Lancelot's Take

Friday, September 26, 2008

The Edge

Of a very very high cliff, with huge waves crashing against the jagged edges of rocks that constitute the base of the cliff.

"The rain set early in tonight,
The sullen wind was soon awake."

I realize I have been here for a while, mesmerized by the rhythm, the incessant pounding against an unyielding mass of rock, that offers no hope of getting through or making any headway whatsoever. The kind of hopelessness that leads man to look for alternatives, yet the stubbornness held me captive. Perhaps it was just the lethargic inertia, a refusal to consider alternatives purely out of an unwillingness borne out of a lifetime of believing. Or perhaps it was just the detached, dispassionate state of being where you didn't care whether the next step came out of an inference engine trained over every move ever made or out of a random generator.


"Nature loves symmetry"- attributed to de Broglie, and perhaps used more as a cliche now than anything else, has been one of those statements that keep popping into my head because I see the truth of it everywhere around me. As much in real things as in those perceived- symmetries in situations, in events, in circumstance. Much as we credit chance, there would appear to be remarkable patterns in chance itself. And while the complexities in parameters for their modeling are entirely beyond what my mind can comprehend, I would still argue for the intuition.

In keeping with above theory, I always believed that dreams- the simple concept, the ones we see at night; not the more elevated ideas of what we want to accomplish- were merely the product of events in our daily lives, a combination of what was running through the mind in direct activity, or occasionally in the subconscious. And then, just when you have them all worked out, fitting a nice linear regression model, along comes the outlier that you would like to believe is the exception to the rule that you just formulated, but deep inside, you know that it will blow your theory apart, if not today, then tomorrow.


"She shut the cold out and the storm,
And kneeled and made the cheerless grate,
Blaze up"

The embers were covered by a mass of charred cross-striated multi-nucleii tissue, and for the fresh air to penetrate was well nigh impossible. And for every gust that drew a flame, there was an aeon of stifling cardiomyocite production that forced hibernation. A solitary trip down to the vaults- a re-opening of case files, a few sympathetic clucks, some friendly "Elementary!" reproaches, the smell of warm coffee and the rising wisps of smoke blotting out the distressing bleakness of the winter chill, if only for a fleeting moment.

A fleeting moment that was at the same time, an orchestra in full flow, the solitude of the wildest wilderness, the "sanguinity" that destroyed nations, the phlegm of the stoic.

"That moment she was mine, mine, fair,
Perfectly pure and good


It was while the mind struggled to decide between believing in the predictability of luck and the supremacy of chance that she walked in. No, out. Walked out. Glided out, in fact, the fleeting hint of a sway in the hips, the sashay oblivious to the eyes that followed every step, leaving in her wake a mind befuddled enough to keep watching her after she had gone. A mind that would talk to her while it watched the rising tide wreck itself against the cliff, rage against the immovable.

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

For want of a nail

I never knew what titles to use for posts, and probably never will. I haven't put down any rants in a long time. Not when there was nothing to rant about. Not when there was a lot to rant about. (What now seems like) many years ago, during the rains, there would be these worms that curled up when you touched them. I don't see them anymore, but I feel often like I am curling up. And growing a good, hard shell besides.

Strange how much comfort there is to be had in old, pleasant memories. Strange how they mean so much, when really, they should mean nothing at all. CCD, sometime in October, 2003; CCD again, sometime in August, 2004- the moments that still to me represent everything I know of happiness, the best moments- and its funny how every person important to me is somehow intertwined in that moment, in the days, hours and minutes leading up to that moment. Enough to make you curl up with or without a blanket in an apartment insufficiently heated, and smile.

I started this blog sometime in the summer of 2005, I think. That's about 3 years. It's survived long spells of desolation, furiously thrashed out posts, taken the brunt of my emotions softened by the blows that the keys took. Over the years, I realize why it was I started off by blogging anonymously- so that I could be myself, not judged by the smile or the tear; not by the action nor the reaction. Somewhere, the "man is not an island" symptom overpowered the need for anonymity. And, hence, the need to present the emotions and the issues with some degree of care meant that not even the blog knew me as well as I would have hoped.

When I think about it now, it seems the number of people I could hope would react the way I wish people would would be easily counted on a hand with a non-zero number of amputated fingers. And the rest are slowly drifting away. What would I change if I had my way? Nothing. Everything.

It's alright, it's alright, alright
She moves in mysterious ways
It's alright, it's alright, alright
She moves in mysterious ways

Johnny take a dive with your sister in the rain
Let her talk about the things you can't explain
To touch is to heal
To hurt is to steal
If you wanna kiss the sky
Better learn how to kneel
On your knees boy!

Sanam, teri kasam!

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

liberty mutual

I have never felt alone. Nor troubled. Being away from home has never been hard. Nor has missing those "occasions", those marriages in the family, those births, those birthdays, those moments of laughter. A trip across the oceans was not hard.

F1: wen r u leaving?
me: in 3 hours from home
and in 6 hours from kolkata
F1: ah ok
flight plan?
me: :) philadelphia by flight
pittsburgh is final stop
F1: wokay
u happy?
must be...

I was. At any rate, then. I wasn't much for emotions or emotional farewells. Matter-of-fact wasn't hard to pull off. I had strong barriers around every emotion, and none of them were free to do what they chose. I don't know where they had come from, I don't know how they had come to be so strongly mine, but I knew while they were there, I was safe.

I don't where I lost them. I don't know where they dissolved, just melted away. I don't know why I believed that people had it in them to be sincere. I don't know why I thought the mountain had a peak I could reach. I don't know why I decided I could be someone I had stopped being many many years back on a cold December evening.

me: for now, yes
thr r some things it means i ll never have
but its too late now
i had to make decisions based on the options then
and i think its the right one


"Where do we go nobody knows...
... Your guess is as good as mine."

I miss knowing I could hop over to the next room and have an hour of meaningless chatter. I miss having bondhu to pop a few bottles at a minute's notice in the middle of the night, and getting drunk. I miss sitting and staring (well, not really, I have done a lot of it recently). I miss... I don't know... everything.

Above all, I miss knowing how it was to feel like I did. Never tired, never doubting. An acceptance of a destiny so sure that it was unshakeable.

Wednesday, September 19, 2007


The temperatures dipped sharply over the weekend, though the Met department said they would go up again. The weather seemed to indicate that they were on the right path. Still, the numbness didn't seem to be decreasing. Perhaps, it was because it wasn't due in entirety to the weather alone.

Over 24 hours after he received the news, the shock seemed to be sinking in. The reaction to the news would have shocked the giver. A few milleniums ago, the forerunner of such news would have had his chopped off. Yet, as unprotected as a glass house in the middle of an avalanche, OB didn't feel any need for protection from the explosion that he expected but which never came. He felt, instead, pangs of concern. Had his old friend not fully comprehended what he had said? Had he expected it all along? He couldn't make any sense of the remarkable stoicism that he saw in front of him and which didn't seem any more affected than it would be by the defeat of Chile to Morocco at a cricket World Cup qualifier. He left, nonplussed.

OF had, indeed, not realized the full import. There are some things in one's life without which existence is merely an illusion. This was such a thing. It was like the saying that hope springs eternal. He found someone claiming that he could no longer keep that faith in front of him. That the last strings of his basic creed had been cut remorselessly off. He laughed. It couldn't be. They didn't know. They couldn't.

He slept well. No bad dreams. Some weird ones, though. An old school friend who abstained as hard as the worst of the drunkers might have gulped down barrels of pressed grapes. He saw him chain smoking... That was a funny dream. Why such a dream? Because it showed the world would no longer be how he knew it? For the first time, he found himself wondering whether it might be true. Surely, surely not.

It was true. A half hour under a cold shower convinced him. He was freezing by then. Maybe the real truths of life are to be found at sub zero temperatures. He still wasn't crying. He didn't know why. Perhaps because he had nothing left to lose anymore. You can't be lost if you aren't looking for anything, can you? He found himself unable to move. To turn on the warm water tap. To move away from under the cold blast. Every ounce of energy seemed to have been drained away.

The strange world scared him now. There was no one to go back to. No one to worship. It was a world strangely devoid of gods, of paradigms, of inspiration, of hope. He laughed. He knew there was only one path to follow. Because he had only one destination and none of the other roads would reach. Maybe they would meet at the checkout counter.

He laughed again.
As it had always been.
It sounded like a thunderclap.
All was well with the world again.

Because death, like love, changes everything.


H walked away from the grave that had no tombstone, no epitaph, which no one would ever come to visit. He didn't know why he had done it. He would never know now. Perhaps, for the good, there is no place. And J was good. Yet, it is the evil that lives after him, the good is interred with his bones.

But every blade of grass knew. Every flower that swayed in the wind knew. Every leaf murmured in sympathy. Every animal mourned in a minute of silence.

It was Autumn, the time to shed, and wait for spring, the time to start anew.

Friday, August 24, 2007

VW mode

What do you do when you cant think of an appropriate title?
What do you do when you look at someone, like someone, and find that you just dont have it in you anymore?
What do you do when you can take the worst of the mental assaults without batting an eyelid, and yet you are only too aware of a few things, a few things that could tear down those invincible barriers in a few seconds?
What do you do when you stare into the face of something that is your poison and your panacea?
What do you do when all that separates you from everything is infinity?

The ghosts, my friends, lie not in our stars, but in ourselves.
A date.
A name.
A buzz.
A word.

Faith does not only move mountains, it creates a few. Immovable. Insurmountable.

As Queen sings, "I've gotta be cool. Relax." Yet the title of the song sums it all up so appropriately. Beyond comprehension. So simply.

It does not help when you have an imagination that is such that nothing is beyond it. One that can conceive every impossibility. One that finds hope in despair, mirth in tragedy, motion in stillness, fluidity in awkwardness. One that can remember thousands of unnecessary details, and not remember to turn on the heater at sub-zero temperatures. And not feel the chill, except from within.

Just when everything was nice and simple, I had to go and see that!

Theres hope yet. Why not, if even the Pirates can hit a hot streak!

Friday, August 10, 2007

Pirate in Pittsburgh

Have named self after the Pittsburgh baseball team, which, as it turns out, is quite terrible! But they got me hooked to baseball nonetheless. After a match in PNC park against the Astros which the Pirates, as is their wont, lost. But somehow, I just love rooting for the underdog, and they dont come much more un derdog than the Pirates.

Spent an incredible 15 minutes in the walkway connecting Wean and Newell Simon Hall. It was raining tigers and lions out there. All I had was my cell camera, which was not nearly good enough to capture the moment. Sheets of rain blew past, acting as a sort of automatic wiper for the glass i was looking out through. It was 3:15 in the afternoon, which is about when the sun is at its worst. It was pitch dark outside, lighted only by street lamps, and the array of windows that the departments of CMU constitute. The most romantic moment in Pittsburgh so far, which is not saying very much for my social life :) But then it never does!

Had an interesting experience at Subway. I find the stuff too un-spicy. Hence, asked the guy to fix me a footlong that had extra extra hot peppers and hot mustard sauce. Chap stared round-eyed, then gave me one hot pepper with some hot mustard to taste. I said that it was good. He stared some more, then offered a deal: if I could eat a bowl of hot peppers with hot mustard sauce, he would give me the footlong free. That was how I had my free dinner that day :-)

Work's coming along nicely so far. It can be fun, something I never realized while in Kharagpur. Its great to be on your own, and responsible totally for yourself. Classes start in a couple of weeks, but before that is a continental breakfast. Actually, a few of them. I think I shall like this place!

I love my room. Its the awesomest. I think I shall sign off every post with this line!

Thursday, August 09, 2007


"... such a weird place,
such a weird place, such a weird place...."

I don't know whether it's because of the expectations I had of this place, whether it's because I had heard so much about it that I expected it to outdo Helsinki by a few US miles, but the truth is that I am rather disappointed.

Not only does it not come close to matching what I saw of Europe through the microcosm that is Finland, it reminds me rather of India. In fact, if you leave out the fact that its cleaner, and that technology is more in use here, there is little or no difference. Of course, streets and buses aren't as crowded, but America doesn't have to deal with the population density of India. Nonetheless, I'll stick my neck out and make the following comments:

Attractiveness: India comes close! Very close! Surprisingly, Americans are far less conscious about their appearance than I expected. Maybe, its time we learned from the situation that is prevalent here, and ban MacD!!! Kolkata, you were much the wiser in not having embraced MacD as early as some of the other metros did. I don't like it anyway!

*Subway rocks though! A number of non-veg stuff costs less than the veggie patty!

Shopping: India is better! Easier to shop, more accessible locations, more of a buzz... India doesnt force us to own cars in order to be able to shop happily at the best rates, at the best places, so on and so forth! There's something mechanical about the place, something very cultivated which borders on the bizarre!

People: Same comment as above applies. Give rather the strong impression of being of a certain kind that is acceptable to society. When the veneer cracks, the contrast is all the more stark. You wouldn't want to be in this place if you were the straight talking, believing kind. The amount of fine print boggles the mind. Insurance agencies, for instance, are killers. If you haven't seen it, see Sicko and thank your lucky stars that you dont have to fend for yourself in these God-forsaken Bushes that make a jungle.

Fun: For all the above, a lot of this is to be had. There are great facilities and while the going is good, the rosy side is great. Buildings, mostly, are built very well, and one appreciates the finer details. Excellent transport systems make travelling very comfortable.

Weather: Its been bright and sunny, not too hot, and thankfully, not humid. Rains arrive immediately when it gets too hot

Now, then off the shopping list and onto updates. Life's good, I have shifted into my new apartment. Its been done up recently. Had nothing when I moved in, and I have spent hours shopping for stuff. Its slowly starting to seem like home, and I love the way my room is blooming. The first thing I bought was a bookcase, the second a broken chair that I am using as a nightstand, the third a bed, and the last so far- a sort of shelf unit. I love it. I love shopping. As a friend put it, the oestrogen streaks! I am inclined to agree :)

Will post pics when its done! Yo!