When I Look in the Mirror

When I Look in the Mirror. I see the white hair. Even though a dear bondhu said, “why do you worry about age.” And I look off the mirror I see a teenager. People ask me about the people I hang with. Why am I with young people more than with old people. And the younger look and see the white hair. Sometimes only. But the energy of the combination is electric. Instead of dwelling on cliched questions such as, “what is age?” I am increasingly finding it important to ask the question – “what memories do I need to make?” That gives me a timeline. A new timeline offered by COVID. Each of us were handled the new timetable and those who were creative were able to use the opportunities. I was at a presentation today, they asked me to speak on something and I spoke on entirely something else. The white hair saved the humiliation, but the teenager had a lot of fun. That is the irony of age. When I was actually a teenager I dreamt of driving around the city in a luxury car or being able to go to C

Here comes the Rain Again

Here comes the Rain Again. As I sat on the rooftop lounge with a bondhu working out the details of a professional organization we are trying to create I ended up telling my life story. Looking back. Today. 20 years ago. The phone call. I wrote about in a previous entry here. Today we put some garlands, lit some incense, my wife told me to light an oil lamp. There was none at home. And now the wind howls as the storm steadily moves in over the water and getting ready to do landfall. When he had died the storm was in the mind, as the passing of a parent always leaves a debris of grief behind. Two decades. Some who have experienced the loss in recent years have a lot to learn. The debris is huge and time stamped, they appear at most unexpected moments. This loss is not measured by time but by glimpses that flitter through the mind unseen to all but apparent to me. Standing in the line to get my picture taken for the driver’s license I was reminded that many years ago at a similar driver’s

September 10 to 16, 2021: Remembering the Old Days

September 10 to 16, 2021: Remembering the Old Days. In some horrific ways. It was a cool autumn morning at the Air Force Base. I had the rental car and I remember I was wearing a dress shirt, khakis, a tie, and a sports coat. There was bad news from home. There was internal bleeding, the surgery had gone OK, but there were complications. Always unanticipated. Otherwise, they would not been complications. The jet lag still hung on me as a cloak as I sat there – a small version of a War Room – the walls adorned with pictures of famous people from the Air Force. The coffee was still warm, I was waiting for the meeting to start. I was there to present the findings of the study. Everyone was interested to know. This is why I had returned. The ride to the airport from Salt Lake was dismal. I had seen him being wheeled away, clean shaven, a smile on his face, he had said, “tumi choley jao – kaaj roeche tomar, aar orao ekla roeche (you should go back, you have a lot of work, and they are also

September 5 to 9, 2021: The End in a Dual World

September 5 to 9, 2021: The End in a Dual World. It is impossible now to figure out where I am. The time zones across the World coalesce into my hole, or on the metal chairs and tables outside the brick building, or on the WhatsApp screen of my computer. This is a recurrent theme – the cybernetic World – person and machine collapsed into a point of simulcasting every moment. It is always available. Students like it. Miss class because was doing homework for the next class. We all remember those frenetic moments. In class. In the seat. Masked. But distanced. The current time passes by away from the classroom.  Embedded in a virtual World. But time does not matter. It can be turned back. I can return to the missed moment. Time travel is a paradox, but time shifting is real. Up at 1 am because someone is time shifted, deep in sleep at 2 pm for the same reason. The connected world that I have seen since those crazy days in Delhi, when the work started at 11 pm and I would be responding to

September 1 to 4, 2021: And Death Will Come

September 1 to 4, 2021: And Death Will Come. Always uninvited. Sometimes inevitable. Sometimes inexplicable. But it leaves a trail. Sometimes a trail of blood. Always a trail of memories. The calls and messages started when I was taking my students on a trek through the Hindu Kush, the phones all beeped at the same time in the classroom on that just a regular Wednesday noon as I discussed the fascinating history of the Indian Sub-Continent. No one checked messages. Then a call from my wife. Or was it a WhatsApp message? My pre-programmed annoying “WhatsApp Message” beeped as we discussed the intricacies of a sociological take on religion. I looked at my phone. Not something teachers do in the classroom, but the messages were coming too fast, from all directions, from so many. Lockdown. A different kind. In the sleepy little wannabe town, I call one of my homes. In what civilized country does a 16-year-old carry a gun into a school? We know the answer. The exceptionalism allows anything

August 29 to 31, 2021: Habits that make us

August 29 to 31, 2021: Habits that make us. Once we believe that the interruptions are over, there is comfort in routine. The same things happen and there is a predictability to life. We all perhaps seek a little bit of that. To be not surprised. To take things for granted, that someone will wake at a certain time, will do a few things that can be expected. In such expectations we find familiarity. It these patterns of life that were taken away last year. Nothing could be anticipated. In such anticipation lies the ability to plan. To know for sure that certain things will happen. And if they do not happen, there is at least a good explanation. There are no mysteries. At least at the mundane level of everyday life. In that periodicity things change their importance. In my World, the people I work with the most, the uncertainties are not about being a victim of the pandemic, but the questions have now turned to “how do I enroll in a class that has no more seats left.” I have gone back to

August 25 to 28, 2021: The Sounds of the night

August 25 to 28, 2021: The Sounds of the night. Tells you where you are. Tells your life story, because where one is at any moment is the product of story of the person’s life and that moment will be a part of the story a moment later. Where I am is a part of the story of my life and that story is why I am here now. And the sounds of the night become a part of the story, and as the sounds change the story changes. Or is it the other way around? The sound of the story now is the different constant drone of traffic not far from where I am. Cut through by the crickets that are kicking up a racket. A distant voice of a child in play with others. The sounds of accelerating motorcycles. The dogs near and far. This is the sound where I am now. This is the sound where I was a few weeks ago. Another story from the past. That story has different sounds of the night. All of the ones listed and the additional sound of a night guard of the community night patrol. Clanking of cutlery as someone was