Being a guy, I would also like to suggest to the courts to prohibit good looking women from walking on the sidewalks or anywhere in the proximities of 'driving zones' as they definitely take focus away from the road and life in general and also risk being picked up by the rapist gangs that patrol the roads more often than the cops.
... and that was just from the handsfree bit !!!

Smoking and driving is another story. I would just like to rest my argument with the fact that music systems should be banned as they have little buttons which require the driver (at times) to leave one hand from the steering wheel (watch out !) and press 'em. Also, all those guys who drive vehicles should have their balls cut off as they have a tendency to start itching at the wrong times and the wrong places and may, again, distract the driver's hands to indulge in some 'unhealthy activities'.

What I'm basically trying to drive at, is the fact that the courts should not insult the intelligence of the population as a whole and should consider them human beings with normally developed brains which are capable of handling minimal tasks simultaneously.

Secondly, they authorities should actually take a driving test for people rather than handing them out like chocolates for Rs. 500 a piece thus ensuring that the person would have enough cognitive abilities to manage chewing with the mouth closed at the same time.

The rest should be trusted upon free will and self regulation which generally rides on substantial rationality with a little acceptable exceptions without which the world would be a boring place and the car insurance companies would go bankrupt.

Friday, March 30, 2007

I'm sleepy ...

Doctor : "Check his vitals to see if he's still alive !"
Nurse : "There's is not much activity doctor ... the pulse is barely there ... pupils are dilated ... and ... but but ... what's this ! it sounds like a ... like ... damn ! it sounds like he's snoring !"
Patient : ZZZZZZZZzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz [snore...]

P.S. : apologies if u didn't get it ... meant for a small audience :)