Monday, June 27, 2005

Solitude

I leap into oblivion...


Gently I glide through the world around me, suddenly experiencing sensory deprivation. No sound, no touch and only a dim aquamarine light to keep me company. Languidly I move through space. It’s a beautiful feeling, a feeling of being suspended in space. It isn't quite flight, but gravity doesn't seem to be a factor anymore.


My inner-child wakes up after a self-imposed sabbatical. I haven't allowed myself to be free in such a long time. And so I smile, I glide and I lay there suspended... both in mind and in body. My world sudden seems to have taken to a free flowing lethargy, slow motion redefined. My thoughts which are usually a whizzing blur, sudden crystallize and move by me in an almost slide show like manner. Clarity, aquamarine clarity, where have you been?


The answer lies there, within my grasp, within my comprehension. This was what I had been looking for, for so long. The answer is to let go, to flow, and to move as languidly as time seemed to move in the beautiful new world. I look around and see shimmering lights right above me, stretched and rippling. Heaven... this is what it must feel like. A loneliness so complete and so full of joy. A kind of solitude granted to you by your thoughts, revealing themselves in an easy flourish of shimmering colours, like a satin scarf shivering in the evening breeze. I smile once more.


And then my chest begins to tell me its time to leave. The ache makes its way to my gut and my neck, gripping my body like a vice. And suddenly, there isn't any room for my thoughts. Poignant as the moment is, grief is the last thing on my mind. Gentle, delicate, transparent spheres stream slowly past me as I slowly and deliberately exhale... My feet touch the ground and I push off into the shimmering surface.


It’s been a while since I last went swimming.

Tuesday, June 21, 2005

Home

Here's a tiny experiment. This post was originally written in the third person with the lead character named Mira. It was written in the third person because I believed it would help me dissociate my personality from my pieces. After a conversation with a jazz-band buddy though, I wanted to see this piece in a new light. It remains to be seen whether it will flow better in the first person, for I believe that it was a tad constrained in its rhythm earlier. One thing is for sure though, it'll strip away the artificial veils of forced fiction. What say?


I reached over and pulled the soft white cotton blankets over myself. I couldn't help smiling as I snuggled deeper into the soft welcoming bed. It was late in the afternoon and it had been ages since I had come home.


The dark monsoon clouds hung low over the garden outside, as water from the tiled roof dripped continuously, the early afternoon showers were making their presence felt again.
The west coast was always intoxicating during the monsoon months. The clouds made the day seem like one long evening. There was a sudden burst of life all around, almost as if nature had just woken up and stretched comfortably.


Moss began to grow on every pore of the bricks that made the compound walls, caterpillars made their way across the moist grass, the air smelt fresh, as if it had been given a spring clean itself. Inside every second home you could see the clotheslines being rearranged and the clothes being hung to dry, with table fans directed at them.


Today the air had an easy Sunday-like feel to it. It was the sort of rainy day that made you feel glad to be home. The sort of afternoon where the gloominess was over-ridden by the comfort of being indoors and the prerequisite warm cup of coffee. I heard my mother making coffee downstairs and began to feel like a little kid all over again.


I had come to my parent’s place in the heart of a town that wanted to be a city. The house was in a quaint residential area, mostly surrounded by apartments. This only made the home more enchanting, a small garden with four coconut trees, a shed and a Great Dane. The house was made completely of exposed brick and was built by an architect when he had just graduated from college, it was bold, maybe even modern, but at the same time it was a work of art.


The entire home had no pillars at all, the roof was split into four parts all slanting downwards at different angles and all cupping together to form a little nest of a home. The house had an open courtyard in the middle that allowed the monsoons to say hello to everyone who lived there, it was elliptical in shape with tiny drains at its two foci that allowed the rains out. The floor in the courtyard was made of white chipped marble and black marble rays emanated from one of the foci on the floor that made the artists vision clear,


“The home is like two hands held together, as if to receive the sunlight and illuminate this beautiful nest.” the architect had said.


It had odd but striking touches, like a bedroom that had fourteen walls all at odd angles to each other. The roof was made of sandwiched tiles, a brilliant idea that had protected it from continuous onslaught of the severe rains, it was plastered on top so you could see the tiles only from the inside, if you looked up that is.


But what made it special to me was the fact that the house felt like it had a soul, every time I slept alone in a room it felt as if the home spoke to me, quietly. Always comforting my buzzing mind, almost as if it was, trying to tell me to take it easy. The cool surface of the painted brick walls would soothe me as I ran the tips of my fingers slowly over them as I walked through the house. The home was a companion that was always there waiting for me when I came back and never seemed to ask any questions. It understood. This was what I had come back looking for. It had been a while since I had taken a break.


With a lazy stretch I slipped out from under the covers and slipped into my favourite t-shirt from my days in high school. I smiled as the worn and almost frayed top rested lazily on my lanky frame. I smiled as I thought of the days when the t-shirt was more or less the only thing I wore. A lot of things had happened since then, life had moved on. Victories had been won, hearts broken and a boy had slowly grown, into a man. I sighed and turned towards the door, home always had a way of making me feel younger. I yawned lazily as I walked down the flight of stairs, made of dark wood. I had always wondered it the wood was teak but always forgot to ask my parents.


“Is the wood teak mum?”


“Rose” she replied as she offered me a steaming mug of coffee, which I accepted with both hands. “Your father had it made in ’69 a year after the house was built, why?”


“Just always wondered that’s all.” I said as I warmed my fingers by wrapping them around the mug, I always did that. I found it to be one of the small comforts of life.


Slowly sipping from my favourite porcelain mug, I smiled and shook my head gently as I thought about my mothers ability to summon a cup of coffee exactly when I needed it. "The little things" I thought, as I drank deep. I let my mind sample nostalgia as I drifted towards a window. I looked outside to see an apartment standing in the place of a home I’d always loved when I was a child. Things had changed since I left. I always came back to find some small reliable nook of the city-like town altered beyond recognition. She was growing as well. It didn’t make me sad, I had a way of reconciling my sentiments with reality. It was just that sometimes, I wished it would hit me a bit harder.


I put the mug down and walked towards the door. I laced up in my favourite worn sneakers and decided to relish an early evening jog. Breathing was something I needed to relearn.


I picked up my trusty old discman and fumbled as I snuck the phones into my ears and then with a short goodbye I stepped into my mood, quite literally. The air was crisp, the light, dim and the jazz, sublime. I sauntered up the lane for a bit, and then slowly, deliberately broke into a slow jog and a smile.


I had come home.


Wednesday, June 15, 2005

Question?

I haven't spoken much in the past few days. I haven't said anything of any relevance for quite a while now. I don't quite know if I have anything left to say, I know I'm barely 20 and I probably have seen nothing so far, but I feel saturated nonetheless. I am aware that this is a rather common feeling among dysfunctional post-adolescents, with holier-than-thou mindsets, but somehow something has made me quiet, I talk, but I no longer speak. I smile, but there is no twinkle in the eye.


This is not a schopenhauer-esque dissection of the pointlessness of life, no, far from it. This would be the search for an answer. The search for the light that would make my eyes shine again.

There are things that tell me there is a purpose to things, when music plays for example, when collective soul croons "Shine" with those easy chords, when my dad chuckles, when I see the rain. But I haven't found purpose yet. For the longest time I thought life was about goals, finish lines, objectives, and specific tasks on whose completion one would feel a certain sense of achievement. Of late though, finish lines seem to be something of a joke. They never end, there's always one in the distance and it has occurred to me, that if you make your life about lines then you'll forever be running.

There is another theory that tells me life is about living, the moment, NOW. I don't know about that either, I know if I was thrown into a debate I could probably be able to make a brilliant case for both of these viewpoints and get applauded for it, but the fact of the matter is that in my heart I don't know which theory to support. The irony of it all though, is that I seem to be living life trying to figure out how I should be living it.

Yet another thing that has been keeping me quiet for so long is my newfound loneliness. Sometimes I feel like I never really invest any real emotion in any relationship, this thought occurs to me because of my absolute inability to mourn consciously for loss.


I can't cry when I want to and that believe me is one of the worst expressions of claustrophobia you will ever come across. When your emotions are trapped in a box, you'll find it so damn hard to breathe. This is probably why I refuse to think these days, I make a conscious effort and all I end up with is fuzz. My powers of contemplation seem very limited of late, the limit being, wondering what I'll be having for lunch. A pathetic fate for someone who wishes to write.

Answers? Anybody got any?

Monday, June 06, 2005

LSD

Ok people, this would be one of my rare non-original posts, but this was too darn interesting to let go. What will follow is an extract from an article titled "LSD - My problem child" by Dr.Albert Hofman the creator of the legendary drug. I've picked out the best bit, and by the way, this bit of reality is waaay cooler than any piece of psychedelic literature i've ever read. Enjoy!

Discovery of the Psychic Effects of LSD

The solution of the ergotoxine problem had led to fruitful results, described here only briefly, and had opened up further avenues of research. And yet I could not forget the relatively uninteresting LSD-25. A peculiar presentiment—the feeling that this substance could possess properties other than those established in the first investigations—induced me, five years after the first synthesis, to produce LSD-25 once again so that a sample could be given to the pharmacological department for further tests. This was quite unusual; experimental substances, as a rule, were definitely stricken from the research program if once found to be lacking in pharmacological interest.

Nevertheless, in the spring of 1943, I repeated the synthesis of LSD-25. As in the first synthesis, this involved the production of only a few centigrams of the compound. In the final step of the synthesis, during the purification and crystallization of lysergic acid diethylamide in the form of a tartrate (tartaric acid salt), I was interrupted in my work by unusual sensations. The following description of this incident comes from the report that I sent at the time to Professor Stoll:

Last Friday, April 16,1943, I was forced to interrupt my work in the laboratory in the middle of the afternoon and proceed home, being affected by a remarkable restlessness, combined with a slight dizziness. At home I lay down and sank into a not unpleasant intoxicated-like condition, characterized by an extremely stimulated imagination. In a dreamlike state, with eyes closed (I found the daylight to be unpleasantly glaring), I perceived an uninterrupted stream of fantastic pictures, extraordinary shapes with intense, kaleidoscopic play of colors. After some two hours this condition faded away.

This was, altogether, a remarkable experience—both in its sudden onset and its extraordinary course. It seemed to have resulted from some external toxic influence; I surmised a connection with the substance I had been working with at the time, lysergic acid diethylamide tartrate. But this led to another question: how had I managed to absorb this material? Because of the known toxicity of ergot substances, I always maintained meticulously neat work habits. Possibly a bit of the LSD solution had contacted my fingertips during crystallization, and a trace of the substance was absorbed through the skin. If LSD-25 had indeed been the cause of this bizarre experience, then it must be a substance of extraordinary potency. There seemed to be only one way of getting to the bottom of this. I decided on a self-experiment. Exercising extreme caution, I began the planned series of experiments with the smallest quantity that could be expected to produce some effect, considering the activity of the ergot alkaloids known at the time: namely, 0.25 mg (mg = milligram = one thousandth of a gram) of lysergic acid diethylamide tartrate. Quoted below is the entry for this experiment in my laboratory journal of April 19, 1943.

Self-Experiments
4/19/43 16:20: 0.5 cc of 1/2 promil aqueous solution of diethylamide tartrate orally = 0.25 mg tartrate. Taken diluted with about 10 cc water. Tasteless.

17:00: Beginning dizziness, feeling of anxiety, visual distortions, symptoms of paralysis, desire to laugh.

Supplement of 4/21: Home by bicycle. From 18:00- ca.20:00 most severe crisis. (See special report.)

Here the notes in my laboratory journal cease. I was able to write the last words only with great effort. By now it was already clear to me that LSD had been the cause of the remarkable experience of the previous Friday, for the altered perceptions were of the same type as before, only much more intense. I had to struggle to speak intelligibly. I asked my laboratory assistant, who was informed of the self-experiment, to escort me home. We went by bicycle, no automobile being available because of wartime restrictions on their use. On the way home, my condition began to assume threatening forms. Everything in my field of vision wavered and was distorted as if seen in a curved mirror. I also had the sensation of being unable to move from the spot. Nevertheless, my assistant later told me that we had traveled very rapidly. Finally, we arrived at home safe and sound, and I was just barely capable of asking my companion to summon our family doctor and request milk from the neighbors.

In spite of my delirious, bewildered condition, I had brief periods of clear and effective thinking—and chose milk as a nonspecific antidote for poisoning. The dizziness and sensation of fainting became so strong at times that I could no longer hold myself erect, and had to lie down on a sofa. My surroundings had now transformed themselves in more terrifying ways. Everything in the room spun around, and the familiar objects and pieces of furniture assumed grotesque, threatening forms. They were in continuous motion, animated, as if driven by an inner restlessness. The lady next door, whom I scarcely recognized, brought me milk—in the course of the evening I drank more than two liters. She was no longer Mrs. R., but rather a malevolent, insidious witch with a colored mask.

Even worse than these demonic transformations of the outer world, were the alterations that I perceived in myself, in my inner being. Every exertion of my will, every attempt to put an end to the disintegration of the outer world and the dissolution of my ego, seemed to be wasted effort. A demon had invaded me, had taken possession of my body, mind, and soul. I jumped up and screamed, trying to free myself from him, but then sank down again and lay helpless on the sofa. The substance, with which I had wanted to experiment, had vanquished me. It was the demon that scornfully triumphed over my will. I was seized by the dreadful fear of going insane. I was taken to another world, another place, another time. My body seemed to be without sensation, lifeless, strange. Was I dying? Was this the transition? At times I believed myself to be outside my body, and then perceived clearly, as an outside observer, the complete tragedy of my situation. I had not even taken leave of my family (my wife, with our three children had traveled that day to visit her parents, in Lucerne). Would they ever understand that I had not experimented thoughtlessly, irresponsibly, but rather with the utmost caution, an-d that such a result was in no way foreseeable? My fear and despair intensified, not only because a young family should lose its father, but also because I dreaded leaving my chemical research work, which meant so much to me, unfinished in the midst of fruitful, promising development. Another reflection took shape, an idea full of bitter irony: if I was now forced to leave this world prematurely, it was because of this Iysergic acid diethylamide that I myself had brought forth into the world.

By the time the doctor arrived, the climax of my despondent condition had already passed. My laboratory assistant informed him about my self-experiment, as I myself was not yet able to formulate a coherent sentence. He shook his head in perplexity, after my attempts to describe the mortal danger that threatened my body. He could detect no abnormal symptoms other than extremely dilated pupils. Pulse, blood pressure, breathing were all normal. He saw no reason to prescribe any medication. Instead he conveyed me to my bed and stood watch over me. Slowly I came back from a weird, unfamiliar world to reassuring everyday reality. The horror softened and gave way to a feeling of good fortune and gratitude, the more normal perceptions and thoughts returned, and I became more confident that the danger of insanity was conclusively past.

Now, little by little I could begin to enjoy the unprecedented colors and plays of shapes that persisted behind my closed eyes. Kaleidoscopic, fantastic images surged in on me, alternating, variegated, opening and then closing themselves in circles and spirals, exploding in colored fountains, rearranging and hybridizing themselves in constant flux. It was particularly remarkable how every acoustic perception, such as the sound of a door handle or a passing automobile, became transformed into optical perceptions. Every sound generated a vividly changing image, with its own consistent form and color.

Late in the evening my wife returned from Lucerne. Someone had informed her by telephone that I was suffering a mysterious breakdown. She had returned home at once, leaving the children behind with her parents. By now, I had recovered myself sufficiently to tell her what had happened.

Exhausted, I then slept, to awake next morning refreshed, with a clear head, though still somewhat tired physically. A sensation of well-being and renewed life flowed through me. Breakfast tasted delicious and gave me extraordinary pleasure. When I later walked out into the garden, in which the sun shone now after a spring rain, everything glistened and sparkled in a fresh light. The world was as if newly created. All my senses vibrated in a condition of highest sensitivity, which persisted for the entire day.

This self-experiment showed that LSD-25 behaved as a psychoactive substance with extraordinary properties and potency. There was to my knowledge no other known substance that evoked such profound psychic effects in such extremely low doses, that caused such dramatic changes in human consciousness and our experience of the inner and outer world.

What seemed even more significant was that I could remember the experience of LSD inebriation in every detail. This could only mean that the conscious recording function was not interrupted, even in the climax of the LSD experience, despite the profound breakdown of the normal world view. For the entire duration of the experiment, I had even been aware of participating in an experiment, but despite this recognition of my condition, I could not, with every exertion of my will, shake off the LSD world. Everything was experienced as completely real, as alarming reality; alarming, because the picture of the other, familiar everyday reality was still fully preserved in the memory for comparison.

Another surprising aspect of LSD was its ability to produce such a far-reaching, powerful state of inebriation without leaving a hangover. Quite the contrary, on the day after the LSD experiment I felt myself to be, as already described, in excellent physical and mental condition.

I was aware that LSD, a new active compound with such properties, would have to be of use in pharmacology, in neurology, and especially in psychiatry, and that it would attract the interest of concerned specialists. But at that time I had no inkling that the new substance would also come to be used beyond medical science, as an inebriant in the drug scene. Since my self-experiment had revealed LSD in its terrifying, demonic aspect, the last thing I could have expected was that this substance could ever find application as anything approaching a pleasure drug. I failed, moreover, to recognize the meaningful connection between LSD inebriation and spontaneous visionary experience until much later, after further experiments, which were carried out with far lower doses and under different conditions.

The next day I wrote to Professor Stoll the above-mentioned report about my extraordinary experience with LSD-25 and sent a copy to the director of the pharmacological department, Professor Rothlin.

As expected, the first reaction was incredulous astonishment. Instantly a telephone call came from the management; Professor Stoll asked: "Are you certain you made no mistake in the weighing? Is the stated dose really correct?" Professor Rothlin also called, asking the same question. I was certain of this point, for I had executed the weighing and dosage with my own hands. Yet their doubts were justified to some extent, for until then no known substance had displayed even the slightest psychic effect in fraction-of-a-milligram doses. An active compound of such potency seemed almost unbelievable.

Professor Rothlin himself and two of his colleagues were the first to repeat my experiment, with only one-third of the dose I had utilized. But even at that level, the effects were still extremely impressive, and quite fantastic. All doubts about the statements in my report were eliminated.

Lucky mothers got some free acid!

Wednesday, June 01, 2005

Flight

He casually let the basketball drop and he stepped onto the court after what seemed like ages, the lights were on and he had just taken a bath, he found that thought very funny, when he was in college he almost always played just after he'd taken a shower, which of course rendered the shower redundant. Somehow the feeling of gliding through the night as the cool air flew past his fresh skin was intoxicating to him.

Hello my friend we meet again
It’s been a while where should we begin...
Feels like forever

He picked up the ball and apprehensively dribbled it a couple of times, almost checking to see if he remembered the game. Slowly he grew a little more bold and began to move the ball around, behind his back, between his feet as he walked casually, the ball slipping from one side of his body to another, each time ringing with that fully inflated twang.

Within my heart are memories
Of perfect love that you gave to me
Oh, I remember


He smiled as he slowly grabbed the ball in his hands and looked at the rim, his first shot in 3 years. He kissed the ball ever so gently, cocked his elbows and in a barely audible whisper said "Do this for me baby." and let the ball fly, slipping off his fingers in a gentle flick... the ball looped into the night sky, and for a moment nothing else existed for him as his eyes carefully followed the path of the ball.

When you are with me
I feel...
I’m careless...i believe
Above all the others we’ll fly
This brings tears to my eyes
My sacrifice

It hit the part of the rim that made the basket protrude from the glass and violently bounced out... he'd missed.

At that very second, he looked at the rim in mock indignation and let out a throaty laugh, "Damn those six inches of metal." and jogged to get hold of the ball again, he immediately began to feel younger. He moved back to the three point line and began to sprint forward with the ball, in a gentle arc approaching the rim sideways, he stepped once, then again and then flung himself into the air with his arm stretched out, ball in hand, and then he felt it...

We’ve seen our share of up’s and down’s
Oh, how quickly life can turn around....
In an instant
It feels so good to reunite within yourself and within you mind
Let’s find peace there


That one moment that he'd always look for while playing ball, that moment where everything else faded away and the only thing that remained was the sensation of flight, the feeling of floating through the air, a perfectly lucid reality. Yet he never quite understood why that always felt like a dream, it was such a distinct moment, he could even hear an ecstatic voice in his head say "Wow!" , As he let go of the ball and began his descent he was already smiling... the ball swished by the net. 2 points… he smiled again.

When you are with me
I feel...
I’m careless...i believe
Above all the others we’ll fly
This brings tears to my eyes


He kept playing remembering the years in college, the ambition, the depression, the work, the joy, the smiles, the good-byes, the loneliness, the hope and the life that he had lived so far. After playing for hours that barely felt like minutes, he heard the hum of his mobile phone… He reluctantly let go of the ball and walked up to his phone and began to chuckle when he saw the name of the caller...

"Will be home in 20 minutes babe... love you too."

He wasn't really done for the night. He kissed the ball again… dropped it into his car and drove home into her waiting arms.

I just want to settle again
I just want to settle again
My sacrifice

Have a Drag

Take a cigarette... have you ever smoked one?

People have talked to me about why they like cigarettes plenty of times, abhishek gurumadhva a senior of mine, once told me that it was a Freudian addiction, that sucking on a cigarette reminded them on a subconscious level of suckling their mother's teat. It was a return to infancy, so to speak where the warmth of your mother’s chest made you feel safe.

Crawling into the foetal position is the most common reaction to a nightmare. We all it seems, want to go back to where we came from, back into that safe environment, where we don’t have to think, talk, smile to make others happy, love with the risk of being hurt, or any of the other things that make life what it is. Cowards we have become... I spit on myself.

Then the same person as well as pi spoke to me on how sadism and masochism were so deeply ingrained in the human psyche, so much so that it drove the impulse behind grabbing a smoke.

"Think about it", he said to me.

"That’s the reason we all love wrestling so much! We see a guy grab a huge chair and maim the other fucker right across the face, we can almost feel the pain as the sickening thud of wood against flesh reaches our ears, and we go..'Oooh! That must've hurt' and we want more... its the fucking colloseum of today!"

It is said that whenever you smoke you feel a slight pain at the base of your throat and this pain was what generated the whole masochism.

Consider this,

Situation A: You've totally fucked up your life, you feel like life's been treating you like a bitch, so you grab yourself a cigarette and inhale deeply, sucking on the butt like there's no tomorrow and you feel that sting and then you say "that’s the shit!" that’s exactly where the pain is at, this is so much easier than actually dealing with the problem. This way I can feel sorry for myself. Yippee, self pity for Rs.3 only!

Not very different from this is the concept being cutting, you cut yourself, with a razor blade, a blunt knife, heck with a rusty nail if you want to and then you see the blood, red as hell rushing out of your punctured skin and then some perverse part of the human psyche takes hold and you go, "this pain is in my control, I caused it, I’m to blame and so finally I have control!" Ha! This train of thought makes me laugh the fucking hardest, you can't take the pain from the fucking outside world so you become the ultimate hypocrite and pick up a fucking blunt blade and shove it into your own skin. Great idea Sam! You’re gonna get real far with that sort of rocket science!

I write this not to say that I smoke, or that I cut myself. I've tried out cigarettes a couple of times and I’ve never cut myself. But I’ve done something far far worse, I keep trying to make everything to be my fucking fault, so that I at least feel like I’m in charge, and that my dear friends is the bloody oxymoron of the friggin century! I just realised the stupidity of it all after feeling sorry for myself for about a week, for what I beg you don’t ask...

For all those idiots weak enough not to overcome a freaking nicotine addiction, which by the way is fucking purely chemical, and hang on to vague oprah like justifications like, sucking on a nipple I bloody say, "You're kiddin yourself bud!" and for those geniuses who cut themselves so they can feel the bloody adrenaline rush... "Go jump off a cliff! And don't tie a rope to your legs if you still intend to go back to the blade!"

As for myself... I shall pick up the pieces, get a fuckin’ ego and move bloody on!
 

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