4DK – The Cat App of Android

We were just down two temples and 1 relatives’ house when we decided we should rest somewhere. So we went to this other relatives’ house, I guess to make it even between the temples and the houses.

Anyway, we were there and so were the “How are you?”, “Whats up”, and similar other questions and their answers, attacked from either side. I was there smiling my way through it all, when my dad started playing with the baby in the house. I assume she was about 2 years old, and was quite fascinated by all the chatter, though my dad’s and uncle’s arms wide open attempts to lure her into their arms was not quite a success. My mom was not trying; she looked content, just sitting there after the long walks in the temples, giving her legs some rest.

My uncle took out his phone and opened the “Talking Tom Cat” app; you know the app which talks back anything you say at it, with a weird but funny voice. He then started talking things to it and everyone including the baby would laugh when the cat talked back. Everyone except me; I did not find it that funny. Yes it was funny, but I had seen it enough, and that ‘enough’ had happened too long back ago for me to be affected by it again. I should have chuckled a bit at least just to be a sport, but I did not; I smiled though; although I am afraid it might have come out like a pitiful smile.

Anyway, so now my dad is amused with the app; more than the baby. He takes the phone, and starts saying things to it. He in fact made those weird talking noises that people do to babies, to the cat in the app. And he was laughing. I found it weird. But then I noticed; everyone was into it. My dad, my mom, my uncle, the baby’s mother, the baby’s grandmother; everyone except the baby. I was weird-ed out further more.

I mean they took out this thing to amuse the baby, and now all of them are amused by it, and the baby was just there, staring at them, occasionally laughing, not because of the app, but because of their behavior, and that is it; that is what they did for the next 5 minutes; a really long, 5 minutes.

I thought to myself, ‘Wow, is that what technology does to you? Is that what any outside entertainment does to you?’
I mean there was a time when we made voices to babies, we made those cute puppy faces to our lovers, and we could just sit down for minutes and hours with ourselves thinking and being amused by our thoughts. Now we have these apps to do it for us, and then we are just with our apps. I mean sometimes I feel do we really care if the baby is amused? If a lover means a sorry? If we need to watch that video on YouTube? I mean, once we have the technology to do it, we so blindly tend to delegate our responsibilities to it. And so long as the app is working, we sometimes assume that the responsibilities are carried out too.

Is that wrong? I don’t think we need a Google search to answer that. It is wrong. Those subtle things that we do, by ourselves, those stupid faces we make sometimes to say sorry, and those long spent time with ourselves; those things should not go away just because we have an app to do it. Let the app be an add on, not the real thing. It is okay to be reminded about someone’s birthday by Facebook, but quickly typing in “Happy Birthday ❤ <3” and then forgetting about it, doesn’t do the job well. She might like your wish on Facebook, but really, she might not have cared much; and neither had you.

If this goes on, I would hate to see what happens. I would hate to see the talking tom cat entertaining the baby, while we lay there, like a disabled app.

Be real folks.

4DK – The Day Night Contrast

It was 7:30 pm and our train stopped at an unscheduled platform, just 2 hours before our destination in Kerala. My dad and I were standing outside the train, on the platform, waiting for the train to start moving, not as patiently as how the train was waiting for some other train to pass, for the past 10 minutes.

Usually at such times, I get down the train on the platform to feel better, to get some open air after hours of closed windows and air conditioning; however I doubted if I was feeling better. Though I continued to stand on the platform but I could not miss the eerie emptiness and gloom that surrounded us. It was not completely dark yet; we could still see things, but everything had a hue mixed with dark grey.

It must have been the uninhabited nature of the place that gave it this gloom. It was not morbid, no, it was like everything was looking at you. It was like if right now a group of humans, or something else, were to present themselves and do something bad to us, I would not be very shocked. The atmosphere was well suited for such an event to happen.

I missed the Mumbai streets which would still have had light and sounds of people and vehicles rushing through every serpentine road available. In Mumbai, the city that never sleeps, we sleep at usually around 12 or 1; that leaves only a couple of hours of the night uninhabited and hence the gloom I was experiencing here was something I would not have felt in Mumbai.

In the next two hours we reached my Uncle’s place and soon after, I was on the bed devouring a book, waiting for sleep to do the same to me. The day after, we had to set out for temples, at around 6 am. And that we did.

Kerala was still dark, as the sky was yet to completely welcome the sun, but everything was mixed with a hint of orange, including the sky. The air was scarcely filled with the smell of temples and their sounds, and on the streets were people, not a crowd, like how you would see in Mumbai. The people were happy to be awake and working, something that was worth watching. The entire place was pleasant. It was wonderful how Kerala changed so much overnight.

As the sun slowly showed itself, I enjoyed the ride, with some popular devotional songs playing in the car and the windows rolled down. I inhaled some deep breaths of Kerala before being cradled to a small nap, to compromise staying awake too long the previous night with the book.

My dad always used the words sun, light and energy a lot whenever he explains why the morning is something that should not be missed. I never actually cared much, I enjoyed both equally, but here in Kerala, I could see the difference, and it was not just about the sun, but the earth and the emotions on it changed too. The contrast here, between the day and the night was loud and evident; and leaves nothing to guesswork on why these people on the streets were so happy to be awake.

Its weird, once you are away from a zone for a long time, to write about it. I had said I will write about my trip to Kerala, but the information will be given, segregated.

However, now after so much time, spent without writing, that has passed since the time I came back from Kerala (which in my defense was not completely because of lethargy), it is difficult to connect to those areas mainly because
a. It has been so long, and
b. So much has happened in between

Reason ‘a’ is okay. I can handle reason ‘a’, but ‘b’ really does create quite a hurdle; with you wanting to write about things that happened recently, first; but for the sake of chronology when you do not do it, the recent things can get in the way of your mind trying to undo the effects of option ‘a’ and go back to connect to the former events and feelings.

However I have the music on, and I have resumed writing, so without screwing with the chronology, I will be letting go all those posts that I had promised in the last post.

4DK – Last Night

My stay at Kerala is at its last phases. With packing almost done, and me set to sleep, what follows is the day tomorrow, when we will be polishing our packing done today and ourselves, and will leave from here for the 11 am train to Kalyan, Maharashtra.

How was the stay?

Well to answer that, usually, I just silently complain by making a disappointed face or a smiley, depending on my medium of communication, because people are generally satisfied with that response; they might add some of their own observations and don’t extend the conversation; however this time I feel like talking about it. Maybe because this trip would be followed by a trip to US which would prevent me from coming here for 3 years or more.

The entire stay of around 4 days can be explained in short using some headings; headings which explains or brings forward a particular experience, some of which may sound trivial, but still forms an important part of the trip.

I am just going to go ahead and write down the headings, and in the days to come I will sit down and expand on each, one by one, sometimes in a group. Meanwhile just for people who enjoy  finding patterns, I am not sure you will find any in the sequence of headings given below, still if you feel like, go nuts. Here I go,

The Day Night Contrast
The Cat App of Android
Feet Acupuncture
The Temple and why I did not regret carrying my DSLR
People mix up illogically
Everyone knows us
How the Kanji got finished?
Mumbai roads vs Kerala roads
Exoplanets
Padmanabhaswami Shetram – The temple with convenient inconveniences
Vishnu and the theory of evolution (A flashback)
The mute uncle who communicated the best
A square of light

These events or references to events are placed in the order in which they struck me, and now the trip ends, with the final title which is being expanded right now:

4DK – Last night

Glossary:
4DK : 4 Days in Kerala

Purpose for the Glossary and the weird abbreviation at the first place:
I just thought it would be cool to group all further expansions of the headings mentioned above by adding a prefix. Cool or not cool. I have already acted upon my thought, so, too late.

Hard-Boiled Wonderland and the End of the ‘Book’

Finished reading Haruki Marukami’s ‘Hard-Boiled Wonderland and the End of The World’

How I feel about it?
Let me put it this way. I had to read the last chapter again, to be sure of my feelings.

“Death leaves cans of shaving cream half-used”

That is one line that stuck, along with the many other things that found their way in me. Especially the chubby girl, ‘dig’, and the emptiness that extended its way from yesterday to today relentlessly.

The Chubby Girl:

Its this character in the book. Bold about her feelings, does not waste much time in futile formalities, and comes straight to the point. She is good at many things, something which she and her grandfather attributes to not ever attending school.
But what struck me about her, or made me feel for her, was the way she expressed her feelings for this one guy. She accepts the fact that the guy might be seeing someone else, or might just be in physical relations with someone else, but nevertheless, her feelings for him takes no step back. And she occasionally gives way to her emotions and asks him if she can touch him or have sex with him, or sometimes just move in with him. Most of this would project out as the curiosity of a girl who has never experienced sex, but there was more than that.

I remember having this same feeling for this female character in a TV series – Kyle XY – which ceased to air after their second season. There was this girl completely in love with Kyle and once when Kyle expresses his love to the character but explains why he cannot be with her because he is with someone else, she just hears the part where he expresses his love and she is content by just that.

There is this hint of complete surrender to love that I might be enjoying from such characters but I am not sure if I am game for it. I mean I am not sure if I will ever be like that or is it just a one way street where I simply imagine such emotions directed towards me from a person, while I simply bob away or around, like the guy in Haruki’s novel or like Kyle. Either way that says something about myself, and if it is the latter case then I don’t think whatever it says about myself is anything good.

‘Dig’:

This was something that made me smile and have a micro Eureka moment. There is this part in the novel where a couple of people are digging a hole in the ground and the character asks a colonel about it. He inquires the purpose of the hole, and the colonel says that they did it because that is what they do. There is no reason to it, no purpose, they just do it because they do it. That simple! and hence the hole thus created is a pure hole, not bound to any purpose or reason to make it complete. He said it was similar to how he himself plays chess, with no reason or underlying purpose.

And that made me think; Is this how the word ‘dig’ came to be used to things people liked? You have heard it and probably have used it a lot many times.

“I have a playstation at my place. You dig?”

Even though the first time I tried to use it, it came out weird, when I tried to ask a friend if he liked the works of Dan Brown the author, “You dig Dan Brown?”. That was also about the time when I understood that slang usages should be used only when it is common tongue at the place where you are using it. Otherwise you could just end up looking like a person who fantasizes to dig holes through famous authors.

Emptiness Extended:

I had left Mumbai to come to Kerala and with it I thought I should not feel that feeling of void that I had been feeling since a very long time. I was wrong there. This book is filled with farewells and characters asking each other if they will forget them, or to write letters; I could not help but reflect on my farewells.

As part of leaving my country next month I should have been doing my good byes to people, but to most, I just texted that I would be off to US and that is it. To those who inquired about how it all happened so suddenly and why did not I inform earlier, I just typed back,

“Yes, I do that. I go. I do that sometimes. Just this thing I have.”
Even though I typed and the person could not see me I remember I had done that nonchalant shrug after every time I had sent that reply, and I could now imagine the other person taking an oath to never talk to me again.

Also, there were the people who said they will “Miss me” and then the people who said they will “really miss me” just out of the blue. Both times I did not know how to reply and so usually the words that came out were “Yes”, “Hmm” and “Oh”. One particular time I also remember saying “Is it?”.

I know that it was not apt and possibly the exact opposite of apt, but in my defense, I was caught off guard. For some reason, I was not expecting people inquiring about my plans, of feeling that all this is very sudden, or of people saying that they will miss me. I was just informing people that I wont be here. That was pretty much my motive.

And now that I do know that there are people who did all that, and after I have read this book and the so well executed farewells in it, I feel a bit more pushed down in void. I wish I could go back and add some more words, I wish I could be more human on those text replies. I know I still can. I still can make amends, but as far as I know myself, I don’t think I would be doing that. I am good doing the wishing thing for now.

Anyway, the book, it is amazing. Pure marvel. I dig.

07/07/14 : A day I might not remember

Its raining outside, heavily. It was not, some time before, but since then, it all looked so sad, so gloomy. It’s like that emptiness that had found its way into me around 2 weeks ago when I had left my rental apartment, has not left me yet, and maybe it will show up a couple of times more before I leave my permanent residence and my parents here, and fly to US next month for my studies.

Rain had always brought pleasant emotions in me, or has it? I don’t remember. Just yesterday I went through some emotional situations, though I stayed as composed as I could, but the emotions in play were strong. And yesterday was a clear sunny day.

Yesterday:

I tried out my suit which I plan to take to US with me and wear it on occasions which will require that attire. We were on the way to home, another 1 hour ride in the middle of which I had to also get my Sherwani and a couple of clothes for my dad to be taken to our one week trip tomorrow to my native place, Kerala, at my Uncle’s house. That is when dad spotted Pinto uncle, or was it Mom who did the spotting; I don’t remember. Dad parked the car, I got down, waved at Pinto uncle, who had clearly not recognized me; ‘Age takes its toll on the memory and eyes’, I said to myself to explain and make a comfortable sense of the situation. Soon and close enough, he recognized and I embraced him; I had no idea why I did that. I don’t usually go around hugging people, especially when they are very elder to me; I keep my distance, maybe smile, and maybe, if need and situation asks for it, touch their feet. I guided him towards the car where Mom and Dad waited for him, I wondered why they were not getting down. They saw him, and mom laughed in a way which was only some decibels short of a guffaw, though it was not pride, or was it? May be she was in fact the one who spotted him; was the pride for that? Was their pride at all? I don’t remember.

Dad asked him to wait while he parks the car safe. Pinto uncle nodded and kept walking. We got down the car and he was gone. He clearly did not understand what we said. Dad said it is very usual of him and we all agreed on going to his house, which is in the building where we used to live since long before I was born and till just 3 years ago when we shifted to our current residence in Kalyan, a mere 2 hours of drive by car; I don’t know why I said mere, it is not mere, it is far.

So, we went to his place, in the building where we once lived, where we have so many who knows us yet they don’t, and hence I visited only his house, and no other. He was happy to see us, Pinto auntie was there too. The happiness on their faces looked genuine, and when they heard about my plans to go to US for studies that happiness did not take time to squeeze out some tears. Pinto uncle did hide and wiped away the tears, but his voice gave him away. I did not expect this. They both got up, and prayed to the photo of Jesus and Mother Mary for me. We got up too, me and mom with our hands mimicking theirs, and dad with his hands folded; he stood just to show respect to their faith, it is not like he does not have faith in any Gods. He is a die hard fan of the Hindu Gods, he just doesn’t take the other Gods so seriously, nonetheless he stood till their prayer was over. Before leaving, I touched the feet of both of them, not Jesus and Mary, obviously not, the photos were close ups from face to shoulder, no feet to touch. I meant Pinto uncle and Pinto auntie, their feet I touched, and more tears came. I felt overwhelmed.

Before leaving I wanted to see their bedroom once, where once I had learned as a child. Seraphine didi (elder sister), their daughter, used to teach me when I was in school. It felt nice to be there. I could remember where she sat, and where I sat, and where the bed was, and where the books were, where Sindhu, another neighbor cum student of hers sat, and I also remembered didi’s handwriting, and the way she wrote, and how I tried to mimic it.

In sometime, we left for home. On the way we started suggesting each other places to eat, and on the way to one place we all voted yes for, I came close to ‘Shree Gajanan‘ that Vada Pav center in Vishnu Nagar close to Excel Classes where I was a student for about a year. Oh I remember the class, Nitin sir, Usha mam. They both were married, and both were great and enthusiastic teachers. I remember my crush on Usha mam. Mom said there is no Excel classes there anymore, but there was ‘Shree Gajanan‘. We used to have Vada Pavs over there, and when we were short on our budget we used to have Chutney Pav which came for Rs. 2. I used to love their Chutney, and I realized I still do, and I still remembered the taste. I suggested that we can have our lunch here. They did not argue and I went to get three Vada Pavs and a plate of Kanda Bhaji with lots of their Chutney. I looked around in the place, to see myself, a younger me, standing and having Vada Pavs with my friends, discussing that one girl in our class whom we all liked. She had a way of carrying herself at an age when that did not come naturally to many girls, I wondered if she is still that gorgeous, and my thoughts were interrupted by my parcel. I brought the food to the car, where my parents were comfortably waiting for me. We had our lunch and I enjoyed every bite of it.

After some more time we were off to our house.

Today:

In about 2 hours we leave for Kerala, to visit the temples and some of our relatives. It is my chance to ask the Gods to come with me to the foreign land and to bid farewell to my relative and share hopes to see them again. The heavy rains have reduced to a drizzle, but the emptiness still remains.

It is these memories I bet, so many of them. Even though I will be back to my house from Kerala in 1 week and I will be back to my house from US in some years, but the memories, the more they fill up, the more this emptiness. I guess that is the equation in play.

I am sure I should be doing something else right now, instead of typing this down. What is it? I don’t remember.

Void

Sometimes there is no more point in waiting, and sometimes you realize that the situation you currently are in is one of those times.

Still, you do nothing to move on, you do nothing to search for options, and you do not look anywhere else but that long stretch of road from where you are expecting something to come. You can walk yourself, but after waiting so long, you probably are sure there is nothing there and this certainty dwindling in a high probability stops you from walking down that road to see for yourself. For then you may know for yourself that there was nothing to be expected, that there was nothing there; whatever it was that you were waiting for was never going to come. You would then look down on all the time that you spent, or now may be you can call it wasted, standing there waiting for it come. You are afraid that this awareness might be a greater pain than the pain of small deaths you die every day, every minute, every second, of waiting in front of this void. You now have seen this void for so long, that you love the void. You sometimes doubt if you are still waiting, or are just comfortable where you are. May be now the void comforts you to a level, that if some day, your wait is replied to, and you see something walk down that path, you might, for a small second feel sad to leave this void.

This is but void, a nothing, a null, a vacuum, but somehow you have started falling for the nothing, more than the something that you were waiting for. Now the wait is just a pretext but not the only reason to stand there; that explains why I don’t move.

Although I am afraid that it can also explain something else. May be the something that I am waiting for has fallen in love with the other end of this void.