RIP Chester Bennington


 

Image Credits: Linkin Park Official Facebook

I didn’t know this would be a shock. After all, I hardly listen to Linkin Park anymore. I ‘outgrew’ their songs as I tell everyone. I have moved on to songs where the singers isn’t shouting or the guitar sounds don’t hurt my ears. Yet when I opened Facebook today, I saw a lot of my friends posting ‘RIP Chester’ and I was shook.

I started listening to their songs again, all of them. ‘Numb’, ‘In the End’, ‘Leave out all the Rest’, ‘Breaking the Habit’, ‘Castle of Glass’ and kept going discovering songs I haven’t listened anymore. Their new single ‘Talking to Myself’ was released just hours before his suicide ( I am not going to say demise. He committed suicide, there is no way I can soften it it up).

His voice sounds different now, I hear his voice with a new clarity now and I get a bigger shock now. How did I never see this coming?!


Linkin Park introduced me to Western rock music. I was in school and at home, we had cable channel which played songs on demand. My brother and I would wait to hear songs that were popular at the time. We enjoyed Backstreet Boys and Nelly Furtado because the lyrics were understandable, the music groovy. I was young, my command on English wasn’t that strong.

We heard ‘In the End’ the very first time. We loved it. My mom definitely didn’t cause she told us to change the channel. After a while she stopped telling us to change the channel when she realized that we loved the songs.

I could only articulate the chorus. It didn’t matter much to us, we were hooked. It was only a matter of time that we were glued to the channel and we heard more of Linkin Park’s songs. VH1 started running in India and we heard more of Linkin Park’s songs. They were really popular in India, anyone who heard any Western music knew them. They were many hardcore fans who had heard every song.

Navin and I were headbanging to ‘Faint’, watching their ‘Breaking the Habit’ video in cause of anime video, we loved ‘By Myself’ because the video was a montage of Dragon Ball Z and I felt really bad for the lead actress in their ‘Numb’ music video. I was too young to understand what their music was.


A couple of years later, when my brother was in College/High School he and his friends formed a band. They would sit in our house because it was 5 min away from their college  and listen to songs. At that point we were deep into rock music, we would listen to Metallica’s “One”, Foo Fighters “Pretender” and so much more. My brother had burned an entire CD full of rock music and he would turn it on all the time.

Linkin Park songs made their way into the CD even then. One of the friends was a hardcore fan. He spoke in length about the band members but I don’t recall him talking about their song’s meaning. I guess it was something that no one really spoke about but left it to interpretation. We should have. Around the time, they had released a new album which wasn’t all that popular but still good. One of their songs ‘Shadow of the Day’ was completely different from all of their previous songs.

Navin’s friend Rajesh commented on the song and I paraphrase: It sounds so peaceful, you can listen to it and fall asleep but when you listen to the lyrics you realize that it is the completely opposite of that. It has been 8 years or more since. The memories have suddenly been surfaced from their long sleep in my brain since I read about Chester’s suicide this morning.


I still have some of their songs. I am no longer oblivious to their meaning. When I listen to their songs, I am teleported to my old home sitting in front of the tele and watching their videos. I realize that even back in the 2000s, they sang about mental issues and yet were mainstream artists. I don’t think that happens anymore.

I have read people talking about Tupac, Chris Cornell, Alan Rickman, Prince, Micheal Jackson’s death but I never really UNDERSTOOD what they meant. I do now. It is not a good place. He sang about his issues and I never heard that.

I could quote their songs, I am listening to their songs now and I could use ALL of them to tell you what I feel like now. It isn’t fair that I riding nostalgia and guilt listening to their music, when Chester is no more with us. It isn’t fair I realized the meaning behind his lyrics and the strength of his voice ONLY after he killed himself.

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I wish I had a dragon


To Anyone who says Disney movies are for kids,

You are wrong. They are not solely for kids. I have always enjoyed them, although I am one of the adults who love to watch great visuals on a screen. Disney or any animated movie for the matter have more than great visuals going for them, prominently great stories.

They touch on topics which are beyond the scope of comprehension of most kids. Recent movies touched on issues of racism and stereotype. Kids may not have heard of these terms. But we have, and maybe we need to reminded of the things we knew of when we were kids.

Kids don’t need movies which inspire them, we adults need inspiration and motivations. After all, it is pretty difficult to wake up and motivate yourself to get up from bed.  Getting up from bed is a relatively small problem in the grand scheme of things and there are more than one problems awaiting everyday. We need motivation, we need to be taught the important principles lest we forget them in the monotony.

The fact that most of the new animated movies target our childhood and sense of nostalgia is another factor into watching them.

Why else would Finding Dory would be a great hit, or why am I so patiently waiting for The Incredibles 2? I watched the originals when I was a kid and I loved the myriad colors on the screen. How could I understand the emotional depth these films touched.


 

If I watch a Disney movie, I take a trip to Sentiment City. They are so warm and fuzzy; packed with just the right amount of emotional ingredients like laughter, joy and innocence. Of course when I watch them I know they are going to have a happy ending.

Growing up to an adult makes you realize that they are just movies and they are marketed towards children. No child, no money and no profits. No child will love the movie if the main character dies. Disney movies usually have an protagonist which behaves like a dog, so if they kill their protagonist at the climax I will riot.


 

Recently I was watching Pete’s Dragon. I needed a ‘feel-good’ movie because of the day I was having. I knew the usual mind numbing apathetic shows I usually watch would not work. I have not watched the original movie but I trusted Disney to making a great movie.

The movie is stunning visually, with absolute jewels of child characters and a huge dragon which acts like a puppy with wings. I am a dog person and if there is anything more special than dogs it might be dogs with wings.

Or maybe a dragon because I grew up with stories of dragons.

In usual Disney movies, there is the start phase, intermediate stage and climax where everything falls into a new order. The start phase is usually marred by a tragedy and there is a lot of buried up pain in the middle. The climax makes the protagonist and in turn the viewers deal with the buried up pain. Most people would never want the middle phase.

There is also happiness in the middle phase. It is usually after the dog resembling character is introduced, when the protagonist realizes there is more the animated character than meets the eye. It is in the brilliant middle phase where the transition of the protagonist begins. There is a lot of laughter.

In this phase, the protagonist is happy but not as happy as he would eventually be. The movie is able to transmit that happiness from the protagonist’s face across to the viewers’ hearts.

So I watched Pete’s Dragon with a huge grin on my face as Pete and Elliot played around the jungle. Elliot was different than almost every dragon portrayed in the movies, he was kind and loyal. He changed colors when touched, he keeps his powers of destruction inside him and keeps away from people. How did they manage to have an animated character depict sorrow and longing is beyond me but Elliot clearly was sad when he looked at the North Star.

Pete belonged in the jungle with Elliot. He stayed away from people, lived well off on his own and was happy. He stayed true to his childish nature and his curiosity got the better of him at times. How could I forget the fact that Pete scared off a bear? That was funny.

Pete and Elliot had 6 great years together! They were content, wild and carefree. In stark contrast, who amongst us adults can say they had a good week?

Mostly I don’t even have good days, I have good moments with which I try to keep myself content. Moments I cherish. I drew parallels between the movie and my life as I watched.I am grateful for not having personal tragedy as Pete but then he has a Dragon! He could walk around carefree, not worried about what to wear, who to speak and what to say.

It did not matter to me that the adults in the movie seemed out of place. After all, I can willingly accept a kid trusting a dragon but I will probably never accept a full grown adult trusting a dragon. I expect the adult to try to tame the dragon. Exactly like the antagonist did.

I know WHO people are. I may be one of them.

As I watched the movie, I cringed in anticipation of the scene where Pete and Elliot get separated. I was not looking forward to see Elliot captured or any other emotional scene. My imagination raced ahead of me showing all the bad things that could happen to Pete and Elliot.

Thank goodness that the writers don’t have my imagination.

Thank goodness that Pete was still a kid in the movie. Someone who had no pride, someone who could laugh easy and was unencumbered. Thank goodness for the actor who played Pete cause he was able to be the perfect kid, an embodiment of everything childhood was supposed to be.

Innocence. Something I miss, the wide eyed perspective of the world.

It is kind of pointless to be talking about the things lost in a movie which tells you to be brave and move forward. A movie which embraces change in life. The message of the movie was not lost on me. I am not Pete though, I cannot accept change as easily as he did.

So I wish I had a dragon.

Nostalgia and Family


After two years of hard work, failures and obstacles that still seem unbeatable me and my family now have finally done it. I write my very first post from Auckland, New Zealand.

The road has been not been easy. The last six months were the hardest months that I had. Almost zero friends, a job which I didn’t fully enjoy and a slippery future were everyday thoughts. I crawled through the thick and thin, some days having support and the other days with my head bowed in guilt and loneliness.

The day before was the family dinner. Just the four of us, no Jimmy because restaurants are not exactly animal friendly here. We walked, and for the first time my elder brother, Navin was not fussing about my clothes. The dinner was never going to be a grand gesture, nothing flimflam but just something we do. Thanks to the India-Sri Lanka T20 match, the table talk was not filled with awkward silences.

*

I love food. But I love eating the comfort familiar food more than trying out different new dishes. Give me a new cuisine and I might excuse myself. Give me Dal Rice and I will definitely ask for more, probably with some fried potato slices. So the menu for me was fixed: tomato soup, Chicken lollipop, Nan and curries.

Familiar Dishes. Dishes with which I have grew up with.

The other day while roaming my town to complete some work (still pending and I’m worried about it.) and it was then I realised that there is so much that’s left to eat. I walked, music played by my phone echoing my mood, remembering all the small stalls where I would eat. Junk food, delicious food and places which I will not visit for over a year now. A couple of blocks away from where I was, an awesome vada pav (Indian Burger) stall is located. He would add chat masala and onions as garnish. I remember the innumerable times I finished my tuitions and ate there. That Idli corner or the sugarcane juice stall or the Pav Bhaji stall.. My mind raced and my belly growled.

So as I walked, ignoring my belly’s urge to go and eat away the food again. I did eat most of the said food but there’s only so much time I had.

*

So the family dinner was no different. As we four walked back home, I looked around trying to soak in every scent of my neighbourhood. To remember the school and the college, because I know I’m going to miss it when I’m gone. My school, where I spent 7 years is now a mammoth structure that is sucking the marrow off parents savings. The school is under reconstruction for years now and who would send their children to a school that is under construction. Or so I thought as the school is only getting bigger and prosperous. It’s just school management’s greed to run the school.

A couple of my school classmates houses past, my memory gates opened and I was inundated: the corner sweetshop Kaveri sweets which became so popular that everyone renamed the bus stop. I lived and saw throught the slow gradual process of renaming a locality took place. Half a block past is a building which once was the dream building: from the gates of the building it looks as if there is an city inside. Opposite to the building is the power office. When we were in school we would come home, me and Navin and look at the schedule for power cut and whine about having to miss Pokémon again.

Not everything was the same though. New sitting benches have been put up, the evenings now host a vegetable market. Not everything resembles my childhood.

But most of the things do.

The temple which would be the study spot for everyone as exam day arrived. Or the upslope road where my brother rode his bicycle with me seated behind. I was always lazy.

I was too busy in my nostalgia that I fell behind mom and dad. Every single place had a memory with it. Some with mom. Some with dad. Most of them with Navin. A tiny smile lit my face, a genuine smile which I missed in my life for long. I love this place, my neighbourhood.

As we climbed up my building stairs, memories kept me alert and reminiscent of my surroundings. I even recalled the smooth feeling of a wall which has long been remodeled. My building once has no automobiles parked now has a parade of cars, new and old, motor bikes and cycles. So much has changed and I want to say it happened too quick. It didn’t. I lived here since November 2002, 13 years.

I played with Jimmy, I make him run around the house and in no time he is tired and grinning his signature. I don’t think my dog has a sixth sense. He should be the emotional one and he is licking his butt.

I always said. Jimmy is an idiot.

*

Overwhelmed I wrote this before sleeping in my bed that night. My last night in my bed. Next day the very first thing was to change the location of my bed to accommodate some furniture and so my bed had to move.

My Mom knows me best and she senses the tiny changes in me. Mom teased “Enjoy the bed.” I laughingly say yes. Even though the lights are off but I’m sure my mom heard my smile in the dark.

Even after the lights are off I am still thinking about everything: from the way my brother talks and behaves. From my dad’s logic to my mom’s emotions to my dog’s stupidity: I cannot help but recall every instance that I have spent with them. I don’t remember what I dreamt that night but I am sure I dreamt about them.

*

Final day was full of nervous excitement for everyone. There is so much riding on me now, everyone had done so much for this. The unexpected surprise came when Navin made a special farewell video for me. I knew he was working on something but never thought he would make, edit an entire video.

Navin always had a good taste in music so obviously the chouse of music would be good. He roped in his friends, mom and dad into the video too and I watched barely controlling my quivering lips while with me exclaiming ‘Aap bhi ho?!’ (you are also featured in the video!) Trust my brother for a surprise and he never disappoints.

*

Mom and dad say Navin and me always fight. We argue, occassionally we fight too but at the end of the day there is hardly anyone more important to me than he and my parents. I got calls from friends and relatives wishing me good luck for my abroad trip. I never told anyone of them that its not that I am going abroad, the thing is I am leaving my family behind.

My parents worry about us both. They shouldn’t really. Not anymore: they raised two great kids.

*

Mom quickly made some delicious ladoos which I inevitably forgot. Now I regret forgetting the ladoos because the food at the Hong Kong Airport is either too expensive or just too bland for my taste.

Yesterday when we arrived at the Mumbai airport we were awestruck with the arcitechure and colossal size of the terminal. Somehow, despite my anxiety I sat down on the plane and braced myself for the take off. But my mind was still fixed on my family. I already know the first thing that I will miss when I reach in Auckland.

In India, I can call up Navin or Mom for anything that I want to ask. Now, regardless of the advanced internet calling services, that one thing will be missing. I can only keep them in loop but at the end I have to make the decision. It does not sound like a big deal but it is. My family always has my back and I will have their back; now there would be a distance of 5000+ miles and a time gap of 8 hours.

*

It was easy to get lost in the moment as I boarded the plane. First time experience, the gravity pull and push as the plane changes altitude. The sight of Mumbai from the sky; the sight of New Zealand as I flew past the shores of this amazing and beautiful country.

It’s quiet here: country side and the people are friendly. I love this place already.

*

Last night in flight I dreamt of the way my parents talk. How Navin would ask for something and Dad would just shoot him down. How I used to laugh at the embarrassing situations that I or anyone else faced. I have no idea how they lived with me laughing like an ass for so many years. Now, I am thinking of how will they do things. Who will walk Jimmy? Who will feed the plants? Will mom eat after coming home from work? Will dad tell me if there is something’s going on?

If I ask them this question they would tell me to just focus on my studies. I will focus on my studies and make a career. They have always been right about this: I can’t do everything at the same time.

Thank you Mom, Dad, Navin. Thank you everyone who wished me well.