Tuesday, March 31, 2009

On the purpose of existence

Better late than never. Finally had a chance to go through The Fountainhead, the masterpiece from probably one of the most analysed authors of all times, Ayn Rand. The gyst of the book, as far as my limited mental faculties allowed me to understand, were represented in the following piece of conversation between the book's two central characters. Given my negative literary standing, I can't dare to analyse or interpret it. Reproducing the original text:

"I've looked at him – at what's left of him – and it's helped me to understand. He's paying the price and wondering for what sin and telling himself that he's been too selfish. In what act or thought of his has there ever been a self? What was his aim in life? Greatness – in other people's eyes. Fame, admiration, envy – all that which comes from others. Others dictated his convictions, which he did not hold, but he was satisfied that others believed he held them. Others were his motive power and his prime concern. He didn't want to be great, but to be thought great. He didn't want to build, but to be admired as a builder. He borrowed from others in order to make an impression on others. There's your actual selflessness. It's his ego he's betrayed and given up. But everybody calls him selfish."

"That's the pattern most people follow."

"Yes! And isn't that the root of every despicable action? Not selfishness, but precisely the absence of a self. Look at them. The man who cheats and lies, but preserves a respectable front. He knows himself to be dishonest, but others think he's honest and he derives his self-respect from that, second-hand. The man who takes credit for an achievement which is not his own. He knows himself to be mediocre, but he's great in the eyes of others. The frustrated wretch who professes love for the inferior and clings to those less endowed, in order to establish his own superiority by comparison. The man whose sole aim is to make money. Now I don't see anything evil in a desire to make money. But money is only a means to some end. If a man wants it for a personal purpose – to invest in his industry, to create, to study, to travel, to enjoy luxury – he's completely moral. But the men who place money first go much beyond that. Personal luxury is a limited endeavor. What they want is ostentation: to show, to stun, to entertain, to impress others. They're second-handers. Look at our so-called cultural endeavors. A lecturer who spouts some borrowed rehash of nothing at all that means nothing at all to him – and the people who listen and don't give a damn, but sit there in order to tell their friends that they have attended a lecture by a famous name. All second-handers."

"If I were Ellsworth Toohey, I'd say: aren't you making out a case against selfishness? Aren't they all acting on a selfish motive – to be noticed, liked, admired?"

"– by others. At the price of their own self-respect. In the realm of greatest importance – the realm of values, of judgment, of spirit, of thought – they place others above self, in the exact manner which altruism demands. A truly selfish man cannot be affected by the approval of others. He doesn't need it."

"I think Toohey understands that. That's what helps him spread his vicious nonsense. Just weakness and cowardice. It's so easy to run to others. It's so hard to stand on one's own record. You can fake virtue for an audience. You can't fake it in your own eyes. Your ego is the strictest judge. They run from it. They spend their lives running. It's easier to donate a few thousand to charity and think oneself noble than to base self-respect on personal standards of personal achievement. It's simple to seek substitutes for competence – such easy substitutes: love, charm, kindness, charity. But there is no substitute for competence."

"That, precisely, is the deadliness of second-handers. They have no concern for facts, ideas, work. They're concerned only with people. They don't ask: 'Is this true?' They ask: 'Is this what others think is true?' Not to judge, but to repeat. Not to do, but to give the impression of doing. Not creation, but show. Not ability, but friendship. Not merit, but pull. What would happen to the world without those who do, think, work, produce? Those are the egotists. You don't think through another's brain and you don't work through another's hands. When you suspend your faculty of independent judgment, you suspend consciousness. To stop consciousness is to stop life. Second-handers have no sense of reality. Their reality is not within them, but somewhere in that space which divides one human body from another. Not an entity, but a relation – anchored to nothing. That's the emptiness I couldn't understand in people. That's what stopped me whenever I faced a committee. Men without an ego. Opinion without a rational process. Motion without brakes or motor. Power without responsibility. The second-hander acts, but the source of his actions is scattered in every other living person. It's everywhere and nowhere and you can't reason with him. He's not open to reason. you can't speak to him – he can't hear. You're tried by an empty bench. A blind mass running amuck, to crush you without sense of purpose. Steve Mallory couldn't define the monster, but he knew. That's the drooling beast he fears. The second-hander."

"I think your second-handers understand this, try as they might not to admit it to themselves. Notice how they'll accept anything except a man who stands alone. They recognize him at once. By instinct. There's a special, insidious kind of hatred for him. They forgive criminals. They admire dictators. Crime and violence are a tie. A form of mutual dependence. They need ties. They've got to force their miserable little personalities on every single person they meet. The independent man kills them – because they don't exist within him and that's the only form of existence they know. Notice the malignant kind of resentment against any idea that propounds independence. Notice the malice toward an independent man. Look back at your own life, Howard, and at the people you've met. They know. They're afraid. You're a reproach."

"That's because some sense of dignity always remains in them. They're still human beings. But they've been taught to seek themselves in others. Yet no man can achieve the kind of absolute humility that would need no self-esteem in any form. He wouldn't survive. So after centuries of being pounded with the doctrine that altruism is the ultimate ideal, men have accepted it in the only way it could be accepted. By seeking self-esteem through others. By living second-hand. And it has opened the way for every kind of horror. It has become the dreadful form of selfishness which a truly selfish man couldn't have conceived. And now, to cure a world perishing from selflessness, we're asked to destroy the self. Listen to what is being preached today. Look at everyone around us. You've wondered why they suffer, why they seek happiness and never find it. If any man stopped and asked himself whether he's ever held a truly personal desire, he'd find the answer. He'd see that all his wishes, his efforts, his dreams, his ambitions are motivated by other men. He's not really struggling even for material wealth, but for the second-hander's delusion – prestige. A stamp of approval, not his own. He can't find no joy in the struggle and no joy when he has succeeded. He can't say about a single thing: 'This is what I wanted because I wanted it, not because it made my neighbors gape at me.' Then he wonders why he's unhappy. Every form of happiness is private. Our greatest moments are personal, self motivated, not to be touched. The things which are sacred or precious to us are the things we withdraw from promiscuous sharing. But now we are taught to throw everything within us into public light and common pawing. To seek joy in meeting halls. We haven't even got a word for the quality I mean – for the self-sufficiency of man's spirit. It's difficult to call it selfishness or egotism, the words have been perverted, they've come to mean Peter Keating. Gail, I think the only cardinal evil on earth is that of placing your prime concern within other men. I've always demanded a certain quality in the people I liked. I've always recognized it at once – and it's the only quality I respect in men. I chose my friends by that. Now I know what it is. A self-sufficient ego. Nothing else matters."

Saturday, February 28, 2009

Sleepless nights and Jagjeet

A piece which played multiple times tonight, or should I say, morning:

फिर कुछ इस दिल को बेक़रारी है
सीना जोया-ए-ज़ख्म-ए-कारी है
(जोया : to search)

फिर जिगर खोदने लगा नाखुन
आमद-ए-फ़स्ल-ए-लालाकारी है
(आमद-ए-फ़स्ल : arrival of the harvest, लालाकारी : spawning a particular red flower)

फिर उसी बेवफ़ा पे मरते हैं
फिर वही ज़िन्दगी हमारी है

बेखुदी बेसबब नहीं ग़ालिब
कुछ तो है जिसकी पर्दा-दारी है

Jagjeet Singh mesmerizing with his poignant voice over Galib's masterpiece.  The original gazal has quite a few more shers than the recitation.

Monday, February 23, 2009

Recession & Entrepreneurs

Recession is probably the haven for entrepreneurs.  In bad times like these when everything else stops, and when one spends daily office hours apprehensive about every next email being the pink slip, it's time when people start thinking about other avenues.  Of course, it's even more difficult to set off on your own during hurricanes, but martaa kyaa na kartaa. :)

In the flurry of startups I happened to look at in the last couple of months, a few were really novel ideas.  There were hordes of 'me too' businesses which I came across, albeit, each trying to improve past attempts in the domain.  It's an interesting observation, that entrepreneurship is mostly, in layman understanding, restricted to 'new ideas'.  I always wondered why - same idea presented differently can't be as good as a new one - why not 'me too'!

I happened to come across a similar 'me too' attempt - eveningflavors.com from Bangalore.   There were popular customised-to-Bangalore sites like hungrybangalore and burrp which had similar features for foodies like me, and eveningflavors is just another addition to the list.  However, there are some good things about the latter which made it different.

In the first visit, it might look kind of repulsive - all monocolour, default font homepage without those modern day spiced up 'flashy' pages we are so used to.  There are a couple of spelling mistakes here and there too, giving away the amateurity.  However, when you look closely, you might find a justification for the simplicity.  Man, you are looking for a good place to eat, not a great website to browse with amazing flashes!  If the website's homepage gives you everything at one place, what else do you want?  Eveningflavors throws everything at once - basic search boxes for a quick look, links for area-wise searches, special offer prices at various eateries, and of course, the Special Attractions chosen by users.  The site is yet to pick up, and hence might not show too many user reviews currently, but who cares, I can at least get a comprehensive list for my evening.

Talking about food and Bangalore makes me real nostalgic.  Ah, those days of exploring everything from Chandni Chowk and Grameen and Aranya and Udupi to Roomali and TGIF and Gufa and Queens!  There are times when you miss city life, but most of the times, you actually miss your friends!

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Food for thought III

Happened to get a chance to attend a screening of the 1999 flick "Tuesdays with Morrie", an adaptation of the Mitch Albom novel of the same title.  Some lines from the same justifying the title of this post:

On life and death

Should I tell you what it's like? Dying? That's another subject that makes people uncomfortable.  You know, dying is just one thing to be sad about.  Living unhappily, that's another matter.  When you know how to die... you know how to live.

Don't look so sad because I'm gonna die, Mitch.  Everybody's gonna die.  Even you.  But most people don't believe it.  They should have a bird on their shoulder.  That's what the Buddhists do.  Just imagine a little bird on your shoulder...  and every day you say, "Is this the day I'm gonna die, little bird?  Huh? Am I ready? Am I leading the life I want to lead?  Am I the person that I want to be?"

If we accept the fact that we can die at any time, we'd lead our lives differently. So every day you say, "Is this the day?"  If you did have a bird on your shoulder...  you wouldn't put off the things closest to your heart.

Death ends a life,  not a relationship.

On living

Work, money, ambition.  We bury ourselves in these things.  But we never stand back and say, "Is this what I want?"

We think we don't deserve love.  That if we let it come in,  we'll become soft.  Love is the only rational act.  Let it come in.

Yeah, it's a sweet little story.  See, there's this little wave.  And he's out there bobbing up and down and havin'a grand old time.  You know, just enjoying the sunshine and the wind...  Right. Until he see...  Until he sees the other waves.  Yeah. He sees the other waves crashing into the shore, so he gets scared.  And another wave sees him and...  He's like, "Oh, my God.  Look at what's gonna happen to me."  And another wave says to him,  "Why do you look so sad?"  And the little waves says,  "Because we're gonna crash.  All us waves are gonna be nothin: Don't ya understand?"  And the other wave says,  "You don't understand.  You're not a wave.  You're part of the ocean."   Part... of the ocean.

It's what I call the tension of opposites.  Life pulling you back and forth like a rubber band.  Pull you one way, you think that's what you want to do.  Pull you another way, you think that's what you have to do.
- So, who wins?
- Love. Love always wins.

Forgive everybody everything!  Now! Don't wait!  Not everybody has the time that I'm getting.

On other topics

What is it about silence that makes people uneasy, huh?  Why do people only feel comfortable when they're filling the air with words? Hmm?

You know what's funny? Some people just don't like to be touched.  I always found that rather odd.  When we're babies, we live to be touched...  to be held, cuddled by your mother...  comforted.  We never seem to get enough of that.  We need it so badly.

I'm dependent on others... for just about everything, you know... eating, urinating, blowing my nose.  The culture says I should be ashamed of that.  There is nothing innately shameful about being dependent.  When we're infants, we need others to survive.  When we're dying, we need others to survive.  But here's the secret. In between, we need others even more.  We must love one another or die.  Once you learn how to die, you learn how to live.  If you listen to that little bird on your shoulder, you'll believe.  It's kind of hard to get in touch with your inner bird.

That's from W.H. Auden,
my favorite poet.

"All I have is a voice...
to undo the folded lie...
the lie of authority...
whose buildings grope the sky.

No one exists alone.
Hunger allows no choice
to the citizen or police.
We must love one another...
or die.
We must...
love one another...
or die."

Wednesday, October 08, 2008

The feeling of getting old

You probably wouldn't get the feeling behind this post unless you have a firsthand experience.  Last week, I happened to visit the NIT Calicut campus for some work.  The college was bathed in a festive mood with students celebrating their annual fest, Tathva.

Two young voices sitting on the registration desk announcing timings and registration details for about-to-start events sounded fresh on the microphone.  Teens frantically pacing all around between different makeshift stalls were effervescent in their colourful tees and shredded style jeans.  Those unconcerned couples were spotted walking carelessly chewing peanuts or licking icecreams.  Moving a bit farther, there was a small gathering cheering a bunch of guys dancing on a small stage probably made for impromptu competitions.  The onstage mood seemed to reverberate across the spectators - jubilant and ecstatic, clapping noisily, everyone seemed to be engrossed with the display of energy, youth, excitement, life!

And there I was, standing a couple of yards away across the road with thoughts moving to and fro my mind like those students cycling past their Hero and Avon cycles on the campus' main road.  Nostalgic reflections of college days were the first passers by - the festive spirit of Srijan at ISM bounced back with all its fervor - what energy we had to roam around and shout and at least witness everything that used to happen over the three days!  There used to be life - amidst canteen and hostel backyard chats, amidst elocutions and solos and JAMs, amidst bonhomie of the entire campus at the upperground, amidst midnight trips to GT Road's Khalsa or to Ram Charitra Singh's tea stall on Dhanbad station.  And it's hardly the same now - the euphoria has been waning over the years.

To wash the thoughts all away, I went for lunch at the good old Lovely Dhaba just outside the NIT campus.  It didn't prove much of a respite.  The place was thronged with even more students - small groups of teenage boys and girls chatting incessantly on topics which I feel I have come a long way from.  You yourself don't realise when you changed, or got so much subdued with the waves of time ironing out many of those bubbles of your personality.  You don't realise, or probably don't want to accept, the difference which time brought into you with those few months of job and higher studies interspersed between college life and present.  And pretty much ironically, its time which throws you back sometimes to ensure you understand the reality, that things do change.  It's not a good feeling though, to know that you have aged.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

The Last Lear

"From the time you wear your costume till you take it off, its one single shot."

>>You know what makes an actor?  




>>The desire to perform.  Nothing else matters.  The first day you walked the ramp it was difficult for you.  But actually its the first day that you performed also.

Simple facts of life, woven marvellously around actors and stage.  Anjana Basu and Rituparno Ghosh writing those dialogues effortlessly pass on the innate rationale - the day 'desire' to live differently and the passion to perform ends, that's the day of being transformed into the lesser mortal.  And the use of actors and stage, well, the movie talks all about Shakespeare: "All the world's a stage, and all the men and women merely players."

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

A Thousand Splendid Suns

I love train travels. Flimsy excuses like paucity of time don't let me enjoy a lot of them these days, but a few interspersed ones are true times of leisure. Tucked up in a blanket, eating chewing and reading for hours and hours is a well deserved reward after a few months of seemingly busy life.

Finished this off in one go. Probably the second book ever which I finished in one sitting. I wanted to read this leisurely – savoring all words and not losing thoughts and connections by breaking off in between – wanted to do it for all the recommendations about it. And it was worth it. Few stories are just narratives, few can raise a lump to your throat, and to some particular tit-bit of all of them, you can always relate your own life.

Khaled Hosseini is probably the best story-teller, and doesn't require my humble appreciation. If his last book had the potential to move you deeply, this second one goes one step beyond just watering your eyes. A fable of war-torn lives interwoven with deepest of human emotions and love, it portrays the entire history of Afghanistan. With the book, one can walk the streets of Kabul, Herat, even the fictitious Gul Daman, and witness the destruction of the country and its rich heritage year after year under different regimes, none of them really transforming the lives of people, or their deaths.

Hosseini vividly describes the state of women in Afghanistan, the perpetual grief and fear under which human lives keep on trudging – defiant against all odds. And amidst the description of these tangibles, he inserts his infallible knack – putting into words what human hearts feel. He narrates the separation of friends and of mothers and daughters and of lovers, the undying love of two children and adults, the grief of leaving one's homeland. Love is the prevalent theme of the book, and perfectly depicted, it does hurt.

Friday, August 01, 2008

Email Forwards

Forwarded mails are an interesting phenomena I've always been intrigued with. You receive those long emails, chained ones, wherein you can see the exact trail of how many IT industry offices the mail has traveled through before reaching you! They are great in the sense that you receive them from the most oblivious of people. One fine day, you check your mails, and there is a forward (rather a Fwd: Fwd: Fwd: Fwd: Fwd: Fwd:) from someone you least expected would drop you a message. A good thing, I must say, to at least maintain the illusion of keeping in touch in this everyone-is-connected-and-no-one-is-in-touch world.

And the messages themselves are quite interesting ones! One of them actually mentioned why the guy sending me is a great friend of mine because he at least bothered to send me a forward when he didn't have time to write a personalized message, while making me realize with those funny cartoons inserted in between, how emotionless I'm to lose contact. Partially true, I must agree. Majority of others I receive are photographs from here and there, sometimes quite funny ones, sometimes just beautiful. The most hated ones are those which claim to bring good luck if I forward them in turn to ten or twenty more, and to bring extremely harsh luck if I don't. Decent ones are those which have a collection of quotes, or anecdotes, or bearable jokes. Here's one of them which came to me about twenty one rules in life:

Rule 1:
Give people more than they expect and do it cheerfully.

Rule 2:
Marry a man/woman you love to talk to. As you get older, their conversational skills will be as important as any other.

Rule 3:
Don't believe all you hear, spend all you have or sleep all you want.

Rule 4:
When you say, 'I love you', mean it.

Rule 5:
When you say, 'I'm sorry', look the person in the eye.

Rule 6:
Be engaged at least six months before you get married.

Rule 7:
Believe in love at first sight.

Rule 8:
Never laugh at anyone's dreams. People who don't have dreams don't have much.

Rule 9:
Love deeply and passionately. You might get hurt but it's the only way to live life completely.

Rule 10:
In disagreements, fight fairly. No name calling.

Rule 11:
Don't judge people by their relatives.

Rule 12:
Talk slowly but think quickly.

Rule 13:
When someone asks you a question you don't want to answer, smile and ask, 'Why do you want to know?'

Rule 14:
Remember that great love and great achievements involve great risk.

Rule 15:
Say 'bless you' when you hear someone sneeze.

Rule 16:
When you lose, don't lose the lesson.

Rule 17:
Remember the three R's: Respect for self; Respect for others; and Responsibility for all your actions.

Rule 18:
Don't let a little dispute injure a great friendship.

Rule 19:
When you realize you've made a mistake, take immediate steps to correct it.

Rule 20:
Smile when picking up the phone. The caller will hear it in your voice.

Rule 21:
Spend some time alone.

Nice ones, eh? ;)

Friday, July 25, 2008

A day perfectly spent!

2:30 AM - Start getting stoned! You lose count of time. Forget count. Its like there was / is no time. Its eternity. You 'observe' yourself. You can feel your breath. You can feel your beats. You can feel your own temperature. You can feel yourself moving. You try to sleep. You 'revolve'. You drive, you fly, you try to control yourself. Its madness! Just perfect! You 'know' you are experiencing madness. Your brain is 'thinking' that it can't think. Perfect!

Sleep. Was it, wasn't it. You don't care. You were traveling in some other world. Probably time travel. And its suddenly the perfect morning, but its the same day. You don't remember when you went to sleep, if at all. You don't care either.

10:30 AM - You're lazy to get out. To do anything. The 'revolving sensation' of the earlier part of the day seems to have ended, but some part of you wants to retain it. Illusions are always good, eh! You want the same space back. You want to hold on to that receding madness. That was, probably, at all levels, much better than the reality. The virtual truth, which dared to counteract the real truth for those few hours of bliss, and did that successfully as well. You want to hold on to that virtuality. And in between, you get on with tit-bits of something called a movie.

And you are hungry, you are human and have humane limitations. Its raining. How about a drive?

12:30 PM - Winds! Wet winds gushing through your hair, cold breeze slicing through the chest like razor sharp ice. You don't care. You persist. You are drenched to the last bit. And its like you wanted this since you don't know when! Your every bit wants to get drenched in this moment of requiem. And yet again, you don't care! Its like this is the very moment, passing on with this blazing speed of the wheels, which you know is your redemption.

05:00 PM - Winds again! And madness again! How about another movie being caught drenching in the rain? And you set out! Wheels rotating, somewhat like you yourself were doing early in the morning! You notice something though. That scent on your skin left by the trial at that Oodh shop guy. It doesn't wash off with rain. Movie: comes and goes, who cares? You care about the sea blazing past you on way to Sea Queen. The place is still the same. And alcohol too. And you again notice, that scent on your skin at the back of the palm is still there!

11:30 PM - Blowin' in the wind! Again and again! The return drive with modest rains, probably looking with awe and showering itself affectionately. You are loving the trance! And probably that's the reason you are driving extra safely. You don't have any hurry to return on time to attend that birthday. Half of the things have ceased to matter. Including thoughts.

01:00 AM - Trance! Psychedelic Trance! Thanks to my neighbour for it. A random visualization and trance music at high volume. Its taking me to some other world. Time travel probably. Yet again. I'm running from reality. Yet again!

Friday, July 11, 2008

Biography of the helmet

It was a regular busy evening in the month of August of the year 2006. The city of Bangalore, with its ever snarling traffic and forever romantic weather was witnessing the daily tantrums of riders on its busy J.C. Road. Air seemed to be still, and so did the tiny dust particles laden all over it, and so did the vehicles strewn all across the width of the street.

The moist, stale smell of thermocols and cartons hit the nostrils of the young man still exuberating with the heart-thumps caused by riding a new motorbike as soon as he entered the helmet shop with the almost-faded signboard at the junction. In a perfectly styled manoeuvre, he had just finished twisting the keys of his new shining black bike bought recently through an EMI scheme under faint hopes that his parents would help him out paying the monthly nuisance. The bike, being new, and as happens with all new relationships in the life of a guy, had suddenly seemed to him as his better three-fourth, as if this is 'the one' he had been waiting for all those years, the one for whom there are no comparisons, and nothing better can ever happen in his life again - finally in love! Anything inferior for her would have been a contempt to him. The guy was KV, and the bike was the KA-51J-4725 Bajaj Pulsar.

He enquired for the best available helmets in the shop. Various helmets in various colours and shapes and tattoos on their backs screened past his inquisitive eyes, but none seemed fit for the beauty standing outside in that magnificent, side-stand pose. He was looking for something just perfect! After all, for every future trip with her, this particular helmet would ensure he didn't get too uncomfortable or fumble while communicating.

And then, suddenly, as if the destiny itself had bestowed unto him, he spotted it! A shining black "Volga, Born to Guard, The Life Partner of your Choice on the roads", with white flames painted on its sides - the helmet was smiling at him, and he knew at first sight that he couldn't get anything better as a companion on all his future rides with 'her'. The deal was struck! And hence started his long-term commitment to both the helmet and the beauty waiting outside.

The helmet, in the initial days, tried to compete with him. There were times when he forgot to take the helmet along on voyages with her, and the helmet, through some black magic in-sync with its colour, ensured that he was caught on one traffic signal or the other by a paunchy policeman on the charge of riding the magnificent beauty in a one-eighth naked state (read, without the helmet).

The situation improved fast as both discovered each other as complementary - none could exist without the other when it came to riding the beauty, and both developed some sort of a tacit agreement to the fact. The first 'woman' to share the space with him on the bike was a colleague from office. She was kind-of good looking, and the helmet ensured that the sacred act of looking at her in the rear-view mirrors was perfectly shielded by its black visors. It was a trade-off, the woman's 'colour' was dimmed by the tinge of the glass, however, the 'form' was up for however minute observations without even being noticed. The helmet, in return, was given a chance to sit in the woman's lap with some pretext of why he didn't want to wear it.

The helmet never complained. Once when he was slightly drunk on a Saturday morning (rather a long Friday evening), and he decided to undertake an 'extra-long' night ride with her all the way from Bangalore to Mysore at 2:30 am, the helmet was terrified at first, but never resisted. Its visors had to undergo the terror of being the graveyard of numerous white-green flies all along the way, sticking their juices and lifeless bodies on it. At the end, he didn't even bother to clean it and the black visor lost its sheen and true colour amongst spots of all possible colours of the spectrum. At another instance, the helmet was tucked at the back of the bike, its body handcuffed with a helmet lock, and was left to bang its head continuously on the rear number plate. The silly reason was, he wanted to feel his adrenaline by riding her amidst heavy rains, but wanted to retain the helmet for safety purposes at traffic signals. For him, it was the joy of feeling the heavy droplets falling on his body with largely unbuttoned shirt and the excitement of wet winds gushing in his hairs, while for the helmet, it was the torture of being inundated with water with scant care to the soft foam inside. At other instances, the helmet even had to undergo the difficulties of adjusting to the bad breaths of his numerous friends borrowing it, many a times, the effect accentuated by a slight excess of alcohol in their throats. The helmet, however, never complained.

The helmet always remained loyal. When he moved out of Bangalore, the helmet ensured that in spite of all weight considerations, it was included in the final checklist of the Calicut consignment. It maintained its undying respect for 'him and her', even though, as time had progressed, he had kept on getting better, and the beauty had kept on getting worse with marks of age. His love for her, as happens with all old relationships in the life of a guy, had already started getting past the peak of the 'normal curve' of attraction. The helmet, still, remained a loyal companion for all their wild voyages exploring Kerala.

One fateful day, and he didn't even care to remember the date or the person involved, the helmet was suddenly gone out of his life! He didn't remember whether he was drunk and asleep, or simply asleep, or busy-with-nothing in his hostel room, when someone borrowed it, and because he never really cared for the loyal helmet, he didn't care to ask it back as well. And when things are gone, as happens with all lost relationships in the life of a guy, he started feeling the pinch. He had to borrow a helmet from someone every time he wished a ride on her, and he craved for his lost companion more than ever. He made a tacit resolve that he would clean the visor and its body with a soft damp cloth if ever he got it back. And he has been waiting in grief ever since.