Udiapole Bus Stand

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Alternate title: Yeh Kahan Aa Gaye Hum

The first thing I remember when I try to reach the city with my eyes closed is the sunrise at the bus station. There's a popular stall that serves poha, and a stall behind it that serves tea. Almost all of my entries in the city have found me standing on that roundabout facing this scene as the dark night is giving way to another morning.

Even if one gets to Udaipur by train, if one desires to reach the university named after Sir Padampat Singhania, one has to get to this bus station. 

There are a few mornings when I've reached there to find a cluster of dudes huddled together against the cramped ticket counter, rubbing their hands to try to feel a little more warm in the chilly winters, cursing things you wouldn't normally notice. The ticket counter only raises the shutter at 5:30 AM. Until then, we wait.

There's a certain joy in finding yourself listening to everybody else and not butting in. 

If you're standing with a group of guys, starting from the cockroach trying to find its way to the nearest corner to the latest English movie that PVR didn't put up, they'd cuss at everything. The onlookers wouldn't even care for all the profanities for usually, at this time, nobody has a reason to smile anyway.

If you're standing with a group of girls, which happens like, so rarely, you'd be worried to death about the wax in your ears. They'd all be speaking but you wouldn't hear a thing. Sometimes they don't even speak. One raises her eyebrow, the other winks/nods and somebody bursts into giggles. And you want to put a gun to your head and ask them what just happened. But, good luck blackmailing them. They'd start giggling again.

As hungry as you are at the bus stand, believe me, everything inside you dies when you reach the hostel, unpack your bags and hop to the mess to eat something. It's just their superpower. They can shush the drums in your tummy without having you eat anything sometimes. That's why one never boards a bus in the morning with an empty stomach.

And talking about the bus ride to the university. It's so magical that it makes me want to sleep every time I board it at the end of a long outing in the city. The conductor sits by us and sings a lullaby replete with musical instruments being fiddled by the co-passengers. Before you know it, you find yourself turning your head to see if there's somebody else of your college. You catch their eye, nod at them and go to the deepest goddamned sleep ever because you know they're legally obliged to jerk you awake before getting off now.

The lullaby I was talking about?
There have been crazy times when the bus is so jam-packed that we've all jumped out of the windows. There's an honour in doing that. We show the crude villagers who's the boss of this ghetto. Turn the collars up, face the university and show them the walk. Only if they could see the look of helplessness on your face as you reach the guard room. You hand them your bags, get yourself frisked, see packets of maggi poisons being taken out from the depths of your luggage and watch as the buses pass by on the highway.

You are in the university. You're theirs now. At least that's what they think. You roll on the paved road to your hostel and promise yourself you'll never remember this day again. But you find yourself breaking the promise time and again.

I have realized I look back at the times and wonder if I lived it well enough. Then I read posts like The Boys' Toilet of the CR Block and Sanghamitra Bhatt is Still Pissed and I feel a little better. Yet I feel like I owe it to the city that picked me in my teens and taught me every kind of shit there is to know about the world. Hence, a (possibly) series of posts to honour that time only if anybody's interested. Otherwise, thanks for reading.

Kafka on the Shore

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What happens when you find a nonpareil riddle weaved into a book that's been passed down to you by somebody with gleam in their eyes? You read it, of course, without having a clue of what you've let yourself into!

I have no background to utter here. There's nothing that can prepare somebody for this book. In fact, the less you know when you step into the water, the more you'll enjoy the shore. If you're looking for Kafka, though, you'd want to look with another kind of glasses on.

I'd say there's a boy who runs away from home. And there's an old man who unwittingly finds his path crossing with the boy's. There's a girl trapped in time. And that's enough of hints. Anything else would spoil everything. 

Kafka on the Shore is downright elusive in its meaning. It would be an absolute insult to look outside for one too. Probably a third reading might bring you closer to the end, otherwise you're doomed.

Haruki Murakami's Kafka on the Shore

I would absolutely love reading this book again. There's an experience written in the pages that leads us by arms. And quite ironically, once the gate is opened, it doesn't close. If you've found yourself falling in love with the "magic" in this book, the feeling will be eternal.

I've tried researching ways to read this book so that I could write them down here for others to follow. But I think, from personal experience, the best way is to try to stop at the end of every blow and figure out what could be the meaning of this. This book doesn't guide the reader to the end, even though it walks beside you as you figure it out. 

The book also tries to play the metaphor game. All my life I've always believed metaphors never prove anything. But I realized that it's restricted to debates and academia. If we're talking about a story, or literature, metaphor is the way to play with people's heads. Murakami uses this conjecture to its full potential. 

I hope my ramblings related to the book inspires people to read it. The book is simple in its language and structure. And on the surface, everything happens in the chronological order. The only problem is the meaning. As Murakami said it himself in a few interviews, the book is a giant riddle you have to solve yourself. He put all his energy in it to make it so.

Beware, though. If you love neat endings with no gaps remaining, please, please stay away. You've been warned.

Living the Lie

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He knew he died every night. He just had to figure out what made him so special that he knew. 

There were billion others living the same mundane life over and over again without a thought about what happened to them. Why was he chosen to be shown the truth about their sleep? More importantly, if he was chosen there must be a power that chose him. What was that power?

He got up from the bed and walked out to the mirror to look at himself. He was the same man every day except that he died each night and his consciousness was re-uploaded into him. Maybe, he mused to himself, we live only for a day. That's our lifespan. And this is how we extend it. 

But was he really the same person? If he died last night and his "consciousness" was shifted, he laughed to himself as he thought this, as if consciousness could be shifted, wouldn't his consciousness be shifted in a new body?

So is he really the same person or was he a woman yesterday? Could he really distinguish if he was sent to "live" in a different vessel? Wasn't the entire universe like a freakin' thought bubble where everybody was connected with some central power? What if the central power is messing with us? Was there any way of knowing?

Emil Nolde (1867-1956), Mask Still Life III, 1911
Surely he had all these memories of the man he was today. But those memories are so intangible. They seem so unreal! Did he really drop tea on himself a week ago? If he tried to, could he feel the warmth of the liquid on his lap again?

But that would explain the weird feeling of not being himself. Today was one of those days when he wasn't feeling quite right. Something was odd about this day. He just couldn't put his finger on the issue.

He started walking out to the backyard. He remembered the idea of that "hidden creature". If evolution had created all kinds of creatures, the one which can hunt the best, one which can run the best, one which can jump the best, and one which can think the best. Wouldn't there be a creature which can hide the best?

A creature that can hide the best would never be seen or found by anybody. They'd be so perfect at it that nobody has ever catalogued them. Is this daily death the same kind of cheat where it happens so naturally that nobody else but he suspects it? 

Wait, does that mean he was closer to God or something? He smiled to himself and turned to face his living room again. Something was indeed odd about this day, he thought to himself and walked inside the house again. Whatever was odd, the analysis had to wait. He was getting late for the stupid puppet show called life.

Left Behind

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With the taste of success
Madness and fear
Upon lonely nights
Whence roaming around

I'd found a friend
A partner I trust
Look in her heart
Inside I'll be found

No place she'd rather be
Than hand in hand
Travelling to the sea
With silence profound

Tonight she's broken
She can't go on
Try as hard as I may
She makes no sound

With a resolve to get her up
I'm walking away
But parked like an angel
Without me, my car-
She's left behind

Accept Defeat

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Note: If you're Hrithik Roshan, I'm sorry that I went against the title of the popular inspirational video you made. Please remember that I'm still a huge fan. This doesn't change anything between us.

Even the toughest control-freak has to come to terms with the fact that things stop working sometimes and refuse to move until they stop pushing and let go.

The act of letting go has travelled through centuries being handed down from generation to generation. In fact I can claim it's in our genes! Only yesterday I found a bull running along my car. I decently let go of the track and let the bull call the shots. And who doesn't remember being chased by a mad scavenger dog inspiring us to leave behind our school-bag, our shoes and our senses?

The follow-up question to the two stupid incidents is, what power do these mortals hold against us that they convince us to surrender before them? Their strength over our limp flailing limbs? Or the element of surprise they have over us?

I have the answer. We surrender because we know they know no bounds. They're ruthless and, most probably, crazed too. They're mad! We're not. We let go.

Why doesn't this apply to our fellow humans too, then? Because we know that guy we have a grudge against is restricted by his own understanding of moralities?

I think that we don't let it go mainly because we're the ones who are mad and crazed. We have trouble forgetting and forgiving. And that forms the root of all troubles.

The better memory we have, the worse we'll suffer.

Let's take a break here and accept that sometimes we have to see we're defeated. Ruining an excellent shot at repairing things we try to hold on. Sometimes, holding on is bad.

Accepting defeat doesn't make us a loser. It means we were wise enough to know where to stop and give the other a chance to look at things. That sets us apart from the bull and the dog. That makes us human.

We break away from banality and find the courage to tell ourselves that we have to pause and think what it'll take to come back. That's our motto, we keep moving forward with fuel breaks! Because in the end, we always want to get back on track and start running again.

The End