This was a good weekend past

I met Kosh after 3 years, though the last time when the two of us bonded like we did last weekend was more than 15 years ago. I love where he lives. He lives in a flour-mill-converted-to-apartments place. It is as downtown as you can get to Bangalore, with an Indian Army encampment across the street, and a plethora of kebab joints that attract all of Bangalore’s nightlife because they stay open till the wee hours of the morning. His place has a little garden within its walls, with high trees and bushes to keep out the city [Not the city noise, that will invade every fiber of your being].

This is what it used to look like before:

Source: http://bit.ly/1cXfnyL
Source: http://bit.ly/1cXfnyL

 

 

This is what it looks like now:

Source: http://bit.ly/1cXfnyL
Source: http://bit.ly/1cXfnyL
Source: http://bit.ly/nkdipt
Source: http://bit.ly/nkdipt
Source: http://bit.ly/nkdipt
Source: http://bit.ly/nkdipt

I’ll add my own photos when I’m there next. This place is an oasis!

I went over to his house on Friday and we sat around a 12-year-old single malt, shooting the breeze, reliving old memories, talking about the present and the future. Doesn’t it feel great when you reconnect with an old friend and you carry on as if it were 20 years ago. I can do that with very few people in this world, and I can also safely say that they are the majority of this blog’s readership. Thank you.

I intend to get more active. During my school days, I was a natural athlete. I excelled at the sprint races [slightly slower than Bolt, but I always ran barefoot and I believe i could have saved a few 1/10 seconds off my time if I used proper equipment]. My 11th grade 100 m timing was 11.1 seconds, and I thought that I could have gone faster with shoes. I was also a natural basketball player. Once I discovered the NBA, Earl Boykins was a hero for making it in the NBA while short. 🙂 Ping pong [a.k.a table tennis] and tennis [a.k.a tennis] were my other main activities. I now wonder, at what stage of life did I lose interest in pursuing these fun activities? oh I know, medical school! As medical school, and later grad school and jobs, took over my life, I let my athletic skills die out. Even today, if I practice for a bit, I can give any good basketball or tennis player a run for his/her money [Here’s looking to you, Pat! I still have the recording of our 3-hour marathon ping-pong session. I’m putting it up as soon as I’m done editing it to look like I was winning].

On being active – I hate going to the gym, cycling, jogging and the like. In my 1 year contract with the Boston Sports Club, I believe I used the gym a total of 5 times. In retrospect, I paid a hefty sum [~$600] to realize that I am not gym-active. In my discovery phase over the past year, it has hit home that I am genetically un-inclined to use a gym or go jogging. But there is one activity that makes me want to go out and get active: Yoga. I found a yoga studio nearby [in Koramangala]. This week will be a trial run to see I can mesh with the instructors. I’m picky that way. I have had many instructors, but Jean Stawarz is the only one who has inspired me to keep practicing. If you are ever in the Jamaica Plain or Roslindale area, find out when Jean holds classes and drop everything to get to it. At some point during my journeys, I hope to spend a week or so at the Iyengar Yoga ashram in Pune. And, i’m going to cycle over to my class. That should be fun!

As Suman and Kosh told me over this weekend [as was Lisa, during our therapy sessions], I’ve to work with what I have [I will not “shake what my mama gave me”, for the sake of world peace]. The posts will hopefully get more positive to show my changing outlook, and there will be far fewer rants [I have one in the tank about being denied a visa by the Embassy of Spain even though I am an invited speaker at the International Conference on Nutrition, because I am not a “resident” of India, by their reckoning; I may, however, let this rant slip through the cracks.].

So, Peace out!

This song from Pitch Perfect has been an earworm all weekend [Yes, I bought the soundtrack]. I am discovering a newfound love for a capella even though I resisted all efforts by Lex to enjoy it [and The Voice] when I was in the Land where A capella is King.

[The Breakfast Club, Don’t you forget about me, and Bee Gees’ Massachusetts – a theme here?]

Also this:

And this:

and to cap it all, this classic:

Life [could use some more] beautiful…

..but the weather is absolutely brilliant. Bangalore temperatures have ranged from a blissful 70 F to a just-on-the-edge-of-lovely 85 F; there’s little rain falling everyday (aah the monsoons), and the sun is shining bright and strong when it is not raining.

The view outside my window when it is raining:

Holy Rain, Batman!
Holy Rain, Batman!

The same view, with no rain:

Holy Clear Skies, Batman!
Holy Clear Skies, Batman!

My three weeks in India have been part aggravation and part frustration (resulting from the aggravation!). It took 2 weeks for a bank and a phone company to recognize that (1) I am an Indian citizen (2) I now live in India. And the roadblock that stumped everyone was that my Indian passport, renewed in New York, had a Boston address listed in the address field. It was inconceivable to the many heads/eyes that viewed this document that any Indian passport that was not issued on Indian soil could be real…”haanh, this must be a forgery, yaar; this guy thinks he is very smart, he is trying to get one over us; i can’t approve this, I have to cover my a**” I’m offering them my money and they don’t want it because I lived in Jamaica Plain. *sigh + facepalm”

My plight highlights the red tape-ish bureaucratic backbone that still lives, and feeds, on the optimism and hopes of millions, nay, billions of Indians. I talked to my cousin who incidentally moved back to India 2 years ago, exactly to the date. And his wise advice was to take a deep breath and roll with it. I would have, if this happened 9 years ago. Now, having read about the fantastical (as they now seem!) stories of how “India has changed”, “This is the new India”, blah blah blah, etc, I have come to expect something better than “the same old, same old”. To clarify, those who know me are aware that I am a pretty flexible/adaptable guy. And I do not think I can ever be described as “entitled”. But this really gets my goat; what I see before me, based on my experience, is truth to the saying, “the more something changes, the more it remains the same”. On an upcoming obligatory post on traffic, remember another paraphrased quote,”the more something changes, the more terrifying it becomes”

My homecoming was tinged with a bit of sadness. A dear uncle passed on to the great Drama club in the sky. A lawyer by profession, an actor by hobby, he was a man full of humour and zest for life. Even though we have not been in touch for a while, I feel a tug when I realize that his smiling face will no longer greet me as he did, every time I walked into our ancestral house in Thanjavur. I travelled to Thanjavur a couple of times in the past three weeks, which is more than I have in the past 18 years. As a kid, I used to spend every one of my summers vacations in two cities – the ancestral (paternal) home in Thanjavur for 2 weeks every April, and then 1 month in Pune (maternal grandparents’ home) till mid-May. The trip to Thanjavur was usually a family affair, with the family (dad, mom, three sons) crammed into a Maruti Suzuki 800 for ~8 hours. Madonna’s material girl was the soundtrack for those journeys. Not all 8 hours but often enough that the song stuck with me. MJ’s Bad, Elvis, and the Beatles filled out the rest. The trip to Pune was by train, a 20 hour journey. It was usually me and my younger brother, or sometimes me alone. The Udyan Express was the preferred train, leaving Bangalore at 8.30 pm and reaching Pune at 4.30 pm. Those were the days when it wasn’t considered dangerous to send a 12 year old and a 9 year old alone by train. Parents saw us off in Bangalore, talked to the families seated around us, asking them to keep an eye on the two brats, and make sure that we did not get into any trouble. I was in charge of the younger brat, to make sure that he did not get down at a station stop and get left behind on a station stop midway (and he vice versa, though it did lead to some what-we-then-thought were hilarious pranks where one of us got into the car behind ours and when the other had all but given up hope that he was on the train, we would present ourself with a flourish and a “ta-da”; i believe some of my {and his} mental scars from those “jokes” still exist). Word soon got around and “the two brave kids travelling alone” were adopted by the whole car full of families, We were never short of food and drink. I miss those days – trust came easily, not just to us but to everyone on the train. We were picked up by the maternal relative units on the other end of the journey, and our newfound friends and family on the train disappeared along their own paths. But while we were on the train, the cohesion and unity felt solid and real.
I haven’t reflected much on how these vacations away from my family but they gave rise to the independent me, the one making his own decision, whether good or bad. What I think I missed was a way to evaluate and get feedback on my life, my choices and my decisions. I’m doing that now, albeit on the will-o-wisp of a fragile memory. I increasingly find myself turning to these thoughts as my mood “glooms”, and for some reason, childhood always lessens the load.

More on that later, i have a traffic rant to write