a soliloquy

How would you feel if that shiny portable hard disk holding all your precious collection of music,movies, pictures and other stuff, suddenly went kaput/dead ? It would feel like some sneaked up behind you and hit you hard on your balls ! seriously ! All those nights spent accumulating all the gigabytes of data just to be lost in one instant. Music and movies lite. You can get them back whenever you want. Pictures man ! If you don’t have a back up somewhere else it hurts. So goggled a lot. Hit upon photorec. Seemed to be the perfect solution. Started the recovery at 2 am today.  The application showed the time for completion as 72 hours for recovery of 280 gb. I only made one big mistake. I set the data recovered storage path to my local laptop drive when the available free space was only 40 gb when I could have easily set the save path on to the other 750 gb external drive. I realized the mistake at 5 am when the low disk space warning started appearing constantly and the process completion time was down to 50 hours. So I had to keep moving the recovered data on a constant basis to the bigger drive. Phew ! This process continued till 6pm as I patiently kept moving huge chunks of data. The eyes got weary; the sockets started to ache; the wrist was getting stuck at all weird angles when I decided to take a break. Accidently I pressed the cancel process button also. So the process terminated after a completion status of 45%. Damit ! The whole night of waking up and watching the screen only to have it terminate at 45 percent. What a waste of time. And of the 45% of files that had been recovered half of them were bs. The important photos were just being recovered as the program had been terminated. I read somewhere that placing the hard drive in a freezer for an hour during a breakdown would help it cool down. So I promptly placed it in a Ziploc cover and shoved it into my sparsely populated freezer (as a result of frequent midnight snacking :D) I was getting bored and the grey matter also had heated up to inferno levels. So I decided to go to the Brooklyn Bridge park to chilax.

The usual routine. Swipe the card. Kill time in the station listening to music, waiting for the train to come. Got on to the train and for 25 minutes was lost in the underbelly of NYC. The  train has these ad’s that are displayed across the roof in the compartments. These ad’s generally contain posters for some crazy sounding doctors selling cosmetic surgery. Like ‘ Let Dr.Zimmerman fix your nose and you’ll be saying Thank You Dr. Zimmerman’. Somehow the name Zimmerman dint go down well with me. I wouldn’t like to be personally treated by a doctor whose name sounds like a evil wizard from the medieval times.  So in the multitude of perfect looks propaganda, the ‘train of thought’ ad by  Barnes and Nobles and The Columbia University caught my attention :

“America was discovered accidentally by a great seaman who was looking for something else; when discovered it was not wanted; and most of the exploration for the next fifty years was done in the hope of getting through or around it. America was named after a man who discovered no part of the New World. History is like that, very chancy.”

Some interesting quote that ! The train slowly sauntered its way into the High Street Station as I was pondering on the deeper meaning of the lines. Got on to the big escalator at the station. Was musing about the time when once I was photographing two of my friends as they were getting off the escalator and to pose for the pic they turned towards the camera and fell off the stairs 😉

A cold breeze was blowing. I zipped up the coat and jaywalked the streets hoping there were no cops around. There is a park which I had to cross to reach the cross roads from wherein a gully would lead to the Brooklyn Bridge park. The multitude of dead shriveled leaves brought to mind a few lines from the poem ring out wild bells : ‘ Ring out, wild bells, to the wild sky, The flying cloud, the frosty light: The year is dying in the night; Ring out, wild bells, and let him die.’

I reach the crossroads. It is 7pm and it’s dark and the cold wind which always ends up fogging my glasses often leading me to make a wrong turn in the road. So I wander off into  unknown injun territory. I’ve never been in these lanes before. Instead of tracing back my steps I go ahead and wandering the lanes and absorbing the dingy surroundings. Graffiti covered walls; bins overflowing with thrash; multitude of black garbage bags lining the streets;  people in long dusty  coats smoking big cigars lifting their hat to the stranger passing by. After roaming in the area I turn onto the main road and find a recognizable  landmark and from there on one after another it is all familiar territory. So I basically found a new route to the park by getting lost. Not bad, I pat myself 🙂

So I wander into the park half expecting some security guard to step up to me to tell that the park was closed or was closing soon. There was no soul in the vicinity. That’s a first for New York City. Not even one friggin soul. Where were the tourists if not the regulars ? Then it struck me. It was Friday and in NYC on a Friday evening Times Square is the place to be not some park under the Brooklyn bridge. But being alone in the dark is also not a safe option with Batman and Spiderman confining their exploits just to the silver screen. NYC. Danger lurks here everywhere. The mugging fear is omnipresent. But I decide to take my chances after all only thing of value to a possible mugger would be my armani underwear, the camera was too old; the cell phone was second hand; the credit card was maxed out; and the metro card was expiring at midnight.

So I sat on one of the wooden benches that line the park. Legs crossed and staring at the scenery that was Manhattan. I quickly pulled out my camera and started clicking. After two snaps I noticed that the battery was basically dead, so I tucked away the camera into one of the many pockets  in the coat. I remembered what one of my friend said about photographs: ‘ sometimes it is better not to have photographs capturing a particular spot or moment. Not having pictures always keeps that memory fresh and special in our minds.’  But this is in contradiction to what Robbie Williams says in the one hour photo (and I also tend think alike) :

“ Pictures are our stand against time.  And if these pictures have anything important to say to future generations, it’s this: I was here. I existed. I was young, I was happy, and someone cared enough about me in this world to take my picture.”  Such beautiful and exquisite lines. The only problem being the plot of the movie.

So I sat on the bench watching the splendor of downtown Manhattan and the gentle waves of the East river crash gently on to the pebbles lining the bank. Cold wind blowing, The waves gently crashing, the chirping of birds, almost complete absence of noise (except the occasional train crossing the East River via the Manhattan bridge ) I was intoxicated by the beauty of the moment. It is like a I’m in some scene from Enid Blyton’s The Faraway tree. Pure magic. And I consider myself lucky to be in such a quite place in the heart of NYC. The humdrum of the city can’t get to me here. I marvel at the brightness of the lights and the height of the sky scrapers. Methinks,  No photograph can ever do justice to the true beauty of Manhattan shinning in all its glory with a million lights as seen from the banks of he east river. It has to be seen and experienced. And you never know something just might click inside you  as well. Tired of warming my behind on the bench I get up and walk to the shore. Sit on the pebbled floor. Pickup a pebble and examine it. It is smooth and round. How many years of water-washing did it take for the pebble to shed it’s rough exterior and get naturally crafted like this ? Are we humans different from these pebbles ?  We come into the world crying and clinging on to people for support and survival. As our senses develop and the world starts exerting it’s forces on us, we change. Some for the better some for the worse. Not all of us are adept at handling the changes occurring to us and changes happening around us. The tough ones survive; the weak ones cringe and cry. Such are the laws of evolution; such is the fight for existence. And once we are past our prime we begin to loosen up a bit. The cold blood shot eyes are replaced with eyes of compassion and acts of altruism. I pick up a pebble and fling it across the east river. It plonks into the cold waters after covering quite a distance. I keep throwing pebbles trying to beat my earlier best. I’m recollecting some concepts about trajectories taught in some class in the distant past. But the recollection is too tiresome. So what the heck and I rely more on brute force rather than brain power.

After spending considerable time on pebble shot-put Olympics I pick up a pebble and try to bounce it off the surface of the water something Kranthi showed me when he came down to this park in December during his NY visit. I tried once, twice dint happen just plain landing. Then tried bent arm, straight arm, hooked arm, twisted arm.Worked on the last. The pebble bounced of the water surface at two points and sank. It was exciting to see. I wanted to beat kranthi’s best then of 5 bounces. But when you are just starting out on a new game you can never beat the master unless you have the acumen and the practice. The first I was unsure of; the second I dint have.  so after a few futile attempts (managed a 3 bounce) gave up  the bouncing act. Failure conceded. There is a child in all of us. But he comes out only when there are no peer-adults around.Now I understand why  🙂

The river bed also has these huge rocks on which you can comfortably sit and marvel at the sight that unfolds in front of you. I was sitting on the edge of the rock with the waves gently crashing at my feet. In a moment of insidious karmic passion I dip my ungloved fingers in the cold waters on the east river. A  shrill shiver runs up the body. I could actually feel the movement of the shiver as it ran into the body. It is the same kind you get when you are on the verge of doing something exciting and unknown. Like your first kiss. You never know when is the right moment karke. You just have to trust your instincts and make sure the girl doesn’t have her sandals 😉

The Brooklyn Bridge and the Manhattan bridge stand out like two sentinels on the East River. They show successful attempts by man to conquer nature and tame it. Man has this tendency to always try and conquer anything that is mighty or powerful than him because it scares him. It comforts him to know that he can control things as he wishes. Control. That’s the word. Mind Control. Body control. Soul control. Ass control etc. We are control freaks and perfectionist freaks. Everything has to follow a textbook explanation or else it is an oddity. It’s like Vikki’s  gtalk status message says : ‘ you can find key in key board but can you find mother in motherboard ?’

The East River has been flowing since centuries. It must have seen the transformation of the metropolis from a wild jungle to a concrete jungle. The great depression. The civil wars. The mafia wars. The immigrants. If the river had a human voice what would it tell the denizens of this great city ?

A cruise boat passes by with a party going on the deck. Rich people in their expensive fur coats with glasses filled with expensive champagne enjoying the sights of NYC in fast forward and I’m doing it the natural way. Zen and the art of motorcycle maintenance says:

“You see things vacationing on a motorcycle in a way that is completely different from any other. In a car you’re always in a compartment, and because you’re used to it you don’t realize that through that car window everything you see is just more TV. You’re a passive observer and it is all moving by you boringly in a frame. On a cycle the frame is gone. You’re completely in contact with it all. You’re in the scene, not just watching it anymore, and the sense of presence is overwhelming. That concrete whizzing by five inches below your foot is the real thing, the same stuff you walk on, it’s right there, so blurred you can’t focus on it, yet you can put your foot down and touch it anytime, and the whole thing, the whole experience, is never removed from immediate consciousness.”

I sit to watch the waves as they gently crash on the pebbles. The waves come in a hoard (like the Persians in 300)  and a barrier of pebbles break their impact. The banks of the river are not all pebbles there are many rocks that line it too. These are underwater and are revealed only when the water draws back. But they are always there, waiting. When all is going right in the tide of your life with you expecting to reach the shore anytime there appear these rocks that suddenly shipwreck your dinghy. Do you swim to the coast ? or do you drown? ,  defines the killer instinct and the will to survive. After any great personal tragedy do you sit and mourn your entire life about the blown chance or pick up the pieces and move on ? The waves are always raising and falling. So to life. No matter how many times in life you fall and falter you can always bounce back. It is the law of nature. And there is no great a teacher than mother nature. When you begin to associate everyday truths with it’s similarities in nature the puzzle of existence begins to piece itself part by part.

“What’s the world’s greatest lie?”
“It’s this: that at a certain point in our lives, we lost control of what’s happening to us, and our lives become controlled by fate. That’s the world’s greatest lie.” – The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho

The cold weather is getting to me. Suddenly my nose begins to drip and the whole frame begins to shiver. The London Fog jacket and the much photographed Sunny’s sweater are hardly able to hold out the cold. The hairs on the hand are standing in full attention position. All the pigheadedness gained in the last one hour is slowly lifting away as the sinuses kick into action.  So I am forced to leave my oasis with a promise to return to it again.

As I stand up on the rocks the lights in the background cast a huge shadow of me standing on to the surface. I look really TALL and almighty in the shadow. he he :p. Sometimes you need not be all powerful and strong. It is enough if people think you are strong and they’ll think twice provoking you. The trick lies in creating this impression.

Maverick film director Ramgopal Varma recounts the story of what inspired him to make Shiva (one of the biggest blockbusters of his career). He says:

“When I was doing my B.Tech in Siddharth Engg.College in Vijayawada I had a pretty tough guy reputation. The irony was that I never beat-up anyone myself but I managed to create an illusion that if need be I can. Around 6 really tough guys who used to be with me knew that I am not even worth a punch in a real fight. But in spite of that they used to be under my command and the reason for this was I made each one of them believe that the other 5 will violently defend me come whatever. So for the outsiders, because of those 6 guys, I was a formidable force and for each one of the 6 because of the other 5 together being with me, I was a formidable force. All I used to do was to take care that they won’t have a reason to get together behind my back. Anyway, pretty much this is the basic principle on which all street gangs, underworld factions, political regimes etc operate.”

I walk out of the park but can’t resist the temptation to go to pier 13 which is just a few blocks away, that too on a glorious Friday evening with Manhattan fully lighted up. I walk past the gallows. The street lights are on the opposite side of the street. And a strange interplay of physics and angles is causing four shadows of me to be cast on the ground. And when you are walking down a narrow deserted road trust me it has an eerie spooky feel to it. On the way a Chinese takeaway delivery boy (lol ! wordsmith) bumps into me. He thrust out his hand in which there is a small piece of paper on which is scribbled an address. He asks the intelligent Indian dude the location. And the clever dude instead of telling the delivery boy straightforward that he doesn’t know crap about downtown Brooklyn cleverly points him to the main road where there is a Starbucks. We have an image to maintain you see. So I reached pier 13. Here there were a few tourists flashing bulb lights trying to capture a part of Manhattan for their albums. I accidentally wadded in front of a group that was posing for a pic. I apologized. They were good ol’ blokes from England. And they laughed and told me to join them in the picture so that they could show me to their friends back at home as their New York friend. How Khewl you guys. Wish I had shaved. damit !  Pier 13 has always amazed me with a great frontal view of downtown Manhattan and all those now vacant buildings on wall street with the distant statue of liberty (liberty of statue.Lol. :p) on the far outer edge facing New jersey. The weather was cold and the nose was running a marathon so I had to end my reverie and head back to the station. As I was crossing the Brooklyn Bridge promenade park the many dry and dead leaves that covered the path made me muse on a quote I read long ago ‘falling leaves hide the path so quietly’. In the same way people and memories fade quietly and unknowingly out as we move on with our lives. And one day someone you know will become someone you knew.

At the end of the street crossing the red signal is on and I’m waiting for the walk sign. A family stands besides me. A father, a  mother, a son and a daughter. The Son and the mother hold hands. The daughter and the father hold hands. The daughter complains to the mom how cold she’s feeling. Mom lets go off the son; and gives the daughter a big hug and says I love you dear and the daughter replies back I love you too mom. I’m having a Ooooo…… moment. I too wish I could hug someone. A hug is so magical. It alleviates all tensions and is a comforting way of saying ‘it’s all going to be fine’. No wonder Munna bhai called it the jaadu ki jhappi. May be I should go to a place where they are holding the free hugs campaign. In a world filled with strife, terror and tensions, a hug is all that we need. Spread the love.

I ‘ve reached home when I suddenly remember the hard disk that I’ve put in the cold storage. The article suggested me to put it there only for one hour and I’ve been gone for four. So as I wait for it to unfreeze I’m typing this out and Jaane Kyon from Dostana is playing in the background.

Jaane kyon dil jaanta hai..tu hai toh i’ll be alright 🙂

Have a nice day 🙂

8 thoughts on “a soliloquy

  1. Amateuer->hardworker->blogger->writerbro! its a blast! It has got everything in it. Every damn flavor. I just Loved it! And to write a 3500 word article in one night? You are getting better by the minute.. :)And awaiting the M'08 post…P.S: Armani underwear?? What are you? Broker at the Wall Street?

  2. Thanks for the tremendous patience of crunching through 3500 words and commenting. MBE is not dead…yet ! maybe at some point in the future when i’m bored with life i’ll revive it. NYC awaits you. But you’ll not have any mazaa seeing it alone. U need a partner :PSee ya in the USA soon.

  3. Hey Sid nice post… After a long time I enjoyed reading this one in entirety.. And gosh! ur recovery episode.. feel for ya. I one did the same thing… formatted my friend’s computer and then realized that the company doesn’t support drivers for that new OS! Nice walk-through of four hours of real soothing/chilling experience.. I enjoyed it! :)And yes, from ur description, for sure, u need a partner with u to appreciate the beauty of Manhattan.. always wanted to be there with my girlfriend. Now i never know if that can ever happen.

  4. hey this is a really good one!! it has almost all aspects of life.. love, passion, pain, pleasure, renunciation or detachment frm the material world(vairagya)… its a totally awesome philosophical one..btw in almost all of ur blogs u mention at least once abt hot gals or beautiful gals!! 😛

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