Thursday, December 23, 2010

A Lesson Learned

As I've said before, I'm very much the kid who has to touch the stove to find out its hot. I can't believe another year has gone by, but it has not been without its lessons. I can only hope some good comes of these lessons and I can move on to the next thing instead of them being an excercise in futility again. And I hope I actually learn from them, instead of commiting the same mistakes again and again, which I am wont to do. Like losing my debit card. Oh my god, when I did it the second time, I just wanted to...

Anyway, coming to the first lesson: Talk. The biggest problem in the world is people don't talk. A lot of problems could be resolved peacefully if people would just sit down, and calmly discuss, converse, and have dialogue. Of course, nothing will be solved if you keep quiet. So if you have some good, true, sincere, and genuine to say, then just say it. Who cares about what other people think. Who cares what happens next. Just say it. No good can come of it if you keep it inside. After all, life's short, and all those other cliches.

Be good to your family. Because they will love you for free. And love is not free. There might have been a time when it was free, or when you thought it was free, but it aint. And yup, family is really important for that. Because no matter how much of a fucking asshole you are, they'll still take you back. And that's something. So be good to them. Don't take them for granted. They, like everyone else, don't owe you a damn thing. Even then, they're there for you, even when no one else will be. And they expect nothing in return, in spite of all they do for you. So pay them back, with interest.

And finally, take responsibility for yourself. Everything you have or don't have in your life is all on you. Don't shift the blame. If you fucked something up, then own up to it. Try and fix it. Some people are lucky enough to get a second chance to do it over again, some ain't. Because sometimes you just can't go back to the way it was. Even if you've lost years. So if you broke something beyond repair, if you can't fix it no matter how hard you try, well then you best accept it and move the fuck on. Learn. Heed the lesson. And never fuck up like that again.

And that's it. This year is gone, and I can't believe it. I better look to the future now. No point looking back and wishing. Makes more sense to look forward and hope. I shall spend the rest of the year drinking and trying to forget everything. Maybe when I wake up next year, I'll feel like I have a clean slate. That sure would be nice.

My new year's resolution? Not to be an idiot. Or try, at least.

I have to search for the lyrics of Auld Lang Syne now. Happy new year people.

Monday, December 20, 2010

Christmas Cometh!

In light of the holiday season and my annual holiday fervor, it seems only right to say something about this time of year. The Christmas Season. It deserves the status of proper noun capitalization.

Christmas was a big fucking deal where I grew up. And it should be, because it is such a fun holiday. I love the legends, the stories, and the traditions. And all made so grand by the massive commercialization of it all. Oh, God bless those capitalist bastards and their proclivity to prey on the headiness of the foolish populace in this spirited season. Building on the tradition that Christmas is a time of goodwill and generosity, they go to great lengths to suck out every penny from the hordes of mad holiday shoppers. And in doing so, they make everything so awesome. Christmas decorations go up everywhere, fat men in Santa costumes invade various stores, beautifully decorated trees coming up, the air is filled with the smell of various baked sweets, toy ads have gone mad, images of the season are omnipresent, and people generally are filled with good cheer.

I love the stories. The birth of Christ. A Christmas Carol, in all its brilliant avatars. Home Alone, Die Hard, The Santa Claus... I love 'Twas The Night Before Christmas, forerunner to the modern legend of Santa Claus. I love the eight reindeer and sleigh thing. The Grinch. I love all the songs and carols which are all too many to list here. And I love the cold... makes everything so lovely.

By contrast, in the subcontinent, the feeling is somewhat subdued, in comparison. Which is why I counted myself lucky to land up in Goa (or at least ONE of the reasons), where people actually give a damn about the holiday and are arsed enough to make it merry. I would attribute that to the majority Catholic population and residual European traditions. It doesn't feel so merry and bright in a place like Pune, although the capitialist bastards here are catching on and trying their best to make the mood as festive as possible in a very Western way, but I couldn't be arsed enough to go to fucking Landmark in Camp just to see a small tree and some empty decorations and hear hollow Christmas tunes. Fucking wannabes.

I guess in all the excitement, I'm forgetting one very important dude: Jesus Christ. Old JC. This is, after all, His birthday. Except, of course, everyone that read The Da Vinci Code knows that that's not exactly true, and in fact that modern religion is an amalgam of all the old pagan religions and various stories and traditions that have been handed down from generation to generation getting changed along the way. But I won't get into all that lest I get a papal hit out on me (and tomorrow's headline would read "Local Boy Shot In Heart With Silver Bullet; Vatican Denies Involvement").

I have been quite merry and jovial in the lead up to Christmas, and done what I can to spread that joy, even though no one really cares. I'm just caught up in the mood of the season, and the nostalgia of seasons past when it really was done proper. I feel much happiness and anticipation, and in the very spirit of the season, I feel peace and goodwill towards my fellow man. However, the actual day has never been anything that great. In fact, at best, they have been average. I would call a Christmas when I wasn't just bloody dissapointed as a success. I guess that's (my) life, eh? C'est la mutherfucking vie.

But the best part is not the actual day anyway. It is the build up to it. The best part is the anticipation, the adandonment, the gorging on Christmas goodies, the telling of tales, the seeing of friends and family. What's Christmas this year, a Saturday? And that's all it will be, another fucking Saturday. But fuck it. I'm going to enjoy this lovely, warm feeling while I can. Because I know come Dec. 26, I am once again going to revert to being one angry mutherfucker. Allow me to feel this heady bliss while I may. Let us all enjoy the season of giving.

Peace and goodwill. Be merry. Give. Love. Share. Eat and drink heartily. Forgive. Show compassion. Show kindness. Show generosity. Blow trumpets, hearld in the new year, and spread the joy.

And maybe one day I'll have that perfect Christmas. That beautiful, white Christmas, cold as ice, but warm on the inside... with a gorgeous tree, and stockings up by the fireplace. Hot cocoa, and presents piled up high. Cookies and milk for Santa. All that stuff.

Maybe a Christmas miracle of my own?

Oh, what the hell. Maybe that's all just same damned fool idealistic dream.

But there'll always be cake and cookies. Sweet.

Thursday, December 16, 2010

This Is My December

I realize I have been writing a lot of depressed stuff. Well, my writing does reflect my overall mood. Not that I'm some morbidly depressed wight that mopes around all the time, but let's just say there has been a lot on my mind... for a long time. But there are better things to write about.

There's a beautiful song by Linkin Park, one of my favorite bands, by the name of "My December", which can be heard here. I heard it for the first time during the monsoon of 2004, Until then, Linkin Park to me had meant angst driven, violently melancholy, poetically destructive, scream-out-your-lungs music. This song, by contrast, was slow, reflective, and filled with a lovely remorse. It reminded me of something, of Decembers long past, and how the current weather reflected that. Allow me to elaborate.

First of all, the song is about mistakes that a man has made, and perhaps people that he has lost as a result of those mistakes. He wishes there was someone at home for him to come back to, but he has pushed them away, and he feels like there was something, somewhere he missed, and wishes to hell he didn't feel that way. So this is "his December". It doesn't even literally have to be the actual month, it could just be a metaphor for the end of things, as December is the end of the year. It is lonely, cold, and barren.

Now the words did not have much particular meaning to me at the time. The first time I put the song on, the very first thing that hit me was that sweet piano melody... inexpliciably reminiscent of winter. I was reminded immediately of elementary school, where one day in the deep of winter, a rare occurence took place. It started to snow. We were young and innocent, decked in thick sweaters and jackets, and were allowed outside to play. I remember stretching my hands up to the dull sky, my breath visible in the air, sheer joy in every breath. Catching snowflakes, and watching them melt immediately in my hand... And that sky. One particular characterisitc of winter in that region are the steel grey clouds. Endless and unbroken, that beautiful grey sky stretches from horizon to horizon all day.

It was a time of great innocence. There was a mean bite in the air, one that defeated the most sincere attempts to keep it out (in the form of quaint jackets and caps) by attacking the vulnerable and exposed ears and noses, rendering them quite numb. It was heaven to enter shelter from the bitter cold and feel the warmth return to those facial extremities. It was the Christmas season, and it was a season there that was celebrated with much fervor and excitement. And yes, I loved the commercialization of Christmas. Its not the holiday season unless every store and house has their decorations up, until the Coca Cola commercials come on TV, until the Christmas specials start to play. Evergreen trees dropped their needles, the deciduous trees had long since shed their browned leaves, except for the stubborn few that hung on, as if they were likely to see next spring. The smell of pinecones filled the air. It was a time that meant to me Christmas cookies, sweet and mundane with stupid frosting on it. It meant cake and candy, even those damn peppermint candy canes that are nice to look at, but a pain to eat (particularly for someone who is not particularly fond of peppermint). It was a time of songs and carols and the story of Christmas. Anticipation. Endless love and joy. Holly and wreaths and mistletoe. Greeting cards. Hot cocoa. That sweet, simple charm of the suburban holiday season. Winter and December brought with it these feelings that I adored so much, and this song reminded me of them.

Ironic then, that it was in the month of June that I first heard this song. And ironic that I felt like it truly was December. "My December" soon became the most played song ever on my Winamp. The play count definitely crossed 133 at one point (and that too in a short time). December in the subcontinent is quite different, particularly in Goa. Though it gets relatively cold, you don't get endless grey skies. However, in June you do. The monsoon was in full splendor. The sky was an endless grey sheet, ravaged and torn, and extremely lovely.

And then this song comes on, and I am transported to a time and world far away. I listened to the song so much, I almost felt like it was December. It was that sky... and of course, the fact that it gets cold during the monsoons helped too. Not to mention 2004 was a great year... I was not as young, but probably just as innocent then. It was a time when there was much hope and love. Not for any reason, but there just was. Those grey skies stretched from horizon to horizon. I soaked up the thick, cold drops as I went out to meet friends (going to school was just a formality). The beach was a frequent destination... those sandy shores in all their monsoon grandeur. To me it meant friends. Physics practicals. Hitman 2. The Bourne Identity.

Vegetation burst forth. Life was renewed. An infinite draught of fresh water from the seas was fed to the thirsty Earth, and she bloomed with variegated flora. Green was the order of things. All wild. And I stood there, at my window in my home, comforted, in nostalgia of the past and in the joy of the present, not caring for the future. Blissful. Unconditional happiness. For no reason.

So its a funny thing about this song... it actually reminds me of two places and two seasons. First of all it reminded me of December so far away, because the season complemented and reflected that old season in many ways. And later, I was reminded of the monsoon in Goa, when evenings become deep blue. A time of innocence, a time of joy. And most importantly, home.

Now, of course, I have left the notion of "home" behind. I'm not being cynical, I'm being pragmatic :). So I am not reminded of home so much, but I am reminded of the feeling. I can still sense a vestige of an emotion, of something great and comforting that I once knew, in two times and two locations, and all brought together by one song. I will remember trying in vain to catch snowflakes on my tongue in that lovely freak snowfall, I will remember fogging up my breath on a cold, rainwashed window while the world outside was grey and green. And now that is mine to have forever, me and this silly little song.

Nice, eh?

It is December now, and I must say I'm warming up to it (get it)? I really am getting into the spirit of it. It has suddenly got cold (and it can get really cold in Pune), and I am loving it. I am in the Christmas spirit, and doing everything I can to enjoy the holiday season in that heady spirit. If no one else cares, I still shall be the messenger of Christmas. Ha.

This is a few mornings ago. Awesome fog. Thick as hell. Now that's winter stuff.

I really am warming up to this December.

Sunday, December 5, 2010

The Flagging Year

The month of December has arrived.

I remember when that used to be a joyous event. Oh December! I've waited a whole year for you! There a little bite in the air, if it hasn't gotten quite cold already. Noses and ears take the brunt of the punishment (ever feel them go numb?), and poor uncovered fingers are forced to toil in spite of conditions similar to rigor mortis. Even in the tropical subcontinent, the mornings and evenings force the need of sweaters or an extra blanket. It's lovely. And as if that weren't great enough, Christmas is fast approaching. I can't tell you enough how much the holiday season means to me. I love Christmas. Its a time of frigid weather, sweet stuff, gifts and giving, sharing, unbridled joy, anticipation, family, and every good thing in the world. Then comes New Years, with all the hope it brings.

No more, I'm afraid.

Now December reminds me that another year has inexplicably passed by. Gone. Whizzed by. In a blink. And just some 330 days earlier, I was wondering if it was ever going to end.

How does this happen every time? The days just go by one by one, and now suddenly there are less than four weeks left in the year? Its frustrating. Mindbogglingly disconcerting.

And now I'm forced to reflect. What have I done this year? And alas, the answer is always the same: nothing. Nothing worth while anyway.

Fuck it. I'm not reflecting. For what, anyway? Is there ever any change? Do not give me that "change comes from within" bullshit either. I don't know how it happens. And I know how it happens. And another years burns away. An entire decade has burned away. And it all feels so meaningless.

I would like to say I've learned many things, but learning is only permissible till a certain point. After that, the lessons become repetitive and increasingly pointless.

There's this funny thing about the flagging part of the year, to do with the sun. Evenings are lovely. Its the sunset. I go on and on about this simple phenomenon, but I do believe that it has something to do with the angle of the rays at this latitude at this time of the year: and the evenings become golden. Or even moreso than other seasons. And even when I was here in Pune and I hated the place, I could appreciate that much. Going back to the only good semester I had back then, I remember a song that touched a chord then.

     "Staring at the loss
     Looking for the cause
     And never really sure.
     Nothing but a hole
     To live without a soul
     And nothing to be learned.".

Oh, I love the melancholy guitar lead, Chris Cornell's emotive voice and words, and that fantastically violent solo in the middle. But those words were so true for me. Not so much then, but then so many times after. Sometimes I just have to ask, what's it all for then?

And after all the nonsense, its sad to say that I now hate sunsets. Because I'm afraid of the dark now. And it gets dark all too soon these days. I like when its day. When I can see things. The night hides everything. I look out the window and I can't see anything except little spots of light glowing suspiciously. The dark is deep, foreboding, and unforgiving. Unkind. And I can't see a damn thing. The sun no longer sets for me, it is setting on me.

There are hardly any days left in this year. There is no time to fix things that I have broken. And no time to start something afresh. Its all limbo now, and I will live out the days trying in vain to fill them meaningfully with something that I can only haplessly hope will be of some use.

And now there's nothing else to do in the last remaining light. "Loss" is no longer an applicable term. Oh, but how I love Audioslave, and how they have words for every occasion. And how I wish I did not fucking understand them.

For I believe the sun won't rise, so I must stand and greet the coming night... in the last remaining light...