Wednesday, February 15, 2012

The Reflection Sees it All

Previously: The reflection leaned against the almirah mirror, intently reading into its owner on other side of that wafer-thin barrier. He could see himself over several years from this close. He could read on his face what it felt like with on those days. He could see how bad he was at his own authority - every muscle seemed to have a sovereign reign which is why he couldn't fan either of his ears. He could see the fractured appeal of his fractured noseline, now in a new shade of tan thanks to a week in the Leh sun. He could make out, for the first time, of the look of a shamed conscience, as in when a slave is scolded by his god. He could think of several goofy muscle-configurations that make him ever-less likely to fornicate. He could notice that he would not age well. He could make out that he was stocking on too much sesame. He could conjecture that he has been arrested in development and lost in translation, from the fact of his single look. He could see the asymmetry in the division of his face - since his discovery of unsymmetrical left and right feet, this was concerning. He then combed through his hair with his fingers, to collect them in a bunch and pull them back, as if he were fashioning a ponytail; he could see how that smoothed the fabric of wrinkles on his forehead, and wondered if a good crop on the top would serve a cosmetic solution to old age.
Vanity would not be the right word at this point, though its close.

Monday, February 13, 2012

Till Maggi do us part

February 4, 2012. We all huddle around this tiny feature at our campsite of Tilat-Sumdo; this feature that has unknowingly contributed the most to these 12 men forming a close bond, and also to a cross-cultural exchange between us city-wallahs and the Zanskari village-folk. [If "campfire" was the first thing that came to your mind, then you could revel in having satisfactory logical skills for base function in this society. And by now you'd have deduced that the feature was the campfire, indeed, as is expected of any person with above-parking-lot-attendant IQ.] In fact, this is our last huddle - a retreating huddle, you can call it - before we find the roadhead up ahead and step off the Chadar and shuttle back to Leh; only huddles after this - I'm guessing - will tend to be around a bottle of alcohol and a pack of cigs (not to ignore the detail that even now a single Tendu leaf roll aka 'Beedi' that is doing the round adds to the character/headcount of this huddle).

"Chadar - come for the ice, stay for the fire"

The surroundings are in an excess of white from the continuous snowing in the past 3 hours. Everybody, at this moment, is in a tired-et-buttraped-yet-cheery state, negligent of their general defenses (or "letting the guard down" in easier English) which is appropriate for a farewell moment of sorts. This tiny - so tiny that you could calculate an average of two twigs for each participant - fire today is a big draw.
We sit and thaw and share our fall count. We LOL over the LOL and the 'DONT FALL' - the last of the snow-scribbles worth recall. Sitting - on boulders, on sleds, on the snowy ground itself. Sipping on our last cuppa tea. Jaggery sticks doing a couple of rounds before being exhausted. A lone beedi makes rounds, some attention to its one-puff-then-pass trail map will give you a nautilus shell, as the beedi ends up somewhere in the countryside in this district of "the huddle". Then arrives our farewell bowl of Maggi noodles too, which, despite being our lone lunch food to the point of anguish, is finished with eagerness; and then we crave for some more.

Return from a Zen world

There goes a parable about a man from the west visiting a Chinese Zen master for learning about his discipline - or in easier English, to become a disciple - and the ZM offering him a cup of tea, where he (ZM) goes on pouring tea into the cup beyond its brim and the tea starts pouring out of the cup, on seeing which the occidental man exclaims, "The cup is full; no more will go in!," to which the ZM replies, "Like this cup you are full of your opinions and speculations. How can i show you Zen until you first empty your cup?"

My Zen has been a more twisted affair - my cup has been emptied through and out too many times in the past few weeks. All the wrong moments, arguably. Even emptied when half-full, even emptied when empty. That is what immoderation brings. Multi-modal ruin, life and death in their myriad manifestations.
They call it my eagerness to die, I call it my eagerness to live. But come to see this aspect: that living is defined by an eagerness to die, and death is defined by an eagerness to live... without the acknowledgement of their contradictions, our absolutes are orphans, which often lead into ironies. This eagerness has left me with a short-term hook into several aspects of life, as could be reasonably expected of a single isolated 26-year-old boy. Adventures begin with smaller dimensions - I could satiate myself with that - and there will be a lot more in the road ahead. Probably some gang of corrupt women waving me a banner, topless at the sidelines.

Only on paper do I come to these analytic phases of my own life. Its much easier (and mirth-evoking) to analyse the lives of others. How absurd: to know oneself too well to summarise things at these junctions in life, and yet end up doing it. That is one sad thing a relationship with paper, on paper, brings. Admittedly, one is slow if (s)he gains wisdom from staring too long into papyrus, but in defense of "humanity", 'everybody grows up with it'.

Howmuchsoever I despise seeing myself on paper, it is better than not seeing oneself at all. My Rishikesh brethren contest that when we claim to see ourselves in the mirror its merely our reflection that we learn about. But they will agree to some level that even our reflection (in abstract sense) is important to us incomplete (pieces of a puzzle). Speaking both in figurative and literal terms, on trek that I returned from left me with a reflection of myself, one that I can see and analyse in my times of death. As intent as I have been in pursuit of the uniqueness of the experience, this one tops.
["Maximum fansgirls!," to quote Bruno]