Burning Hearts

On an empty canvas of love,
they tried to paint a shade of red.
Little did they know then,
it'd be the colour of the tears they'll shed

They loved, until they couldn't love no more,
until their eyes burned with desire.
Little did they know then,
that their hearts would burn with fire

A fire, unquestioned, unrivaled, unscathed,
rose up from love's pyre.
Reminding them of unkept vows,
it consumed them in an untamed spire.

No water could ever extinguish its ire,
No rain ever quenched its thirst.
WIth all the tarnish eating into them,
Beng cold blooded is the only way they'd trust.

And all that's left in the end,
like fighting kites, like aimless darts,
fooled by love, fueled by love,
are two burning hearts.

Oh girl! Did you ever stop being vain?
Oh boy! Did you ever see her pain?

Once bitten twice shy,
but once burnt only rusts.
The colour of love starts to bleed,
until every drop is replaced with lust.

"Pick up the ashes and move on", they wonder,
"What about the faith broken?
What about that world you gave me and tore asunder,
Why did you just leave me yesterday as a token?"

Now life is all about hiding the scars,
listening to the broken symphony of what used to beat like a heart.
Learning to live in a world without a morning star,
Their canvas is black and white, love is a forgotten art.

And all that's left in the end,
like fighting kites, like aimless darts,
fooled by love, fueled by love,
are two burning hearts.

The Incredible Indian

They say India is well on its way to becoming a superpower. They feel proud of the country's rapid economic growth. They celebrate the high stock prices, and rejoice the growing political and cultural clout of the country. They stake claim to a permanent UNSC membership. They call it 'Incredible India'.

Really now? Well, i'm not against my country's growth nor am I against the opinion that India is making great strides in every field, right from swindling millions of rupees in scams to winning the most prestigious international contracts. I just think that in pursuit of the 'incredible' we have lost touch of the 'credible'. India is good, Indian is not. I don't know if losing the culture and letting in western influence was a big deal, but I just cant stand the way we have dumped all our values and mannerisms. Perhaps, we never really had them? Yes, we will be a superpower one day. A superpower of zombies - lifeless, valueless, devoid of all emotions that maketh a man.

While there are several examples that I can use to elucidate my point, I would only go as far as my aching back allows me today. I'm particularly pissed with the way the Indian entertainment industry is doing its best to pluck out all possible humanly emotions from each one of us, be it a poor villager who can't afford a day's meal, or an educated westernised youth with all mental faculties peaking. And with time, its starting to show in people's behaviour and mannerisms. I dont really watch TV a lot when I'm in Bangalore, but I can't help laughing my ass off looking at all the tv shows my parents, my grandparents and my sis watch whenever I'm home. Its not even their fault, becuase TV's an obvious form of entertainment for them for whatever time they have during the day after all the daily chores. But what's shown on TV is what bothers me.

On the one hand are the  innumerable family soaps, which should be given a "100+ and still alive to watch" rating. I never understand how people even digest the utter crap they show every time, episode after episode. Saasu maas exploiting teenage married bahus, exploiting grandmothers trying to screw a girl child's life, jealous bhabhis mixing pepper in food cooked by the innocent bahus, husbands spying on every move the wife makes outside the house - hatred, envy, vanity, pride, heartache, wham bam damn! Its like every house in TV's tinsel town is trying to plot against every inhabitant in new and innovative ways and somehow burn itself down.

The other end of the spectrum belongs to reality shows like Emotional Atyachar, Splitsvilla, Big Boss, and the likes on Bindaas, MTV, etc. Although I do think they're much more entertaining than the former class of TV shows and much more watchable for pure entertainment purposes, they still only add up to the big black hole of values that could make us a better class of people than we are, or are becoming. By trying to show that all one cares about is sex and money, they not just pass on a wrong message, but also corrupt many impressionable minds out there. The day is not far when people become so comfortable with whats shown that they wont bother when all this happens in real life, so much so that they'll even start doing it themselves. No respect for relationships, shallow mindset revolving around scheming, plotting, and not even thinking twice about right or wrong - all of this is getting branded on every Indian as the years pass by.

Ofcourse we all know what a joke the news channels have made of such a serious subject as news. You would think no1 can screw up something as simple as an omelette, and yet you watch these channels screwing up facts every day. A scientific approach to disseminating the correct information to the masses is the least one would expect of a news channel. Not an indian news channel though. In this age when everyone wants to get away from superstitious beliefs and old, outdated thinking, the channels seem hell bent in bringing it back in fashion!

While Indians are busy trying to recite the last rites for their values and righteousness, the west is exalting every possible possible human emotion by atleast the ways which creative media allow. I've been watching US and British TV shows atleast since the last 6 years now, and even though all of them may not seem too generous on good stuff, atleast more than three quarters convey beautiful messages through each episode. While shows such as OC show how family bonds can help one overcome any kind of trouble in any stage of life, shows like friends, How i met your mother, etc keep the funny bone tickling and yet explore the different facets of friendship, without any stupid negativity coming in the picture. Even superhero shows like Smallville always build the episodes on a theme - love, family, friendship, pride and honour, humility, truth, etc. There are shows that make you laugh, ones that make you cry, and everything in between too. Yet, they have an underlying feel good factor about them, that fails to find parallel in modern Indian entertainment industry. Think about it, when was the last time you actually saw something on indian TV, other than a politician accepting a briefcase full of bribe, that actually gave you goosebumps and made you think?

Creativity, too, seems like a forgotten art when it comes to Indian TV. All I can see in the name of creativity these days is - some very lame stand up comedy shows, and some very very lame news headlines ("Indian Cow kidnapped by Alien spaceship"). I miss the good shows - Banegi apni baat, Just mohobbat, dil kya chahta hai, special squad, khichdi, sarabhai vs. sarabhai, and so many others before these. They were atleast light hearted takes on different situations in life, and more closer to reality than the current crop of shows.

My point, after all this ranting is, that the west is generally growing happier and more positive in its outlook. People genuinely take interest in the life they live, and not just stuff they have to do everyday. With the global churn and changing landscape, India is growing more powerful, but with each step ahead, Indians are losing it, on all levels of humanity. I dont know the last time when I met a stranger in this country and noted some genuine compassion. I have, in all my innumerable visits abroad, atleast found much warmer handshakes, hugs and eye contact. For Indians, the whole world can go to hell. Its my friggin world and I dont care what anyone's doing, its my friggin road and I can drive wherever I want, its my frigging piss and I can dispose it off wherever it's clean enough to do so, its my frigging govt. and I can earn as much money as I desire, by any means possible. What a shallow race we have become. And I blame the media and entertainment industry in part, for whatever small amount of recurring damage it has been doing since the last 10 years. I hope we can get our act together and, if nothing else, atleast play the Incredible Indian in a credible way - because when this country goes into a huge financial recession, or a nuclear war, all the vain vanity will bury its head in the ground, and all that will be left will be an ass to kick.

The House That Built You

It seemed like the clock was suddenly moving in reverse motion. Amidst the yellow fall leaves in the backyard, he stood and looked at what seemed like a different age, a different time, and a different him. As he inched forward, his feet seemed to awaken a thousand fallen leaves from their slumber. The gate had creaked open this time though, and the grass stood a tad taller than it used to. The sunlight sieving through the trees looked faded, just like everything else about the place. The house that stood in front of him, that he'd once called home, now stood amidst overgrown bushes, like an old painting slowly draining off its colour, just like his cheeks that flushed bright red, and his hair that once shone dark black.

He looked at the dark wooden door with the number plate - 13,  still intact, as if some strange power had preserved the sheen through all these years. The number spelt doom for most people, the unlucky 13. And yet, for him, it was an inseperable part of his life, in almost everything he did. He turned the doorknob slowly, knowing and yet not knowing, what beholds him. With the stale air that rushed out through the small crack in the door, rushed in memories of his childhood, memories of the times when life was as simple as the cricket game every evening.

If you could drink the water while the river is still bluewhile the winds still fresh and the soul still new
you'd give anything to see your reflection
in the myriad memories of the house that built you.

He was only 5 when he'd come here for the first time, too young to care where he was, how his life will be, and what he's gonna make out if it all when he grows old. The hand that was writing the book of his life was still warming up with a cup of coffee, and was in no mood to twist the story in unsuspecting turns. Life was good - the only thing that mattered was how to finish off the boss in the new video game he'd started playing. Cricket was always compulsory - whether played or watched on TV, and studies were a no-brainer. Dressing up was a trivial task and talking to a girl was never about getting her to have coffee with you. The world was white, the world was black.

The carpet has little footprints from the little white shoe,
The room upstairs where you did your homework smells of mildew.
Buried under the cobwebs and the dust of ages,
all you want to take back are memories from the house that built you.

He made his way across the hall and noticed the old clock that chimed every hour, still looked fresh and ready to sing. He found the old drawing books he used to paint mickey and donald duck in different poses, and got a glimpse of his first signature in them. He'd once thought he'd become an artist when he grew older. How naive was he to think that way, how confused too. The old wooden table with his name etched on it reminded him of the long sickness he went through, and how this table had doubled up into a dining touble as well as activity center when he was too weak to get up from the bed. He felt a strange connection to everything around him, as if everything was still trying to call out to him, in some inaudible frequency range, reminding him of the olden days. The diary where he wrote his first stupid poems and strange things looked as if it were scribbled only a while ago, and yet he knew that it had been abandoned a long long time back. He had grown out of these diaries. He had a blog now, something that made him feel part of society, and something that increased the number of results google showed on his name. Identities that were once made with school id cards with stamp size pics had ceased to be acceptable as genuine proofs, ever since characters had started to be built on the internet.

Problems were more but the worries were few
For a change there was no payment ever due
Listen closely and you might still hear the sound
of an innocent, hearty laugh in the bricks of the house the built you.

He found his cricket bats and wickets still neatly stacked together, and suddenly found himself in the middle of the makeshift playground, running after the bowl, trying in vain to save yet another boundary. "Why can't you run faster?", was the usual rhetoric, with which even God seemed to agree with a sideways smirk. Another day, the sky in shades of pink and orange, and yet another bowl delivered full length to the bulky batsman. The red bowl was hit hard, a bit flighty, and he was at mid-on. This time, he told himself, this time he'll prove it to them what a great fielder he is. This time, they will respect him. This time, he will catch the red bowl coming on at 100 kph and make them proud. The bowl came straight to his face and he put his left hand in front of it just in time. It hit him too hard, a loud thud followed and he found himself back - staring at the old bat, looking at his hand that thankfully didn't have to bear a life long burden of his daredevilry.

Buried in the old playground, your innocence lies
Where the wind still whispers to the old swings, sweet lullabies
To have wings and gamble to win, was but an innocent lesson that upon you grew,
as you moved away from the house that built you

He had come here after all these years not for an annual inspection though. He had a higher purpose. After all these years of wandering, trying to realize his childhood dreams, he knew he had outgrown his childhood itself, too early, too fast. He thought the touch of all these memories will heal the void in his heart, will let him dream again just like he used to, and make him see his future in technicolour hues. He was someone else outside, but here in the house that built him, he was what he was, and was always meant to be. He looked at his old casio and wondered where the melody has suddenly disappeared in everybody's lives. Did fate, or God, upload it on youtube, while trying to give it a try? He saw his old piggy bank, and it was still heavy with all the coins he'd collected over time. Only now the futility  of the whole exercise struck him. Wouldn't it be so much better if we were to save our souls, our happiness, in bits and pieces, so that we could only find the treasure later when we needed it? As he looked around, he saw memories, glimpses of his past, scattered all over the place. Its going to be a long, fulfilling day, he thought. And as the summer sun cast familiar shadows around the house, he felt himself slipping back into time.

He had built his own house today, yet he never felt more at home than he felt in the house that built him.

Trying hard to hold on to the yesteryears, as time writes a premature eulogy
don't let the grip loosen on your life's symphony
Dancing with the hubris of your desires for too long if you do
just think of the simple times in the house that built you.

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