‘twixt the cup and the lip

December 26, 2010 § 8 Comments


i am sitting in a Cafe Coffee Day located on that mess of teenage humanity and hair-gel, brigade road. i am using the internet from said coffee joint. have a cup of coffee next to me. i am being charged sixty two rupees (!) for half an hour’s worth of internet usage with one cup of ‘complimentary’ coffee. i do not like the coffee, i do not want the coffee, i desperately need longer/cheaper internet and preferably no paeans to a certain munni in the background, and yet, and yet..  here i am.


somewhere at the end of the metaphorical tunnel is a small, shady internet cafe that will charge me reasonable rates and not throw me out until ten pm. in a short while i will get back on my aching feet, hoist the ol’ backpack, wipe the metaphorical brow and proceed with courage in pursuit of this cafe of my dreams. in a short while the expense of sitting idle here will outweigh the comfort of sitting idle here, and i will return to my firmly middle-class roots, and my firmly middle class outrage will propel me out of this chair and out the door, with a short but ignominous stop on the way at the cashier’s, where i will pay out my sixty two rupees in ten rupee notes and small change. in just a short while i will be back on that grubby road, fighting for elbowspace with the rest of sweaty, harried bangalore.


in a short while, all in a short while.


until then, airconditioning is a thing of beauty and a joy forever, yo.


bengloor, bengloor

December 18, 2010 § 6 Comments


for the first time in the history of happenings to me, what has happened to me is that curious thing, a PG. a Paying Guest accommodation, for those of you who think importance lies in capitalisation.

i have only ever stayed in hostels or in houses. some houses were like hostels, and this was nice. some hostels were like houses and this was not nice. it is a definite not-nice to be accountable to a set of respectably tragic nuns who are always three curfew-violations away from a heart attack.

but PGs are a different breed. they are littler and less rules-ey and more accommodating and more apathetic, and perhaps one flows from the other. my roommate is a young malayali accountant and she is i think one of the most beautiful people i have ever seen. she is thin and dark and has beautiful teeth and waves of shiny black hair and quick, jerky movements that loop endlessly and accomplish nothing. and she has a deep voice, a little hoarse, like velvet rubbed the wrong way, and a great handle on how to use to it to dramatic effect. she has a perfect gesture of dismissal, a sort of flick of the hand, a click of the teeth, a sweeping of hair off one shoulder, and ‘bullsheet’ she says, ‘it izall bullsheet!’, delivered in this delicious malayali accent. and in that accent she tells me why gordon brown is bullsheet, the british exchequer has gontodawgz, and why virginia ‘oolf is not so bullsheet.

another malayali girl lives opposite me. she has a soft, tinkly laughter and a voice like a foghorn. she undulates everywhere with the ponderous grace of an elephant. she carries herself like a goddamn queen. i don’t think she understands a single word i say to her.

the weather is beautiful and i am freezing. my uniform of shorts and cutoffs is not working for me here, so  i am grumbly and possessed of an embarrassingly red nose. still, i love my work and i love walking to it. every morning i walk half the length of richmond road, and then some of residency road, and i remember, i used to live here. i can’t tell at all, but i can still tell a little. bangalore changes, but bangaloreans do not. and although i still want to push the occasional bangalorean in front of a bus, these days that sentiment is reserved for those with last name ‘yeddyurappa’.

today my head is throbbing and things look purpler than usual. i need sleep and a good sweater. my work timings have taken away my mealtimes, my sleeptimes and any sense of what day of the week it is, but the sense of organised purpose and unimpeded work is freeing. being pushed to my (admittedly modest) physical limits is freeing. exhaustion is freeing. it is the overwhelming sense of purposelessness that both attracts and frustrates me when i am in college; a strange twilight between inarticulate desire and mysterious impotence, a jelly-like stupor inside my mind and in my life that seduces me with its promise of absolute inaction and eventually leaves me dissatisfied for the exact same reason. happiness appears to lie in work for now, and perhaps my horizons are very narrow, but i will take them gratefully for what they are.

a couple of weeks ago i discovered what sthitapragnya actually translates to, and it makes me happy to have finally found the exact word for what i have spent years looking for.

through a glass, darkly / but then, face to face.

December 6, 2010 § 4 Comments

sometimes i really wonder why i do what i do and why i feel what i feel.

some of those times i suspect i know the answer, but it always comes with the nagging feeling that it is just a tad too glib to be right. occam’s razor may have worked for him, but i am left only with stubble and doubt.

many years before i came to law school, i decided i wanted to be the kind of lawyer who always smelt good. it’s not a strange criterion if you know how differently airconditioned firms and…ah..’delicately ventilated’ courts function.

this dream has nothing to recommend itself insofar as the practice of law actually is concerned. i’ve simply been seduced by the car salesman inside my mind who tells me that the bespoke ivory leather interiors are why the mustang purrs the way it does. it’s a lie, and i know it’s a lie, but god forgive me, how much i want to believe it!

for weeks now i’ve vacillated between the ‘right’ internship and the ‘risk’ internship; between the one that will sit comfortably on my resume, smug in the solid weight of its name, or the one that will mean nothing unless i can strip it to its barest nakedness and sell it for what it is, an aggregate of gritty practical experience. i promised myself in the angry, confident days of early law school that i would never forsake my own dreams at the altar of the Collective Corporate Epiphany that national law university students enjoy – suffer? –  somewhere in the middle of their second years here, but you know, i think i may have.

at every step i tell myself there’s nothing really wrong with my choices but god knows there’s nothing very right either.

this time, i told myself i’d try once more to pick the small guy to work with over the big shots. one last time, in my penultimate year at law school. i told myself it wouldn’t matter if i managed to find a posher, kosher alternative, because i would choose this time by the merit of the work and for the risk of the undertaking,  not by the name of the employer.

i tried and i lost. i’ll say in my defence that it was a hard fought battle in my mind, but what does that matter? i had thought that my one big strength was my ability to take a risk, but as it turns out, the leap of faith is a leap too far for me.

they say everything is a question of perspective; to my friends my problem is a no-brainer, but in trying to deal with it, i have felt like Pliny the Younger must have felt watching Pompeii fall. the fact that i found what should have been a small decision so terribly large is also, if you enjoy macabre humour, hilarious, in that it serves to show what a very small person i really am in comparison. perspective, you say? well perspective’s quite the bitch, isn’t she?

in summation, what has happened now is,  i’ve won, but i feel like shit.

at least i think i’ve won. i can’t really tell anymore.

well played, Fate you asshole. well played.

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