Monday, April 03, 2006

Out of the blue

Sunday afternoon in Riverside Park. The river stretching itself out at our feet like a yawning cat. The slow lap of waves from vanished speedboats. The sky a sincere azure, the sun beating down so bright that we feel warm even in our T-shirts. All around us, the people of New York are walking their dogs [1], riding their bikes, jogging, rollerblading, skateboarding, walking, kissing or indulging in any one of the dozens of other pasttimes by which the advent of the Spring is routinely celebrated. My friends and I have our own form of worship. It's called 'leaning back in a park bench soaking up the sun' [2].

Out of the corner of my eye, I see two Cessnas winging their way over the river, looking like slow dragonflies. It occurs to me that what we need to make this afternoon perfect (other than a cooler full of ice cold beer) is a good dogfight. You know. Not the sort of thing where actual people get hurt / killed, of course, but the sort of thing you would find in Biggles, or in cartoons. The Rat-tat-tat of machine gun fire, the explosion of flame in the front plane's right engine, the smoke billowing black and ugly from the plane as it somersaults in the air, plunges in a clean, breathless curve towards the water. The splash of it hitting the water, then the slow sinking of the wreckage, the tail the last to go, as though the drowning plane were some sort of exotic whale. The parachute blossoming over the Jersey skyline like a flower (I did say no one would get hurt, didn't I?). The dark streak of smoke across the sky, as menacing as a fake eyebrow. After all, what's a glorious day without a little gunfire?

Sometimes I scare myself.

P.S. A long-ish weekend in NYC later[3], I'm back. I know I still have a couple of posts due to finish off Rock week, and those will be up shortly, but I couldn't resist this one.

Notes:

[1] Why in God's name would anyone keep a dog in Manhattan? I mean, okay, so I don't see the point of keeping a dog in general (hell I don't see the point of getting married - and at least a wife is less likely to chew your slippers and pee all over your carpet - though with the arranged marriage market the way it is you never know) but why would you do this in Manhattan where most people have to take out a mortgage on their first born just to be able to afford a crummy little shoebox of a studio in Gramercy? You either end up with one of these tiny little lapdogs that look like rats on prozac, or with some monstrously big German Shepherd type dog that has to suffer the dumb misery of being locked away in a shoe-box sized apartment the bulk of its natural life. And these people call themselves animal lovers!

[2] Okay, so that's not a particularly imaginative name. But hey, it was supposed to be a lazy Sunday.

[3] A fun trip, that included, among other delightful activities, copious hours listening to Carnatic Vocal or watching Tarkovsky (it's so great to have friends who understand that spending three and a half hours watching soulful Russian angst is the perfect way to spend a fun Saturday); even more copious hours spent waiting to get a table at Cafe Lalo, wishing you had thought to wear your 'I'm here for the desserts, not because I'm some dumb-ass tourist in love with Meg Ryan' T-shirt (in the time it took us to get a table, we managed to a) grab a drink at a nearby bar b) walk all over the upper West side, checking out apartment buildings and c) have a relaxed sushi dinner; and the wait to get a table was the quick part, it was once we got in that the service really slowed down - a glacier could have got across the room to take our order faster than the wait staff); and the intense embarassment of sitting next to M while she explained to the staff at the nice Italian restaurant that yes, she did want to sully the finely crafted flavours of their delicious pasta by bathing it in marinara sauce, thus ensuring that she is now officially a target for the Cosa Nostra (MR: don't say I didn't warn you if you wake up one morning and find the collar of your favourite Brooks Brothers shirt hanging from your bedpost).


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19 comments:

Anonymous said...

Now generally i dont think...but 2x3x7..an IIMC'ian and then the 'firm' and then akanksha..was it all about to take the path of 'road less travelled' or was it something else that prompted you to venture..and now a PHD...leaving akanksha...somewhere the link got broken or maybe the puzzle is still unfinished...pardon me but this has got nothing to do with the current post.

Falstaff said...

anon: hmmm...that is unrelated to the post, isn't it?

A clarification first - I didn't go to C, I went to A. I visited C for some three days while I was studying at A and have fond (if somewhat fuzzy) memories of the place. But the rest of those two years I was firmly out West.

The easy answer to your question is that I believe that consistency is overrated. It's a central idea of mine (and the key notion underlying this blog) that by trying to conform to a particular lifestyle, by trying to make one consistent set of decisions through life we end up being less than we could be.

The more accurate answer is that I personally have never understood how people manage to put a stake in the ground and decide what they want the rest of their life to look like. I know that there are many different things I'd like to do (and am arguably good at), many different selves that I'd like to be, and my plan for now is just to try out as many of them as I possibly can. I'm like the person in the clothing store who keeps trying on different suits, unable to make up his mind which one he likes best. At some point, I know, I'm probably going to have to decide on one of them. But in the meantime I'd rather try on as many of them as I can.

Remember the Monty Python line: "Now for something completely different"? That's the story of my life.

Tabula Rasa said...

surely you mean cafe lalo. impostor alert!

Heh Heh said...

hear hear.

Falstaff said...

tabula rasa: Aarghhh! You're right, of course. Have corrected in post.

heh heh: Thanks. But which bit?

Heh Heh said...

the comment. the post.. well, i was there.
nothing disturbing about wanting dogfights at all. i relate.

dazedandconfused said...

hmmm...did someone say that your comments section ends up being more interesting than the posts sometimes?

Liked that part about '..many different selves I'd like to be..'.

Pankaj Mishra seems to say something similar in his latest book, "The End to Suffering", '..But now I was settling into my new self- the self that had traveled and imagined that it had learnt much. I didn’t know then that I would use up many more such selves, that they would arise and disappear, making all experience hard to fix and difficult to learn from.'

The ramblings of a shoe fiend said...

The river stretching itself out at our feet like a yawning cat.

nice!

...and at least a wife is less likely to chew your slippers and pee all over your carpet...

No, they're capable of much worse. Have you read the short story Cream Sauce by Mary Flanagan?

Falstaff said...

heh heh: Thanks. But forgive me for not finding consolation in the fact that you relate. I mean, the 17 of you are hardly the gold standard on sanity, are you?

d&c: Thanks. Am no seriously considering putting up a post that says "See Comments"

Shoe-fiend: No, haven't read. Will try and find. Though if you're trying to make the point that wives are to be avoided like the plague I don't really need convincing.

Anonymous said...

Pardon me for being so curious. Why do you hate marriage so much?

Anonymous said...

but 2x3x7..correct me if am wrong here...A and 'the 'firm' i can put in sync with your belief 'It's a central idea of mine (and the key notion underlying this blog) that by trying to conform to a particular lifestyle, by trying to make one consistent set of decisions through life we end up being less than we could be.'

but akanksha..it is not about proving a point right..or a mode of escapism..or a whim where an individual suddenly decided to do something where one says' i made a contribution'.somewhere this seems like a paradox...is PHD a medium where its about being in a much better position to contribute..but then A also is more than sufficient..pardon me if in anyways..i am being too inquistive..

Anonymous said...

but the inquistive has nothing to with you as an entity..you just happen to be a medium..who gave me anopportunity to address certain concerns..so i hope you dont take it in a personal manner

Falstaff said...

anon: You're not going to send me a bill for psychiatric services at some point are you?

Just so we're clear - Akanksha wasn't about proving a point or about escapism - any more than A or the firm were. I'm not trying to prove anything - I'm only trying out different roles in life to see which seems to fit the best. One of the ways I can see myself spending my life is working in development - Akanksha was a testing ground for that theory, and the test came back reasonably positive. That doesn't mean I don't want to try out other things to see if there's something out there I like better. Eventually, I might go back to Akanksha (or to development more generally) - but there's a bunch of other stuff I want to try out first.

Anonymous said...

Best regards from NY!
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