This doesn’t happen often

Yesterday evening brought a strange feeling within me. I had just woken up from my afternoon slumber to remember that we didn’t have any food for the next day. That meant going out again and buying more junk to have a bowl of breakfast. The room was dark because it was almost 6.30PM and my roommate hadn’t bothered to switch the light on. The fan was whirring on top of us but that didn’t make much of a difference because I felt the stickiness on my body as I tossed and turned. The room was warm and the windows were shut. The door was ajar. I tried to get hold of my phone to check if I had any notifications. I had been waiting for an email to arrive but for the time being all I got was some SMS from BOX8, asking me to use my coupon.

I exhaled and the reminder to buy breakfast came back to prick. Typical breakfast for me when there is no college mainly comprises of one thing – instant noodles. It is absolute junk and highly unhealthy but it is cheap and it is food. The logic makes no sense whatsoever but it is breakfast, although it fails to qualify as one. I craned my neck to look over at my roommate. His face was illuminated by the light pinkish screen light from the laptop. He was living elsewhere, as usual. I turned back and stared at the ceiling. For the first time in quite some time I wanted to go home. Just throw everything and go home. I was tired of going through the whole cycle of buying Wai Wai everyday and filling myself with junk, whether it was in the canteen or the spiced up Biriyani. It all seemed unnecessary for me to go through all of this. For a split second I wondered if I should book a ticket and head home in May. Screw the internship and everything else; sometimes home food is all that matters. This was happening after a long time as I do not feel homesick every now and then. Perhaps, it was because life wasn’t hectic for a few days now. The mind wasn’t preoccupied with things to do and so it was occupying itself with things like this, which you thought about only when you’re staring at the ceiling without the lights.

As I felt my stomach grumbling, the thoughts shifted away and realization dawned upon me. I had to get food and that meant I had to go out and feed myself some junk, obviously. I decided to think practically, like we are always taught, and dismiss everything by repeating to myself that this is all part of the struggle. That, skipping a visit to home for a month will be fruitful in the long run, and that sometimes you have to just eat Wai Wai for days on end because we all compromise on things and prioritise accordingly. I decided to not think about it again and felt that getting some fresh air would help. I got up, dressed and went out to get some breakfast for the next day.

Mother called after an hour but everything was soon forgotten by then.

Moments at Koshy’s

Koshy’s at St. Mark’s Road is one of the places which has resulted in me creating a deep bond with Bengaluru. Ever since I stepped first into this almost 70 year old restaurant, I fell in love with the 90s ambiance this place had to offer. The food is impeccably good, the conversations even more. Moments spent at Koshy’s are always memorable and cherished. Gazing around the sexagenarian population, who are regulars at this place gives you a lot to think about. I remember telling my friend M about how, maybe when we are grey and toothless, we will hang out in this place, talking about them good old days and a group of excited college students will come into the place and sit beside our table, some of them having their first sip of beer.

The plans for visiting Koshy’s today were made right after the semester holidays got over. All four of us were dying to have our share of Kaya Toast; one of the must-haves from this place. Foundation course examinations were finished by 10.30 and we decided that we needed some much needed breakfast. I must say, we were probably the youngest people in Koshy’s today. I saw the familiar crowd of the old timers sipping coffees from their cups, slicing poached egg sandwiches and engaging in hearty, laughter filled conversations. A few office goers were scattered here and there, some engaged in phone calls while others gazing lazily at their Mac Book Pros. We decided our orders; all of us had sandwiches except M who ordered the Kaya Toast for all four of us. And then began the exchange of stories. Koshy’s always brings out the stories within each of us. Somehow, we come to know a bit more about each other every time we visit the place.

In midst of these conversations, after the sandwiches were eaten and the coffee being drunk, an old man came towards us to clear away the table. From what I could gather, he was close to 70; maybe above 70. He had a feeble appearance, a stooping back and as he took the glasses and the crockery away, I was filled with a sudden overwhelming feeling of sadness. It took me completely away from the place, like I was picked up from that place and placed somewhere else entirely. He cleared the table away and as he left, he looked towards D and M with a weak smile, as they thanked him and smiled. I wasn’t able to look at him and I just gazed down at the table. The realization of such an old man clearing away tables at this age made me feel bitter about something but I couldn’t gather what it was. All sorts of random things flooded my mind. Why was he still working at this age? Why are his children not supporting him? Does he even have children, a family perhaps? I felt like apologizing to him, I wanted to tell him that he shouldn’t be doing this; he shouldn’t be spending his life like this. I felt extremely bad that he cleared our table but at the same time I felt petrified. I just gazed elsewhere after he left. The others resumed their conversations while I sat pondering about things I was sure I couldn’t get an answer for. All I could do was to reassure myself. Maybe he had an old connection to this place due to which he hasn’t been able to leave it as of yet, considering there were other aged staff in the place. Maybe he was an old employee. Maybe he liked and was satisfied with what he was doing. Maybe his children did support him.

But somehow, that feeling of sadness refused to budge from its place.

The story so far

First month in a city where the sun rarely shines

So, how is college and Bangalore treating you?

Answering this question, which was asked by my mother over a telephone call, is very difficult for me to put in a few words. One of the main reasons why I chose Bangalore for my higher studies is because of its amazing climate. This trait sets Bangalore apart from many cities in this country like Delhi, Calcutta where the weather is simply pathetic and totally unsuitable for someone like me. Just so you know, I am very sensitive to hot summers and the heat. I prefer to live in a place where the climate is serene, cold and comfortable. Bangalore ticks all the boxes, although there is significant change seen nowadays, and so here I am.

I had to skip my Christ University entrance exams for reasons (which were out of my control) which would be revealed perhaps in another blog post and this resulted in me applying for the BA EJP course in St. Joseph’s College (all thanks to my sister. She knows why).  I was skeptical at first regarding my decision to apply in this college. For me, the decision of coming to Bangalore and studying meant only one thing, to somehow get an admission in Christ Uni. So, when I wasn’t able to give my exams for Christ Uni, I was dejected, obviously. But, let’s not go into the realms of my personal apathy. That’s for another blog.

And thus, I gave my entrance exams for St. Joseph’s in the month of June without any kind of preparation or whatsoever. Miraculously, I was accepted to the college. Truth be told, this came as a little bit of surprise as I had no idea what I had answered in the psychology paper. Don’t blame me here; I had no idea that there was a separate paper for psychology in the first place. Did I forget to mention that I had no idea what psychology was in the first place? (all I had was a very obscure, vague idea about it)

I went for my interview, which was scheduled three days after my entrance test, in semi formals. It was a hot day and I was practically sweating underneath my teal blue full-sleeved shirt out of sheer nervousness and because of the humidity as well. My interview was taken by a professor who spoke in a really graceful and polite manner, extinguishing every single drop of nervousness that was within me. He asked me where I was from, the language we spoke at my home and the reason for choosing this course. I answered all of these questions in the best way I could find possible. I came to know later that the person who took my interview was Professor Cheriyan Alexander.

I met the Vice Principal and took the fee receipts. I was admitted to St. Joseph’s after two days.

Fast forward to almost a month later I shifted to Bangalore. Carrying 23 kilograms of baggage, I found myself in the doorstep of my sister’s place here in Whitefield. The weather was cloudy but it wasn’t raining. My cab driver told me that it had been raining for the last couple of days and that the rains arrive particularly during the evenings. My classes were scheduled to start after two days which meant I had to buy the necessities and shift to Shanthinagar without any delay.

Classes started after two days (well it had already started a week before) and I was really surprised to see that the crowd was really alive with energy and people had already mingled with each other over a span of just one week. Then there was the really tedious task of remembering almost 50 names, a task which took me close to two weeks to fully accomplish. It didn’t take me long to realize that the people here were really warm and welcoming and in a matter of few days I was one of them. The sense of belongingness which I got was really heartwarming; something which I was perhaps craving for a long, long time. The most amazing part in between all of this is undeniably, the professor in our department. They are probably some of the most chilled out and people I have ever met. Kind, benevolent, charismatic and friendly is the words which come to my mind right now. The trio, comprising of Professor Arul Mani; the walking encyclopedia of everything literature, Professor Etienne; the ruthless critic and Professor Cheriyan; the polite, eloquent speaker were the driving force in the English Department. Prof. Arul Mani, a person with a long beard and a ponytail, always wearing kurtas and preferring bright colours, sarcastic and witty in a positive manner and an absolute genius is perhaps the funniest teacher I have ever had in all my 19 years of existence. Sometimes when I am attending his classes, I wonder why he hadn’t joined the film industry to be an actor. He would have been an excellent actor. Someday, I am going to ask him this question.

He loves to squash people under the palm of his hand (that was a joke)

One thing which I believe sets St. Joseph’s apart is the importance that is being given to extracurricular activities.  A college which has close to 50 associations, a ton of sport events, literary and cultural fests, amazing certificate courses is something which is not seen everywhere. I don’t know about the other colleges in the city but this culture here of not having an entirely academic oriented fashion of learning is something which has really captivated me. The best part is the teachers who actually motivate and guide you to take part in all of these events.

Life in Joseph’s has been an enriching experience so far. Movie screenings, going to events for collecting reporting pieces during weekends, creative writing sessions, tutorial sessions, quiz clubs, literary events, CIAs has surely made life a lot busier and minimally hectic but there is absolute fun in doing all of this.

Bangalore has been kind to me, for now. Other than the constant rain and the annoyingly disgusting PG food, everything is going good for me. The people are helpful and kind, the place is awesome, the locality where I live is pretty great and finally I have started learning the drums. I don’t think there’s anything more that I can ask for, period

 

 

 

Death

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A simple question has intrigued humans for a long long time. What happens after we die? What exactly is death? Why is it still a mystery to us? Made absolutely inaccessible to the understanding of mortals till the day it comes beckoning.

And being a mortal, I too am intrigued by death. Before you call me a nihilist or something of that sort, do think about it yourself. What happens after we die? As superstitious beliefs say, does our soul escape out and fade into the realms of space and time? Or do some of us end up in ‘heaven’ and the not so fortunate ones in ‘hell’? Or do we take birth again in the form of something which may include from a microbe to a blue whale and the cycle goes on again?

We don’t have an answer. We don’t have an answer to how the mind reacts as it fades into oblivion, a state of infinite limbo, into endless nothingness while the flesh and bones lay there as a memory of who we once were, or perhaps the illusion that we were something. Something significant. An illusion of course. An illusion which we do not realise until the lights dim and ultimately fade out.

Some say, a person on his deathbed gets a glimpse of everything he did in his life flash in front of him. Giving him once last chance to savor the happy moments that he created and feel the pain of the misery and misdeeds he did and felt over the course of his life. What goes on a person’s mind when he goes through such an experience? Traumatizing is it? The endless longings to make things right. A chance to correct those mistakes. A single opportunity to go back once more, to turn around instead of walking forward, to say the words instead of keeping them at places dark and unrecoverable. A longing to live. Again. It is traumatizing.

Perhaps that’s why death is ever mysterious. Perhaps that’s why it is beyond the understanding of a mere mortal, a speck of dust in this infinite universe, a fish in the endless ocean. A curious creature, a creation of god, the primal one, the fittest, the survivor. Always hoping. Helplessly.