I found this little keyboard in my office many months ago. The previous tenants left it there. The AC adapter that it came with was broken and I kept it thinking that I’d get it fixed someday. In a spurt of enthusiasm, I set out to do it a few days ago. I was disappointed to find that everything in the cabinet where it was kept had been moved around and there was no trace of the adapter anywhere. With enough enthusiasm still left, I inspected the instrument to look for specifications that I could probably tell an electronics or hardware shop to find me an adapter by. What I found was better.

I found that it works on 7.5 volts at 2.3 watts, which can also be supplied by 5 AA batteries. I’d never noticed the tiny battery compartment before. I searched my house and found exactly 5 new AA cells in a drawer. Luckily, no remotes or clocks had to be sacrificed. I put them in, held my breath, and turned it on. The tiny power LED glowed red. I pressed a key and I was so stoked to hear the ugly synthesized tone that it sounded good.

There are two things that I’ve always believed I’d be able to do well without needing to try. One of them is playing the piano and the other is snowboarding. I believe that once I start playing the piano I’ll be able to play songs with twelve-chord progressions and sing at the same time. I believe that one of the first times I try snowboarding I’ll be able to gracefully slide down slopes of powdery white snow and jump high enough to spin 540 degrees before I land. I may be exaggerating a little but I can’t think of anything else that I believe so firmly I’ll be able to do well without ever having done before.

So I’m going to take this keyboard and play it until the batteries die and then replace them with new ones until I’ve changed them so many times that I’ll go find it an AC adapter. And then if I can play you a twelve-chord song while singing it, I’ll find myself a snowboard and I’ll head north. One immediate obstacle is that I’ll have to learn to read sheet music but how hard can that be?

I don’t know if there’s a thing that you believe you were meant to do but if there is, what is it? Did you ever try doing it? How did that work out for you? I’m going to find out soon but some wisdom from a fellow slightly-delusional person wouldn’t hurt.

Ramu Uncle

A friend of my dad used to come home often on Sundays. I must have been less than eight years old when I first met him. He would come around 10am and have beer and chakna and talk loudly with my dad till lunchtime. On Sundays that he came early I’d wake up to his booming voice filling the house. My mom works so there’s always the best food on Sundays. He would stay for lunch and most of the afternoon. He used to smoke but my sister was adamant that he should not be allowed to smoke in the house. I was of that age where I agreed with everything my older sister said. One morning I walked out into the living room and told him that he isn’t allowed to smoke in the house. He never smoked in the house again. I remember this only because it’s a story my parents loved to tell.

I knew him as Ramu Uncle. I’ve never asked what his real name was. It wasn’t long until he became our favourite dad’s-friend. He was the fifth member of our family for half of most Sundays. I asked once, how his family doesn’t mind him spending every Sunday with us. I was told he’s a bachelor. I figured that meant that he didn’t have any immediate family and it made sense. Years went by and not much changed. The Sunday morning TV programming, the lunch and the beer (which I was only offered sips of and found not to my liking) stayed the same and Ramu Uncle hardly missed a Sunday with us.

I don’t remember when he stopped coming. It was long enough ago that my memory is foggy. I’m quite sure I attended his funeral. I remember wondering what they do with the bones after the body burns. I remember being told that the incinerator is so hot that there are no bones left. I only knew him on Sundays but Ramu Uncle was one of the happiest people I’ve known. He’s probably a part of the reason that till today I expect Sunday afternoons to be soaked in the bright yellow tint of laughter and beer with friends that I can almost call family.

I, like many of us, don’t know how I’m going to end up. There are many things that can keep me happy, many things that I want to do, chase, and be. So when my youthful energy turns to an ache in my bones and when my sense of adventure starts to make way for a want of the comfort of the familiar, if I don’t have a family of my own then all I ask is that you let me be somebody’s Ramu Uncle. I promise that if the tables are turned then I’ll do the same.


I remember the first time I kissed you it felt like gravity. As we sat next to each other and I held your hand the space between us was shrinking but I don’t remember moving closer to you. I tried to slowly climb down the footholds of the familiar so that I didn’t fall too hard if there was a bottom.

There was no bottom. There was just the pull of an invisible force drawing us closer. I’m not sure what happened next, it feels as if my memory has holes. Maybe my mind was so focused on the moment it forgot to take down notes. I don’t know if I kissed your cheek first but I remember that our lips did eventually touch. I remember closing my eyes and losing track of everything around me at the time they did. I remember slipping back to reality each time we broke contact and looking out of the rikshaw to be surprised at how much we’ve traveled. I never thought that Amboli was too close to home before. I remember offering to drop you home at least five times, because staying there inside of that feeling for as long as possible made the most sense. You refused each time.

When you finally left I know that I felt something close to dizzy, something close to light headed. I felt a way I hadn’t felt in so long that my mind couldn’t correlate it with anything known and decided to file it as an altogether new feeling.

Of the times we’ve kissed after that, none, save a few felt as good and as right. Maybe it was a sign of the way things were going to go. When I look at you today I don’t see the girl who kissed me the way she did. I think that my mind has split you up into many different people. Maybe it’s because I’ve spent so much time with you and thinking about you that I can’t comprehend all of it as one person. Or maybe it’s because I need to convince myself that the girl who kissed me the way she did was only with me for that span of time and doesn’t exist anymore.


When I was about fourteen, I distinctly remember thinking that my goal should be to have as much fun as possible in this life. I held on to this belief for quite some time. Even today I’d say that it isn’t a bad philosophy to live by. You need a rational plan for maximising the fun in your life. You can’t just quit your job today and then spend all your money travelling in the name of having fun because after that you’ll be broke and unemployed and then over a longer period of time you’re not having that much fun after all.

By now I’ve come to learn that there’s two distinctly different kinds of fun. One is the kind that’s strictly temporary and leaves you with just a hangover and the regret of time wasted when it’s over. The other kind leaves you happy, with a warm afterglow of contentment. This is the kind of fun you want to have more of. This is what keeps you motivated, inspired and going. I heard someone say that happy people make the best activists. I think happy people make the best anything. Nobody’s as good at what they do as when they’re happy doing it.

It’s not easy though, to pick activities that are more the lasting kind of fun (lasting-fun for short) over ones that are more temporary-fun. The same things that used to be lasting-fun can quickly turn temporary-fun if done too much, at the wrong time or with the wrong people. You’ve got to make habits out of activities which make you consistently happy, and keep switching around the ones that keep you happy for a while. You’ve got to make sure you have enough time to do nothing. And sometimes you have to make your peace with the fact that the lasting kind of fun is just not going to be found. We can call them bad months.