Friday, February 27, 2009

Return of the Pest

It is back...The buzz, the drone, the constancy, the presence.

That smile you hate so much...

That pep as if all were well with the world when in reality it is all crashing down...

That voice which refuses to quiet down...endless syllables rolling out...

That message you don't even want to open, apprehensive of what it might contain...another ray of light from a black hole sun...

That person who keeps popping up over and over again like a bad song stuck in your head and you can't get rid of...with an impractical, utopic, hopeless optimism for the point of driving you nuts with it...that amusingly strong belief in all things good...that cheeky faith...sometimes you wish you could have just wished it all away and been happy in the real world...

That Pest.

Monday, February 16, 2009

Neela Drifts

This has been a week of discovering some very good music and it is like medicine for my soul…the melodies and their magic. And the latest wave of the wand happens to be the song Neela Drifts by Brian Tyler from the soundtrack of The Fast and The Furious: Tokyo Drift.

The first time I heard this song on my headphones I could actually see t
he place it took me to in my mind's eye…the song started slowly as if it were a soft whisper calling out to me, beckoning me to take a path …leading to a closed door…the guitar caught up as I rose and stood up…the lead guitar kicked in as I took the first step towards the door beyond which lay the unknown…I followed the music and continued walking the path, full of anticipation and hope…the music built up as I reached the door…there was a stillness in the song while I pushed the door open…a bright flash of light blinded me momentarily…I stepped inside and the view started to clear as I walked on, the drums braced me for what awaited…there was a roll as the view cleared and I discovered the beauty in front of me, spellbound…it was like stepping into my own Neverland…a land of fairies where there was gold dust in the air, there were colours all around, there were gurgling streams glistening in soft sunlight, there were rising mountains wrapped in mist watching over me…it was a world where anything was possible and all my dreams came true…in short as the song ended and played the lead piece again it felt like I had come home...I felt nice.While listening to it another time, I was transported to that night when we were at the Kaup Beach…with the waves crashing boisterously against the sands, pitch darkness all around, a sheet of black overhead where there were a million twinkles that one could look at forever as one lay on the back, star-gazing…there were two or three fishing boats out at sea, their yellow dots of light marking the horizon, and there was this beam from the lighthouse that swept across that darkness every few seconds…calling all those who were out at sea, home…showing them the way. I got up a while later and walked along the shore in the darkness, alone…I felt small in front of the wild sea…even a little scared…I needed someone to hold hands with but no one came and I went to sleep by myself. The next sight I witnessed was the colours of sunrise brightening the sky while I was still half-asleep…that’s what I see in my mind when the stillness pervades the song. Then there was the endless blue sea against the blue sky that you could stare at forever as the white waves redecorated the shore every few seconds. We collected shells and ambled around on the beach before returning to civilization. Neela Drifts is a beautiful way to go back to that night and drift through it.There are many other things I see at various times when I hear this song over and over again…every time I close my eyes it is like thrusting my hand into a goody bag…I don’t know what’s in store for my imagination –A long stretch of the highway with only green fields on either side and a long string of good music playing as the wheels roll…taking us nowhere in particular but forward…

A walk through fog-wrapped Brno peering at Church steeples that strained to hide behind the curtains…A view of the valley and mountains and sunrise over them from that quaint old home-stay in Sakleshpur…

Walking through the empty town-square of Banska Bystrica hearing the air being filled with sounds of church bells and chimes…walking silently through the decorated cemetery with views of the snow-capped Tatras in the distance…

Watching the falling snow from the window of my apartment today evening when I was home for a short while and how beautiful it made everything else look too while this song played in the background…tears flowing out of my eyes as I got overwhelmed by what I saw and had no one to share it with or understand how I felt about it…

It is probably all this and more…I cannot really describe how I feel deep inside when I hear this song…only what I see along with it…it stirs me…some songs are like that…seven colours, seven heavens and seven notes…they make it all complete.

Neela Drifts by Brian Tyler on Grooveshark

Saturday, February 14, 2009

European Beauty

I guess I could be pretty pissed off about what happened to me, but it’s hard to stay mad when there’s so much beauty in the world. Sometimes I feel like I’m seeing it all at once and its too much. My heart fills up like a balloon that’s about to burst.

And then I remember to relax and stop trying to hold on to it. And then it flows through me like rain and I can’t feel anything but gratitude for every single moment of my stupid little life.

-Lester Burnham in American Beauty

It is 7 AM on a Saturday in Bratislava. There are Magpies flying in the sky, sitting on rooftops and hopping in the snow…their black feathers standing out upon the glistening sheets of fresh snow. The sky is just about beginning to lighten up and there is a mix of colours each fighting for attention…the train of the departing night’s dress leaves everything washed in blue while there is still the orange from the sodium vapour lamps falling on the snow around the corners of the pavements…the sky is whitening at the edges.

The small brown-walled convenience store in the corner with sloping roofs and white snow over it has been open since 5 AM and every once in a while an early riser steps out with a bag of goodies in his hands. A man or two are walking the pavements in the blue-light of the morning.

Dawn broke a while ago after a night of snowfall…under an orange sodium vapour lamp it seemed like pieces of magic falling from the sky…soft and gentle. There were scattered footsteps in the snow when we returned to the office close to morning…there had been wayfarers who had been up in this beautiful night… while most people were dreaming under warm coverlets…a night when the wind blew magic all over the city.

Honestly it is hard to stay either sad or mad when you see beauty around you. And there is a whole lot of it in the world. On snowy days like this…

…Or on clear days when I wake up in a quiet apartment…my flatmate in deep sleep. I sit in bed dressed in my grey pyjamas and grey T-shirt and contemplate upon what to do. I do not want to leave the warmth of the soft blanket but I do not feel like staying in bed any longer either. So I step onto the warm wooden floor and amble into the rather spacious living room. And I catch God painting at leisure…strokes of orange, pink and lavender. I stand at the window mesmerized listening to the sounds of the house and watching…collecting myself after witnessing such splendour.

…On days when it is raining and there is a bevy of cars on the street below, their red lights decorating the road like a string of Christmas lights…and the yellow traffic light watching its blinking reflection on the empty wet street, a tram passing in the background.

…Or on sunny days when the sky is a stark shade of blue and there is a slight wind blowing. One steps out on empty roads on a clear Sunday morning and owns the whole city…an occasional cyclist or a couple on a walk passes by. One walks through the stone cobbled lanes of the old town, ambling into parks that have shaken the snow off and invite you to sit on a sunny bench with a book…lose yourself into your own world.

One sees sculptures from another era washed in bright sunlight and set against the clear blue sky. It is as if new life were infused into the city after weeks of hibernation. Walking up to the castle, one sees a lone plastic coffee cup make its way up, dancing in the wind and on the winding pathway. It rattles against the stone, bounces off the sidewalk and continues upward.

And I remember American Beauty…the plastic bag dancing in the wind…and I realize what I have been witnessing all this while…my own version of European Beauty.

And that makes feel nothing but gratitude for every single moment of my stupid little life…

Thursday, February 12, 2009

The Curious Case Of Benjamin Button

So I wanted to see this movie only for Brad Pitt. Can you really blame me for that? This is Brad Pitt we are talking about! Does any girl need a better reason to watch a movie??

Anyway, The Curious Case Of Benjamin Button is based on a short story by Scott Fitzgerald. I haven’t read the story (now I want to) but like most short stories this one seems to have been bordering on abstract. I couldn’t put my finger on what the takeaway from the movie was. And that was disappointing after all the things one had heard about the movie what with the Academy Awards and stuff.

The Curious a story of a man who grows young as he ages. So he is born with the afflictions of the body of an 80 year old man and starts to grow younger and stronger from that point on even as his age progresses. It is about being different and all the pain it brings with itself. It has many profound thoughts echoing throughout that leave you pondering…things like –

“There is something about coming home. It looks the same, feels the same, smells the same. You realize that its you who has changed.”

"We are defined by opportunities...even the ones we miss."

“You may be mad as a mad dog at what happened to you and you may kick and scream but in the end you have to let go.”

"They say he died of a broken heart..."
(I think that is a very possible and plausible cause of death)
The story is based in the time after the First World War and has been shot with appropriate colour tones and accessories. It has instances of cinematographic excellence and the shots where they showcase grand sunrises or magical snowfalls in Russia had me in tears due to their sheer majesty. Yet, the story runs in fragments and does not exactly flow smoothly…it needs a little interpretation. And it has not been wrapped up appropriately at all. I just did not get it if it was meant to be understood.

On top of that, it does not leave you feeling good…it is a sad story. It might as well have been the reason I woke up feeling so depressed today morning…I mean I had one of the worst days ever.

Brad Pitt is the ornament on the screen. He looks cute even with an old face and is a treat to watch in his younger/present form, which should be no surprise at all…whether it is in formal clothes with elegant overcoats or in the classic blue and white sailor’s combination as he sits on the boat in the sun…whether it is on the tugboat or on a bike riding the highway…and the best part is to watch him in his short stint in India…just the thought is highly amusing!

So overall, nothing great about it. The intellectuals may watch it once to ponder upon it…and kindly let me know when you figure it out. Coz I am curious to know what the Curious Case of Benjamin Button is all about!

To Be Free

I have always believed that things in life happen for a reason. They always happen for the good. And you are sent things and people at the exact time when they should be sent for you. No sooner, no later. There is a reason why some incidents, people, things are part of your life no matter how unfair and nonsensical their presence seems at the time of their appearance.

It happens to me in terms of music too. I always find the right song at the right time. The songs always have the most apt lyrics and the best melody to make me feel better at any given time. The music is my companion at all times…until the laughter dies down and the smiles fade, through the frowns and till I’m able to smile again, and at all the times in between. Somehow the Universe always knows…and that makes me believe in it…it knows what it is sending my way and there is always a song waiting around the corner for me…it is more than just coincidence…

And like always I found this song yesterday coz they knew I’d need it today…It is my song today and it is holding my hand so I can lean on it…until the storm passes…

To Be Free by Emiliana Torrini.

Once in a house on a hill
A boy got angry
He broke into my heart

For a day and a night
I stayed beside him
Until I had no hope

So I came down the hill
Of course I was hurt
But then I started to think

It shouldn't hurt me to be free
It's what I really need
To pull myself together
But if it's so good being free
Would you mind telling me
Why I don't know what to do with myself

There's a bar by the dock
Where I found myself
Drinking with this man
He offered me a cigarette
And I accepted
'Cause it's been a very long time
As it burned 'till the end
I thought of the boy
No one could ever forget

It shouldn't hurt me to be free
It's what I really need
To pull myself together
But if it's so good being free
Would you mind telling me
Why I don't know what to do with myself

To pull myself together
But if it's so good being free
Would you mind telling me
Why I don't know what to do with myself

To pull myself together
But if it's so good being free
Would you mind telling me
Why I don't know what to do with myself

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Anywhere Anyone

Discovered this brilliant song two days ago and cannot get enough of it. It is one of those songs that you should play and close your eyes and listen will take you to another world...any place you want to be. And it is aptly called Anywhere Anyone.

There are no lyrics as such but the only two lines it has make a whole lot of sense. This is one of those songs you listen to only because they are magical in their music. If you want to be transported to a calm serene place in your head for a while, press Play.

The video is based on the movie Memento and is not the original. But try and listen to just the song if you may...and let me know where it takes you...



The small irritating things in your life, around your house, at the back of your mind…

Like the rats that start their chatter just when you are drifting into good slumber…

Like the lone mosquito that can ruin eight hours of rest and refuses to go away…

Like that hum of the refrigerator when all goes quiet, the drone that refuses to go away…

Like that leaking tap…drop by drop in the lull…every second…it refuses to go away…

Like that low buzz of vehicles anywhere and everywhere in the city…no respite…and it refuses to go away…

Like that person…

Who refuses to go away…

The way your nerves feel around your temples when you hear the voice…see that message…that drone of endless sentences rolling out one after another…it all refuses to go away…


Saturday, February 07, 2009

Dreams Come True

“…Instead we are doing the Eastern Europe tour early May next year - Prague/Vienna/Bratislava/Cesky Krumlov/Dresden/Budapest & Krakow for 12 days. Please check again after 10 days.”

That was instead of Scotland and Ireland. And that was early May LAST year. I hadn’t even heard of three cities on that list at that point…including Bratislava…precisely the place where I landed up within 6 months of that trip being scheduled…and precisely the place to be for a traveller with dreams of Vienna and Budapest in her eyes.

I owed a visit to Budapest for sentiment’s sake. But I owed a visit to Vienna on that list for emotion’s sake. I had always wanted Europe to be my first destination abroad… London actually, but yes any place in Europe would do just as well. And every time I thought about it in the past three odd years, Vienna always popped up right after London.

I forget how I developed such a fascination for Vienna. Maybe it was after I read up most available travel literature about the city and discovered that Vienna loved coffee just as much as I. I dreamt about walking the stone cobbled streets of Vienna, having a coffee in one of the umpteen sidewalk cafes in Vienna and experiencing the romance of Vienna. I had fallen in love with the idea of Vienna more than anything else!

I set foot in Vienna today. After an hour of gazing at the pretty Austrian landscape as seen from the Eurail that we boarded in Bratislava, I set foot in Vienna.

I may even have been asleep…my dream played out in front of my eyes and I had trouble distinguishing fact from fiction…I walked on the streets of Vienna, had gourmet coffee and Mozart Tart in one of the best cafes in the First District, rode around the Centrum in a quaint horse-carriage and experienced the romance of Vienna!

If I had fallen in love with just an idea earlier, I fell in love all over again today with the embodiment of that idea…Vienna left me agape. They built that city with love. And it shows. One could walk around Vienna all day and not know at the end of the day what the pavement looks like. Each building is different from the other…it is like witnessing a beauty pageant albeit of brick and mortar beauties.

Awash with mixed emotions I floated though Vienna…ecstasy at yet another dream being realized, awe at the fact that humans are capable of creating beauty as much as they are capable of spreading ugliness around, contentment of having a life of no regrets so far, sadness that comes with missing the ones you love so much that it hurts and you can feel it in the stomach and then a daze…coz you stop recognizing distinct emotions after a point. I floated in and out of dreams…dreams that always come true if you dream hard enough and put all your faith in them. It is like the Westlife song:
Dreams are there to show you the way
Better take a look inside
Close your eyes find out what they're trying to say
You gotta take a look inside

Only for a minute
Just to make a start
Imagine what you wanna see

Wake him up the wizard
Sleeping in your heart
Just imagine what you wanna be
Don't you know that

Dreams come true they do
Dreams come true
From all of us to all of you they do
Don't you know that dreams come true…

They really do : )

The wonder did not end as we left Vienna. It got more interesting as we met a lady who had to leave for Canada during the Socialist Revolution of 1968 in the Czechoslovak Republic and listening to her experiences gave me an entirely new perspective on a lot of things.

That is the best part about travel…people and their stories…in fact that is the best part about life…people…our people. That is the culmination of all dreams and that is what adds meaning to all dreams…to have a bunch of people to send postcards to as you miss them in a foreign land and want only one thing more than being in a wonderful land – to return to them, to have some people to come back home to/with and talk about all the collected memorabilia of emotions over a cup of tea, to have someone listen to your mindless chatter about trivia from the trip which makes no sense anyway and yet you get a listening ear coz they feel happy just to see you bubble around with the excitement of pouring it all out.
As we all immediately retire to our personal Universes upon reaching the apartment, I enter my Universe filled with dreams so I can fill it some more and give way to sweet slumber coz I miss my people too much right now…and I need to dream about them to keep myself going. So good night…and sweet dreams : )

Tuesday, February 03, 2009

Love Story

I woke up early for a Sunday morning and considering the fact that we had travelled the previous day. But I was in a hurry to talk to my loved ones. Once that was done I had some time on hand and I was exploring Deezer when I discovered this song. Even as I sat in that dark corner of my apartment with snow falling from a cloudy sky outside, suddenly rays of golden sunshine shone on me, my smile widened and my face brightened. It really turned my Sunday into a ‘Sun’day…I loved this one especially for how it turns around in the end : ) – Love Story by Taylor Swift…it makes me feel good every single time I hear it…

We were both young when I first saw you
I close my eyesAnd the flashback starts
I'm standing there
On a balcony of summer air

See the lights, See the party, the ball gowns
I see you make your way through the crowd
You say hello
Little did I know

That you were Romeo you were throwing pebbles
And my daddy said stay away from Juliet
And I was crying on the staircase
Begging you please don't go, and I said:

Romeo take me somewhere we can be alone
I'll be waiting all there's left to do is run
You'll be the prince and I'll be the princess
It's a love story baby just say yes

So I sneak out to the garden to see you
We keep quiet cause we're dead if they know
So close your eyes
Escape this town for a little while

Cause you were Romeo I was a scarlet letter
And my daddy said stay away from Juliet
But you were everything to me
I was begging you please don't go and I said:

Romeo take me somewhere we can be alone
I'll be waiting all there's left to do is run
You'll be the prince and I'll be the princess
It's a love story baby just say yes

Romeo save me, they try to tell me how to feel
This love is difficult, but it's real,
Don't be afraidWe'll make it out of this mess
It's a love story baby just say yes, oh,

I got tired of waiting
Wondering if you were ever coming around
My faith in you was fading
When I met you on the outskirts of town I said:

Romeo save me I've been feeling so alone
I keep waiting for you but you never come
Is this in my head, I don't know what to think
He knealt to the ground and pulled out a ring

And said:

Marry me Juliet you'll never have to be alone
I love you and that's all I really know
I talked to your dad go pick out a white dress
It's a love story baby just say yes!

Love Story is a sweet song to listen to. It has a nice music video with costumes from the days of Romeo and Juliet, and graceful ball dancing, and a view of the meadows…its nice to watch and feel good about. You can hear the song here: .

My favourite lines from the song apart from the end (ok as a girl I am completely allowed to love sloppy romantic portions of anything – songs, movies, books : ) ) are these:

This love is difficult, but it's real,
Don't be afraid
We'll make it out of this mess
It's a love story baby just say yes

Love is never a cakewalk. It takes effort…sometimes mammoth effort…but its all worthwhile in the end. One just needs to take the first step on the path strewn with flowers at some points and with painful thorns at others. Some people get more of one and less of another yet its everybody’s treasure…it’s the only treasure…and I wish for everyone to find this treasure : )

Sunday, February 01, 2009

Budapest In Budapest

I walked into a multiplex yesterday. I didn’t know which screening to attend as I attend most of them fairly regularly. So I picked the special screening. It was called ‘Budapest In Budapest’. And I returned overwhelmed.

The multiplex of my mind has many screens…Screen One is what’s flashing in front of my eyes – of the present; Screen Two is parallel universe – of how I would have liked the present to be (this screen does not have screenings very regularly); Screen Three is the future – of how I see or would like to see things shape up…my day dreams; Screen Four is the past – the one with the regular screenings of memories, fond or otherwise…and then there is Screen Five which is for special screenings only – where my heart digs out an obscure memory…one I thought would just remain buried but turns out to be otherwise. It is this screen I walked into yesterday.

When I was a child, my father used to call me and my sister as Budapest and Bucharest…maybe he picked it off the news about the ongoing conflict then (we were called Trincomali-Batticaloa at another point in time…even Akdu-Pakdu when The Jungle Book was all over Doordarshan)…maybe he liked the way it rhymed…maybe he wanted us to be good at Geography. But off and on, we used to be addressed by these nicknames. And they stayed in the mind like that…not as capitals cities but as our nicknames.

And then other memories piled up. And these names became like books lined up at the bottom of an old trunk…where one has carefully stored all keepsakes.

But then I came to Bratislava and serendipitously discovered that it was located just a short train ride away from Budapest. And suddenly it was like reopening that old trunk to pull out an old favourite book. And I wanted to do justice to that book. So I decided to read it by visiting this city of which I had heard only from my father.

So yesterday we set out to visit the beautiful twin cities of Buda and Pest…for me it was a pilgrimage of memory. The train journey on the Eurail was slow and allowed one to see the wonderful landscape of Europe at leisure. The people in Budapest were friendly and helped us find our way around the Metro System and Bus System whenever we asked for help. The locales of the Castle Hill were charming with only cobbled stone roads around and not too much of a crowd. One could get lost looking at the view of the city from various points around the castle wall but most of all from the Fisherman’s Bastion. I kept clicking as many pictures as I could to remember this first visit to Budapest and kept missing my special ones throughout the day…most of all my Dad…he would have been happy to see pictures from this gem of European History.

We met another Indian girl in Budapest and she joined us as she had no company. We were then more and merrier and we saw the whole place together and had lunch together too. This was one of those encounters that are destined to happen, paths that are meant to cross for some reason. We were late in the morning at Bratislava and caught a train that was quite late. Had we taken an earlier train we might not have met her at all!

I had been desperate to see the Parliament lit up from across the river but it did not seem like we would get to as we were almost out of time. We wouldn’t know where to go to see that brilliant sight and would have just gone straight to the Train Station. But then we met a man at the Metro Station who asked us if we wanted a picture of all four of us together (which has been a rare occurrence in Europe so far). Then he asked us if we were from India and greeted us with a ‘Namaste’!

He went on to mention all the things he knew about India – Haathi Mere Saathi (he has a DVD!!), Chapati, Samosa etc. He asked us if we were tourists and were returning from Budapest immediately. And then he said why we were not going to see the illuminated Parliament because it is so beautiful. He told us to get off at the very next station, get out of the station, take pictures in 5 minutes and get back! It was all I could have asked for on this trip. He said that his Indian name was Mahesh. And then he said (and I still haven’t understood why because it was totally unrelated to our conversation) – ‘I am your angel. I will disappear in some time. I have someone else to help’. And I believed him…Daddy must have sent him so I wouldn’t miss a breathtaking sight : )

I returned from Budapest with a feeling of contentment. I had paid my homage to the man who had made my childhood such a special place to be in…even in memory. This was one of those rare times when screens changed midway though the screening from Five to One. I enjoyed it immensely anyway. And I hope Daddy enjoyed the fact too…