Thursday, August 16, 2012

Dear Aarya *

Dear Aarya,

This is going to be a very random letter. It hopes to meander along like the long winding roads I have spend the last few days in. Don't hope to see any points . These are just observations. Mine. Observed within the limited space of my head , processed and filtered by the colors of my past and expressed , with full awareness of the futile attempt, in a language that doesn't speak you.

So, shall we begin?

I was in India last week. I love going there. Its the surrealism of being in the desert one second and then driving through the winding roads of Uttranchal hours later, that gets me. Its like time travel. Two days back , I was freezing my butt out, warming my internals with several shots of tequilla, with the Himalayas laid out in front of me. I am not capable of defining what is sensed. I am okay with that since it seems to limit the sensed into the paradigm of words. Insulting it.

You can watch the Himalayas. You can watch it for hours and the eyes drinks it in, like the dry ground that meets the rain.

The distance that separates me with the land that effects me, probably taints my feeling for it. I heard a man who lives there mention something about 'ghar ki murgi' . I realized I was hungry.


India is an assault on the senses. After the relative routine filled life in the Sand City, just stepping out into the Indian roadside is akin to exposing all your sense organs to an orgasmic high.

The smell, the colors, the pace, the noise, the silence,the tastes, the people....the people...

The food.


Eating fried pakodas, steaming rice ladled on with hot lentil, topped off with tea.And that was just breakfast. Far cry from the customary dosas and idlies. Assault but so tasty.

Peeing on the road side, seeing a pile of shit, covered with flies. Watching the flies flicker for a while when the splash from my piss disturbs their delight. So natural. Things are where they are supposed to be.

Industries. Radisson Hotel. Ginger Hotel. Co existing with the two children who , dressed in tattered clothes play with the sand that clothes the earth.

Life goes on. Undefined. Until pointed out.

My land. My people.

I watch TV. Every Indian news channel talking about pornography. Something about ministers watching porn during a parliament session on their mobiles. I see the fuss, the debates, the outcry .

India. Ever questioning. Seeking , yet refusing to see the cause. To see that porn is a creation of our own rules we have established upon ourselves. To hide, to cover, is to make something natural into something stronger. When denied, it becomes desire. Something to covet. Porn gives us the illusion of fucking another without the complications that comes with a relationship.

We are a horny species with self imposed restrictions, creatures led by our libidos, tied to a single partner for the assurance of our continuity. So we find ways. To indulge, yet, conform.To fuck several without moving an inch. Every one is happy. Porn is a necessity. It has to be , otherwise it would not be there.

We care not for the industry that has arisen due to this want. The innocents that parade before us for a fleeting wank.

India is sex. It is sensual. It flaunts itself in every nook and cranny. It is beautiful but not respected. We unload ourselves , then hide behind our morals and the convinient culture, pointing our fingers which was holding something else a second ago.

I guess that's how it goes.

Painting something black to make ourselves look fairer. Or the other way around.

We are all guilty of it, so I guess that makes it okay. Guilt is easier when it is shared by everyone. Theres comfort in the falsehood of righteousness.

I trekked a lot. Walked up through the forest of deodar trees to stand in front of an ancient Shiva temple. Next to it stood a structure made of stone which was the rest place for the priests or worshippers who had to spend a night there.

Have I told you, Arya, how one day I lost the ability to pray? I do not know when it happened but it did. I could no longer seek for anything outside myself. My wife worried about the days I spend in the mire of hopelessness , like a child who had lost both his parents. I felt alone. Then one day , I learned to walk alone. No. Not learned. I think I started walking only from that day.

I sat outside the temple for a while and then I walked back down to the house where my lunch was being prepared. I smoked the marijuana that seem to grow here like the weed it is. I ate freshly plucked oranges , sliced and sprinkled with rock salt. I shared one with the 2 children, who watched me from afar, with no trace of emotions. I was thankful when they accepted and silently ate the same.

I took pictures. Soon got bored of it and stopped.

I stuck to looking.

Back at the Delhi airport, the gigantic hands in mudras that served as the interior decoration betrayed the generic similarness of all international airports world wide and proclaimed 'This is India'.

I walked upto the immigration desk to face a man with a poker face. He looked at my passport. Scrutunized it. 'From Kerala?' he asked. I nodded.

' Ninte perentha?' he asked , with an accent that clearly stated his northern roots. I gave him my name and said I am impressed. He said he has a lot of mallu friends. Don't they all? I replied. He smiled.

I like India. Its my kind of place. Its not everyday we get to visit and select the place we hope to die in one day.

So how you been, my friend? I am dying to know.

Love Tys

* This was written long ago after my last visit to Uttranchal. I wanted to do a travelogue written like series of letters. This was the first attempt. Then, I guess, I lost interest.But upon seeing this in my draft, I thought I will share it.

Once were warriors

I have no idea why everyone I know thinks that I am going through a midlife crisis.

Getting a full back tattoo, buying a Royal Enfield bike and taking up archery does not amount to a crisis, it is what I would call, finally getting to do what I want.

Let me tell you about getting a tattoo. I insist.

I always wanted to get a tattoo. It was one of those things. For a guy who had a penchant for dressing goth during teenage with sharpened canines, getting a tattoo seemed, well, like a natural progression.

I can hear my wife saying that one should investigate into your would be spouse's back ground before tying the knot. I digress.

Why back?

Its actually quite simple. Back is one part of your body that does not alter that much as you age. A wolf on your belly will end up looking like Garfield after sometime. That is one reason. Second is that I get bored easily. Its something to do with people like me. We need constant stimulation and excitement. Routines, comfort zones etc are all great for a respite but beyond a certain period it becomes like a death sentence. This phase can be recognized by suicide attempts,reckless behavior, affairs, getting in touch with your ex ( that comes under reckless behavior) or in my case , getting a tattoo. Good thing about having the damn thing on your back means that you dont get to see it unless you do that exorcist thingy of turning your head all the way around or having someone take a picture of it or standing in that dressing room with mirrors all around which reflects you to infinity. This means that you will never be bored of it. Its becomes like the Gulf Malayalee Marriages. Where the love and anticipation is kept alive by the distance of 3000 kms between the spouses.

There is the added attraction that unlike some long distance relationships, the tattoo will still be there when you want to see it.

The tattoo.

I had selected this Maori tribal design for the upper back. Why tribal? Well, I will let you in on a secret. I know its kinda silly and all but I sometimes feel as if I am born in the wrong era. By my caste, I am born a warrior. I know it means nothing now but I used to day dream about sword fights and full contact combat. As a child, I was running around in the woods near my house with a bow and arrow, shooting at banana plants. Maoris also were once warriors. So a tribal tattoo appealed to me.

I carried that design around with me for close to three years , before finding someone to do it here in Dubai. Tattooing is banned here. So there's this underground tattoo artists who operate out of their houses. Being underground, they use the best of equipment and are fanatical about hygiene, since one incident can land the whole bunch into a lot of trouble. I approached them through a series of unconnected contacts. The cost was reasonable and it took 4 hours to complete it.

The end result was , if I may say so, pretty darn fantastic.

Now I had the whole lower back to cover. I had my eye on this tribal design of a wolf . I like wolf. As a familiar , I have always identified with a wolf as my wife would confirm. This obsession was not recent. It is a more than 12 years madness.

Back tattooing is painful. Trust me. I have a pretty decent pain threshold. I did not want to break the session into two, so had decided to do the full hog at one shot. The artist estimated 8 hours of work. Somewhere in the middle I was mentally kicking myself for thinking I could sit through the torture. But sit through I did. Not much of choice, once started it had to finish. The tattoo guy took 6 hours to finish it. He wants to come back for touch up.

Now the question which all of us are asked; Why?

I have no idea.

The most nearest to honest answer I can give is, because I can.

For me , my tattoos are personal. Its not even visible unless I go swimming. There is definitely an element of vanity , knowing that my body has become a little bit more interesting to the viewer. But truth be told, I am pretty oblivious to that. I just like that I have my wolf on my back.

Wolf in Maori stands for Family, Loyalty and Courage.

To me that is worth being written in blood.