Friday, May 30, 2008

Letters from Sydney: Episode 9

After countless half hearted attempts to pencil down my thoughts, I think I am finally ready to unveil another letter from Sydney. A big, big thank you to all those who kept on asking me about the blog and asking me to write a new one and all those who’ve loved these letters and have waited patiently for me to move out of my inertia to come up with a new one. Anyways, here’s another letter from Sydney. Hope it lives up to the legacy and expectations it’s managed to raise after all these months. Hoping sincerely that you love reading this as much as I enjoyed writing it. Be warned, it’s a bit serious in content, and kinda misses the fun quotient of the previous letters. As SRK cheekily says in the oh-so-brilliant Tiger Cat sequence of OSO, Mind it.

Its 2 a.m at night and I am sitting on the Black leather couch in the living room of my new apartment, looking out through the glass covered balcony, at the vast expanse of the Sydney International Airport, as another flight takes off, to go to some destination taking alongwith it some people like me, dying to go back to the place they call, home.

It was quite sad leaving Natalie and Sac, and 66/A, I found myself terribly attached to the place, its wooden floor and the countless, insanely kaleidoscopic memories attached to it. I went through a lot, learn a lot and most importantly, attained that one thing I value the most, in that very house. But all good things end and I had to leave 66/A to move into this swanky, 8th Floor Apartment, a few blocks away from my old house. Kimberly Estates, they call this place which is a collage of similarly dead apartments, reminding me of those late 80’s Bollywood films that tried so desperately to capture the growing skyline of Mumbai, by showing the same shots over and over again, with hardly a change of angle, or lens. The color of Kimberly Estates is decidedly a dull yellow, or some random shade of cream. I don’t care much. The apartment is big, with two bedrooms, a kitchen and an unusually large living room, that’s quite empty except for the couple of leather lounges, one of which I am occupying at this very precise moment. The view outside though is mind-blowing, a zillion little lights amidst a few big ones, draw attention to the Airport, making me miss India and every thing about it every single time I see a plane take flight, into the seamless blue sky. It’s weird how we begin relating one thing to another when we don’t have much to do in life.

Like a steamin’ train, life keeps draggin’ on…
Speeding by alongside are friends, family and so on…
Is there anyone who could figure things out for me?
Is there someone who could feel what its like to be me?

The last few months have been bad. But then there’s been the brighter side to it all, with me being in a space I’ve never been in before, going through acute emotional, financial and professional stress and still feeling extremely vibrant throughout it with the help of people who’ve decided to accept me the way I am and walking with me throughout what can be safely called the most dreadful 3 months of my life so far.

“Everyone keeps misunderstanding me, rather not understanding me at all,” said she, “Just because I don’t say out things, doesn’t mean that I don’t feel them”, her voice going slightly shrill at the end of the reflective sentence, pushing me in the uneasy space where you want to be absolutely assuring and you end up being everything but that. After all, I was experiencing the exact opposite of it, “Just because I say out everything I feel, doesn’t mean I don’t feel anything.” I had this urge to tell her that. I refrained, thinking she might think I was just being the writer I am by saying something obviously well worded than what she had said. We were in two different time zones, but going through a similar phase; of self doubt to an extent you begin hating yourself. Not much was said that night, which was unusual in its own way. And I was pushed into a thought space, in an unusual soliloquy, where I answered all my questions myself; thinking about what all possibly went wrong, when I made perhaps my most right film till date, “Antahasthiti”.


Friday, May 18, 2007

Letters from Sydney: Episode 8

This was never intended to be a travelogue. It was always meant to be an account of my constantly changing frames of mind in a country which is not mine, in a city which was a stranger to me. Three months after I first landed in Sydney, quite a few things have changed.

I am no longer a stranger to Sydney. Sydney is no longer a stranger to me.

With this letter, I am ending the series of letters I wrote to people back home who were worried about how I could cope up in the land down under, with no one by my side. There was a point where I was thinking if I was doing the right thing by leaving India at a time where my career was looking up.

On retrospection, I think Sydney is the best move I have made in my life.

Three months down the line, I am used to the city now and I am feeling increasingly at home, but, I do miss India and almost everything about it.

There are many more stories I have to tell, but then I would’ve respected Sachin Tendulkar more had he retired from the game at the right time.

“What’s the logic?” you may ask me, “You aren’t Sachin”.
That’s the whole point. I am not Sachin.

I was amazed to see 130-150 hits on the blog every week, and dumbfounded on seeing that atleast 50 people turned up on Saturdays. It’s both scary and satisfying when so many people display such ardent interest in your life.

I am grateful to everyone who read these letters and told me through numerous comments and emails about how they felt about it. I hope I gave everybody something with every letter.

I had a ball writing for you guys. Hope you enjoyed equally.

Here’s the eagerly anticipated and much talked about letter 8.


P.S: Please DO NOT leave anonymous comments on this particular post.

A boy and a girl were sitting in a café one evening. She was dressed in pink, he was wearing white. Drawing a heart with a spoon in the froth of his cappuccino he looked at her. Her brown eyes were pointed towards the overcast sky.

“Do you believe in Love at first sight?” He asked her.
“I don’t believe in love in the first place… leave alone the first sight”, she said, quite matter of factly.

The heart in the cappuccino was now looking like a cloud. She was still looking up in the sky.

“Define love in one word.” He asked next, looking at her, hoping somewhere in his heart that she would look into his eyes.
“Illusion. Love is an illusion. We never love people, we just get used to them.” She answered, not looking at him, even once.

“What would you say if I tell you that I love you?”

She didn’t say a word. He knew she wouldn’t.

He had fallen in love with her. She had gotten used to him.

“You should try writing a novel, Nik. You would make a great novelist” My screenwriting professor said, looking up at me through his black rimmed pair of spectacles, “And this, no matter how beautifully written, doesn’t quite qualify as screenplay” he said, ruffling the piece of paper I had given with his index finger.

When people make complete sense while talking against something we do, our only defense mechanism is a smile, which is a better way of saying, “Yes, I know that I am stupid. Thanks for reaffirming my self-belief.”

I smiled and took back the piece of paper, thanked him and left his cabin only to bump into a visibly frustrated Hasse on the staircase.

“What’s wrong?” I asked her.

“Almost everything…” she said, without wasting even a second, “What’s wrong with you?” she asked.

A bit surprised at her question I just pointed my finger to the professor’s cabin.

Giggling incessantly she said, “Got fucked eh?”

“Kind of… Great way to start a day!” I confessed… “How did you know that something was wrong with me?” I couldn’t control the desire to ask the inevitable question which was the reason for the initial bit of surprise.

“Look at your face..! Listen to your voice!” she said, “Sit outside. I would make us some coffee…”

I didn’t know that my face could give out so much. Or maybe she had started to know me well enough to understand what’s going on in my mind just by looking at my face or by hearing my voice, something that only few people in the world can boast of being able to do. Diptee, Pavan, Niket, DJ, Amol, Amogh, Prasad, Anahita, Priyanka… That’s about it, I guess.

It was quite early in the morning, as we were sitting on the wooden boxes outside school, sipping coffee that she had just made for both of us.
Hasse asked me, “Nik, have you ever truly loved someone?” Now I knew what was wrong with her.

I smiled, looking straight in her blue eyes and I told her something that I hadn’t told, rather confessed to anyone in Sydney till that day. There was something about Hasse that made me trust her, instinctively. She reminded me of people like Pavan, Vivek, Amogh, Bodhi, Niket, Prasad, Sachin Bhai, Vijay Sir, DJ, Sandu, Amol, VD and Tejas… I could just look in her eyes and trust her.

I told her something that made her really, really worried. Hasse was the 7th person on earth to know about the Pretty Girl in Pink.

We studied in the same school, but never really spoke. 5 years after school, I never thought that something like what happened would happen.

One day I just saw a scrap in Pavan’s scrapbook. I recognized the girl instantly, my thoughts transporting me to the school days when Karanjgaokar had told me looking at her, “Fakt Brahman mulich evdhya cute asu shaktat…” (Only Brahmin girls can be this cute) A smile came to my face and I clicked on her profile.

Coincidentally she had checked my profile on the same day. We met online and then started talking. I am a person who chooses who I talk to and who I don’t and it generally takes me a long, long time to get really friendly with anybody.

But something about us just clicked. God bless Orkut.

What happened over the next 1 month is stuff great motion pictures are made of. The tragic part is that my life ended up being a movie.

Maybe the girl in my story was right. Love indeed is an illusion. It’s an illusion which saves us from experiencing the sore truths of realism. Love is surreal, but true.

Hasse listened intently as I spoke. It was one filmmaker listening to another filmmaker talking about a film which happened to be his life.

“Is she crazy?” she asked me, wide eyed and amused at the story she had just heard.

Smiling, I said, “Honey, that’s the way it goes. But every once in a while, it goes the other way too” not even one bit amused that I had put so much of trust in a person who I had hardly known for 5 days.

My first two months stay in Sydney taught me so much about everything. It taught me that I could live anywhere in the world where they make films, I could make friends anywhere. It taught me that there are people in this world who love me unconditionally. It taught me that I possibly have the best set of parents and grandparents in the whole wide world. It taught me that I have the best family anyone can possibly have, people like Anand Dada, Ravi Dada, Sarang, Kiran Dada who selflessly stood by my side, helping me in every possible way to help me reach my dream. It taught me to be humble, something that I had forgotten down the line. It taught me that I was lucky to get all these people who would do anything for me.

But most importantly it taught me that one person can change your life, forever.

“What would you say if I tell you that I love you?”
She didn’t say a word. He knew she wouldn’t.

It always happens, to all of us. Some questions do come like a jolt, when you least expect them to show up. But then, that’s what life does. It often throws weird questions at us. And then it throws people who give us answers, possibly weirder than the questions themselves.

No matter how weird the question or weirder the answers sound, the truth is that all of it does make sense… Some day… Some time.

I knew that my life had changed in three months because of one person. What I didn’t know then was that another life had also changed… because of me.