"'Truth is strange," you know, "stranger than fiction' - besides being more to the point" - Edgar Allan Poe

January 07, 2006


(Don’t ask)

I wake up, and immediately the battle is upon me.

And the irony is that it's a beast that'll never die; a misery that will never end.

‘Tis truly a subliminal existence to live the way I do; the way we do; us who subsist in the shadows and yet live in a cosmos that seems to be exclusive from the rest of the waking world. To wake in the setting twilight and watch the populace head back to families and houses and domains that they have the right to call their own. Me, Us, and Ours; we head towards enclosures, and promptly are reduced to pseudo-Caucasian voices on the other side of a crackling phone line; from Sunaina to Sally, Ramesh to Roy, and Chandru to, well, Dominic. And every night we ask ourselves questions nobody dare speak aloud – Is a loss of identity acceptable just for 3 square meals and the excess of alcohol to numb out the rest of the world? (And their words, oh god, pleasestopthewordsfromtheirmouths)

It wasn’t always like this, y’know. We were young, full of spunk, and like the ad said “didn’t want to take over the world, just didn’t give a f**k as to who did either”. We were the boys and girls of a new India, a place which was only waiting for the youth to take it over. Faith was lost when the EyeTee revolution simply fizzled out, and Mother India had a frown that everybody bore on their own faces. Morale was in the proverbial dump, and it seemed like the only thing we had to offer the world was flash-in-the-pan cricketing brilliance, half naked bimbettes who ruined it when they opened their mouths in public, and porcine fraudulent politicians who were out to make the quick buck while the going was good.

And then we arrived.

“Boss, you gimme less than the white racist fool in the YouEssOffAye, and I promise to work twice as hard as him. I’ll sacrifice my natural sleep cycle just to counter the anti-nocturnal privileges the white massa requests, change my name, sell my soul. Tell you what, you make sure I be allowed to smoke my ganja on the rooftop when no-one’s looking, and I’ll convert millions of my countrymen to the same cause. What say? The women need the money to be on the party trail onna weekends, the men need to prove to their folks that they ain’t worthless naalayaks like they’ve been told. C’mon, my massa, throw us a bone wouldya?”

But of course.

Today is like every other. The sunlight is long gone, and before it’s back out I should be tucked into my 1BHK in a hovel on the other side of the city, where the double locked doors keep out the weirdos. But that’s later. For now, I lay down my backpack next to my desk, empty my pockets onto the table, touch the Balaji picture beside the monitor (head, heart, sky… protect me), don the headset that symbolizes freedom for so many across the nation (Ironic, wouldn’t you say? Considering I’m now chained to a desk by means of my neck.) And the phone buzzes, the red light flashes. No longer am I M_, I am now Martin. In my head, I picture myself as a yuppie 20-something metrosexual who’s always ready to help out the customer on the other side (Who’s always right, as we’ve been conditioned to believe). WhatcanIdoforyouSirandormadam?HaveyoupressedCtrlAltDelperhapsyoushouldupgrade…

Look, it’s not like I complain. The money’s good, no doubt. I meet the most interesting of people there too. And the weekends pass by in a flurry of lights and alcohol hazes that leave me aching for an Alka-Seltzer at 3 in the morn, and the conversations are beyond brilliant. I mean, where else would I get this kind of money for my no good degree from a deadbeat college? You say Prathibha? Aargh, let’s not even go there. If all they need is English and technical competence, hell, I’ll give them that and more! And I don’t need to be stuck in metro traffic for hours on end, and it’s always a good feeling to never having to borrow from the parents again. I wear clichéd ‘snazzy’ clothes, I bump and grind with women I wouldn’t dream of meeting otherwise, the iPod rat-a-tat-tat-tattles it’s sounds into my head, and pity, yes pity I feel for the graduates who’re just stuck in the masses of queues still waiting for a job with ‘a future’. Who needs a future when I’m happy with my present?

Sounds perfect? Sure is! (Wide obvious grin on face) I feel useful now. And special. And independent. And urbanite. And aaaaalll that jazz… (Grin slowly disappears)

So what if I still feel alone in a sea of faces?

"And yet I find
Repeating in my head
If I can’t be my own
I’d feel better dead"
(Alice in chains – Nutshell)