2011: Acknowledgements & Year In Review

2011 Year in ReviewIt’s been a long-drawn battle with time, and I finally won. A crappy year ends and a hopeful, new one begins. There were so many instances in 2011 when I thought that things couldn’t get worse, and each time I was proven wrong. I have laughed, cried, fought, patched up, been cheated, cheated myself, been lied to, lied myself and finally, searched for the eternal peace which has seemed just barely out of reach for so long. The past year has had occasions of absolute bliss and considerable misery for me, and I will very glad to end this year on a good note, with friends, lovely strangers and a lot of well-earned alcohol.

2011 began for me on a fairly good note, with a job offer at a promising firm. Just a couple of months down the line, I realized my mistake and it was too late to rectify it. The company turned out to be a nightmarish hell-hole managed by lesser mortals and run by an insect. After being sucked dry, my will to go forth and survive took over and I quit the garage (yeah, it was a communications firm being run out of a garage) and started managing my own firm, which had been neglected so far.

I did that for a few months and made some absolutely lovely friends in the process. Here’s a shout out to Satish and everyone at Design Esthetics. A couple of more months saw me take up scuba diving as a pseudo profession. But, as luck may have it, the dive center for whom I was doing the marketing, was run by another insect who turned out to be a bastard of the highest order who cheated all his employees out of their hard-earned money and respect. It’s only sweet justice that his business is ruined and he has nowhere left to run. Oh, I’m waiting to see the asshole’s face in the papers when he gets arrested for fraud.

Things got really interesting after that, and I reached a point where I had to dip into my savings for the first time in five years, just to survive. A year-long courting ritual with a well-known and respected multinational communications firm finally reached fruition and I made the decision to move to Mumbai, tentatively at first, to check out the playing field. It was a decision that I have not regretted and I’m pretty sure I won’t regret for a few more years.

On the personal front, things couldn’t get more strange than they did in 2011. I had a lot of illusions shattered this year when the woman I was in love with turned out to be nothing more than that – an illusion. I made a few bad decisions, I agree, but when two people love each other, they are capable of both pain and pleasure. I realized that money plays a vital role in deciding how long you can love someone. So, on a fateful day in November this year, I lost someone very close to me and made me wonder if she ever was capable of loving someone for who they are and not how much their wallets can carry.

Just when I thought I’d give up hope on 2011 being a good year, I rediscovered what it was to fall in love with someone totally unexpected. A fresh feeling of puppy love, evolving into lust and desire and at this point of time, to a steady state of mutual understanding, trust and faith, made me a believer again. Here’s a warm bear hug to the woman I’m in love with – the hottest mallu chick in the world. Yeah, I’m dating a mallu, and if anyone’s got a problem with that, you can pick a number, get in line and kiss my ass when your number’s called.

If I were to send one message to 2011 and all it’s incidents and people, all it’s merry and misery, it would be this: Good riddance to bad rubbish.I can’t wait to enter the new year. I’m ever the optimist, cautiously pessimistic and according to my girlfriend, annoyingly pragmatic.

All the people who have made my 2011 bearable: Rohit Nayak, for his constant support and encouragement; Pavan Attavar, for making sure I never got drunk alone; Mum & Dad, for their support through financial famines; Satish, for his trust and belief in my limited abilities; Nargis Namazi, for making the transition to Mumbai that much more easy; Sagar Pandey, for his warmth, generosity, hospitality and for allowing me to use his PS3; Mark Monteiro, for ensuring that I didn’t kill the asshole dive center owner by replacing the air in his tank with rat poison; Mahesh Bajaj, my newest friend who took the leap of faith and is hopefully in a better state of mind after Gokarna; Renuka Balachandran and Niveditha Singh, who made my days in the godforsaken garage bearable; Nitin Kumar and Pooja Rao, for their steady supply of sex scandals, movies, television shows and porn; Gitanjali More, for making sure that I got my steady supply of interesting conversations; and finally, a very special mention of my new-found sister, Aishwarya, without whose support and love, I would not have been able to settle into Mumbai.

My love to you all and I hope 2012 will be a fantastic year for all of you.

Two Zero Eight Four :)

I stood on the edge of land.

“I’m back, baby,” I whispered.

“I missed you,” she said.

“I missed you too.”

She responded by gently swirling around my ankles, gurgling as she withdrew and made way for another of her waves to wash over me. I had a smile the whole weekend in Gokarna. I’ve written about what it means to me, so I won’t do it again. I missed the sea, her warmth, her cold, her whispers and her screams, her love, her fury and her caress.

I made two wonderful friends this time in Gokarna. Here’s a shout out to Mahesh and Chris. Hope life takes you both where you want to go, and I hope Gokarna has been as therapeutic to you as it has been to me.

I was born on August 20, 1984. Or, in other forms, 20-08-84. A contraction of the same – 2084 – has always been a special number to me, at least for the past few years when I discovered it. It’s a perfect contraction, and aesthetically speaking, it feels beautiful and complete.

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So, all my contemplation and thinking and chickening out ended on Saturday. I got my first tattoo, and I think it beats the shit out of any abstract designs!

Gokarna & Why I Go There

This one goes out to all those unfortunate, uninitiated and uninspired individuals. Get off your high horse and read this.

There may be a hundred reasons why a person goes to Gokarna. People looking to get laid, people looking to score and get high, people looking for a nice, secluded beach and people wanting to offer their prayers in India’s most sacred temple. I don’t know if there are any other reasons, and frankly, I don’t really care why people go there.

I go there for a totally different reason, and its none of the above.

I lead a difficult life. I need to balance my passion to work, my unceasing urge to travel and roam aimlessly across the country, my singularly fierce attraction to beaches and my bank account. Juggling these four volatile substances while playing air hockey with the family, the bosses, the peers, the juniors, the friends, the foes, the creditors, the goons, the loons, the whackadoodles, the geniuses, the crap, the stench and the slippery slopes of bankruptcy, unemployment and loneliness around every corner is taking its toll on my nerves.

There are very few things I’m passionate about, and those that I am passionate about, I am so with a vehemence unseen in anyone else, for anything else. I do not go to Gokarna to ‘do drugs’. I do not go to Gokarna to ‘sleep with women’. I do not go to Gokarna to ‘drink drinks’. I do not go to Gokarna to visit the temple and offer my prayers. I do not go to Gokarna for the sea food. I do no go to Gokarna for the rustic beauty of the village. I do not go to Gokarna to ogle at half-naked women lounging in the sun. I do not go to Gokarna because I love beaches and water. I do not go to Gokarna to swim in the ocean. I do not go to Gokarna to live. I do not go to Gokarna to die.

I go to Gokarna once every three months because I need to get away from the Greek tragedy that my life is fast unraveling to be; to clear my head of all thoughts – good and bad; to reboot myself. I go to Gokarna because its the only place on Earth that welcomes me without judging who I am or what I have done. I go to Gokarna because that is the only place on Earth where I am at peace. Completely.

I have a sea rock, which I call my own, ten feet out into the ocean, at Om Beach. Its a bit of a hike to get to the top of the rock, and once I get there, I sit, looking at the waves crashing into me on all sides, rising twenty feet high and spraying me with a mist of cold, salty water. I listen to the rush, the gurgle, the power and the wordless songs of the waves and as I stare out into the horizon, imagining a place beyond comprehension, where the sky kisses the ocean, I realize that I am peaceful, within and without.

Gokarna - kudle beachNothing of what is happening in life matters here. Time stands still for me, for the 48 hours I’m there. I put my feet up at a cafe, sipping sweet tea and reading a good book, or people watching on the burning, golden sands. I take a nice pleasant trek up to Kudle through thick brambles and open moors and I wade in the white sands until the sun starts to set. I walk back amidst the gathering darkness to Om Beach, walk all the way up to Half Moon and back again. As night descends around me, so does the peace, deeper inside me.

I need this. I can’t do without it. For the unfortunate, uninitiated and uninspired individuals, I recommend it. The only thing I get high on, when in Gokarna, is Gokarna itself.

Resolutions And Wishlists :)

There were quite some sights to behold last night:

1. Mom, who prides on being a teetotaler and frowns when I even think of alcohol,ย  nursing a mug of chilled beer and ‘Cheers’ing everyone in the room!

2. The great-grandmom of the family dancing to Elvis Presley’s “A Little Less Conversation”!

3. Uncles and aunties enacting skits and acting like kids!

4. Overflowing beer!

5. Four people trying to force open the cork of a wine bottle, without a cork-opener, and managing toย  break the cork into tiny pieces that fell into the wine!

6. Turning around in circles with a confused look because I was drunk and I couldn’t find the bottle of scotch!

7. Calling up friends and singing Nickelback songs while standing in the middle of the road!

8. Scrambling for money to fulfill the last-minute orders for booze in the packed wine store!

… and other memorable sweet nothings marked the end of 2008 and brought in the new year with much anticipated revelry, fireworks and a collected sigh of relief. It was something that everyone needed, I guess – a break. It was a fantastic start to the new year when I closed my eyes at 2 in the morning, drunk, expecting a major hangover and with a contented sigh on my lips.

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Resolutions, Wishlists, Hopes And Fears ๐Ÿ™‚

Once upon a time (2 days ago) Apar had asked me for my resolutions and I had deftly deferred (adamantly refused) the issue until the year actually begins. Now that it has, I can avoid it no more. Through my hungover haze, I thought about it and realized that there are quite a few things that I’d want to do this year – resolutions and wishes – and I made a rudimentary list. I began prioritizing them all, and here’s the final result:

    • I want to smile more this year, irrespective of the situation. I want to be able to convince myself that punching myself in the face while asleep is not worth losing a smile.
    • I want to make sure that I think seriously about making a resolution to consider the possibility of a faint chance of quitting smoking.
    • I want to get the two books in the pipeline out this year, come what may.
    • I wish this year has some surprises in store for me, because all 2008 had to offer was one heartbreak after another.
    • In the same vein, I hope to find true love, clichรฉd as it may sound. I’m tired of one-off dates and two-week affairs and one-month ‘girlfriends’. Sigh!
    • I want to go to France.
    • I want to succeed in organizing an All India Bloggers’ Meet in Gokarna this year – it started out as a South India Bloggers’ Meet, but I decided that Gokarna is too beautiful a place to make anyone jealous!
    • I want to feel like God – I want to buy an Avenger!
    • I wish I can convince myself to start working out again – running for 40 minutes a day isn’t enough. I want to pump iron again!
    • I wish I could sleep for 16 hours a day and laze around in bed for the other 8.
    • I’m going to booze more often and get drunk less often.
    • I wish I could wish for more wishes.
    • I wish I could make others feel better.
    • I wish people can live in peace without having to kill for it.
    • I wish I could make at least one person happy per day.
    • I wish I can grow a year old and look back at myself with pride for having accomplished at least one of the above.

Have a great year everyone! It’s been one hell of a journey, isn’t it? ๐Ÿ˜€

And So, The Crappy Year Finally Ends!

It took 365 days for this year to end. Usually, I wouldn’t have noticed how quickly the time flies and would have said some inane comment like, “I didn’t know how quickly the time flew this year!” but this time it’s different. It took an eternity for the year to end.

It was a crappy year, with good memories few and far between. Resisting the temptation to lash out at certain people,ย  slander a lot more and regret a lot of choices I’ve taken and decisions that I’ve made, I’ll try to re-live those moments that were worth remembering.

PS: All pictures have either been clicked by me or I hold the exclusive copyrights to them.

Brooklyn Bridge, NYC
January: Brooklyn Bridge, NYC
View From The Brooklyn Bridge
January: View From The Brooklyn Bridge
Central Park, NYC
January: Central Park, NYC

nyc-collage

Buffalo, NY
February - March: Buffalo, NY
Niagara Falls
February - March: Niagara Falls
Niagara Falls
February - March: Niagara Falls
Gokarna
April - June: Gokarna
Gokarna
April - June: Gokarna
Self-obsessed Photography
July - August: Self-obsessed Photography
Honing My Super Skills
August - September: Honing My Super Skills

I really hope all of you have had a much better year than I have. I wish you all a fantastic new year ahead! Don’t bother making resolutions – they’re too optimistic to live up to! ๐Ÿ™‚

Hippie For A Weekend!

Perhaps the best weekend of my life so far. The title of this post is in appreciation of Bina‘s wonderful retirement plans (she plans to retire as a hippie in Goa at the age of 25!), which inspired me to do something similar, if only for a weekend.

In Gokarna, I was a hippie for Friday, Saturday and Sunday, with nothing to do except lounge around on the beach, lie down on the sand in the heavy rain, waiting for the waves to come crashing into me, a bottle of cold beer by my side and a packet of cigarettes handy. We left Bangalore at 9 pm on Friday night and the first sign that this was going to be pleasant journey was that the bus was a sleeper AC coach, with long beds where I could stretch my 6’1″ frame comfortably and plug in my music and go to sleep. ๐Ÿ™‚

A clear, blue sky with a spectacular sun gave way to dark clouds that bore ominous signs of a wet weekend. And wet it was – the skies opened up a few hours after I entered Gokarna, and didn’t let up for the three days. It rained intermittently and heavily and at one time, it rained for half a day continuously. This was perhaps the best part of the whole trip. Waves six feet high crashing on to the rocks made a spectacular view.

Imagine this: you’re sitting on a piece of rock that doubles as a chair in a beach-side restaurant, you have a cup of piping hot tea next to you, you’re sitting under an asbestos sheet that barely covers your outstretched legs, the sound of the rain thumping down on the roof is deafening, this sound has been masked by the crashing of the waves right in front of you, waves that rise to astronomical heights, spraying you with a fine, cold mist of salty sea water every time it does, you sit there from morning till evening watching the tide ebb and rise, and at the highest tide, the waves almost come up to the rock on which you’re sitting, instilling in you a faint fear of being washed away, but sitting there with the confidence that the place has been built there to withstand the highest tides, struggling to light your cigarette because the wind is blowing with all its fury, adding to the harmonic noise, and finally, just when the ancient clock in the cafรฉ strikes six and the tiny lights go on, you see similar lights turning on all along the beach, hundred yards away from each other, and throwing a magnificent view of the entire beach in twilight, corresponding to the distant lighthouse and the small specks of light on the horizon among the waves.

I made friends with a nice, cute dog there, who had a striking resemblance to Balto, and I christened him Murthy. This was because he had only three front teeth, and I couldn’t think of any better name for him. I was having a conversation about existentialism with him and I asked him, “Do you believe if the whole concept of existentialism holds water, no puns intended?” He gave me the most logical answer I’ve ever heard on this topic: he scratched his head, sniffed his balls and trotted away. ๐Ÿ˜€

Gokarna town is a rustic village, located twenty minutes away from Om Beach, and is famous for its historical temples. There’s one very famous Mahabaleshwar temple here and legend has it that Lord Ganesha tricked the demon Ravana into leaving behind a Shivalinga here. In spite of the might exerted by Ravana (Maha Bala), the Shivalinga stayed fixed, hence the name Mahabaleshwar. The pull exerted by Ravana, is said to have caused the Shivalinga to resemble the shape of a cow’s ear and hence the name Gokarnam (literally means “cow’s ears” in Sanskrit). I had a nice time at the temple with the crowd of people thronging there, braving the rain to offer their prayers.

I started reading Roland Barthes during the journey, a French thinker who had been on my list for a long time. His book Mythologies is quite fascinating, and most of his essays are really intriguing. A good read for any occasion. But the most excitement came in the form of Italo Calvino.

I fell in love with this book called If on a winter’s night a traveler, which is perhaps THE best book I’ve ever read in my life! Thanks Anushree for getting the book for me!! I could not put the book down and once I finished it, started kissing the book all over until it was sloppy. I really suggest this book. I love Italo Calvino! You have to, have to read it!! ๐Ÿ˜€

Caught the bus back on Sunday night and reached this morning, thus bringing to a close one of the most beautiful journeys in my life. As I said earlier, if anyone hasn’t been to Gokarna, please do. It’s one of the most breathtaking places you can ever go.

Getting there is not much trouble – buses leave from Bangalore every night at 9 pm, and the tickets cost around 500 bucks. I don’t know about buses from other places, but I’m sure it’s well connected. Any bus going to Goa stops at Gokarna. From Gokarna town, catch an auto to Om Beach for 120 bucks and stay there at Namaste Cafรฉ, at 150 bucks a night! That simple! ๐Ÿ˜€

Part of me wants to go back there and part of me knows that it’ll not happen again for at least a few more months. I guess I can wait! ๐Ÿ™‚

Time To Un-Burn!

Burnt out, exhausted, mentally frustrated, tired, disgustingly tired!

I need a break! It’s 6.10 pm, Thursday evening, and in three hours, a bus leaves to Gokarna with me on it! For the next three days, its just the sun, sand, the beach and cold cold beer for me! Technology can’t reach me there. I am going to the place where I want to be buried when I die. ๐Ÿ™‚

Poised right at the edge of the country, the waves washing over my feet, I am going to stand very very still and let the salty air wash over me and I am going to look up to the sky and smile and stand there for a long long time with the confidence that such acts of foolishness are quite a common sight in Gokarna, where people come to remedy being burnt out. I badly need a break.

I will be back on Monday morning, 5 am, at which time, I will post all the amazing photographs that I would have taken there, and write about my absolutely wonderful yet-to-be experience! Take care, you all! God Speed! ๐Ÿ˜€