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I’m back. And I’m weeding out the past! March 20, 2017

Posted by espritnoir in I, Me and Myself....
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I can’t believe i’m actually doing this.

It’s been such a long time.

Okay…Here’s the deal.

I am done.

With the anger.

The resentment.

The doubt.

The hurt.

The pain of betrayal.

The thought of being reduced to a “Dost Dost Na Raha, Pyar Pyar Na Raha” meme.

I got over my ex-wife some time back.

But now, i’m also over the fact that my best friend married her.

And that he didn’t think it was necessary to tell me that they were dating for two years or so, until a week before their engagement.

My ex-wife and my best friend. Now happily married.

Once, both of them were a significant part of my life. Now, not anymore.

And i don’t particularly mind.

I was forced to move on from my ex’s life after she walked out of my mine.

I now choose to walk away from my friend’s life to save myself a lifetime of unnecessary awkwardness.

He moved on.  So must I.

I wish them well. Truly, and from the bottom of my heart.

No hard feeling for them.

Scratch out “hard”.

As i bring Esprit Noir back, (or as he brings himself back?), this is the last time i shall mention them on these pages.

And this may be a Monday evening, but I’m feeling like a mutha’fuckin Saturday Night.

Black is back, baby. Black is back…!



“What are you excited about???” August 5, 2009

Posted by espritnoir in I, Me and Myself..., Random Thoughts....

Asked the soon-to-be Mrs. of the alter-ego of EspritNoir, ie. me.

STOP PRESS!!! Yes, to clarify to those of you who didn’t know. I (or at least the alter-ego, who doesn’t go around by the name of EspritNoir, or any of the other really weird names I have for myself) am getting married! Tomorrow, to be precise. To this lovely girl, who only did one major goof-up in life. Falling for me! Not that I’m complaining. I don’t think i could have got any luckier, and I mean it! I’m just happy that my erstwhile girlfriend for 3 years, fiancee of 6 months, and soon-to-be-Missus (for those of you who are wondering, yes, all three are the same woman!) and I both made our way in life together, which was a great but not-always-easy ride. And the one thing I’m sure about is this : Having seen each other’s best and worst sides, not to mention all the paraphanelia and baggage we both have carried along into the relationship, and still accepting each other with the same love as three years back when we first got together, we now know that we’ll be prepared for anything in the future…! So, cheers, to that.

But, I digress. So, she asked me the really strange question about a week back. And I didn’t know what to say. Say the truth or lie? Coz, the truth was I really wasn’t excited about the wedding. It’s just too much hassles, over something, which in the end, becomes more of a stressful event, than a stress-free one.

Neither am i excited about the honeymoon so much as to be over the top. I mean, sure i am excited at the prospect of spending some great quality time with her away from the whole set of wedding crazed families. But, at the end of the day, thats what the honeymoon period is all about. Having fun, relaxing, enjoying each others company, getting tipsy, and getting lots of … uhem… cosy, intimate moments! 😉 So, that’s like a given. So, im excited about it, but is that what im most excited about?

No…not really.

Which puts me in dangerous grounds. I really can’t tell that to the Mrs-to-be…that Im not really that excited about the wedding, nor the honeymoon. I decide to take the plunge and tell her what im really excited about…

1) Waking up in the morning, to find her lying in my arms. Even if the added weight of her head on my arms, means that i have to spend ten minutes every morning to wake my arm from its dead sleep, it’s worth it!

2) Having coffee with her in the wee hours of Sunday morning. Black coffee tastes good, watching her at 6.30 am in a coffee shop around the corner, even better.

3) Not having to drop her home, after spending the evening in my side of the town. It will be the greatest thing in the world to just go home together once we’re through with our evenings.

4) Decorating our room and home together in the years to come. I’m sure the hole in my wallet will not as large as the lump of joy in my heart, as we add new things to our bedroom to mark the happy years passing by.

5) Playfully pushing her out of bed on a regular weekday morning. Just like that. To hear her scream when the stone cold floor hits her body! (Don’t worry, we have a low bed. So it’s not too much of a fall;)

6) Going with her to places i’ve always wanted to go to, but never did ‘coz it would never be the same without her. Kerala, Lakshwadeep, Goa, Sri Lanka, UK, the rest of the world. No place is too near, or too far, or too anything. I’ve never gone anyplace with somebody special. This should be a great start!

7) Showing her around UK someday. Especially Bournemouth & Poole. Munchies on Poole High Street, where we used to eat doner kababs, Chippy, the fish & chip shop i frequented, Poole Quay, Bournemouth Beach, the Uni, the place in London where i stayed for a night, and was reminded of Bombay. There are so many memories of me as an individual, that i want to share with her. I’m excited about that.

8) Sharing our dreams, and living them together.

9) Being hit by the ten ton scent of her freshly washed hair, and going weak in my knees. It may not be like that forever, but you know what, i really want to enjoy it to the fullest, till it lasts.

10) Creating new memories. Not as individuals, but together. As a married couple. With all the fights, and kisses, and hugs and punches, and warts and smiles and all.

I’m really excited about spending the rest of my life with her. Somewhere, on these pages, I had said, “Someday, I’ll be a Saturday Night…” Well, tomorrow may be a Thursday to some, but to me, it’s the start of my Saturday night…and i’m really excited about spending all (well, almost all:) my Saturday nights (and other nights and days) with the woman I love!

Well, change is inevitable… June 23, 2008

Posted by espritnoir in I, Me and Myself....
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“…except from a vending machine!”. And since, when I checked last night, I wasn’t one, I decided to make some changes.

One major visible change is the header. Spent hours trying to photoshop it, and I personally think, it’s kinda sums me up nicely. And it’s got a semi-hidden image too, if anybody looks closely at it. Presenting a little bit of me to the online world, for the very first time. That was a big decision for me. Almost as big as revealing my real name on Facebook. Yes, it’s there. But unless you already know me, it’s going to be tough to figure out who I am on facebook (in case you were trying to figure it out, that is!)

Well, this was a big decision, no jokes about it. I’ve been called paranoid by too many people, with regards to my self imposed guidelines for separating my online identity from my real life identity. Different names, different images, different personas. But the same me. Just different facets, for different people. The online identity was a side of me that I was always scared of revealing in front of most people. Even friends and family. As it so happened, it was mostly an identity that helped me question myself, the offline identity. EspritNoir was able to say and do things the ‘other’ me could never imagine. And the offline me helped me remain grounded, making sure EspritNoir never took off and went AWOL.

Somebody close to me has had a very tough time, adjusting to both these personas. I remember, the person once SMSd me hoping that things never change between us. And I remember laughing and thinking, “Change is inevitable”. And things changed dramatically. Then things changed again, and again, and then life changed. It convinced me of one thing : change is never good or bad. Change is just change. Resistance is futile. You either adapt or you don’t. Does that make me fatalistic. Maybe, but I don’t think so. Does that make me flexible. Yes. And that’s what makes me stand strong.

I hated change at one point of time in my life. I still do, in most things. But, if things hadn’t changed, say a couple of years ago, for me, I wouldn’t have been where I am in life today. And if things don’t change, I won’t be where I want to be tomorrow, or in a year’s time or in ten years time. At the same time, I remind myself that some things don’t change and hopefully never will. They remain a constant. Their intensity may change, or their or their measure. But their nature remains the same. And always will. It’s a skill, deciding what things remain constant, and what things change. And if you question yourself too much in this process, it leaves you with a feeling of insecurity, a nagging feeling of uneasiness gnawing away in your mind. And that makes life miserable. Security lies in knowing that some things are bound to change, and yet having faith that other things will not. It’s up to you to decide what things to have faith in.

What’s the point I’m trying to make? I don’t know. Have faith, and though shalt be happy and contented? Maybe. Be flexible and learn to adapt? I think so…But most importantly, all I’m trying to say is that Change is inevitable. Don’t spend your time trying to change things from changing or questioning the change. You run the risk of missing out on something extraordinary. Did that make any sense? I guess not. But, for once, in recent times, I don’t find me questioning myself over changes done on the blog or on Facebook. If I run the risk of mixing my offline and online identities, well, so be it. Maybe something extraordinary will come out of that too;)

Dusseldorf. Drupa 2008. June 18, 2008

Posted by espritnoir in I, Me and Myself..., Random Thoughts....
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Back at home (?) in Poole, after spending a week in Dusseldorf, Germany. It’s a really lovely place, with quaint little trams and trains running across the city, filled with trees and greenery. I think I saw more cyclists and roller bladders in Dusseldorf than I saw cars! But more on that later.

Was in Dusseldorf to attend the ‘mecca’ of the printing industry that takes place every four years there. Drupa 2008. The company I used to work with back in India was participating, and had a whole bunch of people coming to Germany for the show. In fact, over just over four and a half years back, I remember, soon after I joined the company as a Marketing Communications Executive, we had started work on the 2004 edition of this exhibition. It was kind of the first big project I worked on. Since I was a newbie, I was in charge of nothing, but just the foot soldier to organize everything that the senior wanted done. Logistics, shipping, crating, speaking to vendors, hunting down old poster designs for references, making sure everybody had their international SIM cards, keeping a track of who was staying at which B&B in dusseldorf, etc. In short, I had my sleeves and jeans rolled up, and I was working right in the thick of things. And I remembered around that time, when my 6 monthly appraisal came up, DC (my ex-boss / more friend) said to me, ‘I know you probably are wondering why you aren’t going to Germany, with the rest of the team. But, your time will come. Soon, you’ll travel out of Bombay, the rest of the country. And maybe next drupa, Germany. You will be there, right in the thick of things, don’t worry! Once you get the hang of handling events, you will fly.’ And internally, I was like, “Yeah right. Like I’m gonna wait four years for that! If it happens, it will happen who knows.”

That was end 2003 – early 2004. After that the team left for drupa 2004, had a good drupa, and came back to India. I moved on to other events. Local first, and then national. Delhi was my first big event outside Bombay for the company. Disaster is the only word that comes to mind. I remember DC telling me at the end, when I was looking at the dismantled stall, not knowing, what goes where, and what happens next : “You look like a babe lost in the woods”. But we came off okay. After that, it had been a roller coaster ride. One event after the other. A lot of things going good, some not so good. But no disasters. It became a pattern, whenever an exhibition came up, working late into the hours. Discussing stall designs. Identifying messages. Looking at poster designs. Making adverts, invites, press releases, hotel reservations, the works. Then the events would start. For 3 days before the show and 2 days after, I was the first person on the site, to oversee the fabrication, and the last person to leave. All over the country. Chennai, Hyderabad, Delhi again, Bombay. Hyderabad once more. Even Birmingham, UK, for IPEX 2006, although once again, in spite of doing all the leg work, I didn’t get to go. Things were going good. And in the back of the mind, Dusseldorf was the target. As time passed by, 2008 started coming closer and closer. Preparation talks for Drupa 2008 were in the air. Tentative lists were being made up. Names were being suggested for those who would travel. DC offered me a deal : lost 15 kgs in 5 months, and you can go to drupa. I knew it was a joke, my intuition told me, he needed me in Germany anyways, so I was sure to go. And in the midst of all this, we did an event in Chennai in August 2007. And that’s where I walked away from an event for the last time. Before it got over. I wasn’t there to close that event. For the first time, I wasn’t the last person from my company to leave the exhibition grounds. And I remember, I cried the whole way from the exhibition site to the airport, for leaving a job half done. And for leaving friends behind. While they would be headed for Germany the following year (2008), I had other plans. 15 days later, I was on a flight to the UK.

So, when DC (aforementioned boss / friend) suggested I come along to Dusseldorf from the UK, I jumped at it. Meet up with old friends and colleagues, and help out with some of DC’s work. And more importantly, close the event. I was there for 7 days, and for some time, it felt strange. I saw somebody else do my job. I know him well, and he was good. He did all the rookie mistakes that I had done the first time around. And I had to remind myself not to be too hard on him. But still, he was in my place. It felt strange when people came up to me and told me things, then realised that I’m no longer in charge and I had to tell them, I’m sorry I can’t help you on that. It was kinda bitter sweet. A couple of times, that some of them came to me, it meant that I was accepted once again, it felt great but it felt wrong to redirect them to somebody else. Knowing that I could have done it myself, but it was no longer my responsibility, and that I would be stepping onto somebody else’s shoes. This was supposed to be my show. And all I was, was a bystander. The last 2 days, I teamed up with him, the guy who had taken my place as DC’s right hand man, like I had been for so many years. Right hand man, it sounds so filmi. Like a spineless lackey. Watching them interact together, made me see myself 2 years back. Was I the same way? Did I want to remain the same way? Now, that was a question.

The last two days, while the both of us, packed stuff up, and made it ready to be shipped back to India, 2 Germans brought the whole stand down. And once again, I was the last person to leave the site after an event. That felt good. Other things didn’t feel so good, but that’s just life. You can’t have everything. I told DC that this was a closure, for leaving him stranded in Chennai last year. He laughed. And offered me my old job once again. With newer challenges.

I still haven’t made up my mind. It’s something I would like. But details need to be sorted out yet. Decisions need to be made soon. Let’s see how it goes.

sometimes even a home away from home can be a source of pain… June 11, 2008

Posted by espritnoir in I, Me and Myself....
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Fuck…and double fuck. This is harder than i had imagined it to be. Much harder.  this was what i had wished for over four years back. and even though i am here in dusseldorf, it’s not the same. not even in the league as being in the vicinity as ‘same’. And even though every sensation in my body and mind says i did the right thing about 9 months back, the pain is still numbing. i have realised more important things, realised what my priorities in life are more than ever before, and found more important things in life, somewhere i still feel a numbing sensation.

but then again, i think of the things iv realised in the last 9 months, and i know its alright. the pain is momentary. for the first time ever, i know what’s more important in life. and some things in life are worth it all. this loss is nothing compared to what iv gained. and i know that even though i feel a slight remorse today i will be alright tomorrow…

cheers. will explain more later.


Cooking for Four May 25, 2008

Posted by espritnoir in I, Me and Myself..., Miscellaneous.
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The last two weeks have whizzed past in a blur. Trips to London, Stratford-upon-Avon, dissertation meetings, planning a trip to Germany, and amidst all this exploring a new aspect of life. Serious cooking!

Never ever have I cooked for others. All my experiments with cooking have been restricted to eating whatever I have had prepared. Well, I’m not counting the quick millions of half fries and omlettes, and bhurjis I’ve prepared over the years for friends and family. Anybody can make those. I’m also not taking into consideration the once in a while potato sabji and pithale bhaat, and other basic stuff. I think those are like a few basic quick fix dishes that anybody who has lived alone has to learn as a part of survival training. I’m talking about actual cooking, which involves thinking about what spices to put in the curry, gathering them, deciding how much to put in to give the dish the right flavour, etc. I’m talking about the kind of food that my mom makes. Well, my mom only makes vegetarian food, but trust me, it’s great food! To tell you the truth, she isn’t like a chef, she can’t conjure up exotic dishes and she doesn’t have a repertoire of a zillion dishes. But even her simplest food is definitely the most amazing. Good wholesome food, which is nothing less than an art form, I tell you. Now, this is the kind of cooking I’v always wanted to experiment with but never got around to try. In hindsight, I think it was because back home, I was way too lazy and was always making up excuses. We didn’t have the right spices. We didn’t have the right oven. My mom doesn’t like me cooking non-vegetarian food in her kitchen, although for the life of me, I can’t remember a single occasion when she said that. On second thoughts, I think like a lot of other things in life, I had a passion for cooking, but I was just way too scared to actually go and try it out, god forbid it turned out a disaster, and it was proved beyond a shadow of a doubt that I couldn’t cook. Or worse still, if it did turn out good, then I would have had a standard to live up to the next time I cooked. (Having put that down, and having associated that thought to a few other things I’ve done or not done in life, I just had a thought! Christ, how messed up in the head, am I?) Anyways, one thing or the other, and I never actually cooked for people. The only few times I did cook, was mostly just for myself and I must say I was always, too much flash and less substance in the kitchen.

Well, when I shifted to the UK, into my student accommodation, I brought with me tons of recipes and cookbooks and what not. I was going to experiment! I was going to explore my culinary skills to the limit. I was going to enthral friends with my gourmet skills. I was going to conjure up new dishes everyday of the week, and become the Gordon Ramsay of the student accommodation! In reality, for almost eight months, I ended up doing nothing. In eight months, I must have cooked exactly 10 times. Mostly eggs, Maggi instant noodles, pithale (so whats new?). The closest I ever came to cooking was when I looked up a recipe for Chicken Fried Rice one fine evening, but my friends who I wanted to impress with my cooking decided to go out for dinner that night, and I ended up eating rice for dinner all by myself, as well as breakfast and lunch the next day. And one time, I made palak paneer, (which was good, by the way), but how it got made is a different story altogether. Why did I end up not cooking in the UK? Well, I have my meals with friends from India, who stay in the apartment next to mine, and there’s this one guy who can cook. To his credit, he cooks really well. He is like a thinking cook. He knows how much spices to put in, how long to marinade the chicken, and how to save a dish if it’s too salty, or too spicy, etc. And he’s been nominated the official cook for the apartment. And after the whole fried rice incident, and a couple of others back in the early days, when I was still getting to know these people, I realized that I wasn’t going to be playing second fiddle to a kid who was younger than me. Not in the kitchen, and not anywhere. Also, he had an advantage in the fact that he could actually cook, while I merely fancied myself to be India’s answer to Gordon Ramsay, I never actually tried cooking in earnest. I had to swallow my pride here, and accept the fact that if it came out to a cook-out match between us, I would be the one who was least prepared for it. It was much easier to be a commis cook, and help out with the chopping, and cleaning and occasional making omlettes, all the time taking in notes learning how to clean chicken, how to marinade it and cook it etc, hoping that one day I would put it to use.

That was until he went on a 3 week vacation, early this month. In that apartment, the only girl who could cook was a vegetarian, and despite the fact that we like our greens, the thought of going without meat for 3 weeks was a scary thought. Something in me clicked, there was no excuse this time. And I decided it was time to put on the apron, and take the pan by the handle!

Since then, its been a food fest every third day! Murgh Kababs, Chicken do Pyaaza, Murgh Hariyali Kababs, Alu Gobhi, Alu Mutter. For the first time, in my life, I was cooking for others, and trust me when I started off it was a scary prospect. I didn’t know whether these guys would like my food or not. It was one thing me eating off something I had made, even though it wasn’t palatable, but for these guys to do it was expecting too much. But, they seem to like it. Off course, I’ve taken a few falls. I have a heavy hand with the chillies, coz that’s the way we cook at home, and these guys can’t handle my spice level most times. But, I’ve learned to kinda control it. So, my friends can go easy on the dinner time Coke now!

We decided to put my skills to the test 2 nights back. There was just me and CM, one of my Indian friends here, in the apartment. Out of the blue, we decided to call over some friends over for dinner and drinks, something light, nothing too fancy. I decided to make Kababs, and hoped that everybody – 2 Croatians, a Turk, a German, and a Nigerian – would enjoy them. In the evening, there were 7 of us for dinner, and for the first time in my life, I experienced that feeling that people get when they say feeding somebody is so much better than eating. I’m not kidding, CM and I actually had to go dinnerless, coz all the chicken got over. For lack of a better word, it was a mindFUCK! Watching people eat something you’ve cooked, and liking it (I was tempted to use the word ‘loving’ instead of ‘liking’, but I think that would have been too strong a word) is a feeling that I won’t be getting over soon!

Last night was great too. For the first time in my life I made Chicken curry just the way I eaten at my relatives place ever since I was a kid. All my life, I wondered how the hell, people could cook something so well, so effortlessly, and now, I can’t believe how simple it is. But, the toughest part is getting the portions of the ingredients right. I think I managed it right last night. Hope I get it right in the future too.

So, for anybody who is interested in basic cooking, here’s the recipe. I don’t know where I got this recipe from. Its something I picked up from the net, and I have tweaked it a bit to make it something different.

Chicken Curry

Serves: 3-4 approximately
Cooking time: 30 minutes

  • Appoximately 800 gms chicken, thighs and breasts, with some gashes on the fleshy parts (That’s roughly 4 drums and 3 breast pieces in all. If you like it boneless, cut the chicken into 1 inch pieces)
  • 3 medium sized onions, finely chopped
  • About 4 tablespoons ginger-garlic paste.
  • About 1 cup curd (set yogurt)
  • 2 tomatoes, finely chopped
  • 1 teaspoon red chilli powder
  • 1 teaspoons coriander powder
  • 1 teaspoons cumin powder
  • 1 teaspoon(s) garam masala powder
  • ½ teaspoon turmeric powder
  • 4 green chillies, chopped
  • 2 cup(s) hot water
  • 3 sticks of cloves
  • Some cinnamon sticks, for flavour
  • Oil, for cooking and shallow frying
  • salt to taste

NOTE : The way I cooked this dish, it requires some multitasking, and cooking 2 things on the hob at the same time. I am going to explain this just the way I made the dish. You can prepare the chicken in advance first, and add it to the curry later, but I think this way makes it better, so pay attention.

  1. Blend the ginger garlic paste along with about half an onion, finely chopped. Add a couple of chillies to give it some kick, if you like. While blending, add a little water, and a pinch of all the dry spices in the list. You can keep it just a little bit coarse instead of making it a very fine paste, but that’s your call.
  2. Coat the chicken with the ginger-garlic and onion paste and keep aside for a few minutes.
  3. In a heavy bottomed wok, heat oil. Add the rest of the onions and fry on a medium flame till they are golden brown. Add some chopped garlic, green chillies, cloves and cinnamon and continue frying for about 2 minutes. Add the tomatoes and the yoghurt. Stir constantly. Fry for about a couple of minutes more or till oil separates.
  4. While the oil in the wok is heating up, put another saucepan on the hob, and heat some oil for shallow frying the chicken. Then, while the onions, and then the tomatoes are frying in the wok, shallow fry the coated chicken pieces for about 5 – 6 minutes each, turning it over to make sure that it cooks evenly on all sides. Once the chicken pieces are done, place them on a dish with a paper towel on it, to soak up the excess oil.
  5. Here’s where the multitasking begins. While the chicken is being fried, add in the rest of the red chilli powder, coriander powder, cumin powder, turmeric powder, garam masala and salt to the wok with the onions and tomatoes. Increase the heat. Fry for about 5 minutes or more till the mixture in the pan looks well blended.
  6. When the onion tomatoes mixture looks well blended, add in the shallow fried chicken to the wok. Let the chicken cook in the mixture for a while, and absorb the flavour of the mixture. Coat the chicken with the mixture to make sure that it catches the spices.
  7. Add hot water and mix well. Add more garam masala on top, if you like. Cover and cook on medium heat for about 20 minutes or till chicken is well cooked and has soaked in all the flavour & has become tender.

It’s not the most complicated of dishes, but it is one of the best. It has a bit of a kick, so if you like it to be a little less spicy, go easy on the chillies and the chilli powder. If anybody ever gives it a try, and likes it, lemme know 🙂

the most dreaded words from a song, for an NRI to listen May 7, 2008

Posted by espritnoir in I, Me and Myself..., Random Thoughts....

…chhodkar teri zameen ko door aa pahuche hain hum,

phir bhi hain yehi tamanna tere zarron ki kasam,

hum jahan paida huye, us jagah hi nikle dam…

– from the movie ‘kabuliwala’

it’s like ripping your heart out from within, and watching it roast on a spitfire…


I finally did it…in the UK! May 1, 2008

Posted by espritnoir in I, Me and Myself..., Random Thoughts....
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Whew! Spent a few days back cleaning up my room, and man, was it a mess! Printouts of reference materials for all my assignments, candy wrappers, a couple of beer cans from a party over a month back, loose junk papers, menus from local takeaways that i’ve never ordered from, direct mail from the local print-shop from where I buy my printer cartridges, old newspapers, some more assorted prints, and somewhere in between all that junk, a study desk on which rests my laptop, cluttered with my external harddisk, the aforementioned printer, and an assortment of cups and pint glasses that have become the resting place for everything from a U-hairpin (don’t ask me why I have one! Even I have no clue!), 7 pens, 14 pencils, an eraser, my tickets from a musical that I saw at uni, a few more beer and coke cans from the time I was drinking even way before the party mentioned earlier, a wristband from my trip to the hallowed grounds of Wimbledon, and other assorted junk that I seemed to have picked up along the way in the last 6 months. Cleaned out. I think the sigh is justified! Whew!!!

Well, that’s not been all that’s kept me busy. A few days back, me and my friends did a quick day trip to Bristol, about 3 hours drive away from where we are, to pick up an unused television set from somebody my friend knows there. I went along just for one thing. Coz it finally gave me an opportunity to get behind the wheel of a car! And let me tell you, if you love driving as much as I do, its like learning to walk all over again, driving in a foreign country, after almost 8 months of not being in the driver’s seat. I must say, I have never missed my Scorpio more than I did the last week.

Driving in the UK after such a long time, was a totally different experience, I must say. I was actually worried whether I would have forgotten how it all works. Getting behind the wheel of a rented car (a Nissan Micra), adjusting the seat so, pressing the accelerator and the clutch feels just right. Making sure that you can see the rear view perfectly. Checking the side mirrors, the seat belt, the handbrake. Putting the car into first. Gingerly pressing on the gas the first time after so long. Making sure that the car is getting just enough gas so that it moves ahead in a smooth motion, and doesn’t jump start its way ahead. Looking in the rear view and side mirror to check for traffic coming from behind. And then, in one smooth motion, pulling the car out of the kerb, and then you’re on the tarmac, hoping that what used to come naturally to you eight months back, will come back again. And heaving a silent sigh of relief, when it finally hits you. You’re driving once again.

But, that’s where all similarity between driving in India, and in the UK ends. Driving in India is, compared to the lot here, is an adventure. You never know what’s gonna come you way next. It could be a haphazard cyclist, a careless kid crossing a road, a lazy cow who decides to come in your way for no reason, or a cabbie who decides to cut you off for no reason. You’re constantly on your toes, aware of what’s happening around you. And a little beyond. And you rarely ever hit speeds beyond 35Kmph in peak traffic in the city. Especially a place like Bombay. On the Vashi – Bombay highways maybe 60 – 80k’s. Max. You honk for everything. To tell the guy in front, he’s backing up too close to your bonnet for comfort. To tell him to move ahead. To curse. To say thank you. To signal your friend to get into the car. To tell your date you’ve come to pick them up and can they come downstairs from their apartments. In fact, a horn is for everything you can imagine.

Here, things are way too controlled. It’s a great thing, but somehow that makes it a little bit tougher to handle. Everything is precise. Separate lanes for buses. Separate lanes if you want to take a right, go straight, or take a left. No overtaking. Never heard a car horn here. In fact, for the first time in my life, I must have driven for 15 kms or so, didn’t honk once. Ever. You learn to drive at speeds of almost 90kmph on single lane roads connecting two towns. On top of that, you make decisions on the fly, at that speeds, whether you have the right of way as you approach an island or a roundabout. Right preceeds you, if they are already into the circle. You wait, and then go. Wait for how long though? Can you make a judgement, and then just squeeze in , if you can. Coz, if you make an inch of an error on either side, you end up in a ditch, and tons of paperwork, or you end up in the middle of oncoming traffic, and an even worse fate than paperwork. Not much option. On top of that, for the first time in my life, I was taking blind corners at about almost 45 mph, ie. approx. 60 kmph. For the first 3 turn my brain was going, BURNOUT BURNOUT BURNOUT! ABANDON SHIP ABANDON SHIP. ARE YOU CRAZY!??!?! But after the third turn I realised that if I slowed down, im going to bring the cars behind me on top of my ass in a second. So to maintain balance, you need to be doing what the book says. If it says 40, you go 40! But it was good fun. Getting behind the wheel after so long. For the first time, I didn’t have a chance to look at the wonderful scenery whizzing past me, the yellow summer fields, the willows covering the landscape, the small tiny inns with funny names, and the tiny streams and rivers we crossed to get to the next town.

I must have driven for about a half an hour, which was less than 20% of the entire return journey from Bristol, but in retrospect, it was one of the best 30 minutes I’ve had since I’ve come to the UK. I think the best part of the drive was not just the drive itself, but knowing that while i was driving i was unlearning everything i had learnt back home, and relearning all over again. I was learning to unlearn, and learn again. Something which i truly love.

And, I cant wait till I do it again!!!

I Am Upset… April 15, 2008

Posted by espritnoir in I, Me and Myself..., Random Thoughts....

And so it is, as usual, that whenever I cannot make out what or how to figure out life, or at least any particular aspect of it that seems to be bothering me at that particular instant, I turn to blogging it out. And in this occasion, what lead to this incident was that I sent somebody one of my earlier posts (Fear) to read. And that snowballed into something else, something which had been deep in the pockets of my brain, somewhere, hidden, refusing to come out until the time was right.

I am upset about something is putting it mildly. It has nothing to do with me, and will soon subside, so for those who care about me, please don’t be worried. The last time something like this happened, I had built up so much rage, that it drained me to a point that I couldn’t move out of my bed for a whole evening. That was almost 2 years ago. This time thankfully, I am just about upset. It was something that I knew shouldn’t be happening, but I knew would eventually happen, and as you might have guessed, has begun to happen. Well, I have seen the start of it at least. Simply put, it was what somebody I care about and look up to in certain aspects, said and did and what those suggested words implied that triggered an emotional response within me. I could either laugh it off and join in on the joke. Or I could ignore it, and pretend that it didn’t bother me, acting as if nothing was wrong. Or I could make my displeasure known.

Uncharacteristically, I spoke to the person concerned regarding it. I told him my issues with what had happened. It wasn’t easy. Maybe, it was just the fact, that very few times in life do I allow myself to interfere in the private lives of somebody else. Even those close to me. What somebody else does,
is that person’s business. Each person’s morality for any actions that involve that person and their interactions with other consenting adults, in the private confines of their lives, and that what is not illegal, is that person’s own business, and I don’t consider myself anybody special to challenge or question those actions. So, whenever, I am forced to question somebody else’s actions, I am at a disadvantage, because I lack the necessary skills, finesse, and the tact to do it in the right manner. Depending on the intensity of my discomfort level of somebody else’s actions, i try to avoid it, by ignoring that it ever happened, or just phase that person out of my life. Especially if there is a chance of that person not paying any heed to what I was saying, and continued doing whatever “wrong” (as perceived by me), that they were doing. I have only ever phased out two people out of my life before, and it hasn’t been the easiest thing in the world. But I found that option much easier than confronting them with my issues with their behaviour. And in this particular case, it meant questioning a person, who has much superior verbal and rational skills that I, a master of oratory and rhetoric, and I knew that it wouldn’t be easy. Going by past experience, I should have just ignored it, let things go on the way they were going, and eventually just phase him out, as difficult as it would have been, citing the reason to myself, that I couldnt’ stand a person who I felt was ill-treating somebody else, and therefore didn’t seem to care about anybody other than himself. The tough part was, it wasn’t a person I would want to offend on the worst of days, least of all because I consider him a close friend. He forces me to think about things in ways that I had never thought of before. But, it was more than that. Over the years, I have genuinely begun to respect and like the person, in spite of all his flaws, which he himself is well aware of, and does nothing to hide or make excuses for. He is what he is, and he has no qualms about it. If ever there was a person who was comfortable in his own skin, then this was him.

I think he sensed that something was wrong the moment he said it, because when I kinda commented on it, he wasn’t surprised. He was just surprised at the fact that I had reacted in such a harsh manner. Harsh, not in the rude sense, but in the sense of being abrupt and out of character for me. When it comes to the matter of the heart, though, I try not to mince words. Especially when it’s somebody else’s. Not everybody has the luxury of being a block of concrete, as I have been described in the past, when it comes to the matters of the heart. A broken heart is possibly one of the most pathetic sights in the world. Not because it is broken. But because, if allowed to spiral out of control, it has the brute force to break the spirit too. And there is definitely no misery like a broken human spirit. Devoid of a will to love and live. And the more you love somebody, and the more you are willing to give up to be with somebody, the more chances that you will end up with a broken spirit, if things go sour. So, you have two options. Either turn yourself into a block of concrete, so that you don’t end up hurt. Or pray that the other person loves you as much, and doesn’t break your heart, with their callous behaviour.

And so, I warned him against doing just that. Breaking somebody’s else heart, and thereby their spirit. Thankfully, he understood my sentiments behind it, and assured me that isn’t his intention, and that isn’t what he is going to do. And, as usual, I cannot but take his words at face value. Whatever I know of him, I don’t think he would lie to anybody. Well, white lies maybe, not a blatant lie like this, anyway. That isn’t his style.

And now, even though I ended up sounding like a preaching 70 year old priest, I have it off my chest. He knows precisely what my opinion is on the subject. And I think he appreciates it. Well, better he know it from me than not know at all. Or worse still, better than being sick and nauseated at myself, for not telling it to him, as I saw it.

Cheers to you all guys. Sorry I can’t provide you with any more information on this, and to keep you half hanging as usual. At the beginning, when I started to write this post, I was still feeling quite pissed about the incident. Now, an hour and a half later, as I am fighting off sleep, once again, writing it down seems to have done the trick. I think I will be okay now.

Good night, all of you! Hope you sleep tight in the arms and hearts of those you love.

Au revoir…! September 22, 2007

Posted by espritnoir in Bandstand Stories, I, Me and Myself....

Well, to the Indian shores, anyways…

And also to wierd hours at Bandstand, contemplating on how life sucks while watching the waves roll in. How everybody else seemed to have it made, but where the hell was my life headed? Sitting on Bandra promenade trying to figure out what’s on the mind of a friend, knowing whats up, but still not being able to say anything about it. Then giving in to a “higher power” to help settle the issue, being happy that i made a choice, rather than living in the comfort of having the choice being made for me.

Gorging on the most amazing half-fried eggs at 2.30 am outside Santa Cruz station. Enjoying nalli nihari at Noor Mohammadi at 6:00 am, and having bheja fry and pav at Raju bhai’s at Saat Bungla area.

Drinking hundreds of black coffee with Equal, at all the possible coffee shops in the city. The fresh lime soda’s at Toto’s on New Years, the Bacardi-Sprites at On Toes.

Getting up every morning to go the most god forsaken remotest place in the city, and calling it my work place. The work environment was great, but the location was a little better than hell…!

Spending weekends, single and not-so-single, at malls, movie theatres and scattered eating joints across the city. 

Walking, or more frankly, swimming vertically through the 26th July type rains that tend to hit Bombay once a while. Jeez, nothing beats the memories of that one day.

Knowing that friends and family were just a phone call away. Never making that call anyways, but still managing to keep in touch. They’re friends. Love em or leave em, they’re still gonna be there for me, just as i will be there for them.

Extended family and friends. N’atya (a close aunt) hand feeding us cousins – “grown up, but still kids at heart”. (Any non family member sees us at a family meal will think we cousins are crazy. But, what to do, we are like this only!) 

Mum’s cooking. Dad’s “do-it-this-way, coz it’s my way, and the right way” look everytime i did something. Their ranting everytime i didn’t do something they wanted me to. Mum and Dad.

I’d trade in almost all of the 58kgs i’m allowed to take with me when i fly to the UK on Tuesday morning, for these and tons of other intangible stuff that i have to say goodbye too.

i know, everybody says “you’ll get used to it, dont worry. It’s all going to be fine. once you get used to it, you won’t want to come back” But you know what, whatever cliche you tell me, life’s not going to be the same in a different country and a different continent, without my support group with me. Coz a part of me is here, and that part, i will always miss. However soon i adapt to the life and the culture there. I’m sure Bournemouth Pier is amazing, and i’ll fall in love with it. But whenever i’m lonely, i’ll always be at the pier, wishing i was in the comfort of the Bandstand promenade, watching young Romeos and Juliets try and steal a few private moments from the harsh reality of Bombay.

Coz be it ever so humble, pot-holed, smelly, loud, polluted, filthy, yet with a people of undying spirit, there ain’t no place like home. And home – where ever i go, and where ever i live – is and will always be apna Bombay!

Cheers people. More later. Maybe from the UK. Apologies for the long sabbatical. Life had been really hectic.