It’s Never Too Late For Anything

 

I woke up this morning to realize that it’s been 562 days since I last logged into this site and wrote something. It dawned on me when I was brushing my teeth, swaying half-asleep in front of the bathroom mirror. I don’t know why it did; it was one of those strange, disconnected thoughts one has after waking up from a troubled sleep that lasts less than five hours.

I’d just seen Negan beat the shit out of Glenn and Abraham the previous night (or to be precise, very early this morning), and those images stuck with me as I had tried to sleep. Somewhere in the walker-muddled mini nightmares that kept me tossing and turning, a tiny neuron sparked to life in the dark recesses of my brain and told me that I hadn’t written a blog post in quite a long time. Through my morning alarm and the obligatory emptying of a laden bladder, and halfway through brushing my teeth, my groggy brain managed to do the math and arrive at an accurate number of days since I’d last written something here. Google and a calculator confirmed the math to be accurate.

562 days.

It’s been an eventful 562 days, to understate it. With most of these days being spent under the dark cloud of my little brother’s death, there were a few moments that made me want to continue running in this veritable rat race. I drew my strength from a lot of quarters – people and places special to me helped me untangle myself from the quagmires of bad memories I frequently wandered into.

My wife, who’s been an absolute rock beside me through all my cathartic misdemeanors, finally found her calling in documenting the world. Her photographs are now being exhibited internationally – a journey that’s taken its toll on her, both mentally and physically. A broken nose and a fractured hand bear witness to her fights with destiny.

My parents have shown remarkable feats of strength to pull themselves out of the despair that only comes with losing a child. The coffers of hope and optimism are slowly being filled again.

With a couple of days to go for this year to end, I wonder what lies in store for us in the new year. If anything, the past 562 days have taught me three things that I’d like to leave you with, in the hope that your 2018 be a bit better than your 2017.

  1. It’s never too late to mend bridges. Go on, pick up that phone and talk to your parents. Your siblings. Your grandparents. That friend you haven’t spoken to in over 562 days. Mend those bridges because you won’t be able to live with yourself when it’s too late.
  2. That thing you’ve been wanting to do forever, but haven’t found the time, money, or the courage to – do it. Do it today. Take that vacation you’ve always wanted to. Tie that bungee cord around your ankles and leap off the bridge. Take that risk you’ve always wanted to. You won’t find a better time to do it than right now.
  3. Believe in your ability to pursue happiness. That’s what we all want, right? Peace of mind and happiness – those little specks of light at the end of the tunnel. It’s why you’re working a 9-5 job. It’s why you’re saving up. It’s why you have a cheat meal every week. Those lights aren’t too far away. Believe in your ability to pursue them.

Here’s hoping that it won’t take me another year-and-a-half to come back here and write something. Oh, and wish you a fantastic year ahead. May your dreams come true and your nightmares stop.

Amit Sharma’s “False Ceilings” Is A Book Worth Reading Twice

falseceilingsThis is one of those rare book reviews that I’m doing. I usually avoid book reviews – being an author myself, I find the task too personal. More often than not, I imagine myself in the author’s shoes, and I try to imagine what kind of a book review he/she would expect. Or hope for. The answer comes easily for me, having been on the other side of the transaction many times. But this time it’s different. This time, it’s Amit Sharma I’m talking about. And Amit’s not any author. He’s a damn good one.

Amit and I’ve known each other for a long time, never in person, but through our words. We used to be frequent commentators on each other’s blogs for more than a decade. I’ve known him to be a funny, witty, and talented writer. I don’t know what he thought of me, back in the day, when toilet humor used to be my claim to fame, but he kept coming back to read my drivel, more out of pity, I think.

And while I’ve continued to write drivel, Amit’s moved up in the world, and has finally published his book. False Ceilings, which was released in January of this year, is, in a nutshell, fantastic.

I confess that I took my time with this. For a lot of reasons, I couldn’t finish the book in the time I told him I would. And I think he gave up on me a long time ago. But, I did finish the book, and I’m so glad I did. The book is a fascinating read. The characters, the plot, the dialog, and the flow of the prose is strong enough to keep a reader hooked till the end. The second half of the book has more meat, and moves much faster than the first half, I thought, and once you get to the halfway mark, you’d be foolish to stop.

We all have secrets. We all fail to keep some, and succeed in keeping others. But when a secret has the ability to run someone’s life, would you still keep it? Would you be compelled to hold your silence? I don’t know about myself, but Amit’s done a fascinating job of guiding his lead characters through these morally oblique questions of life. The internal monologues, the machinations of a vengeful mind, the loyalties of a few, and the betrayals of others are laid out spectacularly well.

The book does not hurry you. It does not jump to conclusions. There is a lot of patience in the plot. You’ll know if you’re ever written something – the temptation to jump ahead in the narrative is always a threat that authors face. The story has already been laid out in the author’s mind, but to narrate it in a way that impacts the reader in the same way it does the author is a painstaking process. And Amit’s done this wonderfully well. Even when he talks about grief, pain, violence, and societal issues, he does not falter.

In the interest of being brutally honest, I wish the book would have been edited better. I could spot a few minor errors in grammar and punctuation, and I wish I could’ve ignored them. Amit’s language is very good, but whoever edited the book did him an injustice. I wish that these will be edited out in the next version.

Overall, I think it’s a book worth picking up and reading twice.

False Ceilings by Amit Sharma is available in leading bookstores, on Amazon and on Flipkart.

Here’s How You Can Stop Terrorism

Yes, you. Sitting on your chair or your bed, reading this. You have the power to rid the world once and for all of terrorism and fear. I’ll tell you how, and it won’t cost you a dime.

Let’s understand the nature of terror first – terrorists thrive because of the fear they instill in people. And people who are afraid will do almost anything to protect themselves. Including resorting to violence themselves. All the rubbish that’s happening around the world with people getting beheaded and burnt alive, is for us to consume. We can’t blame the media for reporting these incidents because it’s their job. But we have the power to choose what information we consume. Just imagine a world in which everyone turns off their TV or changes the channel when a terror attack is being reported. Just imagine a world in which we won’t be forced to be an audience for mindless violence. Without an audience, acts of terror aren’t acts of terror anymore. They are just crimes.

Let’s face it – most of the acts of terror that happen these days are only the benefit of the media, and nothing else. There is no deeper ideology and cause that they are “fighting for.”  Unfortunately, being human has made us curious animals and we want to read about and watch such wanton acts of violence.

Personally, I consider myself a happy man, unafraid of being blown up by a bomb or any such nonsense. I am so because I don’t read or watch things that are meant to instill fear in me. That’s not to say that I’m living under a rock. Don’t compare me to a cat that thinks it’s invisible because it closed its eyes. It’s just that my decisions aren’t based on fear.

So, how can  you stop terrorism? By not being part of the audience. Don’t click on those links, don’t read those news reports, don’t watch those stories on the news.

Sigh. If wishes were horses, the world would be such a beautiful place to live in.

The MirrorCracked Movie Review: John Wick

John_Wick_TeaserPoster

He’s traveled through time to write the most accurate history report in the history of mankind. He has traveled to Hell and back – literally –  to find out if his girlfriend’s sister has been taken by Lucifer. In the process, he has also battled the demon army that wanted to take over the World. He has stopped terrorists while riding a bus. He saved the entire World again, when machines threatened to take over and turn us into slaves. He’s led an army of Ronin to the brink of death and has come out victorious. He is Keanu Reeves.

And the Russians are stupid enough to break into his house and kill his puppy. 

That line pretty much sums up the John Wick experience. A bunch of Russians, led by Iosef (played by Theon Greyjoy, er, I mean Alfie Allen), break into Keanu Reeves’ house in the middle of the night, rough him up and, just for kicks, kill his puppy that had been gifted to him by his dead wife. It is then revealed that Keanu is none other than John Wick, a terrifying spectre who haunts people’s nightmares because he was the perfect killing machine, capable of “killing three people in a pub with a fuckin’ pencil!” as Viggo (played by Michael Nyqvist) puts it so eloquently. A retired hitman who used to work for Viggo in the past gets roughed up by Iosef – Viggo’s son.

The next 80 minutes of the movie follows John Wick as systematically prepares for and eliminates about a hundred Russian mobsters and causing, in typical Hollywood fashion, city-wide destruction of vehicles, buildings and everything else.

John Wick is superhuman, almost. The way he shoots people without having to take aim is almost too much fun to watch, and if any kids under the age of 12 watch the movie, they’d think shooting people is child’s play. In the end, he manages to kill everyone – I mean EVERYONE – and steals another puppy from a vet’s clinic and walks away in to the sunrise with it. We are led to believe that it’s disturbingly easy to kill people.

John Wick GIF

If anyone else apart from Keanu had played the part of John Wick, this movie would have been a joke. Keanu saves the day in his usual nonchalant, devil-may-care attitude. And that’s why we love him so much, don’t we? Don’t mess with Keanu!

The movie is worth a watch if you like mindless action movies with few dialogs and fewer plot lines. It’s worth a watch only for Keanu. Watch him, drool over him and forget the movie. The movie’s rated 7.3 on IMDB with over 74,000 votes. I’m guessing all of these people are hardcore Keanu fans.

 

This Is The Freakiest Thing That’s Happened To Me. Unfortunately, You Won’t Believe A Word It.

freaky coincidences that you won't believe

It’s fascinating the way history repeats itself. There are certain events that keep happening to us repeatedly, and all we can do is stand by and watch them unfold with a sense of wonder in our eye. In my case, this has happened far too often for it to be a coincidence.

For instance, I belong to the new breed of young (-ish) people who can’t be bothered with archaic things like loyalty to a company. I need excitement and I need to keep moving. If I work for a company longer than two years, something might be seriously wrong with me. Or the work is challenging enough to keep me there. Else, in the past eleven years, I have averaged about 13 months in a particular job. Each time I jump, I do it for the usual reasons – more money, better working conditions and more opportunities to learn something new.

Don’t get me wrong, I love it. I love the unpredictability that comes with this lifestyle. I love the fact that I’m earning at least three times more than what other people I graduated with are earning. But the funny thing about this situation is that I never do this consciously. Invariably, after about 6 months in a company, I feel the first strands of restlessness tugging at me. I start assessing my situation and by the 8th month or so, I would have usually taken the decision to move on.

But this post isn’t about my unusual career paths. It’s about an incident that happened today, which made me stop doing whatever I was doing, sit back and stare at the ceiling in wonder and amazement.

Here’s the bizarre drama: I was dating a girl a while back, let’s call her S. Now, a few months into our relationship, S asked me if she can transfer some money into my bank account because she had lost her ATM card, and she had to pay someone. She asked me to meet the person, withdraw the money and hand it over. A simple, everyday occurrence that most of us experience, right?

Now today, six-seven years later, another girl, who’s a colleague from work, whose name is also S, called me and asked me if she could transfer some money into my account because she had to pay someone and she had lost her ATM card.

The strangeness doesn’t end there:

  1. Both of them transferred the same amount of money.
  2. Both of them had to pay a man with the same name.
  3. Both of them transferred the money to my account in the same bank – HDFC.
  4. I am meeting the man to hand over the money in the same place where I met the earlier man, six-seven years ago – Indiranagar.
  5. I was in the second month of a new job back then. Same here, today. 
  6. I had had a wardrobe malfunction back then, having spilled tea on my white shirt, which forced me to change clothes and come to work a bit late . The exact same thing happened this morning. I am not shitting you!

Now, you may want to believe in supernatural forces and karma and coincidences, but I don’t. At least, I won’t admit to it in public. But this is too freaky to ignore.

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