April 24, 2004

The Shifting

This is the first time I’m seeing a crow this close up.

Sitting in the ‘dry’ cafeteria of my new office, a fourth floor view of Marol, I’m looking out the large tinted windows, the type where you can look out but cannot look in unless maybe if you press your eyes to the glass and fairly squash your nose in the bargain. This is a new building, part of which is still under construction.

The L, a short way off Chakala, sits beside the Andheri-Kurla road, a busy artery with significant cholesterol deposits. A part of our workforce of seven hundred have shifted here from Jacob’s, around a month ago. Our team came in today, and is beginning to find its feet back.

There are four of us in the team - one content, two tech and, one graphics. And here I’m in the cafetaria now, contemplating the scaffolding outside after spending a good deal of the Sunday morning looking for my PC.

I had passed cubicle after cubicle in a maze of green and yellow partitions, bending to read numbers off PCs - M007, M138, P472 and so forth. There were tens of them. Hundreds of them actually. In looking for the elusive one, I had lost my way in the maze more than once and read numbers I’d read before. Still no P134. I came across other new arrivals doing the same, exchanging sheepish smiles each time our paths crossed, which was often. It was not an easy task bending down to read numbers where women in swivel chairs sat at their PCs. So, I’d given up and headed for the reception, manned by two security guards. They ought to know, I thought.

“I’ll look up the list of PCs that came in yesterday,” he said.

I nodded, waiting while he opened a pad and ran his pen down the list.

“It’s not there,” he said, looking up at me.

“But they packed up my PC at J’s yesterday and told me it would be sent here the same day,” I said, reaching for the pad in his hand. He passed me the pad.

It wasn’t there. No P134.

“We’re expecting a delivery this afternoon. If they’ve packed it yesterday then it should be there in this lot. Check up with me later,” he replied as I returned the pad.

“Hmmm. Ok. Thanks anyway,” I said and headed back to the unrelenting grip of white light filling every corner of office space, even those corners that didn’t exist. That’s how I first noticed the innocuous corner door with the sign - pantry. And I’ve been sitting here ever since, with the crow for company. It is perched on the scaffolding that rises all the way up, to floors six and seven, passing within two feet of my window.

It is here that initial nonchalance at seeing the crow land on a metal pole has given way to an active ‘interested observer’ mode. And, as I watch the pesky bundle of black have an enthusiastic go at the rope holding one of the numerous joints making up this rusty skeleton of criss crossing ribs, the tea in the Styrofoam cup, tasting like thin old plastic, begins to go cold. If there is any taste to be found in tea from a fancy dispenser with colourful buttons and cryptic commands that are more labels than instructions, it’s because the dispenser looks good - and cool, and novel, and … expensive. It has too many other things going for it. The novelty remains even if the idea is old.

Anyways, I don’t drink much tea, maybe once a month or thereabouts. Moreover, one cannot even enjoy the imagined taste of ‘tea from a dispenser’ if you are sitting opposite tinted windows. Surely it would’ve made the communists happy - to reduce the vibrancy of diverse colours to a single tint. Where steam rising up from a porcelain cup should’ve tinted the blue skies in front of my face in a moist velvety haze on a sunny morning, instead a shade of dark, featureless entity drawn like a veil, now frames me for the world outside as I try to summon colours from tenuous memories of sunfilled days.

To be framed for the world outside, now made up of a single crow that cannot see me from two feet distance brings home the line: ‘If the whole world but me were blind then I would neither want riches nor clothes.’

I look at my watch. It’s a Timex Expedition gifted by a childhood friend, Anand, when he had come down from the USA. I’ve grown fond of it, wear it all the time, well, almost. If you wear anything long enough, it becomes a part of you.

The dial shows 13:50. I lean back and fix my eyes on the crow. There’s still time before I can go looking for my PC again.


Anonymous said...

you seemed to have changed much since this day two years ago..

Anil P said...

To Anon: Yup, I have, in some ways that is. As they say change is the only constant.

By the way what made you say that in the first place? :)

Anonymous said...

ummm.. do i really have to answer that? i mean, i would have to delve deep into thought to figure out why i said that and at the end of it my perception may just be wrong and then what i felt would be meaningless!

Anil P said...

To Anon: A wrong perception might be meaningless in a changed context, but it is meaningful in the original context. And it is the original context I'm curious to know about :)

Delve into thought, for that is where the thoughtful reside :)

Anonymous said...

the context u talk about is nothing but the piece you have written for there isnt exactly much else that one knows about you!! if you wish, i'll reveal what made me say so only if you explain what precisely was in your mind while writing " Yup, I have, in some ways that is" :D

Anil P said...

To Anon: There isn't much to me other than what I write, unless of course you think there is. Do you? :)

The changes are there for sure, but not before you place your reasons first :) Also, it might help if I were to know your name for starters, it's only fair that I do, especially after all this time :)

Anonymous said...

ahem.. i think it is now time for you to live upto your end of the deal?

Anonymous said...

i think there has been a slight miscommunicatioan. before pasting the above comment, i wrote a rather a long one in response to your comment dated 16th aug, 12:58 am.. the pesent comment was in reference to that? did u not get that?

Anil P said...

To Anon: What is the deal? :)

Anil P said...

To Anon: No, I didn't get it! Send it in, again.

Anonymous said...

shittttttt! that was a painstakingly written one! and the 'deal' i referred to was about it being your turn to write about the changes..

will try and write it again, hope i can write it in the same way..it took me about an hour to get it right. Ahhhhhh............!

Anonymous said...

i swear i came online to write the missing comment again. dint get time all these days. but then i saw that your blog's going places with the Asia Blog awards!!! extremely exciting as it is to see one of one's favourite blogs get noticed, it has created some apprehensions in my mind about the missing comment.

if u dont mind, i would now rather not write it out..because though i'm writing about how i feel u have changed, it also reveals a lot of me, my way of thinking to the reader. and now, with the whole country about to be checking your blog out, its made me shy..

but voting for your blog, i am :)

Anil P said...

To Anon: I can understand. But, however, I would be interested in reading it after all. Thanks for the faith.

Anonymous said...

O Dear,
I seem to have lost my thoughts on “The Shifting” after going through the above dialogue. Unlike P134, which I believe had been found; in any instance, I have seldom been able to reproduce the original thought(s) once lost, even if the elapse has been of a nanosecond unit. I believe that to be the nature of change.

It is the crow…something about the crow…What about it?

What is it all about?

Anil P said...

Kizzy: It's seems such a long ago, and I'm not sure either :)

Gwen Buchanan said...

My oh my you have been blogging for a long time..

incidentally my favourite birds are the crows and ravens...

not long ago at a local beach restaurant I saw the strangest sight.. a whole flock of crows that looked so strange... almost vulture like faces and very scruffy feathers.. and some parts a strange whitish color... many people around the village saw them including my son... I was told later that these birds/ crows had a virus that did this to them.. but it would not kill them.. I even saw a bluejay like that... they seemed starving.. it was rather scary...

and your blog is very interesting...

am said...

Not sure how long it's been that I have been reading your blog. Maybe 6 years? Although I rarely comment, I am grateful for your writing and your photos which have given me so many thoughtful glimpses of India.

Interesting about the crow you watched that day. Crows have been messengers many times in my life. Once a crow skipped by like a child as I sat on a park bench in San Francisco with the young man I loved who had just returned from the war in Vietnam. We laughed until we were children again. It all depended on that crow.

Thank you for writing about the crow that prompted you to begin writing a blog.

Anil P said...

Am: Thank you for reading the blog. Nice to learn that it strikes a chord with you.

It's surprising how a crow will sometimes find its way into ones' consciousness, in times of silence and company.

Liked reading about your story with the young man in San Francisco.

Thank you for visiting this place over the years.