The Sathyam Obsession

After a long time I finally got down to watching a movie that brought back some of my fast depleting faith in Indian cinema. Piku, not only exemplified the virtues of a simple story with strong characters, but also proved that there is not only hope but definite freedom in the minds of our story tellers and it shows in the lines they write, the characters they build and the stories they tell. A big hug to the entire team to have created something so simply brilliant.

But more on the movie later. This post is reserved for an obsession that refuses to leave me...

I moved to Bangalore a little more than a year ago from Chennai. While the move and all that followed has been well documented in other posts and Facebook updates, a majority of my mind has inevitably begun to find a soft spot for Bangalore. I walk to work, so I see lesser of the traffic and I feel all is fine. I live in Indiranagar which by far is the capital of the civilised world and in that pride my chest does swell a tad bit more than required. I like my coffee places, I adore the breakfast joints, I never stop meeting interesting people and there is just never a dearth of stuff happening in town, just a dearth of time to do anything about it. But even then, there is that one thing, that will just never be the same again. My movie watching experience!

Chennai will always define me as a person like no other city ever has or will, but even though I can confidently say that I wear that more as a badge of honour than a scar that I like showing off, the experience of watching a movie in Sathyam (And Escape) will never completely leave me. Ever! Every time I walk into a theater in Bangalore, no matter how good, I am reminded of the enveloping warmth and brilliance that is Sathyam (And Escape). When I walked into Sathyam (And Escape) watching a movie was never about the ticket and the movie, it involved so much more.

There was always this palpable sense of excitement when I knew I was going for a movie there. It never mattered if the movie was good or not, the excitement was just there. The excitement would begin to build hours before even getting there. Emails would get typed faster at work, the Activa would chug along a tad bit smoother through the traffic and the traffic lights just never seemed to turn red. Dinners before the movie (Chinese or Frankies) would always be a fun and hurried affair, because we just couldn't wait to get into Sathyam (And Escape). Once in, the general buzz of the place, the collective coming together of so many kindred souls in one place was always electrifying. Chennai took its movies very seriously. We cheered together, laughed, cried and groaned together. We even sometimes put popcorn in our mouths at the exact same moments during the movie. The popcorn too undoubtedly played a pivotal role in guaranteeing you were always transported to a different universe while in there. You always will want more butter stuffed in to the popcorn and more cheese poured into it. The autonomy that Sathyam (And Escape) gave you to create your own popcorn concoctions was just unbelievable. We would come together on so many nights irrespective of the movie to create combinations of food and beverage that we would talk about the next day. We would talk about the chocolate donuts at breakfast next morning, the cold coffee at tea time and invariably we would be back in Sathyam (And Escape) the next night discussing how we want our popcorn.

Sathyam (And Escape) was never about the movie alone but about all the elements that just magically came together to make each of those nights. You would drive back with this quiet admiration every time because even if the movie disappointed you, Sathyam (And Escape) would have made the night special for you. Because watching a movie in a cinema hall is meant to be special. It is meant to invigorate you and place you in a room with a large number of strangers to bring you together. There are fewer experiences that consistently produce this feeling of togetherness. Cinema halls across the country are doing this every day...

Sathyam (And Escape) just do it heartbreakingly better than the rest. 

Welcome 2015, but before that..

Keeping in line with the year 2014 was, I just haven't had the time to get this post out earlier so I finally decided to get my act together after a rather fertile evening of thinking and conversations and get this post out. For the past couple of years I have been writing a review of the year gone by, the things that mattered to me, that defined me and the world around me. 2014 was a little different that way. It didn't contain the roller coaster rides that were 2012 and 2013 but it was by far, and history should stand testament to it, the most pivotal year of my life.

I began my year with the rather uncomfortable thought of leaving Chennai. It also spurred what many abusive commentators to my blog posts that popped up around that time, would call, my obsessive love with the city of Chennai. If given a chance I would have written a blog post dedicated to every inch of Chennai in those last few weeks. I sometimes still wish I had, even at the expense of losing relationships forged the day I was born. The weeks that followed were possibly the most complete and soul stirring that I have ever experienced. Saying goodbye to a city has never been a task for me. For the most I used to be convinced that I would never return to them or know that they were an inextricable part of me and therefore never concerned myself with the banalities of extended farewells. But there was a sense of foreboding upon leaving Chennai and it felt that the city would never be the same again once I left. Working past those emotions I decided to take a short holiday between my segue from Chennai to Bangalore and that was possibly the best decision of 2014.

Hidden between snow capped peaks in the bed of paradise is the little town of Macleodganj. It's the place where the word quaint was discovered and the feeling of inner peace, only mirrored by Po at the end of Kung Fu Panda 2, could be experienced. The weekend spent there in between the snow, the warmth of the best travel mates I could ask for and the distinct sense of abandon that I felt there was momentous. There was a moment, one I will never forget, as I lay on the snow halfway up a hill. The sun crept from behind a mountain and stared me in the face but was weakened by the intense cold and the combination was a warm fuzzy feeling. The ice was melting behind me and freezing again. the cold was gentle but the gusts of wind were furious but there wasn't a soul for miles, not a thought on my mind, not a single concern. For the first time in years I lay vacant. Nothing processing and all systems on standby. It by far, as much as I enjoy a constant tension, was the greatest single moment of clarity for me. Since that moment on, nothing and I mean nothing would ever be greater or impose a greater force on me. There in that moment I had found my peace. The drive back to Chandigarh, the food eaten, the Tibetan martyrs remembered, the trek into the darkness with us endangering our lives, all of it, every bit of it was brilliant but secondary to that timeless moment of immense sanity. It has guided me fearlessly through the year.

Thank you to that wind, that harsh sun and that warm snow.

With very little time to recover from that glorious trip I was already in a new office, in a new city which was well really a city I knew too well and in a new home that was way to big for me. I had to overcome it all in no time so that I could catch up with the pace at which work was moving. In Chumbak, I have joined a company that is pretty close to being a soulmate. From Day 1 there was no doubt in my mind that I had to make this work. There was absolutely no doubt I had in my self but there was this lingering fear of something new getting the better of me. That the variables for success were stacked against me and conquering them would challenge all that I had. As I kept reminding myself of my day in the snow, I held on and at times, just about. Like that moment when your parent or sibling let's go off your cycle to allow you to pedal it yourself, I never realised when that force stopped holding on to me and I cycled away. Work didn't become a breeze, far from it, it became a struggle that I just couldn't get enough of. I need it and savour every moment of it, even the lows. There is this sense of history about it all for me, like how you read chapters from history without ever questioning how those set of circumstances came to be. The sense here is the same. I forget, every once in a while, as to what triggered this moment and give up, only to realise that this was just right. There have been very few moments in the last year where I haven't been thinking of work and like that day nestled in the snow, I would not want it any different. Discovering something that motivates, frustrates and fulfills you every day is a tough ask and when you get it out of the one thing where you spend your longest hours, there could be little else one could ask for.

Thank you to that unknown moment when the decision to be here was made. Thank you to the people at work who have made the year unquestionably crazy and fulfilling.

I also began the year convinced that I was running away from something. Something that I needed to get away from and that it was the only way to get a toehold back on life. A large part of me was moving on with life only for the right reasons, a lot of which has been validated over the past couple of months. But what I failed to see back then was that there was a subtle but significant difference between running away from something and unknowingly discovering something. So what began as a year on the run, ended in finding gravity to life. Something that pulled me back, firmly to the ground and promises to hold on to me tight and comfy. I'm certain now that your world doesn't need to be defined by you, you don't need to be in control. Sometimes, and for every once in a while, focussing on your shit while allowing the universe to get your shit together is just the best way to lead life.

Thank you to me, for realising that allowing life to make a few decisions for you could just be the best way ahead. Watch out for this space.

Thank you 2014 for allowing me to watch up close the journey of the most adorable, enchanting and bewildering girl I know, my darling niece. Being this close to her, my sister and brother in law has been the most comforting bonus of the year. Thank you for ensuring that I ended up living with not just one of the most awesome room mates but also in a part of the city that from a very young age I have always wanted to find a home in. Thank you in helping me rediscover running, even if it finally took you nearly the end of the year. Thank you for each of the people that found their way into my life at work who i'm sure came right out of my wish list of people I always wanted to work with. Thank you for not making Bangalore easily likable because in every day that I struggle to love this city I discover something about it that will surely make the bond stronger. Thank you for challenging me like never before, for the sleepless nights of which there were many, for letting me witness the two greatest love stories of my life turn into something magical in a matter of two days, for teaching me that love is beautiful but not necessarily for me right now and for trying so hard to help me just move on with this new beautiful life I have been given. I promise to make a lot more of it in 2015 as this will be the year I begin to enjoy what I have found and stop running away from it.

In essence, i will spend this year lying in the snow, looking up at the sun, closing my eyes and with a quiet smile on my face, I will lap up every moment given to me. Bring it on 2015!