Years back, whenever I was in between jobs, and that was a rather frequent occurrence, I used to take off for a trip to some far-off place all myself. Thus in 2000 when I shifted from Nazara to Free Press Journal (FPJ), it was a 15-day tour of Himachal Pradesh, roaming from Dalhousie, Khajiar, Mandi, Rewalsar, Varanasi and back. In 2002 on quitting FPJ, I landed up in Delhi wanting to etch my names in the annals of journalism, and all I could do was, manage a desk job at Financial Express. But on joining that place, I made short trips to Jaipur to view all the magnificent forts and also to Dehradun, rather Mussorie to meet Ruskin Bond. Sadly, my Delhi adventure was short-lived, and year and more later, I had to bid adieu and shift bag-baggage to Mumbai, but before I did that, it was a 15-day tour of the North East, from Guahati, Tezpur, Shillong, and more.
Alas for the past many years, I have been grounded so as to say. It is not that I haven’t been travelling; I scanned the cities of Trivandrum, Kochi, Nagpur, Baroda (Vadodara), Kolkata, Chennai, and also made trip overseas, to the US, New York and San Francisco, and China, Shanghai. But all these trips have been borne out of some work or assignment. Since, I was not unattached and there was a purpose behind these trips, somehow even the trip to New York pales in comparison to my adventure in Dalhousie. The reason is pretty simple, I haven’t switched job for a long time, it has been over three years at a single place (the longest ever).
And the trouble is: I have been leading a very ‘purposeful’ life for the past few years. Most of my actions and deeds are guided by some notion of worthiness; options are weighed on the scales of worthiness and selected based on their merit. Anything that is pointless or inconsequential in my life, the mind like some fresh IIM MBA keeps debunking those based on what gains will accrue over time. Thus, anything trivial or frivolous is instantly discarded. My friends term it as 30+ Syndrome, a situation where you want to be as uncaring as you were a decade back but can’t be as you have an eye on how life will pan a decade later.
So, as I am caught between these two worlds, I have decided to hang my shoes, albeit temporarily, for some 20 odd days. Taking a holiday from work, thanks to the numerous PLs that were languishing in my account, I have decided to make the most of these days by trying to achieve as little as possible. In fact, I intend to make these 20 days the most ‘worthless’ days of my life, I want to do all the things that I want to do, and not the ones that I should be doing. To start off, I have made a list of all the ‘worthless’ things that I intend to do. Here it goes:
Peace with Mondays
Monday is one day that I love to hate; it always brings so much of tension with itself. Every Monday is laden with last week’s, last month, last years, to do lists in addition for the things that need to be done in the next 4-5 ensuing weekdays. Monday mornings are the worst that can possibly be. So in these 20 odd days, in which there should be 3 Mondays, I will try and make my peace with the day. I will wake up without a frown, remember to smile when I recall it is a Monday and also say a TGIM (Thank God It’s Monday) bit to make it feel happy and wanted. I know, it will be hard after these 3 Mondays, nonetheless, I will try.
Cook Baigan Bharta and Palak Paneer
For some unknown reason, I have developed the belief that I can cook well or rather there is ‘taste in my fingers’. The couple of times that I have made tea or cheese toast, it has convinced me that god has endowed me with culinary talents as well. At times, having my dinner cooked by wifey, I keep giving titbits on which spices need to be used and in how much proportion and how mustard oil is suited for certain vegetables and sunflower oil for some and peanut oil for the others. Somehow, I have this niggling doubt that wifey doesn’t really appreciate these gems of knowledge, probably she doubts my talent. So, in one or two of these 20 odd days, I will don the apron and chef hat; give a proper display of my culinary skills. The first exotic dishes will be Baigan Bharta or Palak Paneer, either dishes do not excite wifey’s taste buds, thus in case of any exigency, the blame can be shunted on to them.
The HR project
Now this is one purposeful thing that I wish I could avoid but not anymore. For the past year or so, wifey’s HR degree has been in the dock, simply because those morons at the university want her to submit a detailed project report. Now, like all good husbands, I had readily put my head in the guillotine contraption by volunteering to help out and dissuading her to do it on her own. It has been a year since that day, and the project has been comatose. So, in the next 20 odd days, I intend to get done of this confounded project and heave a sigh of relief. Hopefully, this will be the only purposeful thing that I do in the time frame.
A pitcher at Mondegaars
When I used to work at FPJ, I used to love drinking at Mondegaars with my friend Abhijit Deb. The best thing about the place was it vibrancy, the Mario Miranda toons on the walls, and most of it all was the radio turntable, with all the rock songs on different discs that could be played by inserting a 5-Rupee coin (I forget the exact term used for these machines). But back then, a pitcher of lager beer used to cost some 300 bucks, and that used to be big money. Hence, a trip to Mondegaars was often well-thought out one and worth remembering. Ironically, now when I can easily afford a pitcher or two at Mondegaar, I somehow don’t seem to be able to take time out for it. In fact, it has been ages since I went to that place for a drink. So in the next 20 odd days, I hope to at least pay one visit to this vibrant pub, hoping to sit there with Abhijit and recalling the heydays.
Gaping at the Angel
One of the most important things that I missed out on in the past few months was a trip to the radiologist with wifey. Due to the encumbrances at office, I could not accompany her, and I missed watching an angel taking shape. So in the next 20 odd days, I will make it a point to be there on the next trip to the radiologist and marvel at the wonders of nature.
‘The Prefaces’ by Bernard Shaw/ Feluda Stories by Ray
Rather sadly, I seem to have lost touch with reading almost completely. These days whenever I want to stretch out with a book in my hand, I invariably doze off before I can flip 2 pages. I used to be a voracious reader, loving the classics and mythology, but not anymore. There are scores of amazing novels staring at me from inside the glass cupboard, asking for some love and attention, while I avoid even looking at them. Not in these 20 odd days. I will very much pay attention to the books that are trapped inside the cupboard, while I may not be able to liberate the stories and characters trapped in the very many books, I will do so for at least two of them, namely Bernard Shaw’s collection of prefaces and Feluda by Satyajit Ray. It has been ages, since I read anything from either of them, and this should be a good starting point.
Beyond an iota of doubt, I am an ardent admirer of Ray and his cinema. Ever since the days of good ol’ Doordarshan, I fell in love with the real world characters that lived in his movies. For me the simple tales of jamindaars, farmers, actors, kings, et al was anytime more preferable to the escapist Hindi films. There is no better way to end a day then to watch a Ray Film and then ruminate over it by self while lying on the bed and seeing the fan blades lose their shape as they mingle into each other and then disappear. Thanks to my friend Prashant Phillipose, I have managed to lay my hands on quite a few films (like Jan Aranya, Paras Pather, Ghare Baire, Aparajito, etc.) by the maestro and in the next 20 odd days, I intend to watch as many Ray films that I can.
Any rubbish too
Not only the great cinema by Ray, I also resolve to see any rubbish that is dished out by my cable guy in the next 20 odd days. So be it stupid movies like Ilzaam or Pyaasi Chudaail, or even a few of those reality shows that are being currently aired on any of those stupid television channels. In fact, I will go ahead an even watch Himesh Reshmaiya’s Karzzz, at the very risk of zzzzz..
Write, write and write
To be honest, since I make my living as an author (journalist), this is one thing that I really would have liked to avoid, but since I love writing so much, it is something that I can’t really do so. Though, I might be writing quite much nowadays, it is certainly not what I really want to pen, like this piece for instance. So in the next 20 odd days, I will write and try to write as much on as many things as is possible. I will not bother about the worthiness or the length of the article and keep on writing till I feel like. I will also try to get shashwatdc.com and greenitindia.com in order, change the format, probably the template or something.
No write,write and write
And more importantly, in the next 20 odds days, I also intend not to write if I don’t feel like it. So even if the blogs become dated and there are no new posts, I will not feel guilty about it.
Hello & Namashkaar
While I was associated with CIOL.com, I had started off a weekly podcast show, titled Tech India Update. Herein I used to give a roundup of the weekly news, views and stories with my friend Nelson Johny. Though, I never did like my voice, I did fall in love with the medium. Sadly, when I shifted to DQ, my affair with podcasting came to an end. So in the next 20 odd days, I will try or at least try my hands at some rudimentary podcasting again, or if not that, will do some research on how I can record and edit audio on my comp itself.
Fight it out with the Britons and the Mayans
Though I am not a gamer, there is one game that I have fallen for hook, line and sinker and that is the Age of Empires. I really like the whole notion of creating a whole society from scratch and then trying to ensure that it survives. My chosen team is the Franks, because of their castle building benefits. Nonetheless, a typical game takes around 3 hours minimum, since I play without cheatcodes. Now finding this amount of time becomes an issue, so in the next 20 odd days, I promise to squeeze in as many of these conquests as possible.
Theatre, here I come
For some strange reason, I have never been able to watch a play performed on stage, even though I have wanted to do so for a long time. I have heard so many people gushing over the medium, and yet, I haven’t been able to view it myself. In fact, during my college days, I had even scripted, directed and acted in a couple of them. So, in the next 20 odd days, I intend to watch at least one play, be it good or bad at the Prithvi theatre or somewhere like that.
Bengalis, Goans and the Mallus are three races in India that I really envy, not because of their literary or any other achievements, but simply because of their emphasis on sleeping. Any good Bengali, Mallu or Goan, will after a heavy duty lunch, make it a point to take a few hours off for an ‘afternoon nap’. So, while their fellow beings continue to toil under the midday sun, they relax and snore in any place that offers sufficient shade. So, in the next 20 odd days, I will try and emulate these worthy gents as much as possible. I will sleep in the afternoon, I will sleep in the evening, and I will sleep in the night as well. I will sleep even if I don’t feel sleepy, and won’t wake up if I don’t have to either.
Rise and shine?
Basically, I am a B-type person, the type that hates mornings, and those are the A-types. Now, getting up in the mornings is good for the early bird who wants the worm and shut shop at dusk, or for the ant or something that needs to find that itsy-bitsy sugar molecule and rush to the anthill or the bee that has been waiting for the flowers to blossom so it can suck on the nectar. But for god’s sake, we are humans, we have transcended that line, we can wake in the nights and sleep in the days. We can be nocturnal, to be honest, I write best in the peace of the night or something like early morning, around 3-4 a.m. But alas, I have to submit to the stupid ways of the A-society. In fact, internationally there is a movement for making the world more habitable for people like me (I am a member of the B-society internationally, and I intend to start an Indian chapter pretty soon).
But in the next 20 odd days, I intend to wake up early, simply because I want to make most of these days. Since, there is little that can be achieved in the dead of the night, I will try and convince my mind to go off to sleep and try and wake early. Even if it means burning the candle at both the ends, I will gladly burn it.
Exercise? Yawn!! No..
Ever since, I have put on a few extra kilos (a lot many kilos to be precise) around my waist and other parts of my frame, I have been wanting to go on an exercise regimen. I fantasise about pumping iron, going on a brisk run in the morning (with the ‘eye of the tiger’ playing the background), or indulging in Yogic postures in the morning. Every weekend, as I place an order for a cheeseburst pizza, I promise my conscience that come Monday, there will be sufficient activity to take care of all those extra calories. But, for some very strange and unknown reason that never happens. So in the next 20 odd days, I intend to give exercise some serious thought, more than I do under normal days.
Sand in my toes
Another thing that I sorely miss is walking on the seashore with the shoes in the hand, talking about the cosmos and feeling the grain particles in between the toes. Me and my girl friend use to spend hours on the beach, whiling away time like this. But ever since, the girl friend transformed into wifey, that changed. Somehow, we prefer spending time in the mall, cinema, and other places, much more than the beaches or the parks that we used to frequent. So in the next 20 odd days, I intend to make a trip to the sandy coastline of Mumbai, avoid the urchins, and humungous crowds and feel the sand in between my shoes. I will also try and convince wifey to accompany me on the journey, probably I will find my girl friend there waiting for me with the shoes in the hand.
There is a folder on my desktop titled ‘2 Read’, in it there are scores and scores of documents that have been downloaded from the Net, detailing the calamitous times that we exist in. Since, I have been writing on Green IT for the past year or so, I have become aware of a lot many about our environment and thereon. There have been times, when researching on a story, I get completely lost and start reading about environment issues that have little or no relation with the story in the first place. At such times, I had to wrench myself away, with a promise that I will return at a later date. It is for that day that the ‘2 Read’ folder was created. In it are scores of reports from UNFCCC, IPCC, presentations by Pachauri, articles by Robert Watson, information on Gaia Hypothesis, etc. So in the next 20 odd days, I promise to increase my awareness of the world around and know about the eco-Armageddon that is being shaped by ignoramuses like me.
Replenish the armoury
It might sound outlandish, but I often find similarities between a writer and warrior. Both, the warrior and us authors have to constantly use or weapons in defence or offence of a thought. And much like a warrior, we need to replenish our stockpile of weapons as well, which happens to be words and ideas for someone like me. Over the past few years, have used and reused most of my weapons and unlike conventional weapons mine become jaded with extensive use. So in the next 20 odd days, I intend to replenish my armoury, find new potent WMDs.
All in all, I take a solemn oath that I would do nothing worthwhile, twiddle my thumbs, and confabulate on the future in the next 20 odd days. And also promise that at the end of these 20 odd days, I am not going to revisit or mull over the list, I won’t be comparing what I have achieved with what I had set out to, neither will I rue or celebrate if I am able to do all or none of these things.
As a friend and a well wisher you can aid me in the next 20 odd days, be letting me be. So, in case there is something very important that you really have to convey, please DON’T. If you want to call me, request you not to. If I don’t receive or return calls, do understand that I am very busy trying to enjoy. I don’t intend to check my mails either, I am trying to get rid of the habit of checking it every 15 minutes as if my life hangs on it. If you see me online on Gtalk, just ignore my presence and continue on with your mundane existence. I am earnestly trying to remind myself that I am not as important as I have come to believe, so you could help me just by ignoring me. At the end of these 20 odd days, I will join the flow of life again, till then ciao.