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Saturday, October 06, 2007

Chicken and Conversation...



Its a late Saturday evening and I am sitting before my beloved D-boy…..the lights are twinkling all over Glasgow’s West end and I can see them from my lounge window as I type.

There’s a pot of chicken cooking on my stove and the lid is clattering against the pot as fragrant steam tries to make mad attempts for independence and freedom…

It’s a simple chicken curry….a new recipe or perhaps an old one…..sai says I should note down my recipes here…..for posterity’s sake, I presume!!!

Chop up onions (2 large ones per kilo) finely diced and quarter some potatoes (4 per kilo)….please wash all ingredients and yourself if possible, before cooking…..some chillies (6 I believe) also roughly chopped……1 packet of chicken thighs (8 medium sized pieces) the skin ripped off and washed …….dump the skin, the onions and the chillies into a large pot and pour in a generous dose of garlic sauce/paste and mix it all up….you could use other sauces if you like, I had only garlic so that’s that….finally dump in the chicken pieces and mix the whole up and put it on the burner……add a dash of oil…..on a low flame, let the whole simmer….stir every 4 minutes….as you can see, I am a lover of even numbers…..oh, and add salt

The onions and the skin and the chillies give off oil and water….and so does the meat…..after a while, the whole broth like thing starts smelling delicious and bubbles away quite merrily, which leaves me to simply do the rice, which is easier and quicker to do than it’ll take to write it here, so skip that……after a while the onions melt and the chicken juices combine to make it a sort of broth….which is where you can add the potatoes and if you want a stew, just add some veggies and you’re almost done….

But not quite…..I have just added a generous helping of masala paste so the whole hue of the chicken is now a rich reddish-brown in colour and also half a can of tomatoes that has been feeling rather forlorn and neglected in my almost bare fridge…..so, there you have it….stir and stir and stir….simmer, simmer, simmer…..always on a low flame…..

Makes me feel like a witch in a Shakespearian production in my own ktchen….boil and bubble, toil and tubble, cauldron boil and brew trouble and so on and so forth…..

And as the damn chicken and rice bubble and boil, so does my brain……I like cooking because with a cigarette epoxy glued to my lips and my hands busy, my every churning mind takes stock…..hehehehe, forgive the silly pun…was not intended….

I wonder what the hell does one get stuck in conversations, get stuck in belief’s and also in honour and sensibility……I wonder why my ever agile mind and facile tongue have suddenly found themselves stuck in the quagmires and quicksand of conversation, simple easy conversation with someone…..

Its hard enough to do with disabilities of looks and a rather pugnacious and idiotic personality that like karna, I am stuck at the end battle without weapons and without abilities…..

Recently, someone from my past, a friend who I had met about 6 years and more, and since been good net friends with declared that she had feelings for me……

After a long hiatus, it was as if my heart suddenly realized its existence……must have been shock value to even find that someone could even find me bearable, much less like…..well, not as in like like, but as in like MORE than a friend…..

Sounds pretty soppy and juvenile perhaps, but…..

Damn, my curry just got a little stuck to the bottom of the pot….I HATE THAT….I have to scrape and suddenly black bits appear in my gravy….hmmmm, multi-tasking does have some drawbacks……anyway, give me a minute here…..need a cigarette now that the damn curry’s done as well as the rice, I can chill and have a smoke ….

Anyway….leaving aside my petty sentimentality and perhaps senility of accepting a fate of being singularly lonely and idiotically possessing large groups of friends who eat my rubbish and drive away my blues……the point here was that I had honestly never expected this….

Expect, hell, I had specifically even stopped myself from even daydreaming about ever being liked enough to be considered even the least bit romantically….

I mean, my whole life I had fought, schemed and planned for attention and liking…..I had become interesting so that people might like talking to me…..had learnt how to dance, cook, be witty, be savvy, smart and knowledgeable……I know, it sounds all so inane now and oh so important then……For a hug, for a look, for a kiss, I had used whatever tools god had given me and fashioned an arsenal of weapons, that was in retrospect, truly formidable….

And all for absolutely NO BLOODY USE……

You JUST cant get more pathetic than that…..

Anyway, after sairekha left me, I arrived at a crossroads of life…..I found myself, my dreams and my abilities hollow and meaningless…..and so like every other desperado and idiot of the books, I set out to find myself and perhaps some peace….

So hear ye, hear ye, hear ye……after many travails and encounters, our hero just did find that rotten and hard earned peace…..at the cost of indifference and perhaps even reallocation of self and baggage…..

I was boring perhaps, I was me perhaps…..simple and easy and different…..

And then to hear that someone was interested in me…..not for my food or my scintillating conversation or even my dubious abilities……I tell you, it was heady and idiotic and somehow it felt right…..even when it was wrong….

She was due to be married and somehow thought that I had found love in the unlikeliest of places…..or that I was in love and so could handle it…..I mean, what the fuck…..

I was NOT in love and nor was I looking for any….or so I told myself and had almost half convinced my errant and recidivist heart…….

I mean, I asked myself, she’s getting married in two months….what’s this, some freaking Karan Johar megastarrer ?? With myself as the reluctant khan??

Some fuckin’ bad joke, yeah ??

Anyway……so, I humour her…..yes, I am a bastard…..but hopefully an honest one…..

I liked hearing her voice, let me say this honestly…..And I thought that I would let her down easy….she’s just getting cold feet before marriage…..she’s just unsure…..she’s just idiotic, like most girls…..or so I thought….

I mean……she’s getting married to this idiot who loves her, who cares for her…..cares and loves her enough to want to marry her……would I or even could I allow her to break his heart……perhaps a bit like mine own was broken and shattered ? Naaaah…

So, I let her speak and let her spin her webs and so on……wrong move, I know, before you say it……she was a good pal and she had been there when I was broken and bruised….what was I supposed to do…..shut up and not take her calls? Perhaps I should have……

After about a month of such nonsense, I realized two things –

  • I had moved on in life, but I was still vulnerable and immature
  • These calls were getting me nowhere and in effect I was merely ruining her already confused life…

I reasoned with her and then when reason did not work anymore, I gave up…..I told her to grow up and sleep on the bed she had made….perhaps brutal, perhaps harsh, perhaps uncalled for…..but reason and logic and sense were not getting her anywhere….

And so I did…..

And then I tried to go on with my life….

And I realise that my heart aches for longing and for relations which go beyond friendships and mere talking….

I thought I was tougher than that…..thought I had banished such wants and desires from my life and my being….

I had given up or at least made myself give up the hope and the want of things more than what I have now…..for the softer things in life which I had fought and schemed for…..for the attention I was deprived of as a child and the peace of merely looking at someone and the warm shiver that would go down my spine….

I guess I am still greedy and hungry…..for things that I cannot have…..and like a lump in my throat that refuses to go away, my tongue and mind have become entangled in the same and refused to budge….

Its not wrong to want……but its wrong to want things that I cannot have……and so I tell myself as I wrap myself in my blankets and switch on the music…….for a long time, I would listen to music and rock myself to sleep…..when I was growing up, I would scheme and figure out till my mind just gave up to fatigue and sleep…..now that I am grown up, I again listen to music and rock myself to sleep…..

To smell the fragrance of shampooed hair......to reach out and hold a warm hand.....to even know……these were not for me, I sternly told myself and worked myself to fatigue and indifference and a hard won peace…..

And yet, I realise that its still not easy……and my tongue and mind are in rebellion against my determination…..and this too shall pass…..I know….

But like my chicken and my friends and my work and everything else……it all seems so incomplete…..an ache that I must dominate and go past….

I guess, I must speak again or else go mute……I must think again or go mad…..

I am still me…..and I am not hungry or perhaps hungrier than ever before….

Chicken anyone?



Wednesday, October 03, 2007

Butts mark the way


Why is it that every time I am waiting for a bus to arrive, the damn thing never comes….and when I have finally given up waiting and have rolled a perfect white cylinder of cancer …. And mind you….JUST LIT IT…that the damn thing decides to make its grand appearance, in defiance of all British standards of time keeping!!!!

I HATE HAVING TO THROW AWAY A FRESH LIT CIGARETTE…..do the Scottish bus driver’s union know that specific secret of mine and conspire against me?

And so it happens that butts mark the way….

I had started smoking way back in almost my pre-teens…..my mom still blames a far-off cousin who introduced me to the then forbidden pleasures of tobacco …….that poor fellow quit long back but the white rice paper cylinders never quit on me…..and the butts started dropping…..

Throughout my adult life, my smoking has always been a part of my life…..especially in times like this when I’d sit all alone at 3 am in the morning and just stare at the screen…….and wait for the words to tumble forth….while the ash grows longer and the coffee colder….

They say that a man has three teachers, three lovers, three enemies and three friends and he never quite knows when he meets whom and never realizes who was whom for him till its over….At the great and hollow age of my late twenties, I do believe that I have either met all the sad bastards life can throw at me or else I am possibly the greatest fraud still alive…..

This blog for me is not a mere point of existence for incoherent ramblings…..or so I tell myself and through me, the world….Unwilling and yet driven I find myself in need of articulation and expression of all that I perceive and observe and to hope to put all of that down in paper…..in the hope of someday committing to a plotline and characters, these very same desires, belief’s and thoughts…..

Like my butts, these blogs too mark a wavering, shambling route to my own self…..crusted with bitter indifference and worn over with cynical attitude, I wearily let my educated fingers wander over the keyboard of my chosen addiction……signposts of a life, hopelessly lost in the mundane truths of being, searching for the grail or even grain of truth which makes up for the rest of the idiotic rambling (both of life and blog)…..

A start…..all it requires is a start….and hopefully an end…..

You need a start to start…that much is but obvious…..and one needs an end to define the start….the rest is all adventure….and sometimes there’s a mis before the adventure and another s at the end….but then, that’s all there is to it…..

A swashbuckling, swaggering, hard-rock sound tracked filled…..at times wry, at times tragic….mostly idiotic, mostly nonsensical….to continue from the beginning and continue to the end….and as the old saying goes….a large piece of prose with something definitely wrong in it somewhere….or so I think…..but then thoughts are one thing, dreams another, nightmares again different and reality a complete new set of crockery all over….

I am presently hunting for gainful employment….of any sort….to tide me over till I can start applying for jobs in mine own field….FTS does not allow us to sign any contracts till our student visas expire….and then again there are various other incidents that happen which make our life a not so monotonous journey….and like life, a lot happens in the cracks of time and space…..

Shantanu has left and Gayatri has arrived…….its like an era is over……the Maratha has left to join his office in Derby and undergo graduate training in Rolls-Royce and yet another set of characters have arrived in these far off shores, searching for education, belief, employment and god-only-knows-what-else…….Gayatri has somehow come into the large and rather shambling debris of our lives…..a little pipsqueak of a character with a grin larger than her entire being and almost like a lost waif, she has been taken in and accepted by my rather large and extended family of urchins and claimed as one of their own……especially by khan….

Shantanu’s leaving has hit perhaps khan the worst…..for over a years they have abused and maligned each other in their own ways and now that the Maratha is gone, the Pathan is well nigh inconsolable…..there’s no one to fight with, he says….

My house has been a din and a cacophony for so long that the sudden silences sometimes worry me……pranay, rishab, asim, jayant, kartick, taimoor, umair, murli, priyanka, joydip, atty….the list is endless…..ramzan is still on and the stories are simply piling up….I wonder what to put down and what I could leave out…..this delay is caused due to this and I don’t regret it….

Of pranay and my encounter’s with keeping roza….which lasted all of 3 days….

Of the hindu’s like rishab and me feeding the muslims like jahanzeb (jazzy) and khan and so many others….

Of the time where umair and shantanu both smoked grass and then finished off a kilo and a half of ice cream by candle light, imagining themselves as gods and the ice cream as the world, while the rest of us were asleep….

Of Joydip and how he would play “jumma chumma” for 3 hours and would have gone on further just that we put a stop to it….

Of poor Atty Rizvi, the ever enduring one, who would smile his shy smile and endure all our crazy antics and still keep his calm and all of us in line….

Of my blanket invitation aftari parties where I would cook like a demon and feed everyone in the vicinity and how they became legend….

Of the crazy antics of all the great “character’s” of Glasgow that pranay ahluwalia would take so much relish in enacting and making us laugh…..like the time nitin ran off with jajali drunk or of the time anand mishra and tikku got into a slanging match in hindi in the MBA class forgetting anyone and everyone else in the class….or of the time khan managed to lure jenny into my flat in the student halls and suddenly like a dog chasing cars, didn’t know what to do once the damn car stopped….

Of the way rishab would take everything from an economic perspective and the way atty rizvi and joydip would eye each other every so often or how shantanu would home in like a homing pigeon on the nearest pair of mammaries after two pegs or how taimoor would behave in a completely different manner with females and with us……..

Of how shantanu and taimoor would abuse each other from the minute they’d open their eyes till they closed their eyes…..and sometimes even with their eyes closed in the middle of dreams or nightmares……

Of how murli would despair of the lot of us and blast us in the kindest possible language and finally how he went into exile in desperation and in protest against all drunk hindi speaking idiots inhabiting the flat……

Of how 20 boys and sometimes more would inhabit the flat and the original owners would either sleep elsewhere or on the floor with all clothes and shoes on….

Of the number of movies murli, shantanu and myself ripped from the net, regardless of taste, language or whatever and watched as a community and the amount of arguments over the movies and anything and everything…..

Of the pakistani’s and the Indians who called my flat as no man’s land and each was the other’s brother….and yet I kicked them all out of my flat the day the india-pak twenty20 match was on….I was mad, legally not medically…..

Of the incessant job searches and the “hausla-afzai” that kept us together….not to mention my coffee grounds, milk and sugar !!!

Of the interviews and the crazy hours of waiting for a call to come through……

Of the calls that did come through and the ones that did not….

Of the celebrations and the mournings and the talks that went on and on and on….

Of youtube and youporn websites which made MTV and anything else redundant and the much abused 20 mbps net connection and the even more abused lappy’s in the house which were used beyond their capacities and were then taken apart with kitchen knives and spoons and brushed clean with toothbrushes and aftershaves…..of IC boards ripped apart and of frantic cable wiring and ebay hunts….

Of ebay hunts for weird stuff…..

Of the never ending search for cheaper and cheaper access codes to call home and near and dear ones….possibly at no cost…..

Of the tremendous amounts of energy expended for the search of trust, truth and love….and their denunciations….and yet the longing for the same…..

Of the girls chatted up to in chat forums, the advice sought, the dates planned and never fulfilled….

Of the girl who called and called and said those words I thought I will never hear again…..and how I bid her adieu and set her on her own way…..

Of the desperation of life and its responsibilities and duties…..

Of the alcohol drunk, the weed smoked, the abuses hurled, the food shared, the beds shared, the lives shared…..

In a year, I have lived 5 years of college and have changed beyond all else and yet not…..

I wonder how I can actually subscribe all these people and their every detail in words and letters. It is not enough to merely write, it is perhaps more important to feel, to know and to experience.

My novel or the large piece of prose with something wrong in it, is nearing completion….I think there’s enough wrong with me and enough in my blogs to actually sit and write about…. I have my characters and I think the plotline will take care of itself…..nothing worth doing is ever easy and each has been hard won…..

My bus comes along and I have to leave the stop or the bus will leave without me…..as does life, as does everyone else…..I have stood, been counted, weighed and hope I have been not found wanting….and sometimes, the butt has to be thrown away, even if I don’t like it, merely to mark the way I passed through….