Stop this train-notes on becoming obdurate.

No I’m not colorblind
I know the world is black and white
Try to keep an open mind
I just cant sleep on this tonight

Stop this train
I want to get off and go home again
I cant take the speed its moving in
I know i cant
But honestly wont someone stop this train

Don’t know how else to say it
Don’t want to see my parents grow
One generation length away from fighting life on my own
Stop this train

 

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Bittersweet mornings at home do not come easy when the titular song is playing in the background . Color is such an important part of expression. Im sure people who study design have a separate semester devoted specifically to the effects of color. The intricate foreplay of lights and shadows. A hue in our surrounding can extrapolate the most inane feelings within us. A whiff of saffron. Walking into the sunset…the crimson dusk. The pale mornings. The placid white sheets, when they strike the pale blue outside.

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I moved out of my home almost 10 years back. I was to go to boarding school. The engine was lubricated, the coolants were a check. The TRAIN LEFT before I could take the proverbial sighs. Im a traveller ever since. Ive been visiting people. Ive been saying Hi’s. Ive been eating with them, sharing a joke or two, and then I have the next train to nowhere. The Bye’s do not happen now. They had stopped hurting a long time back. The stench of stale food, fresh out of the pantry, crumbled clothes, Crumbles, Crumbling… Squalor, putridity, The Sanctimonious excrement on the tracks, home to me. Me to home. Me.

Wanting the ephemeral, transcending the present, my hand is stretched out for the Thing, but i am really not sure if it is part of me.Part of me says it is.
Part of me. PART. Me.

The Bye’s do not happen now. Someone! Someone, Say a Bye. I am sure i will stretch my hand out and wave a hearty goodbye. My hand stretched out. Stretched. Part of me says.
Part. Me.

~A

Cinematic Faith

Intriguing.

Citizens of Gotham

Director Christopher Nolan on set
Director Christopher Nolan on set

I found an article online titled Cinematic Faith, within this article was an interview between director Christopher Nolan and journalist Scott Foundas. Not only did I find this interview intriguing due to my interest in Batman, but because I found it to be unlike any other interview. Not only are the questions asked unlike most that simply inquire into irrelevant information such as, what inspired this film? Who is your real life hero? Why choose Christian Bale? Instead they are more in depth and thought provoking. Christopher Nolan’s answers are perfectly to match, they are detailed and serious. His love for this trilogy and Batman’s history is evident. His ten years working on these films show his research and knowledge as he is fully aware of the political and religious aspects incorporated into the film. He talks about how this is a entirely different type of cinematic experience which has brought seriousness, darkness and realism into the…

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THE QUOTIDIAN MAYER

THE QUOTIDIAN MAYER
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My Life and times with John Clayton Mayer’

I was 12, borderline obese and fidgety when by some divine providence i was gifted a CD man. A sony CD man. Im talking about 2002, and a CD man in those days was a gilt edged possession. I grew up in a small suburban town in northern india, Dehradun it says. Back in those days good expressionist music was something unheard of, not that i had any semblance of either as to what it was. Now i had a CD man, but i didn’t have any clue as to where i’d find some good cd’s to go along. Not that i had a beautiful and rich musical lineage, nor was the case that my family were musical aficionados in the least bit of sense. Out of dearth and desperation i went scouting for some music in a shanty little establishment of a shop, which was quite a dugout for the quintessential and proverbial ‘lazy bones’ of our Pahaari towns, the people who quit jobs and quit family and rent a room and listen to Stevie ray vaughn or Colin James or say even Kenny Wayne Shepherd, ok ill put Robert Cray too in the list. For the ones who know what i am talking about, this was the shop behind the universal filling station. I don’t register the name, but yes it did sell pirated cd’s, home made pirated stuff at throw away prices. And damn was the collection something to reckon with.

Ive had my share of metal days, but now i can punctuate them with ease. Yes for all the detractors out there, YES I’m a lesser mortal, YES i have an unabashedly pop art sentimentality, and i like music that celebrates life. To be very honest I’ve had my share of music that extols the virtues of existential ennui, that extols the solemn depravity in our society, that extols being hermitic in a negative sense of the word. And yes i say ‘negative sense of the word’ with all my other world sentimentalities intact.
John Mayer to me is not some blues rock artist sitting half way across the globe, he’s not to me ,the story of steadfast beginnings and near mortal failures, he’s not just the person I’ve grown up with since the past decade and more. He’s the person I’ve cried my heart out to, he’s been with the downs and downs of my life. He’s been neck deep in the little elements of happiness that came and went like the breeze on a chilly november morning. He’s been an avuncular countenance i banked on. Sitting on the top of my broken iPod. Always ready for a song or two, rummaging through my hurt endings and healing them with candor and pristine melodies in b flat.

So yes i was 13 maybe, when i got my hands on inside wants out heavier things on a pirated Cd written by an unknown Mr. Pawan Rawat. Thank you Mr. Rawat. Heres an attempt to bring into picture my life paralleled by some Mayer and how and in what subliminal ways it shaped me as a human being.

INSIDE WANTS OUT/ ROOM FOR SQUARES

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It was the winter of 2002, my father had just come out of a near fatal paralysis attack, so i in my own little kid way had realized and come to terms with the ephemerality of life. In my own little way i learnt to face things on face value. I was young and very proud of the way this young man was shaping things on the block, i had immediately found resonance with some of the tracks on the EP. Back to you and ‘ no such thing’ just made so much sense to me. I still cant fathom how they made such sense to me when i was a just a kid waiting to hit puberty.”

Welcome to the real world”, she said to me
Condescendingly
Take a seat
Take your life
Plot it out in black and white
Well I never lived the dreams of the prom kings
And the drama queens
I’d like to think the best of me.

Life lesson learnt: theres no such thing as the real world, just a lie you gotta rise above.

The staccato picking and plucking licks (used in Neon)which formed an intrinsic part of much of Mayer’s body of work took me completely in a different zone. Id attribute solely to ‘neon’ for making me pick up the guitar in a town so sleepy that the closest i came to the ‘best guitar’ was worth some 800 bucks. Things in this phase of my life were soporific and content. I mean i was at school, was listening to a lot of mayer, playing a lot of G chord and thinking i had found out the secret of happiness by striking that mellifluous G.

HEAVIER THINGS

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High school. And the name of his next project couldn’t be more predictable. School as it turned out wasn’t so much fun after all, we had our own sense of internalized fraternities, which in fact was a euphemism for unadulterated and lesser fictionalized versions of rivalries. Frustrations, that sense of growing up against odds. Urban middle class canon isms. The indian education system, the rut of being in the rut, girls growing up faster than we could have imagined and things happening to us that we had imagined were part of folklore or happened only in the badlands of middle earth. Internet was something which was starting to have a reputation, it had something to do with books i had heard. Television was perennially pillaging our interiors and our minds with squalid content. Content so depraved and worthless, it was fit to be banned in Guantanamo.
‘Bigger than my body’ screeched through the scene. The alternative and pop rock jingle was a complete departure from Mayer’s earlier acoustic sensibilities and it was an instant soar. I remember myself air guitaring in front of the mirror on the track so many times.

‘Someday ill fly
Someday ill soar
Someday I’ll be so damn much more
Cause I’m bigger than my body gives me credit for’

I wont be platitudinous and call this a teen anthem, but it did set certain things straight. It was the ‘smells like teen spirit’ for me, GRUNGE WAS DEAD. IT WAS. And I’m glad it was.
Another track was ‘somethings missing’ which was simply put epic brilliance in all it little ways. Steve Jordan’s drumming, David la Bruyere on the bass and later Pino Palladino made the tightest possible thump i had heard of, and mind you i had heard a lot.

“I’m dizzy from the shopping malls
I searched for joy, but I bought it all
It doesn’t help the hunger pains
and a thirst I’d have to drown first to ever satiate
Something’s missing
And I don’t know how to fix it
something’s missing
And I don’t know what it is”

Lifes lesson learnt: i was witnessing Mayer’s growth both as a songwriter and a lyricist. And at that petulant age of 16, i had come to know that the only thing that was pertinent was GROWTH.

CONTINUUM

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By some twisted sense of circumstance, i prepare for entering medical school. Continuum was flying off shelves, by this time Mayer was ‘THE international’. Gravity, Slow dancing and Stop this train was something no one had ever imagined would come out of his stable. The TRY trio was working magic, this was blues in all its commercial glory. Pino Palladino on the bass was a beast, i did miss La Bruyere though. The edition i had downloaded was a radio pre release with some informal commentary interspersed in between.
I remember listening to the first lines, ”here i am with a product of my invisibility” Slow dancing in a burning room he said was a song about two lovers knowing that their relationship is ending and they wanting to make the end a beautiful thing. This was both intriguing and intimidating. I better not extol ‘Gravity’, for it till this day stands tall in the annals of blues glory, with the likes of Clapton, BB king and Buddy Guy acquiescing to this guy being the be all and end all of blues legacy.
I was again studying nothing for my pre med entrance. I was locked up in my room, sitting on the edge of my bed and practicing for hours on length. Trying to own the BB King box on the B flat, and trying my hands on pentatonic scale progressions.
I even did an intensely kitschy video, playing slow dancing in a burning room, which of course i now despise doing. The women liked it though.

This was the interregnum which Mayer filled with a lot of touring and some insanely original compositions coming from the TRY, ‘good love is on the way’ remains my favorite.

BATTLE STUDIES

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Im midway into medical school by this time. Battle studies, the name was picked up from Ardant du Picq’s book, which found a mention in another book called ‘Of Killing’ which Mayer was reading. This is again one of the most thought provoking Mayer albums of all time, each song being a story in itself. The sequencing too is done with precision and subtle delectability. This was a time when i was facing my slow dancing moment, on the verge of an imminent breakup, i found meaning in ‘Edge of Desire’

Young and full of running
tell me where is that taking me?
just a great figure eight
or a tiny infinity?

love is really nothing
but a dream that keeps waking me
for all of my trying
we still end up dying
how can it be?

‘Friends lovers or nothing’ was the song i stuck to after the breakup happened. ‘Perfectly lonely’ was more of an obtrusive pennant i was beginning to be sure of.
I found love again, luckily.

This is the time of my life, when things did a volte face, i was practically sitting On a Velvet sofa, well ensconced in the four glittered walls of my unassuming identity, when out of some sense of self righteousness, i decided to shake things up, i was fed up of being suffused with hubris, tired of being not tired.

I took a bag, sold my car, sold my happiness and bid goodbye.

BORN AND RAISED

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The beards a sign of giving into sublimation, i feel happiness after a long long time. I know my precincts, my precincts know me. Ive hurt a lot of people, friends lovers or nothing, there can never always be one. I was hedonistic in my own sense, i seeked mental hedonism, i was seeking a mental construct that was impervious and obstinate to other worldly travails. Travails which i miss dearly today. Acceptance is part of the process. When there is acceptance, finding an escape route to the sordid acceptance is truculence in all its maleficent form. This is the one thing I’ve learnt now when I’m 25. Embalming yourself in the dead dreary acceptance for some time and coming out stronger is the right way to go according to me. Why are people perpetually finding ways to come out of things in a hurry. Scurrying across situations is one thing ill repent all my life. I want those travails of life back, if only.
It was almost like magic, I’m sure people who follow their stars( both figuratively and literally) have this uncanny knack of finding parallels, but this was actually happening.
I didn’t want to now, but i did stumble upon born and raised. ‘Queen of California’ was me all the way. ” just found out a ghost left town, the queen of california is stepping down” “hello beauty, hello strange”.

Then there was ‘shadow days’ which says “I’m a good man, with a good heart, had a tough time, made a rough start, but my shadow days are over now”. I agree its kitschy, but looking beyond the kitsch, could i agree less? In the time that ensued i sent a letter to my ex girlfriend with the song ‘Walt Grace submarine ride 1967’, i thought it was the perfect analogy to my life.

“Walt Grace, desperately hating his old place
Dreamed to discover a new space and buried himself alive
Inside his basement
The tongue on the side of his face meant
He’s working away on displacement
And what it would take to survive

‘Cause when you’re done with this world
You know the next is up to you

And his wife told his kids he was crazy
And his friends said he’d fail if he tried
But with the will to work hard and a library card
He took a homemade, fan blade, one-man submarine ride”

I signed the letter saying ‘hope you drink up to me’.

PARADISE VALLEY

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Present, things look up, and they show promise. The world is but a canvas to our imagination. All i know is this is a phase, we all come out of it. As he says in ‘whiskey whiskey whiskey’.

On the way home~

The summer’s over, this town is closing.
They’re waving people out of the ocean.
We have the feeling like we were floating.
We never noticed where time was going.

Do you remember when we first got here?
The days were longer; the nights were hot here.
Now, it’s September; the engine’s started.
You’re empty-handed and heavy-hearted.

But just remember on the way home (ooh ooh ooh)
That you were never meant to feel alone.
It takes a little while, but you’d be fine:
Another good time coming down the line.

John mayer at an interview at oxford says the biggest compliment he gets is people coming to him and saying “Man I’ve had a tough life, thanks a lot man!!”

Thanks a lot indeed you beauty. Ill be cliched now.
SHINE ON YOU CRAZY DIAMOND. Thanks for the happiness.

 

  

Ok. Now?

Ok. Now?

APPLE: and the e book conundrum, In dilli,

Throughout my formative years, reading, leave alone being avid at it, was the last thing that came to my mind. What came was tomfoolery of the brightest and the best pedigree. Right from torturing kids in my school bus, to the art of splitting a mango kernel by its middle and tasting the really sour centre,from spitting  intrepid designs, to playing chupam chupai with a gratuitous twist, I was a master at them all. But reading !!, that was the stuff heavens were made of. Naah, and we were lesser mortals, and gladly so.

Even the Vedanta prescribes splitting down life into certain phases, and as I have presciently relegated myself to that of a lesser mortal, who was I to question. Phase II, was introspection, I’d say subliminal introspection. Not knowing that we were introspecting. Not knowing what introspection was , was phaseII. Chivalry, rivalry, camaraderie, coteries.  Whatever the bad stuff is made of. What some call graduation. What do we graduate from? What is the plinth that we can rest our standards on? Is it hormonal graduation, societal graduation, marital gradu..?  Maybe ?  Is it any good. Maybe not.

Only after your due bit of dirt do you land up with grit. And so it happened. It was an old pelican publication. I somehow like the smell of old books. I somehow find them mystically secretive and magical at the same time. How many hands must have held them before? And who? How many desks would they have decked? How many familial ceremonies would they have been party to,  domestic quarrels,passionate qualms, infant cries, they are such benevolent mute spectators.  And the pages which take a surrogate and intense yellow hue are testimony to the homes and the people they were with once. The yellow, an allegory of all what it had partaken of, a ball of fortune. If you look at them carefully, just stare at them into oblivion, you might just come lucky to hear a cry or two, the fleeting whisper of a passionate lover trying to sneak into surprise, or an old man’s content yawn, as he curls down to sleep.

Cut down  to the hustle of today, tonight in fact. International relations are giving me a hard time. One month for showdown, and I’m thinking of all the rhetoric and brouhaha that surrounds these 7 star-conferences. Arctic cap this, green emissions that, arms trade this, nuclear that. I need to focus. Yes it’s amonth to showdown. And I face a piquant thought, which refuses to wither down. Are eBooks really worth it? Should I be reading any more of them? What about those investments for posterity, which youcan show your friends grand children (you know). Read the man booker girl, Eleanor Catton,   and I fell succumbed as a human being. Christ she’s 28. Dexterity! I was caught by the apple bug sometime back.All the David Fincher, Chuck Palahniuk rhetoric came crashing down as gracefully as the Dave Matthews number. Consumerism and I’m consumed. A slave of the corporate, made in china, designed in California diktat. I feel pathetic. Grotesque. And then this question.

The inky fool, what a master of a blog, the forsyth guy is scintillatingly intriguing. Scintillating,the word, I learnt,has a bit of a story. Add to it a bit of a brit humour and you get such an apocryphal anecdote.Started with the Latin, the word, I mean, ended up in Britain. They have a thing for it you see. Ill leave itto the brits now and their overtly lascivious politicians who are busy calling their women sluts and then justifying it o’er the OED

Posterity? Ill give that a miss. Let me live for tonight. I want to read the Indian clerk, by David Leavitt and I’ll do it now. The internet is killing me. Apple should reinvent its logo as the ‘loading flower’, here in dilli. Where are my yellows?

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Apple and the Ebook conundrum, in dilli.

When you know.

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When you know…(an apothegm)

“S D Burman”, I reiterated, has to be some good ol’ S D”, The advent of jazz into the simplistic symphony of India, I personally felt that it was the best music that was coming out of hindi movies. Period.  Asha and Rafi. On the screen, a lady inadvertently with a sax or on the piano or the Hawaiian guitar, (inverted sometimes), but it didn’t bother us one bit, because it was the music, honest, livid, and quiescent.

Towing Chris Nolan’s line, I was an ardent believer that the most infectious thing in the world was an idea. Once it consumes you, it did change everything about us. We were on a sabbatical, Vishal and me. Finding the place was a major chore. Yes the hills, they were a common denominator. But still it took some working out to be done. A plethora of websites, a deluge of literature on sabbaticals, some travel journos too came in handy, but then God bequeathed us with something we all callan ‘instinct’. ‘God’ what a reprise!. . Naming the place is inconsequential, for the more pedantic of you, it was nestled in the Nagtibba ranges of the middle Himalayas, which rose in the tertiary times on the geological scale, had metamorphosed rocks and were replete with The ‘ hogback feature’ landscape (‘God’ bless upsc).

Two pairs of jeans, one good jacket a couple of tweed shirts were part of my repertoire, totally in consonance and I’d say abit profligate by my standards, owing to the fact that I was wearing the same kurta since the past 4 months, and people around me had started fantasizing about peculiar smells which after my due bit of cogitation, I did realize were in fact my previous meals  coupled with sinewy sweat .

There was a separate bag. This was not a cog in the box. This one was special.  Replete with books, all shapes and sizes. I had them all, from Chekov to Nietzsche, Wilson to Hemingway, from Bronte to Keats, Elliott, Kant, I had them all. Like the old man brooding over how the women ‘come and go, talking of Michelangelo’ in Elliott’s all time classic ‘The love song ofAlfred J Prufrock” or the eponymous ‘Don Quixote of La Mancha’. It had been an eternity since I would sit down in the greased plastic chair of  my study and think of the mist settling in, a simple cup of chai by the hummingbird’s wildlings seemed to me as the only reason I was to live. ‘SURVIVING’ as I already was, I wanted to get away from the cacophony and the industrial brouhaha. I was waiting for my ‘Rocinante’ to just show up one day and take me to the lands untouched, to the peoples so content, that a little conversation by the vegetable store would be their only social haven. These bad boys were the reason I was in fact taking a sabbatical, I just wanted to Be. Read. Eat. Read. Eat. Read. Eat, Read, Eat, Rea.. I think you get it.

PART II: Being

Its 8:37 by the clock, at least that’s what it’s showing, for the latter, we never really cared to check if it was really 8:37, or was it 12 noon, was Rahul baba still hell bent on castigating his thespian prime minister, or was Chandrababu Naidu still fasting over the Telangana stir,( had he eaten?), what was Miley Cyrus’ latest raucous gig? You see on a long enough time line, all our chances of survival drop down to zero, we’re dying every day, one minute at a time.  See by the Tibetan philosophy, Sylvia Plath’s sense of the word, we’re all dying, but on a more platonic scale, I guess the dictum does come down to haunt you once in your life, and when it does, all I can say is, its your time for resurrection mate. Yes it is!

8:37 it was. Let me go back a little.  We had rented this small cottage on a hillock, named almost allegorically as“Biggleswade”. Now houses on the hills, you see, have thispeculiar thing with names, this particular one, as we were told by the locals, belonged to an army doctor of the Raj era. Now after the crown took over our land in 1858, and even prior to it, they passed a legislation that was the Pitt’s India act of 1833, now it legalized for the British, the buying and sale of property in India, in a way it set the ball rolling for the institutionalization of the litigation culture in India as prior to it land was just a social asset, or just a piece of, err.. LAND.. as they say. After the 1833 act, came in Englishmen and their Mem’s, by the plenty. Plush with their coterie of servants and mali’s and carry pullers and poodles to name a few.  This gentleman who by my estimate, and with a little helping with Larry Page’s titular invention that we swear by in recent times, I mean ‘Google’ that is, must have been from the Bedfordshire town council in England, (looking at the cottage’s name of course). And the unrepentantly schmaltzy people that these British officers were, as schmaltzy as they get, they chose places that suited there climes, brought in jazz and ballet and cabaret and torte’s and all things British and even named their homes, on the impish little borough name’s that they had left, and maybe were feeling nostalgic after some scotch and fish.

Oh, what a beautiful little place it was, the front wall, or if I could call it that, was a sea of green, covered with climbers in full foliage, ‘clematis armandi’ it  was , I was told, sure it was beautiful, a thick foliage of leaves interspersed with tiny white flowers was a therapy for me. I could look at the wall for hours, but there was more. Around us was salubriousness in its fullcandor. Silver fir, pine, spruce, deodar, maple, cedar and neem added to the verdant surroundings. John Keats talking to a bird had remarked

“ its not through the envy of thy happy lot,

But being too happy in thine happiness,

That thou, light winged dryad of the trees,

In some melodious plot of beechen green and shadows numberless,

Singest’ of summer, in full throated ease”

Now I know, why.

Out in the distant bloom one could see an old woman making tea in a shade, one could see the milkman with a canister as old as Rumpelstiltskin, going about his job with nonchalance, school children, resplendent in their navy blues and worn out sweaters, forever with a mischief on their sleeves made for a perfect poster for the Sarva Shiksha Abhiyaan, I thought. One could see Brigadier Manekshaw-some said he had 4 wives- feeding his dogs. The sun was peeking over the horizon, the foliage turning golden as a child dressing up for the local market. It was a small opening in the sky, but the sun surely made its presence felt. Soon the grey was all encompassing, portentous for a few, ominous for a clique, but for us. We were all in!!.  A grey day in the hills, clouds pregnant with pristine nectar, the verdant surroundings expectant, rumour mills were churning alive with the talks of a snow storm.  People said they had started gathering supplies some days in advance. The illusion of safety!! The plague of a warm little cozy centre in the middle of nowhere, and how it infests our mind.- Thoughts on a random day.

We read, philosophy, literature, history. Took a stroll around the local market. And read some more. Godiyal ji, the local butcher, was as  stoic as  a man could get, obstinate to the core, but he sounded rather jived and afresh as a beanstalk today. Talkedabout how the meat this day was juicier than a peach. So chicken soup it was! Clubbed with a nice helping of buttered croissants and a dash of Belgian peppers to go along with it. Broth was done in an hour, only the bones needed a bit of a stir. Night descended and along with it a dank pall across the village. It was piercing cold, ominous clouds loomed large and the winds were playing truant. The fire was lit, the books on the shelf were inviting as ever. The burning wood made crackling sounds with the sly intensity of a lascivious woman. The night brought along with it a seductive trance. Oblivion.. deep anddark and humble.

“S.D Burman, has to be good old S.D” I said. The soup was ready. And so was the scotch. The fire was a virgin vestal. Warm and dry was our little room. WARM…were our littlehearts. Peace set in. If I could have died at this moment, it would be retribution for me, a vindication, absolvance…

That very moment there was a knock at the door, it was Sanju, our caretaker. “ Bhaiyaji , it has started snowing !, it’s the first snow !..do you know?” .  We went out of the room in the tranquil wilderness, up in the clouds there was a small gap, and the moon peeped for permission. The night was blue as blue could be and the snowflakes made a carnival of what was a silent night.

Vishal replied to Sanju

“ We know bhai.. we just know….”

-Ayush Katheria

Midnight musings

I tried to unfold into an ever deepening sea of resolve. Unscathed by the apprehensions of populace. i was now living with my raison de etre of being here. living above the ordinary has been my shrine. Endless traipse of connotations do unfold for the same, but now i can punctuate them with ease. Looking over lines, i saw myslef driving with the windshields open, the gush of the himalayan air was evident with the munificence it brought along on my face, now darker more sullen and deeper as i could reckon, the beard was a sign of giving onto sublimation. John mayer came out with a project amd i didnt know. made me cry when i found out. i think we’re on the same lines, Ive grown with him, so an attachment to a metaphysical decree is a given. he rolls on life with the Colorado mountains to bless. i roll on life with a belief that is now a mountain. The queen of california has indeed stepped down. Im on my one blade submarine ride, hope you drink to me.

ayush,