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The Atticus Diaries
Bibliophile - atheist - reader of religious texts - B-School Grad - math-hater - part-time poet - wannabe bodybuilder - couch-potato - animal lover - non-vegetarian - software engineer - technophobe - day-dreamer - basketballer that never was - cruciverbalist - Indian - SriLankan - neither - marketing grad - financial analyst - another confused clueless speck living it up on good ol' earth!!

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Tuesday, January 27, 2009
Cinq Un Quatre...

It's the city of a million church towers. It's the city of the forked tongue - once split evenly along St.Laurent boulevard into an Anglophone West and a Francophone East, now muddled in an Allophone melange. It's the city of the meticulously beautiful - conscious enough of appearances to border on fakeness - and the flamboyantly care-free. It's the city of escaliers - snaking stairways on which the snow falls in sodden silence on white wintry nights. It's the city of the beastly northern cold - colder than Moscow during frigid February nights. It's the city of laughter, fireworks and summer jazz. It's the city of subterranean lights - where consumerist kitsch tunnels through miles of underground shopping malls like a glowing earthworm. It's the city of the "biblio-ambulists" - those with the uncanny ability to navigate through crowded public spaces while engrossed in a book. It's the city of Haitian and Lebanese cabbies, Chinese & Persian deppaneur owners, Indian restaurateurs, Albanian hairdressers and million other enterprises from a million other corners of the planet. It's the city where the weekend party begins on Thursdays in the numerous pubs and clubs on St.Denis, St.Laurent & Crescent. Beneath it all, Montreal is the city of dropped gloves...

On any given winter day, as you keep your head down and gingerly navigate the icy pavements, you can find a few dozen gloves punctuating your path. Colorful baby mittens, sleek and stylish leather gloves, thick fingerless ones from hands that dread the cold, functional ones that'd snap snugly unto workman fingers... Soft inner-gloves fashioned out of New Zealand Merino... Water-proof over-gloves...  They all lie on the sidewalk, in slowly thawing pools of icy snow, often trampled under heavy snowboots, or on rare occasion, fresh and bright like unlikely flowers in the snowbanks... You may see them, you may not. Owners might look for them, they might not. Kind souls might hang them up like lynched outlaws at cafes and offices or truant young feet might kick then around in the slush... But the gloves are there - strewn along the city's sidewalks amongst cigarette buts like little amputated hands...

Montreal has a thousand stories to share if you'd light up a fire and stretch out with a drink! Of the long-forgotten Iroqouis Hochelaga at the foot of what would later become Mount Royal, of the French trading outposts, of how enterprise sailed up the St.Lawrence and built it's capitalist defences against the North Wind, of the '60s socio-commercial heyday and Expo-67, of how the Canadiens once sent tremors through the ice of Montreal Forum and how they descended into relative oblivion like the city itself. If you are willing to listen, any long time Montrealer will wax eloquent in French, English or often both, of long hard winters, Viva Le Quebec Libre, bagels, the sixties and more... But are these the city's story? Doesn't Montreal live as much through the fast disappearing footprints on the fresh snow as it does in the timeless edifices of Vieux Montreal? Isn't a city's story best elucidated by what it forgets? Then, Montreal's story is best written on the wrinkled, withering, stamped out fingers of a zillion gloves...

There are tales that only the gloves can tell - tales that were never written and shall never be. Tales that float through ever fading voices until no tongue shall remember, no ear shall yearn for and no heart shall care... The tales of the millions who have called this city home over the years - their life, their lot, their joys and sorrows... While the city trundles past them in its staid linear journey through the years, the forgotten gloves still retain the warmth of hands in a parallel space-time continuum. They open doorknobs to take the tired home... They retrieve car keys in hasty thrusts into jacket pockets... They fumble clumsily to disentangle a cigarette from the pack... They hold waists gently when passionate lips can't wait to get home... They channel ancient wisdom through when the old hold young hands for a walk across the generations... And sometimes, when a Chinese hand shakes a Lebanese one, or a Peruvian a Quebecoise, the gloves learn to draw unseen strings across the seas and weave them into the city's tapestry. Oh, there are tales only the gloves can tell... Amidst all that we forget in winter's early evening darkness, they constantly murmur Montreal's tale into the howling wind...

I moved to Montreal on a pre-winter evening when freezing rain fell like incessant reproach. And for over two years now, I've called this beautiful city home. Predominantly French with an economy that's dwarfed by behemoths like NYC, Chicago or even Toronto, Montreal didn't seem to hold enough to sustain me through more than one winter. And yet, last night, as I stood out on a friend's porch in La Prairie, staring at Montreal's city-lights brightening the low, snow-laded ceiling in the Northern sky, I realized I don't want to move.

I've learnt over these past years that I'd probably never be able to drop anchor anywhere. There's the global economy and the restless race we all run... There's the unmistakeable Indianess (or SriLankanness or whatever) that sometimes tugs at the heart pulls it South-East... There's family and the hope that one day we'd indeed settle down in rural India that B and I both so love.

But for now Montreal is home. In her own way, B has made a whole bunch of friends... Indians, Canadians, Chinese, Moroccans, Italians, Quebecois, Lebanese, French  - they all drop by for magical evenings of rich Italian red wine and B's excellent food, where we all talk about our distant homes. During these nights, our varied pasts somehow morph into a common dream that we all shared the previous night - full of South Indian rice-fields, Sezchuan grandmothers, beaches in Casablanca, orange orchards near Beirut, soccer evenings in Rome, they all mesh into a dream that zooms into starker recollection as we all speak of it. And slowly yet surely, the gloves weave us with unseen fingers into an unknown fabric.

May be some of us are just not meant to drop anchor and stay... May be all we can afford to leave behind are a few gloves on snowy sidewalks... Montreal and it's beautiful people have kept my tropical heart warm through three winters and I'd like to stay forever. But if I don't, there's a couplet already written for me in the black and grey gloves of which I lost one each in the last few months. And on we all walk, me with my mismatched gloves thrust in my pockets, towards yet another chapter of the human tale.

Orbiter Dictum: "Cinq un quatre" is 514 - the area-code for Montreal.

Tuesday, October 07, 2008
Fall in Canada


Friday, August 01, 2008
Four Years of Atticus!

Four years ago, sheer boredom and an abundance of free internet bandwidth drove me start a blog. In a rather atypical deviation from my usual supercilious wise-cracking, I started a honest and intensely personal journal with this post:

The Short and Simple Annals of the Poor
Inside every man burns the primeval urge to reach out and communicate to his peers... To be heard... To be understood... To be remembered... And inside the very same men lie ensconced fear and hesitation about their fellowmen's opinion and acceptance. Blogging helps circumvent this tangle. So, in these pages, I shall elaborate my musings, diatribes, romances, phobias you name it under the cosy cover of anonymity.

Abe Lincoln once summarized his childhood in Thomas Gray's words - "The Short and Simple Annals of the Poor...". Strange how our seemingly simple lives take so many turns, take us through numerous ups and downs, and leave each of us with innumerable tales to tell. This blog shall be one filled with such simple tales - ... of my life .... of the wonderful people I have been priviledged to meet along the way... of books, movies, birds, stars, love & dreams!

And for those who chanced to stumble upon this little nook in Cyberdom, this I promise you - what I write shall turn out be boring... or laborious...or funny... or plain crazy.... but it shall all be true and heartfelt.

Four years - a mere speck in a lifetime. But these four years have stretched over B-Schooling, internships, marketing - finance - marketing again and a whole bunch of travel - Mumbai, Bangalore, New York, Montreal and more. Heck, four years is longer than my longest relationship :)

I don't think I have done justice to this space and its now fast disappearing readership. But one fact I take pride in is what I swore to do in my very first post - to write only when the heart demands truthful expression. As I read through these last few years of my life, I can't recognize anything that I didn't strongly identify with.

Atticus has become an alternate identity - though those looking for a Gregory Peck look-alike barely manage to hide their disappointment when they meet me in person. Now, with 130+ posts under my belt, I think it is time to pick a few personal favorites... There are some about my grandpa, mom and aunt which are special for very different reasons. But among the other, these are the ones I like the most...

1.  Avuncular Expatiations (or) Old Uncle Atticus
Easily my favorite... A day after I posted, a girl from Bangalore mailed in to check if I was really 6-ft-10 (I had made a typo)! Three and a half years later, I am married to her :)  Dhanya, my neice, is way taller now... But she remains as adorable as ever.

2. The Peregrine's Progress
As I read this post now, I can vividly recollect every image that flashed through my mind that day. At times, we can sense those watershed points in life - where the direction, scale and nature of things would never be the same again!

3. The Many Loves of Atticus - Vol I of CCXXI
What can I say about first love...?

4. Strangers in the Night
I've let go of a lot of friends. But this one would have really hurt! Thankfully, we survived this and now have taken our frequent shouting matches to a Trans-Atlantic tele-forum!

5. All My Bags are Packed...
Good-byes suck!  Montreal and  I  wait eagerly for Her Grace to move in this fall!

6. Riding With The King...   and  Taxi Number 2-3-5-4
These two are dedicated to India's taxi and auto drivers from whom I learnt valuable lessons in life!

7. From Small-Town Boy to Small-Town Boy
What I was, what I am and perhaps, what I'll always remain!

Alright then, enough of narcissistic reverie for the birthday blog... To anyone who has taken the time to read this space in the last four years and the numerous blog-acquanitances who have become good friends now, many thanks!

Love and Peace,
Atticus Finch

Friday, June 27, 2008
The Smell of Soap

Despite our Christian missionary schooling, my sister and I never really waited for Santa. The idea of a bearded old man riding a reindeer sleigh in the snow and dropping in through chimneys was too foreign for the 30 sultry degrees of our sunshine Christmases in flat-roofed concrete homes. But for the better part of my childhood, I did wait eagerly for the visit of a bearded man bearing gifts. Back then, he visited regularly... And when he opened his suitcases, the fresh fragrance of the then coveted International Lux soap would waft in to fill the room and wait eagerly with me and my sister for the myriad other goodies that awaited us. Star and Delta candies, toy cowboys and wild animals then made in Hong Kong, shiny stickers, the watch in his hand always strapped unto my wrist, and even sinfully red rambutans jumped out of his bags like goblins from a rabbit-hole. While all these were prized possessions over which sibling turf-wars raged for the next several weeks, Uncle K brought much more than goody-bags to the monotony of our lives. His annual visits ushered in a time full of grand tales, unfeigned laughter, gibberish songs, movie outtings, great books, unquestioned off-days from school and rare impunity from the regular "sure-to-earn-a-rap" misdeeds. Most importantly, he always brought hope.
Uncle K was the only adult I remember looking up to and really believing things might be better when I grew up. He was the only adult I knew whose eyes always twinkled with a certain contentment and laughter. The only one who had a world beyond his work and family - a world full of yoga, karate, playwrighting, poems, homeopathy, rose-gardens, mathematics, economics, OBE or whatever new thing his ever youthful mind had taken a fancy to.  When I was out with Uncle K, the scary world of a little boy - so full of disliked adults, dark corners, fierce street-dogs and delayed growth milestones - became something that could be methodically broken down and dealt with. Nothing was ever a mistake... Nothing an unchangeable strife to suffer through... Everything would get better with a year of hard work...

To my hero-deprived childhood, Uncle K was superman in real life. I followed him everywhere and held to his every word.Tales of his clever escapades in school, 3-hour maths tests he'd aced in fifteen minutes, record-breaking giant cabbages he'd hand-grown, his limericks about professors in the college notice-board and his many other run-ins with the authorities were all family legends. The best part was the way he used to narrate those tales with a certain confidence laced humility - with the same details and intonations even when I asked him to repeat a tale for the fourth time in the same evening. Only much later did I learn how much had been left unsaid... Like the fact that this powerfully built little man who could now demonstrate two-finger push-ups was once diagnosed with polio and the likelihood of never walking again! Like the numerous doctors and engineers his free classes shaped out of children of poor tea-estate labourers...

It was he who introduced me to Vivekananda and classical Tamil poetry. It was thanks to him that I first believed in myself. For the first twenty years of my life, whenever I thought about what I wanted to be in life I always ended up resolving I'll be like him. He was my hero, pure and simple. Until it all changed one unfortunate day.

Oh, how we worship are heroes and how we then destroy them! How quick we are to judge a man whose infallibility is our own concoction! It was after my aunt, Uncle-K's eldest sister, passed away that for one brief moment I saw a side of Uncle-K that was so shocking in its appaling familiarity - the desperate and irrational anger of a defeated man that so many family members always wore! Only for a fleeting day, he struck out at the world around him in despair... Only after a forty year old dream of reuniting the family had been broken beyond repair... But I was young enough to be idealistic and judgmental... Proud enough to refute the havoc time could wreak on a man's resolve! Later, Uncle-K apologised profusely to all concerned but the damage was already done.

It took me a good half-a-decade to forgive Uncle-K. It will probably take forever to forgive myself for the way I reacted. Last year, I spoke to Uncle K for the first time in years - a voice that crackled and faded over the international long-distance line like some old ropeway bridge across the miles and years. But like only he can, Uncle-K made it sound like it was just yesterday that he'd given me my first lessons on religion in the street-corner temple.

Truth be told, Time has run its relentless course. Since those visits that filled the house with warmth and the smell of soap, my heroes have risen and fallen. People, things, thoughts - have all aged, perished, changed or been born. Uncle-K still lives in SriLanka - never-married, mellowed down by the frustrations of life in a war-torn country and the loss of a fourth sibling last year! Yesterday, I opened the yellowed and dog-eared pages of the only book that has journeyed with me to every stop in my nomadic existenc - a copy of Thirukural that Uncle-K gave me in 1986... His slanted Tamil scrawl urges me to follow the path laid down by the profoundly wise little book... Was so long ago - twenty-two years since a bearded man whose black eyes twinkled with prescience bought the book for me during a visit to the Rock Fort and tousled my hair with a smile? I couldn't believe this man who has so shaped my life and thought has spent ,in all, less than a hundred days with me in person!

The last time we spoke, it somehow still seemed things will be better next year.Uncle-K recruited me as an ally on his long-drawn battle to get the entire family - or whatever's left of it - to one side of the Palk Strait. But, I know my days with Uncle-K are going to be few and far between - precious days to be snatched out of time's countdown. I also know that he's still my hero! And that after another twenty years, if I am half the man he is today, it would be a life very well lived!

Friday, May 16, 2008
Wedding Chimes....

As I hastily packed my bags this evening, rushing to join the infuriating long-weekend crawl to Montreal's Trudeau Airport, the 7pm sun was streaking unabashedly through the bedroom windows. On days like this, when Excel, play-offs or binges weren't cramping my style, I'd play some Davis, Coltrane or Monk and settle down in my rocking chair with some tea and a book to enjoy another balconyful of sunset! I guess I'll miss these evenings with myself. And the few luxuries that the reckless abandonment of bachelordom offers - like the St.Hubert delivery boxes piled in the kitchen competing for space with beer bottles... But everything else in the house was handpicked carefully for another purpose... Like the equal distribution of jazz and hard-rock in my CD rack... Like the blue striped cushions in the couch, the little statuettes in the bedside table, the slouched teddy peering between the cable receiver and the DVD player... For another person... Another journey hand in hand... The house was only being watched over until the mistress arrives in all her regalia this fall - though her kindness permitted the keeper certain wanton indulgences...

In life, if you are lucky, you fall in love... Once, a dozen times, it doesn't really matter! As long as you loved with an intense heat that scorched your very being! If you are luckier, someone would love you in return. A bit like finding God I guess, at the tunneling end of blind relentless faith! But if you are really lucky, if you are that charmed proverbial chosen one, you'd be able to see someone fight for you... Tooth and nail, staking all they ever held dear in their life... Tossing it all up into an ancient air where self-righteousness and the treachery of human dogmatism awaits greedily to tear it to chunk in hyena bite pieces... All for that mysterious something they love in you that suddenly gives your existence a very humbling self-worth!

Over the last three and a half years, I bore entranced witness to a simple little girl's dogged battle for "us"! I stood by the sidelines and cheered, consoled, encouraged and at times, just lost patience... But she'd persevere through it all... Through three years where words were wielded like whiplashes... Where suggestive silences could strike where words failed...Where witches preached what was heeded as wisdom and the weak were burnt on undying stakes... And she triumphed... Against odds which would have seen me buckle a long time back!

And it's time now to celebrate and formalized what began three long years ago in this very space... B and I tie the knot, with the blessing of family and friends, this Thursday. Those we missed in our personal mails and calls, especially Plasma and others whom we know in only their cyber-avtaars, do drop a line @ and I'll send you the details. This is probably the lousiest way to invite people but then, when the bride and groom met through a blog, got to know each other by email, fell in love over YM and nurtured a relationship for months before finally meeting in person, the expectations aren't to be set very high!

So, do turn up, if you get a chance.  If not, I guess this is as good a place to raise a glass...

Love and Peace,

Wednesday, March 19, 2008
Collateral Damage - II

I seldom post news reports here. But this is worth a read - Oliver Poole's take on the realities of life behind a screen of war in Iraq....

Reminds me of something I wrote years back on my own experiences with a distant and never-ending war

And in keeping with the mood, here's a poem from Yusef Kominyakaa's Vietnam War series...

Tu Do Street

Music divides the evening.
I close my eyes & can see
men drawing lines in the dust.
America pushes through the membrane
of mist & smoke, & I'm a small boy
again in Bogalusa. White Only
signs & Hank Snow. But tonight
I walk into a place where bar girls
fade like tropical birds. When
I order a beer, the mama-san
behind the counter acts as if she
can't understand, while her eyes
skirt each white face, as Hank Williams
calls from the psychedelic jukebox.
We have played Judas where
only machine-gun fire brings us
together. Down the street
black GIs hold to their turf also.
An off-limits sign pulls me
deeper into alleys, as I look
for a softness behind these voices
wounded by their beauty & war.
Back in the bush at Dak To
& Khe Sanh, we fought
the brothers of these women
we now run to hold in our arms.
There's more than a nation
inside us, as black & white
soldiers touch the same lovers
minutes apart, tasting
each other's breath,
without knowing these rooms
run into each other like tunnels
leading to the underworld.

Friday, February 29, 2008
All About My Mother

When I look back with a even a morsel of objectivity, my childhood wasn't as happy as I'd like to believe now. The maternal relatives - who "took us in" after our inept father started his long inexplicable parade from one job to another in the Nilgiris - perfected the subtle art of tainting every act with either displeasure about our presence or elaborate shows of their "kindness" that we were constantly reminded to be thankful for. Between my father, grandfather, maternal and paternal uncles, I was surrounded by inadequate adults who were brazen enough to take out the frustration of their many failures on children. And the family women were reduced to gossiping, scheming, squabbling teams pitting wits and tongues against each other, for in those arid, pre-television days in the '80s there was very little else to do. So, life at home was reduced to the constant side-stepping of minefield tempers and sensibilities, pretence commiserations, earlobes burning with shame from a zillion innuendos and insinuations, derogatory notes hidden in magazines with words a tramp would hesitate to use with a child and the heavy feeling that I was somehow responsible for everything that was wrong with the family. Given the state of affairs, it was thanks to a few little things that I emerged from it all with my belief in the goodness of life intact - a steady supply of great books... success, popularity and kindness at school... And one guileless, mild-mannered woman who stood like a rock by sister and me through it all.
For a good decades after we moved to India, my mother lived through a similar routine as she struggled to raise her children against crushing financial and emotional odds. Rising before dawn to cook for the family (my housewife aunt "couldn't" cook), getting us ready for school and packing lunch boxes, rushing with us to school where she taught a raucous bunch of six-year-olds, running through a set of extra classes in the evening and finally returning home to serve a quick dinner and do the day's dishes. Through these years, she also battled migraine and ulcer and nursed her father whose urinary tract was too odious and messy for others in the family to handle. Despite earning her own livelihood, she also had to hear her family's sermons about how her kids were being raised to become characterless, spiteful monsters and her husband's rants about how her "selfishness" had destroyed his career and family. Why she persevered the way she did and what she saw in the future that kept her going, I'd never know.
Once my grandfather's death obviated my mother's presence in her brother's household, we finally moved into our own little house. Despite sheer desperate need, further emotional trauma and our adolescent angst, my mother shaped those few years into the best of our lives. It wasn't easy - there would be month-ends where we were out of kerosene and there wasn't anyone to turn to... The looming spectre of higher education for the two of us... Our growing frustrations with the status-quo as we grew old enough to compare our plight with others in a predominantly upper-middle-class community... Yet, my mother ensured that we had every comfort she could afford - and some that she couldn't like branded shirts and school-trips! In that little house with horrible ventilation, my family came together as I recognize it today - my mother, my sister and I against the world! In those days, I came to love and respect this woman who has given me all I own and cherish! I learnt to appreciate for the first time what she was really up against... To understand that every time she took her bag and walked that long path to school, she was walking with grit and resolve towards her distant and translucent dream for us... And in those days, as we shared radio shows, happy dinners, gardening triumphs and wishful thinking, my sister and I would make an important choice - to put our mother and her happiness above all else! We have stuck to it for a good many years now - much to the chagrin of my father and others.
Later, I'd learn that my mother's battles began way before I was even born. The darling daughter of a reasonably affluent tea-estate manager in SriLanka, she'd married into a poorer and significantly more peevish family. That inter-caste marriage not only broke ties with her family temporarily but it also meant daily battles in the smoke-filled sooty joint-family kitchen with jealous in-laws who couldn't come to terms with a working, English-savvy woman in the household. When war entailed a move to India, things slipped from bad to worse. Thrown smack in the middle of all this was the challenge of raising her children with her own liberal outlook among very backward influences. And yet, when I look back, I can't remember my mother being angry - tearful, sad, helpless yes, but never angry!
A better future would arrive. But not before road dropped tumultously towards darker and bleaker times that we wouldn't talk about here. But a few years later, we moved my mother's uncle's house - he was too much of a gentleman to goad us. And somewhere around those years, things started turnly pointedly upward! These days, good tidings abound. Simple joys like the weddings of children that would have just been a matter of time in most families... Not so in mine... There were times when it looked unlikely that all three of us would make it here as..., well..., three of us. But we did! Now, grudging relatives have either come groveling around, forced by senility, childlessness or compunction, or seethe in envy about how well my sister and I have done. People who presaged a career in crime and pennilessness for us seek counsel for their acquaintances and are quick to take credit for our triumphs. And money, that monstrous wrench that queezed every inch of life from my mother's best years, is now available in sufficient plentitude!
My mother's been retired for five years now.  She's still up at dawn and despite my sister's best efforts she can't sit still and relax for a minute. Between me and my sister we bully her into watching Everybody Loves Raymond, reading Tintin and talking a breather. I call her everyday and everytime it suprises me how this woman with a child's heart and innocence overcame such overpowering obstacles. And how she doesn't hold a grudge against anyone in the family. My mother's happy these days. Her children do rather well for themselves. Though she'd never think of taking due credit for anything, I know that my IIM diploma, $90,000 pay-cheque and more importantly, my belief in humanity are all thanks to one little lady fighting tirelessly for a better life for her kids.
A few others made my childhood worth remembering - my uncle and aunt in Ooty and my Grandpa. Wish you were here, Athai, Mama and Thatha... Noone would have been happier to see us now!
My maternal uncle did turn a new leaf and go out of his way to help us in later years - him I might forgive.

Monday, February 25, 2008
The Last Word

I often take a stroll in the cemetery just across the road from where I live. Before you conclude that I am incorrigibly morbid, it's a beautiful space - lush green in summer and draped in bright, beautiful white in winter. Though the stroll is just to take some in some fresh air, I do look at some the grave-stones. And I can't help feeling a bit disappointed. An epitaph is your last word - the one line by which future generations who were lucky never to know would use to make your acquaintance. Shouldn't it be a wee bit more reflective of your personality than  a drab - "Born ...... Dead....", "RIP" etc?

I have decided that mine would be an eye-catcher... I have had enough of people walking past me without a second look in real life! So, here's a personal short-list I am working on... Nominations and new suggestions are most welcome...
# Never born! Never dead! Just a parole violator from hell...
# See you soon... (Sooner than you think!!!)
# Press here if you want to take a peek in. (You know you wanna ;))
# Sorry, this spot is taken. Try the one three rows up to the left.
# Underground sex is hugely under-rated!
# Sometimes it gets real hot in here. Thank God your bedroom is air-conditioned...
# I wish I could forgive you...
# To Let!
# Ah, another one!!! What does a man have to do to get some privacy around here?!!

Gravestones in the Snow
Fall in Montreal
Adding the second pic just to make my point that a cemetery walk isn't as morbid as it sounds...

Sunday, February 17, 2008
Light and Shadow

Last night, I spent more than an hour in the biting cold. I broke away from the disillusioning daze of my fourth consecutive working weekend and a forecasting model that has rendered my short-term future rather bleak, and spent a bitterly cold February night out in the snow. By the time I stepped back into my regular cafe for some much need warmth - my eyes bleary, my ears stinging and my fingers numb - I didn't even get close to what I sought to achieve. And yet, I was deliriously happy.
Last night I spent an hour trying to capture the ethereal beauty of a neighbourhood church-tower in the moonlight. I struggled through camera and skill roadblocks to get that strange beauty and aloneness that strikes me everytime I see the tower on my way home from the Metro station. For that one hour, that's was all there was to it. The ageless moon, an ancient church steeple, a mere passer-by trying to preserve time in light and shadow, and the church-bell that struck twice during the whole charade. Until I wound up, I didn't notice how cold it was (-25 is pretty cold - even by Montreal's standards) or how the old tramp at the station was watching me enrapt. And when I finally retreated to nurse a blissful defeat with a triple-venti-latte, I had begun to think I had found my calling.
Before you conclude that I'd throw my well-paying job to shoot amateur photographs that have barely begun to merit free publishing, this is a different "calling". This is a search for that transient beauty that I believe pervades all things great and small. It's the quest for a world view - a way to put the blocks together and truly understand how you see things. People do it in different ways - some through music, some through words, some through a burgeoning bank-balance. And surprisingly, even the latter isn't bad if you truly believe in it! My own journey started with religion and then poetry. But of late, life has turned towards seeking that perfect frame in everything I see - that unique light, aperture and depth of focus in which even the plastic bag that I see outside in the slushy dirt can be beautiful... Once you've looked through a viewfinder a sufficient number of times, your vision is altered forever. No matter where you are, you are always looking for an interesting angle that unearths a different aspect of a scene, a moment that captures the essence of a place, a face that tells the tale of a life - suddenly there a glass-roofed ride through life and you have the best seat! You learn to meditate over moments that'd have slipped by meaninglessly.
There are couple of reasons why I chose photography. One, it is very similar to my other love - haiku. It's also about the gestalt of moments that are greater than the hour! The second one - it is the one feel where I have truly started working at! Most things have come easy to me. Academics, money, writing, an average expertise in sport - I don't remember ever consciously working for any of them. And the almost universal subset of everything else that I am not good at - music, running, painting et al - I have never wanted enough to work at. But photography fascinates me - it pushes me too see things and then battle hard to capture what I see.
Last night, I got a few rather disappointing pictures (the first few you see on the left above).  But what's heartening is the knowledge that the perfect shot is out there. There exists a certain way to shoot the church-tower under the moon that surpasses all others. And I shall strive to achieve that - tomorrow, next weekend, on summer nights may be... Forever if that's what it takes! And if it eludes me, I'll take to my grave a few thousand imperfect pictures and a life well-lived!

Below are pictures from a few lazy Sundays - I call it couch-clicking :D

Sunset from my balcony
The Sound of Silence
Summer's Passing
Visitors on a Winter Morning

Friday, January 25, 2008
Page 3 of 75

Time drips through our lives in infinite ways. In increasingly dog-eared pages of text-books in a school year... In the colourful countdown of falling leaves as lush green summer canopy braces for winter... In the glacial thaw of winter ice as summer knocks on our doors again... And then sometimes, time take youthful wings that make a year seem like a second now and an epoch later... The days fly about like sunbirds in spring - leaving nestfuls of thrills for one to discover in the garden hedge... Life's atwitter with the butterfly wings of a million possibilities among daisy fields of gaiety... Time sings, dances, laughs, skips, cries and sighs... And life is suddenly alive!
It's been three years now... Three years since a girl and boy who had never met other than in the pages of this blog decided they'd walk together for the rest of their lives... And boy, what a walk it has been thus far...
To B, for three years of beautiful living and many many more to come...
Only Wanna Be With You - Hootie & The Blowfish
You and me
We come from different worlds
You like to laugh at me
When I look at other girls
Sometimes you're crazy
And you wonder why
I'm such a baby
Cause the Dolphins make me cry

Well there's nothing I can do
I only wanna be with you
You can call me your fool
Only wanna be with you
Put on a little Dylan
sitting on a fence
I say that line is great
You ask me what I meant by
"Said I shot a man named Gray
Took his wife to Italy
She inherited a million bucks
And when she died it came to me
I can't help it if I'm lucky"
Only wanna be with you
Ain't Bobby so cool
Only wanna be with you

Yeah I'm tangled up in blue
Only wanna be with you
You can call me your fool
Only wanna be with you
Sometimes I wonder
If it will ever end
You get so mad at me
When I go out with my friends
Sometimes you're crazy
And you wonder why
I'm such a baby yeah
The Dolphins make me cry
Well there's nothing I can do
Only wanna be with you
You can call me your fool
Only wanna be with you
Yeah I'm tangled up in blue
Only wanna be with you


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