My Favourite Five!

    

If my life had any leitmotivs, books would no doubt be “numero uno” among them. It is to them that I owe most of my convictions and it is to them that I retreat for solace when the blues hit me. They’ve given me so many friends in the form of the characters inside them, who’ve kept me company through the various legs of life. Some of them I grew out of, but there are a few who are etched in my memory forever. They are part of me now and sometimes it is to these immortal figures, I look for advice when faced with a situation similar to the ones they did.

I’ve always wanted to share and write about the characters who have influenced me at some point or the other, the ones who have left a lasting impression in me. Since there are so many of them, I’ve decided to pick five of my most favorite ones.

1)Mr. Chips

Chips as he was fondly called by everyone around him is the protagonist in “Goodbye Mr.Chips”, a book written by James Hilton. Chips embodied all the principles I valued at the time I read the book. He was a gentle soul, warm and endearing. The book showcases his life as a school teacher at Brookfield, a fictional British boys’ public boarding school of the Victorian order.

2)Edmond Dantes

Everyone knows this man by his alias “The Count of Monte Cristo“, the title character and protagonist of Alexandre Dumas’ magnum opus. I must confess that I literally worshiped Edmond after reading the book. In fact I even remember plotting revenge against imaginary enemies the next few days. The ingenious manner in which he avenged himself is without doubt the perfect example for the phrase “Revenge is a dish best served cold” .

3)Conor Larkin

Another hero, who was part of my childhood for quite some time. Conor is the lead character of Trinity, written by Leon Uris. Conor was part of the Irish movement for independence. He was an architect, a farmer, a romantic and a revolutionary, the perfect combination of brain and brawn. Hats off to Uris for creating this masterpiece of a character.

4)Papillon

This was Henry Charrière’s eponymous novel about his exploits on escaping from a French penal settlement where he was a prisoner. Papi narrates the whole story in first person which makes it all the more easier to understand the thoughts running inside him. He matures as the book progresses and it almost feels like you are in his shoes as his thought process changes over the years from gutsy to wise.

5)Sydney Carton

The so called “jackal”, Carton is a character appearing in “A Tale of Two Cities” written by Charles Dickens. A brilliant young man and a wastrel, his unrequited love for the female lead in the book is heartrending. Those words of his when he faces the guillotine haunt me even to this day.

“ It is a far, far better thing that I do, than I have ever done; it is a far, far better rest that I go to than I have ever known. ”

Weekend Reminiscences

Memories are funny things, some ever elusive like the artful dodger, whereas others are always at hand, etched in stone and indelible in their clarity. For most of us, it’s the ones from our childhood that we hold closest to our hearts, the years when our worlds are small and the days stretch out forever without any clear purpose. The earliest memories I have of the big man are both hazy and brief. A pair of Ray-Bans, Woodland shoes, Charagh din shirts, faded jeans, the Brut cologne and the chugging sound of a Bullet bike. In retrospect, it feels strange that all I remember of the big man from those days are things mostly external. Nothing of the person he was inside whatsoever. I was very timid as a little boy and there was scant interaction between us at the time. Could be why I have little recollection of his character or deportment. He was an intimidating figure, tall, broad shouldered, rugged and vigorous. I am sure I must have been quite scared of him.

Even to this day, I vividly remember standing behind mum at the door trying to get a peek at him kick-starting the bike every morning, when he left home for work. It was a test of strength for the bullet never started without making a fuss. The big man always won in the end though. We heard him returning from work from almost a mile away, for in those days there were hardly any vehicles in our little town and the bullet’s thunder made its presence felt without fail. Virajpet was a quiet place and the locality in which we lived, even more so. He worked in a bank and knew almost everyone in town. A stroll around town in his company would mean saying hello to a lot of people. In fact it still is, even to this day!

There were times when he brought his Kodava friends home. They came on their Yezdis, mostly people from the bank and all of them used to sit in the hall, sipping beer and whisky. At the time I didn’t understand Kodava thak and it was up to my imagination to give interpretation to the topics of these discussions. My mom was equally lost during these times, being from Ooty herself. Those were difficult years, both of us strangers in a land of people we could neither understand nor acquaint ourselves with easily. The only thing I truly looked forward to at the time was term-end vacation, when I was packed off to my grandparents’ place. The big man used to drop us off at the KSRTC bus stand. He knew a guy there who would find seats for us and help us with our luggage. I remember sitting in the bus, watching him straddle his bike and zoom away. During these moments, he seemed straight out of a movie set, so much larger than life.

Many years have passed, and now when I stand shoulder to shoulder with him, I feel so much has changed. Yet, sometimes when I look at him, I fondly recall those years when the big man was more hero than human and for an instant, I am transformed into the little boy sitting on the Bullet in front of my father, having not a care in the world!

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Of youth and beauty, of days gone by….

An Ode to Onan

Myriad thoughts of the flesh, frenzied, relentless, gnawing my insides, bending my will;

Wallowing in these clutches of ceaseless desire, I live, I breathe pristine lust!

A conspiracy of mind and body, striking down the last vestiges of discernment

In throes of unsatisfied passion I swim, tantalizingly close to a sweet culmination,

The world dies, time freezes, hoping desperately for the seconds to stretch forever

I catch glimpses of the shores of nirvana, a glittering jewel on the beckoning horizon

As feelings of permanence emerge within, a rising crescendo of absolute pleasure!

They shatter, fizzling out like the candle, always burning brightest in its final seconds

I lay spent, rudely shaken off my reverie, pangs of guilt and boredom in sight,

Few moments of absolute bliss, reality looms into view, oh so predictable and trite!

K R Puram, Traffic, Vexation, Hilarity! Sigh, what can I say!

It wasn’t very long ago that the idea of going to office at the break of dawn ensconced itself inside my mind, this of course owing to the ridiculous amount of time I spend on the road trying to beat the traffic. I am quite certain that a lot of Bangaloreans would just shrug it away saying that you couldn’t expect more from a metropolitan, especially one which has a comparatively well-off population. Agreed, that this city is home to most of the IT world, but that doesn’t mean a guy like me, who has spent most of his life in a small town can come to terms with this daily torture.

I thought of the most obvious solution possible! Most people in the city are late sleepers. All I needed to do was to leave to office a little earlier than usual. That, I felt would do the trick. I decided to try it out the very next day. Armed with two alarms, I went to bed and got up dutifully at 5:45 the next morning. I was ready to leave by 6:45 and straddled my bike wearing an unusually smug smile. “Hah!”, I chirped feeling quite proud of myself. Today was the day I’d set my own fastest lap. I had to go from Jeevanbhimanagar to Mahadevapura and decided to take the K R Puram route. None of the signals were on and I managed to reach RMZ in no time. It had been quite a while since I’d hit 80 on the speedo, and boy was I making the most of it!

It was at that point of supreme happiness that I reached the flyover and what I saw, almost made me fall off the bike! Lo and behold! Rows and rows of bloody trucks! As far as the eye could see. Big trucks, small trucks and even a large number of buses! And what’s more, they were moving so slowly that I could have overtaken them even if I’d hopped on one leg. Nothing dashes your spirits as badly as a myriad languid trucks on the road ahead of you. After I’d finishing hurling every abuse I could think of at the damned trucks, I gave up, hoping for all of them to vanish miraculously. “God, give me a break!”, I pleaded appealing for divine intervention.

Fortunately for me, providence for some reason responded to my plea. The traffic lasted only till the end of the flyover and I reached my office in another few minutes. It was only when I saw my clenched jaw in the elevator mirror that I burst out laughing. Thank god for something called sense of humor I told myself. That was the last day I got up at 5:45!