Sunday, November 14, 2010


It was the way she slept.
The way her tranquility shadowed the room like a wandering fragrance, swamping everything in the most unattainable of divine solitudes. The gentle form of her nape rested against the feathery pillow, almost as if wary of bruising it. The echoing rhythms of her breathing, like a flock of memories breaking free. The amniotic grace with which she nestled into her blanketed shape. The innocent arrogance of her skin as an unwelcome sunrise sneaked in through the window. The simplicity of every moment that passed her by, like the pulsating ignorance of a road that goes nowhere. 

The manner she always awoke, the fluid measure of her guileless reluctance, the rambling beauty of her heavy eyelids as they slowly unfurled, luring and dissolving the day's harsh reality into tender dreams of her own.

Thursday, October 28, 2010

The perennial injustice of being Michael Owen

"But I'm 30, I have been around and I understand how it works. I am not going to kid myself because... I know I am not as good... Maybe 10 years ago you could argue I was – but not now."

It hurts me to read it, not because of the statement's undeniable obviousness but its scathing simplicity, the gentle resignation of the emotion behind it. The mundanity that has come to replace the greatness that once stood in its stead. He must have come to hate that word, that terribly cruel "once" that has shadowed him all of his lime-light filled adult life. But I suspect he no longer does, not because he's tired of it but because I think he truly understands what it means. What it means to be part of a once.

For that has been his destiny, to always be remembered for being young once, to endure the perennial injustice of being a genius that once was. Sport has an almost ruthless curiosity when it comes to its prodigies, filling its lore with tales of the ones who unequivocally fulfilled their potential and the ones who fell by the side along the way. And it's the accidental misfortune of the latter to endure the rest of their lives inches beneath the threshold, condemned to wonder and rue for all of eternity how it could've been different. History may inevitably end up placing Owen in that company, but that tells us more about ourselves than it does anything else. We mortals are easily bored, unsated by mere excellence, we want more, we seek immortality in our idols, we make promises on their behalf and then punish them for reneging on them without ever bothering to think who it was that made them in the first place. Almost as if it was an unforgivable crime for him to have been that teenage footballing prodigy that flood-lit night in St.Etienne twelve years ago. Maybe it's the scourge of genius that it is bestowed upon so few and understood by even fewer.

I admire Owen for many things, but more than his prodigious skills with the ball, I admire his endurance, for abiding with dignity and humility the long chain of injustices handed out to him - to haplessly watch his game deteriorate with every misfortunate injury, to be unwanted by the very people who once idolised him for his abilities and to be incessantly convinced on the sidelines that he was 'past his peak'. Maybe some might say it was inevitable, the resignation, that he had to eventually come to terms with his frailties but even so, the obviousness of a path doesn't make it any less harder, does it? After all, it's not so uncommon, sport's unkindness towards its aging prodigies. Some refuse to acknowledge it and pay the price, some part ways early knowing they can't stomach the reality, some even convince themselves of eternal youth and make fools of themselves and some, like Owen, silently press on every single day, enduring the sublime burdens of dissipated genius. 

Monday, October 25, 2010

The question of the muse

Okay, that was long.
Did the over-long hiatus end up giving you the impression that the previous post had a more clandestine connotation, in other words, that it was meant to be a simple sign-off from all further writing endeavours here? I hope not. Ah, a voice from the back, "Sorry to disappoint you man, but no one here has been waiting for your words with bated breath." Ouch, should I say? Okay, there you go. With an exclamation? Okay, ouch! Forgive me, my gracious heckler, for that's the perennial, and some would even say despicable, peril of a writer's art, that regardless of the cretinous vapidity of your artistic output, you believe, almost to the point of irrefutable certainty, that somewhere in one of the countless spaces of this world, there's at least someone who is smart (/naive) enough to be engaging (/wasting) their precious (/purposeless) moments reading what you're writing. (The parentheses are for the staunch optimists, the rest of you can kindly ignore them.)

It was a very early morning for me today, and when I woke up it was with the cacophony of absurd traffic in the usually peaceful introspective alley of my mind. (Yeah, I know, the unpardonable crime of beginning a sunday with an "introspection", it's almost vulgar, for lack of a better word. But then I asked myself if there's any productive way of beginning a sunday other than not beginning it at all. And since I had so grandiosely failed to accomplish that by already waking up, I had no other choice but to deal with the vulgarity.) So I decided to don the cloak of the responsible citizen and clean the mess up, what with all that flagrant honking and revving up that was going on. (Ever noticed those citizen traffic regulators on our dusty and rainy streets these days, frantically trying to make our driving lives more tolerable? It's quite admirable, and also seems to have become fashionable, I should say.)

Goethe had his rotten apple, Balzac had his caffeine, Poe had his siamese cat, Coleridge had his opium, Hugo had his nakedness, Nabokov had his placards, Eliot had his cold, what do you have, oh what do you have, young man? 

(Insightful as my question was, it was quite uncomfortable, really, hardpressed as I was to stop my over-active imagination from taking over. Overwhelming as the thought of all that humongous literary talent crammed into a single chamber was, I didn't think I'd be able to stomach the image of them collectively plying their trade in all their glorious oddities. Imagine Nabokov fretting over his misplaced placards amid Eliot's sniffs and sneezes, Goethe holding his rotten apple with a delirious contortion of his face, Balzac screaming for his evening jug of black coffee and Poe's cat purring menacingly as Hugo cavorted around the room naked, parchment and quill in hand... You know, sometimes those things can scar you for life.)

And so I recovered, composed myself and decided to seriously answer the question, reminiscing on my muses. Turns out my last great muse was a dusty, unswiveling orange chair in a dimly lit wooden corner and more importantly, a blue-white kenzo and a blinking box that made kind little noises from time to time. But the corner isn't wooden anymore and the blinking box seems a little mad at me now, though I do still retain the kenzo and the dimness (I don't like the light too much, it makes seeing too easy). And now, in addition, there's the speck-free milky white ceiling to be stared at, a white window that looks exactly like a letterpad with ruled paper, the elegant madame Rimsky-Korsakov to engage in conversation, the new black matte lamy fountain for the itching parchment and why, of course, the venerable Messrs. Bolano and Gombrich waiting idly by the nightstand. 

I've been asked this question before - So what do you do when your lovely muse spirits away all your free-flowing streams of verses and leaves you hanging on a block of frosted words? Set off into the hinterlands in search of her gliding shadow and steal back your palimpsest? I'm not the really adventurous kind so I usually check into my lounge mode with some magazines and just wait. For that sunday morning I'm jerked out of sleep by that block-shattering moment of sweaty, self-confessed inspiration, for that bursting sentence to write itself, for that most glorious of all pittances the literary muses offer us mortals, that moment when I shall be exceedingly pleased to announce to my dear ladies and gentlemen that my shadow-stretching, falsetto-singing, infinity-loving, memory-making, sleep-usurping, abstract-sketching, swift-walking, childhood-worshipping, metaphor-slinging, H2O-guzzling, randomness-doting, head-banging, time-hopping, stupidity-wooing, verse-sputtering blue-eyed muse is back.

Monday, August 30, 2010


The dark road travels ahead
into a distant, interminable vapour,
The sky's gentle tears descend on my shoulders
like a pianist's measured notes on an empty wall.

Under a crescent floating in a sea of coal
the streetlights roam free to their heart's content,
drawing heavenly shapes on the wet tarmac,
rorschach blots seeping into an acquiescent canvas.

Memory slithers along in stop motion
as the empty night lures me on
into its evanescent wings.
I wander on like a broken thread of thought 
in search of reason
as the fluid wind dances in the soaring rain,
wrapping the world around my screaming soul.

[30th August, 2010 | 5:11 am | Ahmedabad]

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Little girl, little girl

Little girl, little girl
Please don't be sad

I'll turn the zephyr into cotton candy
and twirl it by a wand of glass for you to taste
I'll show you the secret place where they make dreams
so you can pick out the ones you love the most
I'll build castles for you under the rainy sky
with paper boxes made of your pulsating memories

Little girl, little girl
Please don't be sad

I'll drown the streets in paint, slice them into pages
and bind them into your bright new colouring book
I'll tell you bedtime tales of little men in green
cavorting in silver suits, burning batteries and flying discs
I'll steal moments from the tyranny of your clocks
and string them into anklets that rhyme with your dancing feet

Little girl, little girl
Please don't be sad

I'll fly you away from the relentless concrete
and tie up the blurry evening to your window
I'll carve a zigsaw puzzle out of the boring afternoon
so you can make shapes of it as you please
I'll take you to the distant shores of the breezy blue sea
and write poetry for you in the sand

Little girl, little girl
Please don't be sad

For, if it all fails,
I'll make a song of our story,
set it to life's endless music
and gather the world to sing it for you
until you smile.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Tuesday, August 17, 2010


What is life if not a die with infinite faces rolling down an unending alley of hues, shaped by the quirky sinuosities of fate? A misplaced number, the slam of a door, an unspoken secret, a twig snapped in flight, a lost piece of a puzzle, a scream in the darkness, a rock on a cliff, a predator behind a bush, an unfinished conversation, a ring of keys, a torn page, a stranger in floating glass, a dented coin... a speck of wavering stardust is what makes a life.

But, is all that comes to be, all that could be?
Where do we belong, are we the dreamer or the dream itself? Or are we limited to being human by the escherian sense of being both?

What are we, tiny white balls naively playing out the simple laws of physics in a lawless world, lost wanderers in this labyrinthine evocation of chance, mere mortals in the face of this insatiable infinity of incertitude?

Monday, August 16, 2010


Let the moon sink its stolen beams of silver
like spears into my heart
and bleed me till I’m forgotten

Let the wind ravage me with its rage
like a whorl of blades
and tear me to shreds

Let the long night seep into my veins
like black poison
and split me open with its dark density

Let the infinite sky descend on me
like a straitjacket
and crush me till my bones break

I cannot cannot cannot
stand to burn up
in your cruel silence


[10:24 pm | 18th August, 2009]

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Class-break epiphany

is just something
that holds things together

like the bones in your body.

It's just there.

Thursday, August 5, 2010

On the pleasures of stealing Proust

"For a long time, I went to bed early. Sometimes my candle scarcely out, my eyes would close so quickly that I did not have time to say to myself: 'I'm falling asleep.' And, half an hour later, the thought that it was time to try to sleep would wake me."

If anybody knew me well enough, and also knew Marcel Proust well enough, there is admittedly a slim possibility of them being able to envisage the enormity of this moment in my life. Superlatives are cliched, especially at my slippery hands, so I'll refrain from them. (The woven patterns on the texture of the cushions of the chair next to me seem awfully psychedelic, a giant orderly army of immovable triangles getting restless by the moment.)

It unravels me, literature. From all that I am, from the inhuman realities of space and time. But most of those are simpler pleasures, really, compared to the connection I feel to Proust. My fascination with memory, its webby associations, its precise construction and the pleasures of its starry eyed remembrance have evolved independently of his influence, and that's what makes the connection what it is. If anybody knew us both well enough, they might even be tempted to call him my literary soulmate. (Though I probably wouldn't, the objections being semantic, not to mention an avowed love for a certain Argentine and a certain Russian. The whole multiplicity of soulmates debate, let's save that for another day.)

I have never read Proust, at least not the bits of him that matter to me. (Years ago, I did read his first ever published work Pleasures & Regrets, but that's not what Proust is to me, though the promise of his later self did shine through that young work.) And I wasn't supposed to either. For I knew what he was, what he would come to mean to me once we met. He was my greatest artist, one so great I deemed him too good to be wasted by acquaintance with my youth, somebody so important to me that I couldn't take any chances at not making the most out of. (Ever loved something so beautiful that you felt compelled to distance yourself from it, afraid you would tarnish it with your bare simplicity?) In Search of Lost Time was my retirement bonus, a pleasure ostensibly stashed away for my future, that dangling carrot on the ceiling luring me and guiding me through the vagaries of life and age.

So when I bought the first volume about a month and a half ago, or to be precise, felt like buying it, I was pleasantly surprised. But I went ahead with it. (After all, your instincts are way smarter than you if only you let them be). And there it was everyday, on my desk, staring back at me every moment, yet keeping its distance, never luring me in. I still didn't feel like reading it. (even though I did rifle through the introduction to enquire about the translation. I'm very picky about those.)

And this morning, I woke up seeking it. I guess I should've seen it coming, this moment, but then I've never really cared much for foresight (it takes the sheen off the instincts, you see). I got out of bed, took it off my desk, and went straight to the first page of the text. And as I so well knew I would, I felt it, what it was like to feel those words being written into my mind. Like a little boy feeling for the first time the pristine texture of an ice cream on the tip of his tongue. The secrets of all of life unraveled to the senses, in an instant.

And a stolen ice cream, it was. Because I knew I was stealing this pleasure from my future self, spoiling the plan I so carefully, not to mention patiently, drew up. I read only the first paragraph and was so overwhelmed I couldn't go on anymore without expressing my own emotion. As I write this, I do not know if I'll go back and continue reading it or if I'll just stash it away for my future with a twinge of guilt and an apology note to my future self, but who cares about tomorrow anyway. What this moment is about, is what this moment is about.

Memories are independent of time, without a past or a future, without reason or consequence, they are mere bubbles floating aimlessly in space, carefully preserving the tender waves of a bubbling emotion. And that is what this shall remain, this early august morning I, battling the trivial annoyances of disheveled hair and a painful left wrist, woke up to a stench of dusty corners and a patter of raindrops on my balcony, and stole a tiny piece of my own future.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010


The boy who could talk only in reverse.
The girl who could write only upside down.

Skirts fluttering by the seaside.
Ties buried in sand.

Papers secretly folded up in notebooks. Coloured shapes.
Ice cream dripping down fingers.
Pencils in bubbles. Tall trees.

Words once written, thrice swallowed.
Discreet mumbles. Whispered chuckles.
Shapes hidden beneath blankets.

The pinafore by the curtain.
The muddy shoes behind the door.

Hands inside hearts.

Nothing ever goes.
The smiles always come back.

Friday, April 23, 2010


Diderot. Barthes. Rhone. Descartes. Corsica. Camus. Morisot. Cocteau. Bordeaux. Balzac. Duchamp. Hermes. Citroen. Proust. Asterix. Curie. Gauguin. Les. Chanel. Tzara. Voltaire. Pyrenees. De Gaulle. Musee d'orsay. Rousseau. Mandelbrot. Versailles. Poincare. Dior. Tiersen. Louvre. Satie. Mersenne. Derrida. Niepce. Mousse. Lamarck. Bardot. Bonjour. Lyon. Gericault. Napoleon. Vuitton. Cezanne. Eiffel. Champagne. Degas. Godard. Jeanne d'Arc. Daft punk. Sartre. Casta. Manet. Normandy. Dumas. Cousteau. Hennessy. Renoir. Pasteur. Oui. Jeunet. Cannes. Seurat. Besson. Becquerel. Matisse. Cartier-Bresson. Hugo. Crepe. Merci. Le Corbusier. Rabelais. Flaubert. Seine. Rimbaud. Debussy. Louboutin. Foucault. Amour. Croissant. Daguerre. Arles.

At last. At long last.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Your eyes.

The soul of all things unsaid.

Voyages into serenity.

Shapes in a starry twilight.

Glimpses into an alternate reality.

Words for a heartbeat.

Symmetries of an eternal embrace.

Songs of a memory's music.

My beginning. My end.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

For a man called David.

He is a footballer, first. Everything else flowed from that.

On that one, I could agree with Paul Hayward for once. For a man who was probably the most eponymous David of his generation, one who remained eternally grateful to a hard-earned gift that had gifted him all else he acquired in his life, battling constantly to be recognised for what he was first and foremost, a footballer, in a country that chose to devour him for all that he chose to pursue off the green pitch, that is indeed exorbitantly heartful praise.

His Achilles tendon may not be as critical to his country's sporting fates as a particular metatarsal once was, but then sport has an essence that transcends the triviality of victory and the tempestuousness of glory. It thrives on desire and the certitude of skill, the exaltation of the passing moment and the promise of eternity, piqued by the very lure of its impossibility. Sport is an art, if only for the unflinching passion it demands of its ardent practitioners and the diabolical heartbreaks it ever so enduringly alleviates, feeding on the fiery dreams it bestows its delicate wings upon, even for the hearts it so heartlessly tramples with the rigorous exactitude of the spiked imprints of its boots.

The world can, after all, be quite cruel to its conquerors merely for being what they are, its conquerors. Sport is not any different. To break a man so, life could be forgiven for giving in to its wily pettiness, its schadenfreude. The dream may not get another life but then maybe that's acceptable, for there's always memory to be turned to. For that's the glorious undeniability of sport, the immortality it confers on its everyday past, the spangled webs and the illuminated evening skies that constitute its history.

So long, David. You are, and always will be, a footballer in my heart.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

On a dream of waking up by a view of the sea

Bleary eyes taken in by the distant din of wakefulness,
molten words, earlybird thoughts for a nascent day,
treading on the soft acquiescence of an ivory bedspread.

Dreams scribbled in formless feather,
fluid languages of a tranquil netherland
finding their feet in a morning's blue patience.

Rolling waves parleying with an open sky,
exchanging silent notes on a hard day's night.
Airy shapes drawn up by a bright blue breeze,
sliding through the slenderness of a balustrade.

A pair of half-open eyes
lost to the minty breath of morning's memory,
framed in the foamy evanescence of a wide blue sea.

[9:14 am | 10th Mar, 2010]

Tuesday, March 9, 2010


A muddy road absent-mindedly snakes away into the distance. Beside it, a tree desolately crouches over its own weight, dripping the rain's excrement. The sun is nowhere to be seen, swallowed up by a ravenous sky. There are patches of abrupt greenery all around, like swathes dressing up a brown earth's moist wounds. My heartbeat sounds feeble and distant, almost as if from another body.

You're there, a trembling shape in lavender forcefully thrust into the brown callousness of the evening. On your knees, elbows bruised, stained with mud all over, wordlessly staring into the morphing shapes on the wet ground, delicate pain streaming down your eyes.

Time turns painfully slow, as if it already knew what it was coming to even before coming to it. I try to move towards you, call out to you, but somehow I know without knowing that none of it will work. I know my limbs will be nothing more than mere casts in hardened concrete, I know my words will turn heavier than my tongue, and I know the impenetrable vacuum that separates our shivering shapes. Your pearly pain pecks away at me like a searing scar inescapably burnt into the insides of my eyelids, as I helplessly watch the rain pour down, washing away your tears into the barren mud beneath.

Something tells me it is not true, that it is not happening, that it is just a bad dream, that these thoughts are mere phantoms of my imagination, curled up in the wet night's chilly existence but I refuse to believe it. Maybe it is, maybe it is indeed just a bad dream, maybe you are not there, maybe the pain is not there, maybe it will all disappear the moment I open my eyes, but what if, what if it was your dream and not mine? What if it was the reality my dream was supposed to wash away? What if it was your nightmare and I was an intruder, just an outsider, forever looking in?

And so it is then that I confess to my faint heart it is a picture I cannot escape, for it is my inextricable labyrinth, my kryptonite, the scorched eternity I have known all along and shall forever know until the moment the icy vacuum cracks open and the bleary tenderness of that lavender shape rests in the humble inadequacy of my arms. Until then, I know I shall be the unbreakable dream orphaned in the frantic nebulousness of oblivion, watching unblinkingly as my love eats into my heart like a slow sunset burning up an evening sky.

[3:07 am | 11th Feb, 2010]

Thursday, February 18, 2010


How elegantly life lives on,
Escaping lines, listening outside harmonies,
Lingering like oblivion, humbling everythings,
Learning on habit, enduring luck,
Orbiting heartfelt edges, loving love.

Monday, February 1, 2010

A tale of three balloons

Tiny hands grasping a thin, wrapped up memory
Unwritten words whispering to a turquoise childhood.

Squared stairways, lonely tables
Breaking habits, rolling tongues
Grins bridging hill stations and valleys
A glowing filament entombed in shapely glass
Green billboards in a directionless maze
Clicks for a canvas, alphabet on gravel
Colours on glass, half-baked words in neon

Diaries for dreams, footsteps slithering up walls
Fishy somethings, kids playing truant at work
Headlights snaking through a canopied darkness
Starry shapes by a fog-kissed lake
Russian farewells, Spanish boxes
A bubbly red heart peeping out from behind a dark wall
Blind ends and brown bags, envelopes with names
Passengers in a collective dream.

Silence painted into a rocky hillock,
floating silhouettes scribbling shapes on a perfect moon,
blue hearts escaping into the endlessness of memory.

[2:13 am | 31st January, 2010]

Wednesday, January 20, 2010


I have been you, just as you have been me,
I have been we, just as you too have been,
things have been themselves, just as we wanted them to be,
but here we are now, silently drifting into a word.

Nouns no more,
mere verbs now,
we're just shadows drawn up in boxes,
despondent waves mumbling to the stars.

Like lifetimes wasted just learning to breathe,
everything has to end, or begin, sometime
and before the world starts to squirm,
uncomfortable in its dark vacuum groove,
I shall be done. Soon enough, perhaps.

Thursday, January 7, 2010

For a green package

The Glass Bead Game, Hermann Hesse [The Penguin Modern Classics, 1977 Reprint]
The Great Artists: Constable [A Marshall Cavendish Weekly Collection, Part 2]
The Great Artists: Goya [A Marshall Cavendish Weekly Collection, Part 10]

That handwriting inside.
That lingering aftertaste of a used-book store.

If only distances were measured in smiles, you wouldn't be so far away now, dear.

[6:54 pm | 6th Jan, 2010]

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Notes from a week gone by

* An aching red sun melting into a cloudless twilight, a sky lost in conversation with a ship the size of a fingernail, an eager moon peering down into tiny puddles of salinity, a lighthouse screaming into emptiness, another heart lost, and found, in the sinewy crevices of an unnamed rock. [6:14 pm | 30-12-2009]

* Why do we love being tourists? Because we can be out of place in places we want to be, a nobody the world around doesn't know or care about, and hence leaves us to be all that we want to be? That uninhibited state we all crave for, gifted in childhood, destroyed in maturity? Is that what wanderlust is, the simplistic allure of being a nobody everywhere? [5:41 pm | 02-01-2010]

* Sunrise by the sea, the last of the greatest year of my life. I want to hold the morning between my sandy palms and give it a big wet kiss. [7:13 am | 31-12-2009]

* A flourescent frisbee's tossed about in the distance in a pentagon with figures for corners, a lonely streetlamp shines on in unending anticipation, a calm sea diligently carries out the sun's last wishes in orange, and a stranger silently drags his feet across the moist sand in shapes of memory. [6:39 pm | 30-12-2009]

* People are to be loved for what they can be, dear, not for what they are. Otherwise the endeavour fails by its own definition, constrained by the tiny pieces of active consciousness it takes under its purview, instead of all that the rest of the infinite heart could have been, or will ever come to be. [1:29 pm | 03-01-2010]

* I am a ray of sunlight stopped abruptly by the yellow ball thrown up in the air. I am that little red bird on the ledge, twitching its head like a breeze. I am the black ink escaping into the sinuous stitches of a shirt. I am a straight line endlessly wrapped around a blue cylinder. I am the air fizzing out of an open green balloon. I am that word teetering at the edge of the brown page, stuck in italics. [3:01 pm | 01-01-2010]

Monday, January 4, 2010

The art of memory making: The Diu-Gir-Chunagarh episodes

* Dinner at the end of an exhausting day, muscles aching with unresponsiveness. Order whatever's easier to gobble up, (tomato soup+idly sambhar+vanilla icecream, if you may) and slink back deep into the chair with just the head visible over the table. Play Chopin's etudes and watch the place turn mute, your own personal pantomime. Figures dressed in black and white moving around as if in rectangular grooves, trays being carted about with the precision of weighing balances, an outside world's moving traffic trapped in framed glass, alphabet being scribbled into little notepads, mirrors on the walls reflecting brown light off the wavy woodwork above, a kid in the corner smiling with his grandfather... The edge of the table is your own personal piano and your fingers start rendering Chopin's compositions along the crispy white cloth.

Now, close your eyes and enter the perspective of somebody else sitting opposite you, look at yourself for a good minute or two and see your own sheepish smile gradually unfurl as you realise what's happening, where you are and what you're doing.

* The sea under a full moon night. The yellow ball in the sky keeps smiling at you until you smile back at it, the occasional star reminds you of its lonely existence, the sand's moisture melts beneath your feet, there's a silent conversation writing itself on the palm, Radiohead's on in your ears... Your throat's drying up, the falsetto's too hard to even imitate, there don't even seem to be words there in the song to be sung, just shapeless voices, but you still sing, sing as loudly as you can into the sea, into the endless folds of foamy darkness.

* Sunset at 5 40 pm. There's an abandoned room on the rocks, and you slip inside. The window's half open, peering out into the wide evening sea. There's a beautiful stranger on the ledge, reflecting into the sunset. Some feet play football, some hands throw a frisbee around trying to catch it, some heads just stay still listening to themselves think. Kishore Kumar's alive in your ears, and there's an orange dog posing on a cement plinth, hiding in the guise of a dustbin, lolling its tongue out and rolling its eyes towards you. The old man at the edge of the shore walks along slowly, as if on water, his silhouette burnt into the sun's dying rays.

* 9950 steps to the hilltop, they say. You patiently take a few at a time, knowing you're not going the distance anyway, memorising the rocky greenery around with random music. Blur's Song 2 comes on, and you decide to take the stairs at a sprint, not to stop till the song ends. The valleys by the side get more menacing, the trees start waving around like flags, companions fall behind, monkeys by the side stop and stare, your feet seem to have a mind of their own that disagrees with yours, there are little spots before your eyes, images fade in and fade out in your vision like a worn-out videotape, there are rocks in your lungs drumming on your diaphragm... Then the song ends. You rest by the rocks, spinning for breath. After a while, you throw up.

But you have a story to tell.

* A 60 km drive through the country in an autorickshaw. You sit at the back, legs dangling out of the back door looking down on the road. Cars approach you, smile and disappear to your right, fields and villages pass you by amid rocks stacked up into dusty walls, trees grow up in lines as if disciplined by a headmaster. You stick your head out and grin into the heavy breeze with foamy clouds in the sky, straight at the afternoon sun. Sing out into the disappearing road, the perforated white lines extending forever into the vanishing trees and the cornered hills. Suggestions include U2's With or without you, Nirvana's The Man who sold the world, One Republic's All fall down, Oasis's The importance of being idle, Blue Man Group's Sing along, Keane's Spiralling, Ana's We are, Lifehouse's Hanging by a moment, Nada Surf's See these bones, Darren Hayes's Like it or not, R.E.M.'s The great beyond and oh, oh, U2's A beautiful day.

* Just past the stroke of a new year, fireworks and wishes done with, you walk away from the crowd in the beach to the end until the shore ends, climb up the hilly rocks in the moonlight until the point where it juts out into the sea, find a rock shaped like a pear, sit down facing the dark dark sea. Listen to the waves crash into the rocks down below, the occasional burst of foam rising up into the air, and watch the pale white crests of silent waves in the distance calmly approaching their inevitable destiny. Let Pink Floyd play Coming Back to Life. Do not sing. I repeat: Do not sing. Do not talk. Do not write. Be. Just be.

[Purely for the sheer intensity of emotion felt, the following two moments need to be mentioned in a different league from the others, so here's an invisible line separating them from the others]

* Earphones where they belong, hands dug deep into denim, the Amelie soundtrack playing, you walk down a sloping road in the midst of a crowd, letting go of yourself, dissolving your identity in the sea of faces around you, taking in the view of the hills by the side, the green trees winking in the distance and the town below squinting its eyes to look up, you hop along, swaying your head freely to the accordion and carving shapes in the air to the piano with your moving feet on the stony road... There are no words to describe the feeling, none.

* Parasailing at 5 pm. The guy's getting you ready, strapping on the harness, setting the parasail right, mumbling instructions in your ears. There's red movement in the distance, the ropes start to tighten and a few steps later you see your feet lift themselves off the ground, the air gushing into your face. Radiohead's Go Slowly is playing in your ears, that falsetto you shall forever associate with this moment, gradually sinking into your heart and taking you higher, higher than you've ever gone, the sand is fast weaving itself into brown paper under your floating feet, the green hills in the distance are waiting with their arms open as if you were a bird, the sea is expanding endlessly into the blue confines of the sky's blurring edges... There's a way out of this world, and you've just taken it.