Posted in Random, Thoughts, Weather

A Charging Port

Do you have one? A charging port for the soul? Something that lifts your spirit and mood and everything else and makes you feel better in general? It could be some place, something, it could be someone.

I have multiple. People, places, objects and some activities.

Among these, I’d probably rank my ancestral town-village among the top three. It is, hands down, the best place ever to exist. It’s Santiniketan, some 200-odd kilometers to the north of Kolkata. I like it because of what it is, I think. There’s greenery there, but then so is my campus. I could wax poetic about avenues shaded by massive trees arching across them, but Kolkata is full of them. I could say it’s because I have a home there, but I have a room of my own in college, and a home in Kolkata. I wish I could nail it down to a particular factor, to one thing that I could point at and say, “This thing. This is what makes this place special.” On second thoughts, I don’t. Maybe if I distill it down to exactly what is the allure of the place, I wouldn’t find it as captivating anymore.

There, I made sketches of trees, and took pictures of a river. I went to an ethnic village market that I really disliked,because that was an exposition of stuff you could get from any roadside hawkers in Kolkata, being sold at ridiculous prices to rip off unsuspecting visitors. I took long walks, read a bit and played with my younger cousin brother. I relaxed, and had fun. It was a good experience.

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Indeed, this entire vacation was good.

You see, I am supposedly an electrical engineer, by vocation, or so the college would have you believe. And I, not to put too fine a point on it, suck at it. My grades aren’t too good, in fact they are on the verge of bad, and my interest in the discipline leaves a lot to be desired. Let’s just say I don’t really like it. Needless to say, academics-wise, my semesters are pretty glum, though the people and activities more than make up for it. This summer, we had PS (a sort of internship program that counts towards my grades) which let me work in my fields of interest, and helped me cheer up considerably, at least as far as work and academia goes.

Anyhow, we were talking of places. So I went for a walk in Santiniketan, one night after dinner. It was silent, in the way nighttime is silent, chirping crickets and rustling trees, and a very delicate whoosh, as the wind blew by me. It had rained, not long ago. The unpaved roads were still muddy, fresh bicycle tracks imprinted in them. There was an unsteady drip-drip-drip accompanying me all the way around, as the trees shook off their leaves in the slow breeze. I didn’t see a single person out there other than a couple of security guards, engrossed in some chitchat of their own.

Non-urban air has a kind of clarity to it that’s difficult to describe. But it is dusty, especially in the evening and night. Just after rains, it acquires a kind of… well, it’s hard to describe. You just don’t notice it anymore, except when the breeze rises. The trees were just dark shadows, the branches spreading silhouettes against a clear sky. It was a moonless night. I was alone, on the road, with my thoughts, and it felt so glorious. And it nagged me a little too, the fact that I had to be alone with my thoughts. But it felt good, which is what matters, I guess.

Santiniketan, literally translated, means abode of peace. It lives up to its name. And I haven’t yet found out what makes it so peaceful. Maybe that’s the frame of mind I’ve conditioned myself to be in, that I’ll be zen-like once I’m there. I guess the point here is that for inner peace, outer peace is necessary too.

Fairly obvious, I’ll agree.

In other news, go watch Dunkirk. It is a really good movie. It’s unmistakably Nolan, though it’s different from everything he’s done so far. I won’t talk any more about it, other that it’s probably one of the best expositions I’ve seen, till date, of the filmmaker’s craft.

And in the end…

This probably deserves to be more than a footnote, but Chester Bennington killed himself. That man meant a lot, I think, to my entire generation. He was my gateway to a lot of music, and it’s sad to see him go like this. It might have been the way out he needed, but not what he deserved. I have followed Linkin Park’s music for seven years now. I heard them shift to electronica, and the try to make a pretty unsuccessful transition to their original sound. I liked their last album, though it was no Hybrid Theory. Few bands had so definitively carved their place in the pantheon of music, laying claim to an entire genre.

Anyway, In The End was the first song that I had memorised. I loved it. I still do. I’m running though the words in my head. My favourite song was The Catalyst. It’s sad, the way he passed. I won’t quote any lyrics, I will not present you with that kind of a cliché. I hope he is in peace now.

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Posted in Random, Thoughts, Weather

Things that I think

It is hot. Even worse, it is humid.

It’s humid, and here I am, trying to pour out what’s on my mind. I’m thinking about old cars, old music, new cars, good books, happy people and new covers of old music and machine guns.

Machine guns because of the drums on this (https://youtu.be/fkP3urtYCkc) cover of Immigrant Song by Karen O and Trent Reznor. I think it’s because of the overall grungy feel of the song. The drums feel relentless, pounding on without flourishes, and then get lost in the murky grungy sounds as the song progresses, but you can hear them in the background, forming the backbone of the song. They feel so powerful, but inhuman. The sound is more of a sampled beat than a drummer. Probably is so.

This is a cover of a song by Led Zeppelin, and both versions are great. The cover does retain the spirit of the original, but some of the hugeness that the original has is lost. And if you pay attention to the drums, you’ll find that the beat is similar, but there is a man rocking his heart out behind that immensely powerful sound, and it shows. There are very few sounds more definitionally rocky, more celebratable, than Led Zeppelin at their archetypal best. https://youtu.be/hC-T0rC6m7I. Check for yourself. And I’m going on about the drums, but there’s Jimmy Page on the guitar. He is, if you don’t know, a God. And the lyrics, too. Very deep, and accurate too, historically. Well mostly.

And I enjoy cars a lot. Personal favourite is a ‘69 Ford Mustang. Very beautiful car, and the well maintained ones are a treat to look at. And the engines sound great too. I am guessing that isn’t everyone’s cup of tea anyway.

The fan is on at full blast, but it blows down hot air onto me. The worst part of humidity is the sweatiness. As much as I love Kolkata, one thing I’d like to change is this sweaty, sticky climate. I’m playing Crazy by Aerosmith on my earphones. I pause the music for a bit, and pull out the earphones. I can hear the occasional whoosh of a car go by, a beep or two from faraway horns. The TV next door is blaring some serialised inanity, with dramatic music all over the place, and their dog is barking. Someone barks a command at the dog and it quiets down, only to start in a couple of minutes. It is a crime to keep a dog in an apartment. Poor creature gets no exercise, and barks its lungs out all day.

I look back up at the fan and down at my keyboard again. Apparently I haven’t stopped the music, I can still hear Steven Tyler howling his heart out in the chorus. I pause it. It’s a good song, I’ll replay it.

Incidentally, y’all should listen to https://youtu.be/QCVGpvzcHko?t=39. This guy is a modern-ish stand up comic, and his brand of comedy is this self aware, self deprecating, ironic jabs at the state of modern society. A sort of “What have we become?”, regretful, but fully aware that he’s a product of the same society, and he’s been contributing to the same. It’s like one of those evolution memes, where the penultimate character turns around, saying “We messed up”.

Anyway, I will stop now. The thoughts have stopped flowing. This is a weird kind of writer’s block, where I want to write, but I can’t write stuff. Not stuff that I’m satisfied with. This is okay, I guess. Feels natural and coherent. I think the necessity is a creative recharge, and also effort. I guess.

Posted in Random, Weather

Musings on Mausam

Silence pervades the hostel. Well, not silence, but pretty near. Crickets chirp outside, I am busily clicking away at my keyboard, and the raindrops keep steadily doing their drip-drip outside the window against the fuzzy static of the rain in the distance. So it’s not really silent, but all these sounds can be taken for granted. A nice little excursion into the phrase ambient noise. You won’t notice it unless you want to.

I focus on the rain sounds, on how the rain is affecting me. My typing has somehow synced with the steady dripping. Out of the blue, someone starts playing Maroon5’s Payphone very loudly. Jarring. I am unsettled. Shaken out of the rut of my mind, I go back into the rain, picking up the threads of my consciousness where I lost them.

It’s uncanny, how much influence the weather has on us. Almost as much as say food, or people. Maybe even more. We are but slaves to the elements and the atmosphere. Think about it.

Imagine it’s summer, outside it’s a bright sunny day, so you’re bouncing and full of energy. Until you go outside, and then you lose it all. The sun is up there, sapping away all your energy and your enthusiasm (this is from an Indian point of view, so summers are extremely hot and horrible) and you turn into this limp, wilting vegetable and decide a nice cool drink and a nap is probably the order of the day. The evening brings with it coolness, productivity and/or the desire to chill around with friends. The day promises productivity, but doesn’t deliver. Might, if spent indoors, with access to air-conditioning.

Now imagine it’s mid monsoon, and you wake up to the sound of steady rain, a continuous dull hiss outside, dark grey skies and a confusion as to whether it’s evening or morning. The bed seems too comfortable and inviting, and all your senses tell you to stay in bed. You give in. When you do wake up, it’s midday and the rain has lightened up a bit. So you go out and about your business, packing an umbrella, using it whenever you go out, and then cursing as to what to do with the wet floppy thing indoors. The day passes, well enough if indoors and exceedingly wet and irritating if outside. But there’s this sense of general dissatisfaction and a feel of a day wasted. Wasted? No, not wasted. But not what it could have been. Not what it would have been on a drier day, maybe.

There’s honestly few things that solicit mixed feelings more than rain and rainy days. The ‘cry in the rain, the droplets hide your tears’ and ‘splash around in the puddles and make paper boats’ crowds are out in equal force. The rains put some in romantic states of mind, and some in various moods of productivity. If you have the time and will to venture outside, you’ll find in equal number, people joyously soaking in the rain, having fun, and solitary figures moving around pretty dejectedly.

And constant rain gets on your nerves too. Mine at least. For starters, it restricts and hampers movement. Today, I was about to go out, and just at the gate, I left the group I was going with to get my umbrella. Well, my umbrella wasn’t in my room, someone had already taken it. And just then it came pouring down. Kind of sad and ironic that you go to get your umbrella and come back soaking wet. You don’t see that happening too often. Never, in fact. Incessant torrential rain also tends to come creeping into every aspect of your life, through windows, seeping into bags, ruining notebooks and making little puddles on the windowsills and creating little pockets of irritation on your mind.

Tell you what, the best weather is probably the light drizzling and/or sunny sky when it clears up after a spell of heavy rain. Especially if you stay in a place with a lot of greenery. All of nature looks scrubbed clean, there is this beautiful clarity to everything. Then, as the sky starts to clear you get glimpses of the most beautiful clear lapis peeking through (Usage of lapis was intentional there, so that you’d look it up and know exactly I’m talking about. goo.gl/images/j4jnVY, for your convenience). You end up feeling like you are striding a brand new earth. It feels glorious. A fresh start, new life, and then you step straight into a puddle and that’s about it for that.